July 31, 2007

Right up there with Dr. Norman Borlaug - meet Dr. Mohamed Ahmedna

Awesome work and on the path to even more.

For those that don't know about Dr. Norman Borlaug, read here and marvel at the man you have probably never heard about.

Here is another one: Dr. Mohamed Ahmedna:

dr_mohamed_ahmedna_peanuts.jpg

What has he done you ask?

From Eureka Alert:

N.C. A&T food scientist develops process for allergen-free peanuts
An agricultural researcher at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has developed a simple process to make allergen-free peanuts. The new process – believed to be a first for food science – could provide relief to millions of peanut allergy sufferers, and be an enormous boon to the entire peanut industry.

Doug Speight of the N.C. A&T Office of Outreach and Technology Transfer said food companies are showing a strong interest in licensing the process, which does not degrade the taste or quality of treated peanuts, and might even render them easier to process for use as a food ingredient.

Immunoassays showed 100 percent inactivation of peanut allergens in whole roasted kernels, and the processed peanuts showed no reaction in tests on human serums from severely allergic individuals. The inventor, Dr. Mohamed Ahmedna, is optimizing the process further to remove allergens from other foods.

Emphasis mine — you can kinda see where this is going…

“We are extremely pleased that we were able to find such a simple solution to a vexing problem that has enormous economic and public health ramifications, both for peanut sensitive individuals, and the food industry as a whole,” said Ahmedna, associate professor of food science in N.C. A&T’s School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.

Peanut and tree nut allergies are the most severe of all food allergies, affecting approximately 3 million Americans, and causing 100 – 150 deaths from anaphylactic shock annually and many more hospitalizations. In industrialized nations, the allergy has been rapidly increasing in children, for causes that are not entirely understood. One study showed that between 1997 and 2002, peanut allergies in children doubled in the United States. Today, an estimated one percent of all children suffer from the allergy.

Life can be stressful for families with peanut sensitive children, who must take extraordinary precautions to prevent contact with even small traces of peanuts or peanut dust. Tracking, record-keeping and labeling for peanuts is costly for industry, while schools and other institutions that serve the public have limited their use due to concerns about public health and liability.

Ahmedna’s work on peanuts has been funded through a United States Agency for International Development grant. During the course of the project, he has developed many other value-added products and processes for the benefit of the peanut industry worldwide, including a process to remove a common mold toxin from peanuts, a low-fat, high protein meat substitute, an infant formula, and antioxidants from red peanut skins. The allergy-free peanut is the first in a portfolio of peanut innovations to be available for commercialization from N.C. A&T.

Ahmedna’s process is expected to add value to a crop that is already economically and nutritionally important. Peanuts are the 12th largest crop in the United States, with a farm value of close to $1 billion a year. The Southeast is the main peanut producing region in the nation. Worldwide, the legume is even more important from an economic development standpoint. In developing nations, and Africa in particular, the soils and climate are especially suitable for peanuts.

Peanuts are not only important commercially, but nutritionally as well. Packed with proteins, healthy fats and a broad array of essential vitamins and minerals, they are considered an almost complete food. Their rich flavor, nutrition, fat and protein profile makes for a nearly perfect food from a food processing standpoint as well.

From his lab at Tuskeegee University in the early 1900s, the famed agricultural chemist George Washington Carver discovered approximately 300 food and non-food products from the legume. But despite their versatility, the allergy issue has caused the peanut to be viewed increasingly with caution. That might change, thanks to Ahmedna’s work at NC A&T.

Awesome — this has really deep possibilities as the peanut is such a good and well balanced food but so toxic to a few people. Being able to cheaply render it safe makes it a good choice for bulk protein and lipid source without the hormonal complications that are being seen with Soy products.

Posted by DaveH at 10:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nice Headmistress

Today's asshole of the month is a Mrs. Carolyn E. Banfield, head mistress of the St. John's Primary School of Somerset, England.

From The Sun Online:

Headmistress is a Harry Rotter
A Primary school head ruined the new Harry Potter book for pupils — by reading out the final page on the last day of term.

Youngsters looking forward to reading the best-seller over the summer holidays were left reeling as Carolyn Banfield gave the game away.

Nine-year-old pupil Louie Swift said: “I don’t know why she read it.

“She’s not usually a spoilsport.”

“She didn’t even mention she had the book. She just picked it up and started reading it to us.”

Jordan Ashman, ten, said: “It has spoiled the book for me.”

An 11-year-old boy — whose mum would only name as Joe — said: “Lots of my friends complained about it.

“I put my hands over my ears and squeezed my eyes closed because I didn’t want to know about it.”

Mrs Banfield read the climactic extract from Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows — the final book in JK Rowling’s massively popular series — to more than 400 kids at St John’s C of E school’s end of term assembly in Midsomer Norton, Somerset.

That is downright cruel. Typical of a frickin' Muggle…

Posted by DaveH at 10:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Paris Hilton not broke after all

Well dang. From FOX News:

Pop Tarts: Grandpa Hilton Not Cutting Paris' Inheritance
Rumors that Paris Hilton may be out of pocket when her grandpa passes have been dismissed, according to her rep.

Sydney's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that Barron Hilton, the last remaining Hilton with a large share in the hotel chain, was so humiliated by Paris' wild ways and drunk-driving charge that he cut her inheritance by $60 million. However, Barron believes he has been misrepresented.

“Barron Hilton (Paris' grandfather) was contacted and said the characterization of his feelings toward Paris or his will are inaccurate,” a spokesman for the hotel heiress told FOXNews.com.

While no comment was made regarding whether his will has been changed, Hilton's spokesman said Paris' relationship with her grandfather remains strong.

It just turns out that he was always planning to give the majority of his estate to charity…

The elder Hilton's opinion might not matter much to Hilton anyway, because billionaire Barron has always made it known he's giving almost all his fortune to charity, “House of Hilton” author Jerry Oppenheimer told the New York Post.

But he's still pissed:

That said, he's felt “incredibly embarrassed” by her transgressions, Oppenheimer said.

“He and the broader Hilton family are just disgusted that the Hilton family name has been sullied,” Oppenheimer told the Post. “It's been a total embarrassment for him.”

So this was just another publicity stunt and a lot of people got suckered in, myself included. Yawn…

Posted by DaveH at 10:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 30, 2007

Poetic Justice - Paris Hilton and her Grandfather

Schadenfreude at its finest. From news.com.au:

Paris Hilton loses inheritance
Party princess Paris Hilton is $60 million out of pocket after her billionaire grandfather - appalled by her jail term for drink-driving offences - axed her inheritance.

Family patriarch Barron Hilton was already embarrassed by his granddaughter's wild behaviour - notably when her home sex video was leaked on the internet.

But the 79-year-old considered her 23-day sentence last month the last straw.

“He was, and is, extremely embarrassed by how the Hilton name has been sullied by Paris,” says Jerry Oppenheimer, who wrote a biography of the clan called House Of Hilton.

“He now doesn't want to leave unearned wealth to his family.”

Hilton senior, the only member of the family left with a sizeable stake in the huge hotel chain, has let it be known that he intends to donate to charity the $2.4bn he will gain from this month's sale of the company to private equity firm Blackstone.

The money will go to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the charity set up in the name of the founder of the family business.

Some serious wailing and gnashing of teeth going on at the P. Hilton digs tonight to be sure… Good on Barron to have the stones to do this. The Hilton name was a major icon up through the 1980's but Paris' parents and Paris have succeeded in making it a laughingstock. Famous for being famous.

Posted by DaveH at 11:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Voter Fraud in Seattle - ACORN

ACORN is a corrupt organization and another of its “peccadilloes” just surfaced in Seattle. From KOMO-TV/AP:

7 charged with voter registration fraud
King County prosecutors filed felony charges Thursday against seven people in what a top official described as the worst case of voter-registration fraud in state history, while the organization they worked for agreed to keep a better eye on its employees and pay $25,000 to defray costs of the investigation.

The seven submitted about 1,800 registration cards last fall on behalf of the liberal Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, which had hired them at $8 an hour to sign people up to vote, according to charging documents filed in Superior Court.

Secretary of State Sam Reed told a news conference it was clearly Washington's most serious instance of voter registration fraud.

“This was an act of vandalism upon the voter rolls of King County,” said Dan Satterberg, the interim King County prosecutor.

But the King County officials did some backpedaling on this:

Satterberg, Reed and other officials stressed that the defendants were motivated by financial gain rather than any desire to toy with the outcome of an election. They said that in one sense, ACORN was victimized because it paid for voter-registration work that was never performed.

But in interviews with King County Sheriff's Detective Chris Johnson, several of the defendants - while freely admitting they forged the forms - insisted that they had been told ACORN would shut down their office in Tacoma if they didn't improve their numbers, Johnson wrote in a probable cause statement.

One, Ryan Olson, said another worker in the office told him “do what you have to do” to turn in more cards.

ACORN's oversight of the workers was virtually nonexistent - to the extent that civil charges could have been warranted, Satterberg said.

ACORN is a welfare pimp, getting low-income people on the dole instead of getting them motivated and educated to get better jobs. Their clients are traditionally democratic voters. “rather than any desire to toy with the outcome of an election” indeed.

For a good insight into their organization, check out Rotten Acorn

Googling ACORN Corruption turns up 284,000 hits, a bunch of which are not related but about 1/3 are — which for any organization would be really bad…

Posted by DaveH at 10:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Stinking Rose meets "progress"

Sad news but inevitible… From CBS/AP:

Garlic Farms Getting Cleared Out Of Gilroy
People enjoying the Gilroy Garlic Festival Saturday may not know that while the garlic may seem plentiful the area's garlic farms are disappearing.

Only three growers remain in Santa Clara County because of land-use pressure, economics and plant disease.

Garlic farmer Louie Bonino's farm used to be 40 acres, but the small farmer's crop now only covers 10 acres.

The county's garlic production has fallen due to economic pressures that have sent farmers east to the San Joaquin Valley and to China, where labor is cheaper.

And the ever-growing presence of strip malls in Santa Clara county have pushed garlic farmers to the land's fringes.

Soon, many small farmers say, Gilroy's famous garlic may be a thing of the past.

Sad news — Gilroy is the Garlic center of the USA.

Posted by DaveH at 10:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Man - 0, Gecko - 1

I happen to really like Geckos — they are cute, eat a lot of bugs and generally stay out of my way.

A man was collecting Geckos to feed his pet snake and the outcome was not a good one. From news.com.au:

Gecko hunt ends in death fall
A 21-year-old man who was out in the middle of the night hunting geckos to feed a pet snake has died after falling 45m down a disused sewer shaft in Sydney.

The Daceyville man's body was recovered this morning from the former sewerage outlet below a Malabar headland in Sydney's eastern suburbs, police said.

Inspector Eddy Bosch said the man and his mate had been out collecting geckos in the area about 2.45am (AEST) today when one of them fell about 45m down the shaft leading to a former sewage outlet.

“They have walked past a cement structure which had a door in it,” Insp Bosch told Southern Cross Broadcasting.

“One of the fellows has gone through that door and stepped into the structure and has unfortunately stepped into a disused shaft and he's fallen down that shaft.”

Ouch!

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

July 28, 2007

Sheikhs on a Plane

Carrying one's cultural psychoses a little bit to far. From stuff.co.nz:

Qatar sheikh delays BA plane over seating
A Qatar sheikh held up a British Airways flight at Milan's Linate airport for nearly three hours after discovering three of his female relatives had been seated next to men they did not know.

When none of the other business class passengers agreed to swap seats, the sheikh, a member of Qatar's ruling family, went to the pilot, who had already started the engine, to complain, an airport official said.

But the pilot ordered him and his traveling companions, the three women, two men, a cook and a servant, off the plane.

The London-bound flight took off nearly three hours behind schedule on Thursday evening and around 50 of the 115 passengers missed connecting flights.

Emphasis mine — good on the Pilot and the Flight Crew to have the cojones to stand up to this little toady. And thinking about it, with a party of six people, they could have re-arranged themselves to find a three-across. Only two across? The Sheik and one relative in one and the two other relatives in another. Or they could have been a bit more careful when booking their seats…

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

Light posting today as well...

Jen and I got in 110 bales of hay for our goats, sheep and Llamas and we are stiff and tired. Plus, we worked at the store, Jen stocking and I went into town to get some more produce. The business is doing very well. Finally, we had dinner at a local restaurant that was running a benefit for a good friend of ours who is kicking cancer.

I'll be surfing a bit and will post if I see anything I think you would like but it will probably be a short night.

Some decent red wine, an hour or so surfing and then to bed. Sounds good…

Posted by DaveH at 09:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 27, 2007

And some call it art - Koran burning

Everyone knows my views on Islam — these idiots are following a prophet of Satan and are trying to establish a new caliphate through the use of exported terror and manipulating a willing Western media.

But some injustices just call out for anger. Righteous anger.

From EarthTimes.org:

Gay Artist Burns Rare $60,000.00 Koran
Charles Merrill, the artist who recently edited the Holy Bible with a black marker and pair of scissors, has lately burned a rare Islamic Holy Book, The Koran, valued at $60,000.00, in an undisclosed Chicago location. “The purpose of editing and burning Abrahamic Holy Books is to eliminate homophobic hate,” Merrill stated. “Both ancient books are terrorist manuals.”

A bit about the book:

He continues, “I inherited the rare Islamic book from my late wife, Evangeline Johnson Merrill. As the daughter of the founder of the international pharmaceutical giant, Johnson and Johnson, Inc., doors of kings and queens opened to her around the world. Evangeline was given the rare manuscript by the late King of Jordan when she was on a mission for the United Nations in the 1950's.”

So that book is now your personal play-toy — a 'thing' to be used to prop up a flagging career as a self-centered wanna-be 'artiste' who's only popularity comes from his wife's family and his money.

Any book of that value was never meant to be destroyed by anyone. Its gift was the conveyance of a trust that the book would be treasured and preserved, not destroyed on an 'artists' whim.

As I have said here before, I have had the occasion to know a number of Islamic Sufi's and as a whole, these were some of the most gracious, wonderful, and selfless people you could ever meet. My complaint is not against Islam as a spiritual practice but against the corrupt Mullahs and Saudi Arabian Wahabbists who are fomenting terror, fear and ignorance among their people to sustain their power.

I am a firm believer in sovereign states rights so when we find people from Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran coming into Iraq to try to topple the nascent democratic government (everyone remember the blue fingers), I get sorely pissed. When they try to bring it into Britain, Spain and the USA, I get livid.

Oh yes, here is a photo of the narcissistic little twat lounging at the Plaza San Marco (I have been there several times - gorgeous way to spend an afternoon):

charles_merril_venice.jpg

And here is a photo of one of his artworks:

charles_merrill_fag.jpg

Mr. Merrill is not challenging, he is chalanged…

And as for his quote about the Bible and the Koran: “Both ancient books are terrorist manuals.

They both were at the time they were written. Life was harsh back then and the survival of your tribe was paramount to your existence.

But you know something? The Christians started to outgrow the terror aspect after about 600 years. The other guys have yet to to this day. The sects of Islam that genuinely practice peace and submission are under suppression by the majority.

Posted by DaveH at 09:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 26, 2007

Scott Thomas - the bloggers have spoken

I didn't post about the Scott Thomas affair when it came out as I was short of time and other people were doing excellent work.

For those who don't recognize the name, he published these articles at The New Republic: Shock Troops, Dead of Night and War Bonds
(Shock Troops is still available online but the other two have fallen off public availability and are now only available to subscribers unless you know the Google trick…)

Here are a few lines from Shock Troops:

One private, infamous as a joker and troublemaker, found the top part of a human skull, which was almost perfectly preserved. It even had chunks of hair, which were stiff and matted down with dirt. He squealed as he placed it on his head like a crown. It was a perfect fit. As he marched around with the skull on his head, people dropped shovels and sandbags, folding in half with laughter. No one thought to tell him to stop. No one was disgusted. Me included.

One more:

I know another private who really only enjoyed driving Bradley Fighting Vehicles because it gave him the opportunity to run things over. He took out curbs, concrete barriers, corners of buildings, stands in the market, and his favorite target: dogs.

A number of military bloggers noticed that Scott Thomas had very little knowledge of how things work. Running a Bradley into a concrete barrier would severely damage it — it is armored but not invincible to collision, there is a big big difference.

His other posts show little or no accurate knowledge about guns. It was doubted that he was even in the military.

Bit by bit, the story came clear. Michelle Malkin has an excellent roundup of facts at Hot Air:

Scott Thomas revealed
He’s Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp, a member of Alpha Company, 1/18 Infantry, Second Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division. He’s also calling most of his critics chickenhawks, even though most of his critics a) served in the military and/or b) have been to Iraq or c) both. The pre-amble to Pvt Thomas’ letter is one more exercise in silliness from TNR:
Although the article was rigorously edited and fact-checked before it was published, we have decided to go back and, to the extent possible, re-report every detail. This process takes considerable time, as the primary subjects are on another continent, with intermittent access to phones and email. Thus far we’ve found nothing to disprove the facts in the article; we will release the full results of our search when it is completed.
It’s actually not that complicated, guys. Was there or was there not a mass grave that contained the bones of children underneath everyday, mundane household items? If there was, Pvt Thomas’ writings could be true, but if there wasn’t — and we know that there wasn’t — then they can’t be true. Are the Iraqi police the only ones who use Glocks in Iraq? If they are, his writings could be true. If they’re not — in a country awash in weapons, they’re not — his writings contain fabulism.

That’s the bottom line. There’s no need to blame the lack of a good fact check a week after the saga erupted on the difficulty of tracking down witnesses to all the events Thomas claims to have witnessed. All one needs to do is check the basic checkable facts he reports. That wasn’t done before publication, and hasn’t been done yet.

I’ll probably have more to say on this later, once I’ve sifted through Pvt Thomas’ account more thoroughly.

There follows page after page after page of facts about Scott Thomas, his life, his prior writings, his politics, the fact that he is engaged to another reporter at The New Republic… Thomas is a rotten journalist and needs to STFU (or stop pushing opinion pieces as factual).

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

A lottery winners first purchase

Great story from Australia - from news.com.au:

$10m lotto winner's first buy - thermal undies
Forget the jewels, the world trips and the flash cars … new thermal undies top the wish list of the woman who has won $10 million, Tasmania's biggest ever Oz Lotto jackpot.

“The weather down here is really cold, so I'll buy a new set of thermals before we do anything with the money,” she said.

The winning ticket was sold by Wynyard Newsagency, in the state's northeast, and the lucky numbers came up in Tuesday's draw.

The woman and her family, from Wynyard, wish to remain anonymous.

The winner said she was unaware of the win until a friend mentioned that someone had won a record prize with a ticket purchased from the newsagency.

“I then checked our ticket and was stunned to see that I had the winning numbers,” she said.

Very cool!

Posted by DaveH at 07:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

An interesting view of Goldfinger on the eve of its re-release

A curious look at the James Bond Goldfinger movie from the London Times:

Goldfinger? Dr No? Or Casino Royale?
As the quintessential Bond film is rereleased, we want to know which 007 movie leaves you most shaken and stirred

For many people Goldfinger, which is rereleased tomorrow, is the quintessential Bond film, the one that established a formula that is still going strong 43 years later. The third of the Sean Connery Bond films, this was the first to feature a pretitle sequence irrelevant to the plot of the main film; the first to have a real theme song belted out over the opening credits; the first to feature Q by name, and the first with the gadget-packed Aston Martin DB5, still the most famous film car of them all.

With its snappy script, sight-gags and one-liners, Goldfinger was the first Bond to go blockbuster, and yet if you scratch the surface, you find it’s not a “typical” Bond film at all.

A bit more:

This is the dirty secret at the heart of Goldfinger: JAMES BOND IS COMPLETELY INCOMPETENT THROUGHOUT. Don’t believe me? Consider, if you will, the bare bones of the plot.

In Miami, Bond is ordered to observe the antics of Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe). Instead, he lets his indiscipline get the better of him and interferes, which costs a young woman, Jill Masterson, her life.

Hauled over the coals by M, whose intervention with the Miami Beach Police prevents Bond from being arrested and jailed, 007 then embarks on a short game of cat-and-mouse with Goldfinger. This ends when Bond gets Masterson’s sister killed by a maniac with a flying hat, and is easily captured and forced to beg for his life as a laser threatens to separate him from his manhood. “Do you expect me to talk?” he asks, hopefully. “No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die,” comes the immortal reply.

So, by the halfway point of the film, Bond’s interfering, aimless ways have resulted in the premature death of two sisters and a humiliating capture by an overweight buffoon.

But what of the car, the great Aston Martin, fitted with oil-slicks, a bullet-proof screen, circular saws, machine guns and an ejector seat? What of it? After a brief chase in which Bond is prevented from making an escape by an arthritic pensioner with a machine-gun, Britain’s top secret agent is dazzled by oncoming headlights and crashes his world-beating gadget into a brick wall.

How pathetic is that?

Worse is to come. Captured, beaten and humiliated, what does our hero do next? Perform a heroic escape? Alert the outside world to the dangers of Goldfinger’s evil plan? Not a bit of it. When he’s not sipping Mint Juleps on the balcony of Goldfinger’s Kentucky ranch, he’s slipping notes into the pocket of a gangster who – along with the note – then gets flattened in a car crusher. So comfortable does Bond appear in captivity that the CIA minders (it is by now obvious that our moronic hero cannot achieve anything alone) decide not to intervene and leave him to enjoy his cocktails.

And so it goes on. Bond never escapes, and the film’s climax finds him, still a prisoner, helplessly trying to disarm a nuclear device. It takes the intervention of a kindly CIA man to show him the off switch. In the course of the film, Bond’s only moment of efficiency comes from killing his nemesis, right at the end.

The author does have a point — might be fun to dig out my collection and take another look…

Posted by DaveH at 07:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A curious cat

Meet Oscar the Cat — from Yahoo/AP:

Oscar the cat predicts patients' deaths
Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live.

“He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die,” said Dr. David Dosa in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Many family members take some solace from it. They appreciate the companionship that the cat provides for their dying loved one,” said Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Brown University.

The 2-year-old feline was adopted as a kitten and grew up in a third-floor dementia unit at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The facility treats people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and other illnesses.

After about six months, the staff noticed Oscar would make his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses. He'd sniff and observe patients, then sit beside people who would wind up dying in a few hours.

What a sweet critter! If I was slipping away, having a nice warm purring companion curled up next to me would not be a bad way to go.

oscar_the_cat.jpg

There is another nice article at The Boston Globe.

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

July 25, 2007

Light posting yesterday and today; maybe tomorrow

Working on some paperwork and other stuff…

Posted by DaveH at 08:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 23, 2007

A fine rant against nannyism

From the Australian A Western Heart:

One sample paragraph:

I despise you for trashing the good names of words such as 'diversity', 'tolerance', 'respect', 'progress', 'charity' and 'community'. Words and concepts that have made this country such a magnet for others have now become little more than Orwellian IngSoc. '1984' was written as a warning not a fucking instruction manual.

And the rest is just as great.

Posted by DaveH at 10:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another tainted Chinese export - air

From the Wall Street Journal's Science Journal:

Huge Dust Plumes From China Cause Changes in Climate
One tainted export from China can't be avoided in North America — air.

An outpouring of dust layered with man-made sulfates, smog, industrial fumes, carbon grit and nitrates is crossing the Pacific Ocean on prevailing winds from booming Asian economies in plumes so vast they alter the climate. These rivers of polluted air can be wider than the Amazon and deeper than the Grand Canyon.

“There are times when it covers the entire Pacific Ocean basin like a ribbon bent back and forth,” said atmospheric physicist V. Ramanathan at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif.

On some days, almost a third of the air over Los Angeles and San Francisco can be traced directly to Asia. With it comes up to three-quarters of the black carbon particulate pollution that reaches the West Coast, Dr. Ramanathan and his colleagues recently reported in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

This transcontinental pollution is part of a growing global traffic in dust and aerosol particles made worse by drought and deforestation, said Steven Cliff, who studies the problem at the University of California at Davis.

On some days, almost a third of the air over Los Angeles and San Francisco can be traced directly to Asia. With it comes up to three-quarters of the black carbon particulate pollution that reaches the West Coast, Dr. Ramanathan and his colleagues recently reported in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

This transcontinental pollution is part of a growing global traffic in dust and aerosol particles made worse by drought and deforestation, said Steven Cliff, who studies the problem at the University of California at Davis.

On some days, almost a third of the air over Los Angeles and San Francisco can be traced directly to Asia. With it comes up to three-quarters of the black carbon particulate pollution that reaches the West Coast, Dr. Ramanathan and his colleagues recently reported in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

This transcontinental pollution is part of a growing global traffic in dust and aerosol particles made worse by drought and deforestation, said Steven Cliff, who studies the problem at the University of California at Davis.

Lot's more at the WSJ - some amazing photos of a river of pollution.

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

July 22, 2007

Bear Grylls and his 'reality' television show.

Bear Grylls just got pwned
From the Daily Mail:

How Bear Grylls the Born Survivor roughed it - in hotels
To viewers of his TV series, Bear Grylls is the daredevil adventurer who catapults himself into world's worst 'hellholes' and then survives on his wits alone.

But it has emerged that far from roughing it in brutal environments, the former SAS man actually spent nights in hotels during filming of his Channel 4 show.

The Eton- educated 33-year- old is also alleged to have choreographed parts of Born Survivor, with many of his spectacular stunts carefully set up by the production crew.

Channel 4 last night began an investigation into the claims, which follow a number of embarrassing incidents in which programmes screened by the station were found to have misled the public.

Grylls's show attracted 1.4 million viewers when it was shown in March and April, with audiences enthralled as he demonstrated gruesome survival tips that included sucking the fluid from fish eyeballs and squeezing water from animal dung.

But an adviser to Born Survivor yesterday claimed that many of his other escapades were not exactly as they seemed on TV.

In one episode filmed in California's Sierra Nevada mountains he was shown biting off the head of a snake for breakfast and boasting that he was living on 'just a water bottle, a cup and a flint for making fire'.

Viewers were not told that he was actually spending some nights in the Pines Resort hotel at Bass Lake, where the rooms have Internet access and is advertised as 'a cosy getaway for families' complete with blueberry pancakes for breakfast.

In another episode when Grylls declared he was a 'real life Robinson Crusoe' stuck on a desert island, he was actually on an outlying part of the Hawaiian archipelago and retired to a motel at nightfall.

Mark Weinert, a survival consultant brought in for the programme, said one show also wrongly gave the impression that the adventurer built a Polynesian- style raft using only materials around him, including bamboo and palm leaves for a sail.

Mr Weinert had in fact led a team that built the raft, which was then dismantled so that Grylls could be shown constructing it on camera.

In another episode, Grylls was filmed attempting to lasso 'wild' mustang in the Sierra Nevada, when the horses were actually tame and had been brought in by trailer from a nearby trekking station.

'If you really believe everything happens the way it is shown on TV, you are being a little bit naive,' Mr Weinert told the Sunday Times.

Grylls has certainly paid his dues but to do such a large mis-representation on TV is not cool.

Survivorman actually does his own stuff - a lot better show too.

Posted by DaveH at 11:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

An Old-School Self Made Man

Really nice article about Lester Miller — born in Brooklyn into a poor family and went on to make himself a multi-millionaire.

From St. Louis Magazine:

Only Money
From prophylactics and toilet cleaners to white yachts and a white-tablecloth restaurant … the amazing journey of a high-school dropout who realized dollars were just tokens in a larger game

At 9, he’d stand over a New York street grate, watching out of the corner of his eye for a flash of worsted wool or shiny shoes. “My quarter fell!” he’d sob as soon as the guy was within earshot. “Don’t worry about it, kid,” the man would say, reaching in an exaggerated arc for his wallet. “Here’s 50 cents.”

At 11, he started selling newspapers—The News and The Mirror—outside Broadway theaters. “They sold for 2 cents apiece. People would give you a nickel and chase you for the penny change, and you’d try to disappear.”

At 14, he went to work in the catering business, and a $100 tip changed his life. One night a cop pulled alongside the small figure trudging through Brooklyn at 2 a.m. and asked just what he was doing. “Whaddya think?” he retorted. “I’m going home from work.”

Here's a story about his business style:

Another day Miller took a cab to the airport, and the driver came running after him, yelling, “Mr. Miller! You left your wallet!” “It had about $3,000 in it,” Miller says, “but what’s important is, it had all my ID.” He peeled off a $20 in gratitude, rushed to his flight and then thought, ‘That wasn’t enough.’ When he returned, he tried to find the cabbie, but the company couldn’t help. A month later, he climbed into another cab and saw the driver he’d been looking for.

“What do you make?” Miller asked; on hearing the sum, he said, “Quit. You’re going to drive for me.” When he found out that the man, Dawit Ayalew, was a political refugee from Ethiopia with three children, he told him, “When I’m out of town, park outside the Ritz-Carlton; you’ll get fares, and you can keep the money.” Ayalew became so successful that Miller once returned home from a trip to learn that his driver was busy with another fare—in Illinois. Miller took a cab home, telling himself wryly, “Something’s wrong with this picture.” So he helped Ayalew get a loan and start his own company. Then, when it looked like the Ritz-Carlton was going to shut him out, Miller accompanied Ayalew to the interview and told the hotel manager, “Here’s a guy, he was in the sand four years ago, he came to the United States, he became a U.S. citizen, the customers love him, he should get the exclusive contract.”

The manager murmured something about Ayalew’s needing at least six cars.

“I’ll get him six cars,” Miller replied.

Ayalew, who now owns America Transportation and has paid back every cent Miller loaned him, still talks in bemused tones about his year as a personal driver: “He usually sat in the front seat, and he didn’t want me to open and close the door for him. I asked him, ‘Why don’t you buy a car with tinted glass?’ and he said, ‘No, I want to stay low-class; the tinted glass gets attention.’ Sometimes he’d go for lunch with his friends and come out with food for me. I said, ‘No, no!’ He said, ‘Once upon a time, I was like you. I was a little guy.’”

An American classic — the kind of people that make America great.

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Gettting the shaft

From the Sydney Herald Sun:

Wheelchair joyride ends in lift plunge
A man man who took a wheelchair for a joyride was seriously injured when it tipped and he plunged down a lift shaft in southwest Germany.

Police in the town of Neckargemuend said the able-bodied 20-year-old man was sitting in the chair while another man pushed it at high speed along an 11th-floor corridor at a trade-training school yesterday evening.

When the chair hurtled into the closed door of a lift, the lower bolts of the door broke and the chair tipped forward, catapulting the man through the gap, Deutsche Presse -Agentur reported.

The man fell 12m onto the roof of the lift car.

His injuries were severe but not critical, police said.

An inquiry is to be held into why the lift doors gave way.

Yikes! - At least he had the roof of the cab to land on and not the cement base of the shaft. Soften his impact a bit.

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Must not click on link

Must not click on link
Must not click on link
Must not click on link
Must not click on link
Must not click on link
Must not click on link
Must not click on link

OK Here

And Here

Sorry about that but I had to share the love…

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Conspicuous consumption - children's playset department

From the Philadelphia Enquirer:

Giant play sets can be seen from space
Tastes are swinging to elaborate, costly backyard “systems.”

Three-year-old Jared Rudolph doesn't have a swing set in his Perkiomen Township backyard.

He has a “play system” - a kiddie activity center so big that it's visible not only from down the street but from space.

After spending $6,300 on the “Double Sunny” model, plus $4,000 for a four-inch layer of rubber mulch to cushion his son's falls, Richard “Rudy” Rudolph happened upon a satellite photo of his Montgomery County development on the Internet. Stunned, he spotted the play set, sprawling 43 feet by 21 feet behind the family's four-bedroom Colonial. From that far up, though, the best parts were a blur.

Probably a lot of fun for the kid but sheesh - whatever happened to imagination and building your own stuff.

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Mythology site - Timeless Myths

Excellent deep website for Classical, Norse and Celtic Mythology as well as the Arthurian Legends.

Check out: Timeless Myths

From their page on Celtic Myths:

Here, we enter the lush, green land, shrouded in mists of magic and wonders. The land is young yet ancient; beautiful yet intriguing; and something quite magical.
We meet people who are fair and noble. Yet when aroused into battle, these people can easily become savage. One can lose their heads, quite literally, at the end of the swords.

Here we turn our page to Celtic Mythology.

Though Celtic myths was not written until eleventh century AD, after the Vikings was driven out of Ireland, their sources, mostly oral traditions, were quite old. Even ancient.

Many of the myths that come to us, come mainly from Ireland and Wales. Celtic myths also included those from Scotland, Cornwall and Brittany (in France). We have to thank the Welsh myths, and to a lesser degree to the Irish, for the legends of King Arthur. While the medieval romance of Tristan and Isolde originated in Brittany, it gained popularity in Continental Europe and the British Isles.

A wonderful well-written resource — prepare to spend a lot of time reading…

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Awwwwww cute video - Jessica the Hippo

Check out Jessica the Hippo - three minutes of YouTube cuteness.

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July 21, 2007

A Seattle Treasure now on Video -- Bill Beaty

Very high geekdom. Bill Beaty runs the Science Hobbyist site

He has (unknown to me) been adding video content to his website.

A lot of these are illustrations of his experiments, some of these are personal memos that he films while commuting with a low-rez camera.

Start here: IDEAS ^ 2: ideas about idea-having

and start digging and enjoying

Also, check out here: BILL B. SCIENCE VIDEOS

Great stuff!!!

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A collection of George Carlin quotes

101 quotes from Mr. Carlin.

Here is #1:

I don’t have pet peeves — I have major psychotic fucking hatreds!

#5:

Have you ever noticed that their stuff is shit and your shit is stuff?

and #44:

Here’s a bumper sticker I’d like to see: “We are the proud parents of a child who’s self-esteem is sufficient that he doesn’t need us promoting his minor scholastic achievements on the back of our car.”
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A new archaeological dig in Rome

Major find in Rome - from AOL News/AP:

Archaeologists Find 'Very Unusual' Villa
Archaeologists said Thursday they have partly dug up a second-century bath complex believed to be part of the vast, luxurious residence of a wealthy Roman.

The two-story complex, which extends for at least 5 acres, includes exceptionally well-preserved decorated hot rooms, vaults, changing rooms, marble latrines and an underground room where slaves lit the fire to warm the baths.

Statues and water cascades decorated the interiors, American archaeologist Darius A. Arya, the head of the excavation, said Thursday during a tour of the digs with The Associated Press. Only pedestals and fragments have been recovered.

Arya spoke as students and experts were brushing off earth and dust from ancient marbles, mosaic floors and a rudimentary heating system, made of pipes that channeled hot air throughout the complex.

“The Romans had more leisure time than other people, and it's here in the baths that they typically spent their time,” Arya said. “Because you could eat well, you could get a massage, you could have sex, you could gossip, you could play your games, you could talk about politics - you could spend the whole day here.”

However, he added, “to have a bath complex of this size, this scale, it's very unusual.”

The complex is believed to be part of a multiple-story villa that belonged to the Roman equivalent of a billionaire of today, a man called Quintus Servilius Pudens who was friends with Emperor Hadrian, Arya said. It is not clear if the baths were open to the public or reserved to distinguished guests of the owner.

“These people lived a magnificent existence and were able to provide entertainment,” to others, said Arya, who is also a professor at the American Institute for Roman Culture.

roman_bath_excavation.jpg

My emphasis on the “rudimentary heating system”

This is a Hypocaust and was actually very complex and well engineered. Very labor and materials intensive so reserved for the rich and for public baths, etc…

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Burt Rutan gets bought out

Very cool deal. From Space News:

Northrop Grumman Buys Builder of SpaceShipOne
Northrop Grumman Corp. agreed July 5 to increase its stake in Scaled Composites - the builder of the Ansari X-Prize Cup-winning SpaceShipOne and a host of record-breaking aircraft - from 40 percent to 100 percent, Northrop Grumman spokesman Dan McClain confirmed July 20.

McClain, who declined to disclose the value of the deal, said the company expects it to close in August pending regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Scaled Composites currently is working with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic venture on a vehicle designated for now as SpaceShipTwo, which would carry two pilots and six paying passengers into suborbital space for a few minutes of weightlessness. The company also is building a new carrier aircraft, dubbed WhiteKnight2, that will carry SpaceShipTwo to an altitude of 15 kilometers before releasing it to soar to suborbital space.

The two companies last year formed a joint venture called the Spaceship Company to build the new vehicles.

Sweet deal for both of them. Northrop has a long history of building some of the more 'interesting' aircraft out there and Scaled Composites is a much smaller company with an equal if not greater track record. This deal will give a lot of backing to Scaled and will jump-start Northrop's Skunk Works.

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July 20, 2007

President Bush and his Executive Order - the takedown of the Fifth Amendment

Jay Redding has a long and detailed analysis of President Bush's Executive Order — and the so-called 'Overruling' of the Fifth Amendment.
It is too detailed to really excerpt properly but here are a few paragraphs just to give a small taste:

No, The Fifth Amendment Has Not Been “Overruled”
Another round of left-wing hysteria is hitting sites like Digg and Slashdot making the argument that President Bush has (gasp!) “overturned” the Fifth Amendment with this Executive Order. As typical, this hysteria is completely unwarranted by the facts.

Presidents have traditionally had the power to order the seizure of assets during wartime. The most famous case dealing with this issue, and one of the most important cases in Constitutional Law is Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952). That case deals with President Truman’s attempted government seizure of a steel mill that produced war goods for the Korean War. Workers at the mill had gone on strike, and Truman had decided to seize the mill rather than risk it being shut down.

One more:

It’s the “boy who cried wolf” problem. If we have hysterical cries about civil rights all the time based on nothing more than partisan prejudices, it’s a lot harder for people to take real violations of civil rights seriously. These frequently hysterical accusations numb people to the idea that the government can take actions which are deeply injurious to the Constitution. If 99% of the time a claim of an action being unconstitutional is a silly partisan argument, that 1% can easily slip by the consciousness of the public.

This Executive Order is a straightforward invocation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. It is not a “power grab” by the Bush Administration — it was passed by Congress in 1977, during the Carter Administration. It is not an unprecedented act, every President since has invoked the IEEPA for various reasons. It does not apply to groups who are not giving material support to terrorist groups in Iraq. It does not remove anyone’s right to judicial redress. It can be overridden by an act of Congress. It does not “trample on the Constitution,” it does not “overrule” the Fifth Amendment, and it does not signal the dawn of fascism.

Take the twenty minutes to read this essay — you will find it time well spent.

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The Housing Market - Condos in Florida

An interesting article at Bloomberg today:

Miami Condo Glut Pushes Florida's Economy to Brink of Recession
In the middle of the biggest glut of condominiums in more than 30 years, Miami developers keep on building.

The oversupply will force prices down as much as 30 percent, the worst decline since the 1970s, and help push Florida's economy into recession as early as October, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at West Chester, Pennsylvania-based Moody's Economy.com, who owns a home in Vero Beach, Florida.

“Florida is the epicenter for all the problems that exist in the housing industry,” said Lewis Goodkin, president of Goodkin Consulting Corp. and a property adviser in Miami for the past 30 years, who also foresees a recession. “The problems we have now are unprecedented and a lot of people will get burnt.”

Thirty-seven new high-rise condos and 20,000 new units are being built in Miami's 1,040-acre downtown, where sales fell almost 50 percent in May, according to the Florida Association of Realtors. The new units will join the 22,924 existing condos in Miami-Dade County that were for sale in April, according to Jack McCabe, chief executive officer of McCabe Research & Consulting LLC in Deerfield Beach, Florida. That's the most unsold units since McCabe began tracking sales in 2002.

“Have you been to Miami lately?” Florida Governor Charlie Crist said at a homebuilders' conference last week in Orlando. “It's like we have a new state bird: the building crane.”

And a bit more:

Florida banks posted a 43 percent jump in the first quarter in loans no longer paying interest compared with the last three months of 2006, while the number for banks nationwide rose 13 percent, according to the FDIC.

Loan payments that were one to three months overdue to Florida banks increased 30 percent in the first three months of 2007 from the fourth quarter of last year. The same number for banks nationwide fell 1.8 percent, the FDIC said.

Angel Medina Jr., who runs the Southeast Florida operations of Regions Bank, a division of Birmingham, Alabama-based Regions Financial Corp., said Regions has financed projects by two of Miami's biggest condo developers: Related Group of Florida, headed by billionaire Jorge Perez, and Ugo Colombo's CMC Group.

The bank hasn't financed any Miami condos in the past 18 months because development is “too aggressive,” Medina said.

Looks like Ray Kinsella's advice doesn't always hold true…

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Rice paddy art

Gorgeous rice paddys in Japan. They plant a few additional species with different coloration along with the standard crop.

From Pink Tentacle:

Pimp my rice paddy
Each year, farmers in the town of Inakadate in Aomori prefecture create works of crop art by growing a little purple and yellow-leafed kodaimai rice along with their local green-leafed tsugaru-roman variety. This year’s creation — a pair of grassy reproductions of famous woodblock prints from Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji — has begun to appear (above). It will be visible until the rice is harvested in September.

Inakadate_rice_art.jpg

The website has some photos of other years as well — gorgeous and very well done.

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Today's edition of "Really Stupid Criminals" - dogs and copper

Three mokes break into an abandoned nursing home with the intent of stealing copper pipe and wiring. They fail to see the signs on the fence surounding the home - the signs that say: “Caution!!! Gainesville Police Department K-9 training facility - Keep Out”

From Raleigh's WRAL/AP:

Canine Unit Takes a Bite out of Crime
It's a bad idea to burglarize a place marked “K-9 training facility.”

Police dog handlers arriving Wednesday at the abandoned nursing home where they hold training sessions discovered two men and a woman dismantling the building's copper pipes and wiring, Hall County Sheriff's Sgt. Kiley Sargent said.

When the officers arrived, the three dropped their tools and ran. That was their second mistake.

“For anyone to try to run from a whole unit of canines, it's just a no-win situation,” Sargent said.

Pamela Puckett, 37, quickly surrendered. Marc Black, 18, was tracked to a trash bin behind a nearby convenience store. Paul Perry, 39, was treated for a superficial dog bite just below the buttocks after his arrest, authorities said.

Signs outside the northern Georgia facility warn, “Caution!!! Gainesville Police Department K-9 training facility - Keep Out.”

“It's not like it was a secret,” Sargent said. “I guess someone who is that determined to steal something might not pay attention.”

High copper prices in recent years have led to thieves breaking into power plants and abandoned factories to rip out the wiring.

Heh… Play time for the dogs and a perfect training session.

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

The brain of a French Bureaucrat

Here is the CAT Scan:

French_Bureaucrat_brain.jpg
Scans of the man's brain show the huge fluid-filled chamber and the thin sheet of actual brain tissue.

From Der Spiegel/Reuters:

Tiny Brain No Problem for French Tax Official
Something that many people secretly believed has been confirmed: You don't actually need a brain to work in a tax office. A French civil servant has been found to have a huge cavity filled with fluid in his head — yet lives a completely normal life.

The commonly spouted wisdom that people only use 10 percent of their brain power may have been dismissed as a myth, but one French man seems to be managing fine with just a small fraction of his actual brain.

In fact the man, who works as a civil servant in southern France, has succeeded in living an entirely normal life despite a huge fluid-filled cavity taking up most of the space where his brain should be.

Neurologists at the University of Marseille described the incredible case in the latest edition of the medical journal Lancet published Friday.

They describe how the 44-year-old man went to the hospital in 2003 because he felt a mild weakness in his left leg. When the doctors went to look at his brain to see if the problem lay there, they found, well, pretty much nothing but a great black hole.

The man told the hospital that as a child he had suffered from hydrocephalus (also known as “water on the brain”), a condition in which an abnormal ammount of cerebrospinal fluid accumulates in the brain cavities, causing pressure inside the skull. To treat the condition, a valve known as a “shunt” had been inserted in his head to drain away the fluid when he was a six-month old baby. It was removed when he was 14.

This information prompted the doctors to give him a computed tomography scan (CT) and a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI). They then saw that there was what they — somewhat euphemistically — called a “massive enlargement” of the lateral ventricles, chambers that hold the fluid which cushions and protects the brain and which are usually tiny.

And the guy's IQ?

Tests showed that the man's IQ is 75 — the average is 100 — but he was not considered physically or mentally disabled. Fuillet said that his condition had not impared his development or his socialization. He is married with two children and works in the tax office — which is perhaps not the most “taxing” of jobs.

Wow… It will be interesting to see if Dr. Oliver Sacks writes a story on this person — certainly right up his alley…

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

Unintended Consequences - Teenage smoking

Many people think that flooding a teenager with anti- this and anti- that messages will have an effect on the kids behavior. Guess what, it does and it isn't the one they were expecting.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Study: Anti-smoking ads have opposite effect on teens
The more exposure middle school students have to anti-smoking ads, the more likely they are to smoke, according to a new University of Georgia study.

Hye-Jin Paek, an assistant professor at UGA, found that many anti-smoking ad campaigns have the opposite effect on teenagers, backfiring because they actually encourage the rebellious nature of youth.

“They don't want to hear what they should do or not do,” Paek said. Instead, she said, ads should focus on convincing teens their friends are heeding the anti-smoking warning because peer pressure has the most direct effect.

Paek and co-author Albert Gunther from the University of Wisconsin-Madison examined surveys from 1,700 middle school students about their exposure to anti-smoking ads and their intention to smoke. The study will be published in the August issue of the journal “Communication Research.”

The study is the latest in a string of research showing that anti-smoking campaigns often have ad little to no impact on teens. In 2002, a study commissioned by an anti-smoking foundation found tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris' youth anti-smoking campaign was making students more likely to smoke.

Paek said the data showed middle school students are more like to be influenced by the perception of what their friends are doing, and that anti-smoking campaigns should be more focused on peer relations.

“Rather than saying, 'don't smoke,' it is better to say, “your friends are listening to this message and not smoking,” she said. “It doesn't really matter what their peers are actually doing.”

Kids are not stupid and they can smell a biased 'agenda' a mile away…

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July 19, 2007

Viking treasure hoard found in England

From BBC News:

Viking treasure hoard uncovered
The most important Viking treasure find in Britain for 150 years has been unearthed by a father and son while metal detecting in Yorkshire. David and Andrew Whelan uncovered the hoard, which dates back to the 10th Century, in Harrogate in January.

The pair kept their find intact and it was transferred to the British Museum to be examined by experts, who said the discovery was “phenomenal”.

A bit more:

The pair, from Leeds, said the hoard was worth about £750,000 as a conservative estimate.

They told the BBC News website: “We've been metal detecting for about five years; we do it on Saturdays as a hobby.

“We ended up in this particular field, we got a really strong signal from the detector… Eventually we found this cup containing the coins and told the antiquity authority.

“We were astonished when we finally discovered what it contained.”

The ancient objects come from as far afield as Afghanistan in the East and Ireland in the West, as well as Russia, Scandinavia and continental Europe.

The hoard contains 617 silver coins and 65 other objects, including a gold arm-ring and a gilt silver vessel.

Dr Jonathan Williams, keeper of prehistory in Europe at the British Museum, said: “[The cup] is beautifully decorated and was made in France or Germany at around AD900.

“It is fantastically rare - there are only a handful of others known around the world. It will be stunning when it is fully conserved.”

It will be wonderful to see photos of this when they get published. Fascinating bit of history.

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The biggest non-case comes lurching to a close...

From Yahoo/AP:

Plame lawsuit dismissed in CIA leak case
Former CIA operative Valerie Plame lost a lawsuit Thursday that demanded money from Bush administration officials whom she blamed for leaking her agency identity.

Plame, the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had accused Vice President Dick Cheney and others of conspiring to disclose her identity in 2003. Plame said that violated her privacy rights and was illegal retribution for her husband's criticism of the administration.

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds and said he would not express an opinion on the constitutional arguments.

Bates dismissed the case against all defendants: Cheney, White House political adviser Karl Rove, former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

And in the background, the soft popping of liberal's heads as they explode…
5,4,3,2,1, subject change.

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Troubles with a scalp infection

Talk about taking something home from one's travels.

From the UK Metro:

Man surprised by face bug infestation
One doctor thought the bleeding, strange bumps on Aaron Dallas' head might have been a gnat bite. A specialist thought it was shingles, though both doctors held out the possibility that it was something far more disturbing.

Then the bumps started moving.

A doctor found five active bot fly larvae living on Dallas' head, near the top of his skull, a few weeks after a mosquito apparently placed them there.

'I'd put my hand back there and feel them moving. I thought it was blood coursing through my head,' said Dallas, of Carbondale.

'I could hear them. I actually thought I was going crazy.'

Dallas said he likely received the larval infestation while on a trip to Belize this summer. Adult bot flies are hairy and look like bees, without bristles. One type, dermatobia hominis, attacks livestock, deer, and humans.

botfly_scalp_infestation.jpg

Talk about coming home with a little souvenir of your journey…

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July 18, 2007

Summing up contemporary culture...

…in a few sentences

Dealing with Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice) and David Beckham (amazing soccer player)
An excerpt from Agent Bedhead:

It would be nice if Posh and Becks made a success of life in LA. She might be a vulgar, idiotic barbie doll, but she’s still got more class and charm than Paris and any improvement would be welcome. Right now, though, Posh seems to be learning that you really can underestimate the taste of the American people.

Makes me think of Hermann Göring's comment: “When I hear the word culture, I reach for my Browning”

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

July 17, 2007

Finding Amelia Earhart

Some people may be onto her last stop — from CBS News/AP:

Group Hopes To End Amelia Earhart Mystery
Search Team To Scour South Pacific Island With Modern Technology

Hoping modern technology can help them solve a 70-year-old mystery, a group of investigators will search a South Pacific island to try to determine if famed aviator Amelia Earhart crash-landed and died there.

The expedition of 15 members of the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, or TIGHAR, was set to depart Thursday. The trip would mark the group's ninth to Nikumaroro, an uninhabited atoll about 1,800 miles south of Hawaii.

Once at the 2-mile-long island, the group was to spend 17 days searching for human bones, aircraft parts and any other evidence to try to show that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, reached the island on July 2, 1937, crashed on a reef at low tide and made it to shore, where they possibly lived for months as castaways, written off by the world as lost at sea.

The conditions during the search will be punishing, with the explorers forced to contend with dense jungle vegetation, 100-degree heat, sharks that reside in a lagoon in the middle of the island and voracious crabs that make it necessary to wear shoes at all times.

“The public wants it solved. That's why everybody on the street today, 70 years later, knows the name Amelia Earhart,” said TIGHAR founder and executive director Ric Gillespie. “She is America's favorite missing person.”

Cool — they have already visited the Atoll and found Plexiglas that matches the thickness and shape of the Electra Earhart was flying as well as some bones. This trip is to bring metal detectors and forensic cameras. Interesting to have this mystery solved. There is also the thought that she was working as a spy against the Japanese in the run-up to WW2. Lots of rumors, it would be good to have some facts for a change…

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Yet another reason we are glad to be out of Seattle.

From yesterday's Seattle Times:

City to require table-scrap recycling at homes in 2009
All single-family homes in Seattle must sign up for table-scrap recycling in 2009, the City Council decided Monday.

While residents will have to pay for the service, the city will not check whether they are actually dumping food in the new separate bin.

Reducing food trash was a piece of a larger plan the council unanimously approved Monday to reduce the amount of garbage sent to the landfill.

“We can reduce the waste stream,” said Councilmember Richard Conlin, chair of the utilities committee. “We can treat waste as a resource and continue to recirculate it as we reclaim, recycle it or turn it into compost.”

Starting in April 2009, all single-family homes will be required to subscribe to food-waste recycling, a program that is now optional through the yard-waste collection program. A variety of containers will be available for different rates. Prices have not been set.

Recycling food waste will be voluntary for apartments, as well as for businesses, which produce twice as much food waste as residents.

Conlin said he hopes garbage-collection rates can be adjusted to absorb some of the additional cost homeowners will have to pay for food recycling.

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) will study a ban on putting food waste in the garbage can — and enforcing the ban as it does with aluminum, paper and glass. If businesses, apartments and houses place recyclable material in their trash, violators are fined or their garbage doesn't get picked up.

By 2025, the council hopes, the city will divert 72 percent of its garbage from the landfill.

Seattle recycles 44 percent of its trash now. In 2003, Mayor Greg Nickels hoped to reach 60 percent by 2010, but that goal has been pushed back to 2012.

Talk about rampant nany-statism… Two interesting things about recycling.

The first is Penn and Teller's excellent dissection of the Landfill Crisis: Part One, Part Two and Part Three

The second is an excellent use made of a landfill in Ohio.
Here is my post from March of this year: The Ohio Valley Creative Energy Project
The home page for this wonderful project is here: OVCE

As for the food recycling, there are a lot of things that do not compost well — are they going to hire people to sort through food waste or will they just quietly landfill a bunch of it the same as current recycled items are disposed of. Aluminum is about the only good thing to recycle. Paper is good but the supply far outstrips the demand and glass is a joke with about 5% of recycled glass actually finding a use…

Posted by DaveH at 08:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 16, 2007

Department of Irony - NY Times department

Saw a reference to a story that looked somewhat interesting - people under 30 are not paying as much attention to the printed media.

Turns out the link points to an article at the NY Times - a bastion of the classical biased Main Stream Media.

When the page loads, the viewer is presented with the following:

Young Adults Are Giving Newspapers Scant Notice
By JUSTON JONES
Published: July 16, 2007

Most teenagers and adults 30 and younger are not following the news closely at all, according to a recent report.

For free access to this article and more, you must be a registered member of NYTimes.com.

So perfectly clueless — of course, you can visit bug-me-not and get a fake username and password that will work for a few weeks until some faceless IT drone at NYT World Central notices and pulls the plug on the account but gimme a break.

The Grey Lady is complaining about tanking readership while they are simultaneously enforcing a bogus registration policy. Google News is an awesome alternative.

Posted by DaveH at 10:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 15, 2007

Just the guy next door

Meet Cody Wirick:

bomb_making_cody_wirick.jpg

From ABC4:

Neighbors shaken after raid on accused bomb maker’s home
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 News)-They had just five minutes to grab what they could and go, not knowing if their homes would be there when they came back. It is what neighbors of 32-year-old, Cody Wirick, were faced with Friday afternoon when Weber County Deputies found a number of high explosive components used in bombs at Wirick’s Washington Terrace house at 576 West 5025 South.

Investigators say they found enough explosives to blow up or severely damage surrounding houses.

Authorities say a family member tipped them off to Wirick’s stash of explosives in the house he shares with his mother and sister. Next door neighbor, Leigh Snell, is an emergency room nurse, who says, she's seen her share of tense situations, but did not expect to experience it so close to home. “It just kind of makes you feel that there is no place immune. Everywhere you go there are problems,” she said.

Snell's entire block was evacuated on a moment's notice. “They said just get out now… we asked how long, how far? They said, “go as far away as you can until we say you can come back.” She says they had just five minutes to pack and go, “Not knowing what to expect, if we'd come back and have a house.”

From the same story:

Authorities say Wirick tried to end his life but survived a gunshot blast that left his face severely disfigured. They also say he has mental health issues and a prior criminal history but did not say if that history was related to bomb making.

Odd that the mother and sister didn't pick up on his collection. Some of this stuff is a bit hard to get…

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

Happy Hens

From the UK Telegraph:

Hens are as happy in battery farms
Contentedly pecking seed in the open countryside, free-range hens have carefree lives that their counterparts in battery farms can only dream about, or so it has long been believed.

In fact, caged hens are no more stressed than those that roam free, researchers have discovered.

Scientists measured corticosterone, a hormone produced in response to stress or fear, in eggs from free-range and caged hens. They found that the levels in both were very similar.

Free-range hens suffer stresses that battery hens do not have to deal with, according to Jeff Downing, who led the research at Sydney University. “If they have no cover they are constantly in fear of attack by predators,” he explained. “You can see it. A shadow comes over and they are completely startled.”

Mr Downing added that free-range hens are prone to manure-borne diseases and parasites, that extreme temperatures are more stressful to hens than the method of their housing, and that caged hens have greater protection from both the elements and predators.

That soft popping sound is PETA member's heads exploding. The problem with a lot of groups like PETA is that they anthropomorphise animal behavior and say that if I find this intolerable, so must the animal and therefore it must be stopped.

There are obvious cases of animal mistreatment — unsanitary conditions, gross overcrowding et. al. but what most 'activists' fail to realize is that if a farmer mistreats their stock, they will not make as much money. It is in the farmer's own best financial interest to see that their stock (and their crops) are grown under optimal conditions, a good sized population but not overcrowded (most stock are highly social and really need companions) and decent air, light and water.

We lost almost all of our free-range chickens and all of our ducks this spring to a couple of coyotes. Our two hens and one rooster that live in the goat and sheep barn survived because they had a coyote-proof fence to duck behind. (We keep a small flock in the barn because they do an excellent job cleaning up any parasites and bugs — beats having to spray every month or so…)

Posted by DaveH at 08:58 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

A Man and a Uranium deposit

Awesome story from Australia. From the Sidney Morning Herald:

Sole survivor sitting on a $5b fortune
As the only member of his clan, Jeffrey Lee controls the fate of Koongarra, writes Lindsay Murdoch.

Jeffrey Lee is not interested in the soaring price of uranium, which could make him one of the world's richest men.

“This is my country. Look, it's beautiful and I fear somebody will disturb it,” he says, waving his arm across a view of rocky land surrounded by Kakadu National Park, where the French energy giant Areva wants to extract 14,000 tonnes of uranium worth more than $5 billion.

Mr Lee, the shy 36-year-old sole member of the Djok clan and the senior custodian of the Koongarra uranium deposit, has decided never to allow the ecologically sensitive land to be mined.

“There are sacred sites, there are burial sites and there are other special places out there which are my responsibility to look after,” Mr Lee told the Herald.

“I'm not interested in white people offering me this or that … it doesn't mean a thing.

“I'm not interested in money. I've got a job; I can buy tucker; I can go fishing and hunting. That's all that matters to me.”

Mr Lee said he thought long and hard about speaking publicly for the first time about why he wants to see the land incorporated into the World Heritage-listed national park, where, he said, “it will be protected and safe forever”.

The Koongarra deposit is only three kilometres from Nourlangie Rock, one of the most visited attractions in Kakadu.

“There's been a lot of pressure on me, and for a very long time I didn't want to talk or think about Koongarra,” Mr Lee said.

“But now I want to talk about what I have decided to do because I fear for my country.

“I was taken all through here on the shoulder of my grandmother … I heard all the stories and learnt everything about this land, and I want to pass it all on to my kids.”

australia_uranium_jeffrey_lee.jpg

Talk about having the right priorities. We need more people like Jeffrey Lee…

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A fine whine - Chardonnay taste test

There was a tasting of Commercial Wines at the 2007 California State Fair - the wine that took Gold Medal has other winemakers up in arms.

From WPVI-TV Philadelphia/ABC News:

California's Wine Surprise
The connoisseurs may cringe, the snobs may even sob, but the judges have spoken: California's best chardonnay costs less than $3.

Charles Shaw Chardonnay, better known as “Two Buck Chuck,” beat hundreds of other wines and was named the top prize in a prestigious tasting competition in California.

“The characteristics that we look for in our gold medal winner & a nice creamy butter, fruity & it was a delight to taste,” said 2007 California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition judge Michael Williams.

The affordable wine beat out 350 other California chardonnays to win the double gold. Second place went to an $18 bottle, and the most expensive wines at the event, at the price of $55, didn't even medal.

To find this prize winner, you need not go to a fancy wine shop or elite retailer. Charles Shaw Chardonnay is mass produced in California and only sold through the quirky Trader Joe's grocery stores.

“We choose to sell good quality wines at $2 a bottle because we think it's a fair price,” winemaker Fred Franzia told ABC News' Ryan Owens. “We think the other people are charging too much.”

Heh - the market speaks…

Posted by DaveH at 01:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Everything's just roses in the kingdom...

The headline says it all. From The Guardian/AP:

Saudi Beheadings on the Rise Again
Rizana Nafeek, a 19-year housemaid from Sri Lanka, is on death row because the baby in her care died while she was bottle-feeding him. If her appeal is turned down, she will be taken to a public square to be publicly beheaded.

The Sri Lankan government says it is working for a reprieve, and has until Monday to file the plea. A last-minute pardon by the infant's parents could also spare her. But if her execution goes ahead, it will be the latest in a surge of beheadings that could surpass the kingdom's record of 191 in 2005.

After dropping to 38 last year, the figure for 2007 is already at least 102, including three women, according to Amnesty International.

Beheading has always been the punishment meted out to murderers, rapists, drug traffickers and armed robbers in Saudi Arabia. Whether what Nafeek did amounts to murder has never been spelled out by courts or other officials, but Saudi authorities, facing sustained criticism from foreign human rights groups, insist they are simply enforcing God's law.

God's law? Unnh - wrong side of the fence guys…
The fellow you worship is named Satan in our book.

Posted by DaveH at 12:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday two-fer - the decline of Britain and bias in the Media

Two excellent articles by Anthony Jay detailing the decline of Britain as it adopts the views of the “biased” media (MSM to us in the colonies)

The first is from Adriana Lukas writing at Samizdata:

The media ideology
A marvellous article by Antony Jay in today's Daily Telegraph confirms what has been obvious for some time to anyone reading political blogs and pundits - the BBC is biased. And not only that, it has its own ideology that Antony Jay calls 'media liberal ideology'. His article analyses impact of technology, history and perspectives on individual and institutions that defined the BBC and with it the chattering classes. A must read as it provides a solid backbone to our rants against the BBC politics. Here are a few morsels that should give you a taste of the piece.

Of people working at the BBC and particularly on Newsnight, which he produced for several years.
…we were not just anti-Macmillan; we were anti-industry, anti-capitalism, anti-advertising, anti-selling, anti-profit, anti-patriotism, anti-monarchy, anti-Empire, anti-police, anti-armed forces, anti-bomb, anti-authority. Almost anything that made the world a freer, safer and more prosperous place, you name it, we were anti it.
I disagree with the final sentence of the following quote. There is never too much freedom or too much variety, nevertheless the distinction is brilliant. Saying that there is too much freedom is like saying that there are too many notes in Mozart's music… which ones would you like to remove? But I digress:
…there have always been two principal ways of misunderstanding a society: by looking down on it from above, and by looking up at it from below. In other words, by identifying with institutions or by identifying with individuals.

To look down on society from above, from the point of view of the ruling groups, the institutions, is to see the dangers of the organism splitting apart, the individual components shooting off in different directions, until everything dissolves into anarchy. Those who see society in this way are preoccupied with the need for order, discipline, control, authority and organisation.

To look up at society from below, from the point of view of the lowest group, the governed, is to see the dangers of the organism growing ever more rigid and oppressive until it fossilises into a monolithic tyranny. Those who see society in this way are preoccupied with the need for liberty, equality, self-expression, representation, freedom of speech and action and worship, and the rights of the individual. The reason for the popularity of these misunderstandings is that both views are correct, as far as they go, and both sets of dangers are real but there is no “right” point of view. The most you can ever say is that sometimes society is in danger from too much authority and uniformity and sometimes from too much freedom and variety.

The second is from this PDF report: Confessions of a Reformed BBC Producer by Antony Jay.

This is a long article (20 pages PDF) but it is so well writtinn that I am going to give you the first seven paragraphs - a little bit to read but spot on and excellent writing:

I think I am beginning to see the answer to a question that has puzzled me for the past 40 years. The question is simple - much simpler than the answer: what is behind the opinions and attitudes of what are called the chattering classes? They are that minority characterised (or caricatured) by sandals and macrobiotic diets, but in a less extreme form found in The Guardian, Channel 4, the Church of England, The Observer, academia, show business and BBC News and Current Affairs, based in Islington, Hampstead and Notting Hill, who constitute our metropolitan liberal media consensus, though the word 'liberal' would have Adam Smith rotating at maximum velocity in his grave. Let's call it “media liberalism”.

It is of particular interest to me because for nine years (1955 - 1964) I was part of this media liberal consensus myself. For six of those nine years I was working on Tonight, a nightly BBC current affairs television programme. My stint co-incided almost exactly with Macmillan's premiership, and I do not think my ex-colleagues would quibble if I said we were not exactly die-hard supporters of his party or his government. But we were not just anti-Macmillan; we were anti-industry, anti-capitalism, anti-advertising, anti-selling, anti-profit, anti-patriotism, anti-monarchy, anti-Empire, anti-police, anti-armed forces, anti-bomb, anti-authority. Almost anything that made the world a freer, safer and more prosperous place, you name it, we were anti it.

And of course it was not (and is not) just the BBC. Our views were shared by many of our counterparts in Fleet Street, by people in publishing, the Church of England and the educational establishment, especially the universities. It was (and is) essentially though not exclusively a graduate phenomenon. From time to time it finds an issue that strikes a chord with the broad mass of the nation, but in most respects it is wildly unrepresentative of national opinion. When the Queen Mother died the media liberal press dismissed it as an event of no particular importance or interest, and were mortified to see the vast crowds lining the route for her funeral, and the great flood of national emotion that it released.

Although I was a card-carrying media liberal for the best part of nine years, there was nothing in my past to predispose me towards membership. I spent the early years of my life in a country where every citizen had to carry identification papers. All the newspapers were censored, as were all letters abroad; general elections had been abolished - it was a one-party state. Citizens were not allowed to go overseas without travel passes (which were rarely issued). People were imprisoned without trial, and the government could tell you what job to do and jail you if you didn't do it. Some of my contemporaries were forced to work in the mines.

Yes, that was Britain. Britain from 1939 to 1945. I was nine when the war started, and 15 when it ended, and accepted these political restrictions unquestioningly. I was really astounded when identity cards were abolished. And the social system was at least as restrictive and authoritarian as the political system. It was shocking for an unmarried couple to sleep together and a disgrace to have a baby out of wedlock - it brought shame on the whole family. A homosexual act incurred a jail sentence. Divorcees would not be considered for the honours list or the Royal Enclosure at Ascot. Procuring an abortion was a criminal offence - a doctor would be struck off the register. Violent young criminals were birched, older ones were flogged with the cat-o'-nine tails, and murderers were hanged. Two years National Service was compulsory for 18-year-olds. Small children sat in rows in the classroom and were caned if they misbehaved. Drugs were confined to the surgery (and the aristocracy). And the bobby on the beat made sure the streets were safe at night. And for an England cricket captain to miss a test match by flying home to be present at the birth of his child would have ruled him out of serious consideration not just as a cricketer but as a man.

So what happened? How did we get from there to here? Unless we understand that, we shall never get inside the media liberal mind. And the starting point is the realisation that there have always been two principal ways of misunderstanding a society: by looking down on it from above, and by looking up at it from below. In other words, by identifying with institutions or by identifying with individuals.

To look down on society from above, from the point of view of the ruling groups, the institutions, is to see the dangers of the organism splitting apart, the individual components all shooting off in different directions, until everything dissolves into anarchy and chaos. Those who see society in this way are preoccupied with the need for order, discipline, control, authority and organisation. To look up at society from below, from the point of view of the lowest group, the individual, the governed, is to see the dangers of the organism growing ever more rigid and oppressive, with every individual freedom stamped out and every individual voice silenced, until it fossilises into a monolithic tyranny. Those who see society in this way are preoccupied with the need for liberty, equality, self-expression, representation, freedom of speech and action and worship, and the rights of the individual.

Wow… Go here and read the rest — it is oriented towards problems in England but resonates strongly with our issues here with the strong stink of bias in our own mainstream media.

Posted by DaveH at 12:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 14, 2007

Seperated at Birth - interesting story

From MS/NBC/AP comes this story of twins who were actually seperated at birth and who found each other at age 15:

Twins separated at birth reunite after 15 years
Biological mom claims doctors stole 1 of the Ecuadorean girls after delivery

QUITO, Ecuador - A chance meeting has reunited identical twin sisters who were separated at birth nearly 15 years ago — and touched off a legal dispute over how two doctors adopted one of the girls.

Petita Penaherrera says she did not know she had twins until she and her daughter Andrea came face-to-face with Marielisa Romo four months ago in the southern Ecuadorean town of Milagros — meaning “miracles” in English.

Andrea and Marielisa shared the same dark eyes, the same hair, the same … everything.

Marielisa was accompanied by Roberto Romo and Isabel Garcia, the doctor couple who had delivered the twin babies — and then raised one.

Investigations began and, in June, Penaherrera and her husband Augusto Freire filed a suit against the doctors saying they never mentioned Andrea’s twin.

“We never found out about the existence of that girl,” Freire said Thursday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “After seeing a girl in the restaurant who was exactly like mine I almost fainted.”

Wow… Bit of a surprise to say the least.

Posted by DaveH at 08:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Great headline

Pot Plants Destroyed on Rupert Murdoch’s Property

From FOX35/KCBA:

Pot Plants Destroyed on Rupert Murdoch’s Property

Monterey Sheriff’s Deputies pulled-up thousands of pot plants from a ranch in Carmel Valley owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Nearly thirty four hundred plants were found in two gardens along the banks of a creek. The remote property is part of a ranch belonging to Murdoch who owns the FOX Network and My-Space-Dot-Com among other things.

Deputies say Murdoch’s employees stumbled upon the illegal gardens and called authorities.

Detectives say a man had been illegally camping on the property to grow the dope. He got away before he could be arrested.

That would have been interesting had the police discovered them first. 3,400 plants is quite the operation.

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

Robert Anson Heinlein's speech to Naval Academy Midshipmen in 1973

Excellent speech — really shows what some people get and some people do not.
Since it was written thirty years ago, there are some out of date references but the basic sentiment doesn't ever change (and this is a good thing).

From New Nationalist:

In this complex world, science, the scientific method, and the consequences of the scientific method are central to everything the human race is doing and to wherever we are going. If we blow ourselves up we will do it by the misapplication of science; if we manage to keep from blowing ourselves up, it will be through intelligent application of science. Science fiction is the only form of fiction which takes into account this central force in our lives and futures. Other sorts of fiction, if they notice science at all, simply deplore it — an attitude very chichi in the anti-intellectual atmosphere today. But we will never get out of the mess we are in by wringing our hands.

And a bit more:

But why would anyone want to become a naval officer?

In the present dismal state of our culture there is little prestige attached to serving your country; recent public opinion polls place military service far down the list.

It can’t be the pay. No one gets rich on the pay. Even a 4-star admiral is paid much less than top executives in other lines. As for lower ranks the typical naval officer finds himself throughout his career just catching up from the unexpected expenses connected with the last change of duty when another change of duty causes a new financial crisis. Then, when he is about fifty, he is passed over and retires. . .but he can’t really retire because he has two kids in college and one still to go. So he has to find a job. . .and discovers that jobs for men his age are scarce and usually don’t pay well.

Working conditions? You’ll spend half your life away from your family. Your working hours? “Six days shalt thou work and do all thou art able; the seventh day the same, and pound the cable.” A forty-hour week is standard for civilians — but not for naval officers. You’ll work that forty-hour week but that’s just a starter. You’ll stand a night watch as well, and duty weekends. Then with every increase in grade your hours get longer — until at last you get a ship of your own and no longer stand watches. Instead you are on duty twenty-four hours a day. . .and you’ll sign your night order book with: “In case of doubt, do not hesitate to call me.”

I don’t know the average week’s work for a naval officer but it’s closer to sixty than to forty. I’m speaking of peacetime, of course. Under war conditions it is whatever hours are necessary — and sleep you grab when you can.

Why would anyone elect a career which is unappreciated, overworked, and underpaid? It can’t be just to wear a pretty uniform. There has to be a better reason.

And one last excerpt:

Today, in the United States, it is popular among self-styled “intellectuals” to sneer at patriotism. They seem to think that it is axiomatic that any civilized man is a pacifist, and they treat the military profession with contempt. “Warmongers” — “Imperialists” — “Hired killers in uniform” — you have all heard such sneers and you will hear them again. One of their favorite quotations is: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

What they never mention is that the man who made that sneering remark was a fat, gluttonous slob who was pursued all his life by a pathological fear of death.

Patriotism is the most practical of all human characteristics.

But in the present decadent atmosphere patriots are often too shy to talk about it — as if it were something shameful or an irrational weakness.

But patriotism is NOT sentimental nonsense. Nor something dreamed up by demagogues. Patriotism is as necessary a part of man’s evolutionary equipment as are his eyes, as useful to the race as eyes are to the individual.

A man who is NOT patriotic is an evolutionary dead end. This is not sentiment but the hardest of logic.

Heinlein was a giant among men. We need more people like him today.

Posted by DaveH at 08:13 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 13, 2007

Awww - a bit of blood on a Koran

Here is a koran with a little blood on its pages:

pig_blood_koran_01.jpg

Now what kind of blood could that be, pray tell…

pig_blood_koran_02.jpg

Awww — poor widdle piggie…

For more of this wonderful hunting story, go here: Proper Uses for the koran

You know, people like Andres Serrano piss off some Christians with his work but nobody goes fatwa on his ass. We certainly don't go apeshit like this professional demonstrator (and school dropout who spent several years in jail):

pig_fucker_shakeel_baht.jpg

Posted by DaveH at 11:56 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Scientology - Armistead Maupin has a thought

An interesting thought from a very good observer of human nature.
From Wizbang's Pop site:

Armistead Maupin is the openly gay author of the 'Tales of the City' series of books and appeared at a book signing at the Bloomsbury in London last night.

During the Q&A from the audience, this little nugget arose…

Audience Member: “Do you get angry about the closeted gay actors in Hollywood?

Maupin: “…of course the Church of Scientology comes in very handy. (huge laugh from audience) It's the biggest ex gay movement in America. They catch you when you're young and confused, tell you they'll look after you, even provide you with a wife and child… Then of course you have to do what they call an audit, where you confess everything you've ever done into a tape recorder, so they've got the tapes. So once you're famous and successful you have to go along with all their nonsense about people falling into volcanoes… (pause)… then you play a woman in a movie musical, a part created by a drag queen and written by a gay man…”

heh… The source material is here: Who can Armistead Maupin be talking about?

Posted by DaveH at 11:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A brief note - when announcing a new name for something, secure the domain name first...

DOH!

From Central Ohio 10TV.com:

Man Buys Web Address Hours After Water Park's Name Revealed
About 10 months before the scheduled opening of the new water park at the Columbus Zoo, the park's name is spouting a problem.

After six weeks of voting, Zoombezi Bay was chosen by the public to be the water park's new name, 10TV's Brittany Westbrook reported.

“We wanted something that had zoo in it because it's all part of the zoo complex,” said Jerry Borin with the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. “We wanted it to be a bit exotic sounding.”

While the park's name was chosen without a hitch, naming its Web site may present some difficultly.

After seeing the park's name in a newspaper Thursday morning, a Columbus man purchased the Web site address ZoombeziBay.com for $8.95, Westbrook reported.

Even though the zoo owns Zoombezi Bay as a trademark, it won't be able to use it as the name for its Web site. To obtain the rights, the zoo would have to buy the address from the man, or make changes to the newly-chosen Zoombezi Bay name.

“I wonder why someone would want to do it,” Borin said. “We created it; the public voted for it - why not let the public have it?”

The man who purchased the Web site address refused to appear on camera for 10TV's report, but said he was willing to sit down with the zoo to negotiate. He said it's the first Web site address he's ever purchased.

Borin, meanwhile, said the zoo had no intentions to pay the man more than what he originally paid for the address. He also said the zoo didn't have plans to change the Zoombezi Bay name.

I've heard of Pope-squatting but Waterpark-squatting???

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

What a difference a 'U' makes

Endeavor
Endeavour

That's not a big difference is it — a small spelling error.

Unless it is on this sign:

space_shuttle_endeavour.jpg

From Local6:

Shuttle's Name Misspelled On NASA Launch Pad Sign
Someone Called Kennedy Space Center NASA To Fix Typo

The first NASA sign at launch pad 39A encouraging the next launch of space shuttle Endeavour at Kennedy Space Center was misspelled and noticed by someone looking at the craft.

When the shuttle rolled out from the Vehicle Assembly Building Wednesday, a giant “Go Endeavour” sign was put on a fence in front of the craft.

However, one item was missing from the sign: the “u” in Endeavour.

Someone spotted the mistake and called KSC to fix it, WKMG-TV reported.

NASA scrambled someone out to pad 39A with a new sign that has orbiter Endeavour's name spelled correctly.

Oopsie…

Posted by DaveH at 08:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

More on Bill Malone - card magician extraordinaire

I just checked YouTube and Bill Malone has a bunch of videos of card tricks posted there.

Check out Scarne's Aces if you want to see a real classic expertly performed.

Posted by DaveH at 07:49 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 12, 2007

Thought of the day

If aliens are smart enough to travel through space,
why do they keep abducting the dumbest people on earth?

Posted by DaveH at 11:08 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Excellent close-up card magic - Sam the Bellhop and the 654 Club

I don't practice magic but I love it — I am more into close-up magic than large stage illusions. Stage illusions are pretty easy to figure out and although they can be very impressive, I still prefer a simple card trick or illusion performed with a minimum of props and viewed from only a few feet away.

Howard at Oraculations links to a YouTube video of Bill Malone performing the story of 'Sam the Bellhop and the 654 Club'

Amazing stuff!

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

Dumb Criminal - gunpowder and cigarettes department

From Boston.com/AP:

Teen's cigarette sets off stolen powder
BAYOU BLACK, La. —Stolen gunpowder went up with a bang when a teenager flicked cigarette ash near the open bottle, according to the Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office.

Alex Joshua Horn and Johnathan Anthony Porche, both 19 and from Bayou Black, remained in jail Wednesday on charges of shoplifting and possessing or making a bomb. Both were arrested Sunday evening.

Wal-Mart workers had called the sheriff's office that evening, saying three teenagers had been asking about gunpowder and PVC pipe.

About 8 p.m. Sunday, deputies were called to a house in Bayou Black, where they found damage from an explosion in the kitchen and dining room. They also found Horn, a resident of the house, and Porche, who lives a block away.

The youths told investigators that the bottle of black powder — a specific form of gunpowder — had been shoplifted from Wal-Mart, and Porche's cigarette had touched it off.

Both youths were treated for minor burns before they were booked. More arrests are possible, investigators said.

How utterly stupid does someone have to be to do something like this…

Great candidate for the Darwin award

Hat tip to No Looking Backwards

Posted by DaveH at 10:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Pentagon Channel

Tired of having the main-stream media doing such a one-sided job of reporting the Military's efforts against terrorism, the Pentagon has countered with The Pentagon Channel.

Check it out daily — good stuff.

A big hat-tip to Power Line for the link…

Posted by DaveH at 09:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 11, 2007

Heat Wave

The summers hot weather arrived about a month early this year.
A high-pressure zone decided to camp out over our heads and make life miserable for the next week or so.

Temperature near where we live was over 100F at 3:30PM; temp at the store was in the 90's.

We were in town for an acupuncture appointment (very good stuff if you can find a classically trained one that has actually been to either Canada or China), had dinner at a friends restaurant and sampled their new desert menu (awesome!) and came back here around 8:30PM - temps had mitigated to a low 80's but it is still too damn hot to do anything.

The store is doing great — the previous owner was taking a certain amount of profit each year and we are expecting to equal that in the next two months. He was involved in some other things and we are focused on running the store. It shows. Jen and I used to do two runs into our suppliers each week and now it is four, stuff is flying off the shelves…

Posted by DaveH at 10:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 10, 2007

A hard one to call - lightning strikes man selling religious materials

Talk about the finger of God or just plain bad luck.
From the CBS affiliate in Hialeah, Florida:

Religious Book Seller Struck By Lightning
A man making a trip from Puerto Rico to South Florida to raise money for his religious education remains hospitalized Monday after he was struck down by a bolt of lightning which flew from clear blue sky on Sunday. He was selling religious materials when he was hit.

Hailu Kidane Marian was working with members of his religious group, selling religious materials door-to-door in a Northwest Miami-Dade neighborhood, when the bolt from the blue struck him down.

“I heard a boom, and I looked and the guy jumped back, and he just laid there, stiff,” said witness Maria Martinez.

Paramedics say Marian was not breathing and his heart was not beating when they arrived, but they were able to revive him and rushed him to Jackson Memorial hospital, where he was in critical condition Sunday night.

Members of his religious group waited outside the hospital throughout the night for word of his condition.

“He's unconscious, he's in a coma,” said Francisco Perez, leader of the Puerto Rico-based group. “It's difficult what happened, you know, but what can we do? Things happen in life, but we still believe in God.”

This is the second incident in as many months of someone being struck down by lightning from a clear sky in South Florida.

Last month David Canales, a gardener who worked in the Pinecrest area, was killed when lightning apparently struck him from a rainless sky. Two co-workers standing nearby were unhurt.

CBS Miami Meteorologist Jeff Berardelli said 'dry lightning', which can strike even when the sky is clear, can be very dangerous because victims are not expecting it and don't prepare as they might with a storm threatening.

Even though there is no obvious storm activity, there can be a lot of moving atmosphere and moisture which can build up significant charges. If there are clouds, this is called “heat lightning”. Awesome power and unpredictability.

Posted by DaveH at 10:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Nice people those Islamists - Afghanistan this time

From Yahoo/AP comes this story of the price of sheep and a daughter:

Afghan girls traded, sold to settle debt
Unable to scrounge together the $165 he needed to repay a loan to buy sheep, Nazir Ahmad made good on his debt by selling his 16-year-old daughter to marry the lender's son.

“He gave me nine sheep,” Ahmad said, describing his family's woes since taking the loan. “Because of nine sheep, I gave away my daughter.”

Seated beside him in the cramped compound, his daughter Malia's eyes filled with tears. She used a black scarf to wipe them away.

Despite advances in women's rights and at least one tribe's move to outlaw the practice, girls are traded like currency in Afghanistan and forced marriages are common. Antiquated tribal laws authorize the practice known as “bad” in the Afghan language Dari — and girls are used to settle disputes ranging from debts to murder.

Such exchanges bypass the hefty bride price of a traditional betrothal, which can cost upward of $1,000. Roughly two out of five Afghan marriages are forced, says the country's Ministry of Women's Affairs.

And not a peep from the Womyn's rights groups on the left…

Posted by DaveH at 10:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Light posting last couple of days

Been busy at our store: Crossroads Grocery and we have also been having an unseasonable hot spell. Nice after the long cold wet spring but still, temperatures in the 90's are unusual here — we usually get this in August but there is a large high-pressure zone parked over our heads so we warm up.

Thunderstorms are expected sometime around Friday so that should bring some relief…

Posted by DaveH at 10:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Oops List

A canonical list of images, movies and sound files of various mishaps with a strong aviation theme.

Check out: The Oops List

One of my favorites:

learn2fly.jpg

Not exactly confidence building…

Posted by DaveH at 05:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 09, 2007

The Goracle steps in a big pile

Al Gore pissed off a huge union this weekend. From Reuters:

Gore coal pledge “short-sighted”: union
America's main coal mining union said on Monday former Vice President Al Gore's Live Earth concert pledge to fight for a ban on new coal-fired power plants was “short-sighted.”

And the main trade group of mine operators backed the union, saying it was premature to call for an end to coal-fired electricity generation when the technology to reduce greenhouse gases is still being developed.

Gore urged fans at the concerts held around the world on July 7 to commit to a seven-point pledge to cut carbon emissions and to lobby governments and employers to do more to save the planet.

The third point on the pledge states: “To fight for a moratorium on the construction of any new generating facility that burns coal without the capacity to safely trap and store the CO2.

Approximately 50 percent of current U.S. electricity is generated by coal-burning plants.

Phil Smith, a spokesman for the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), said the union had no official comment on the pledge, but that it supported the concept of carbon capture and sequestration.

“We believe it is the way to go, but we also believe a moratorium on any new plant is somewhat short-sighted as it could be years before the technology is developed, while the need for power is now,” Smith said.

“You are not going to be able to stop burning coal to generate electricity. And if you do not build new plants in the next 10 to 15 years, you will be relying on current plants,” he said. Smith said current plants were much cleaner than plants built in the 1970s and 1980s.

Especially since there seems (unfortunately) to be no great rush to start building nuclear power plants any time soon. France and japan derive about 70% of their power from Nuclear plants and have had an excellent record. The plants that did have problems (Chernobyl and TMI) were very old-school designs from the 40's and 50's (even though they were built later, their design is the same as these early plants, just scaled up. The engineering has gotten a lot better…)

I thought Gore was a more astute politician than that.

Posted by DaveH at 10:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Director of National Hurricane Center given the boot

From CNN:

National Hurricane Center director leaves position
National Hurricane Center director Bill Proenza left his position Monday, just days after nearly half of the NHC staff signed a petition calling for his ouster.

(that's ousting — ouster is the person who ousts - I know; pickey…)

Proenza is still employed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — a parent organization of the NHC — but he is currently on leave, said NOAA spokesman Anson Franklin.

Deputy Director Ed Rappaport has been temporarily placed in charge.

Proenza, 62, became the director in January after the retirement of Max Mayfield.

Proenza caused an uproar last month with comments about a key hurricane satellite called QuikSCAT. The satellite is five years beyond its life expectancy and operating on a backup transmitter. Proenza said if it were to fail, forecast tracks could be thrown off by as much as 16 percent.

He said Washington reprimanded him for the remarks: “They wanted me to be quiet about it.”

But one of the center's longtime forecasters said Proenza's comments were misguided.

“QuikSCAT is another tool that we use to forecast,” Lixion Avila said. “The forecast will not be degraded if we don't have the QuikSCAT.”

Last week, the Commerce Department launched an unscheduled review of the hurricane center after word of the staff's dissatisfaction started to become public.

His staffers on Thursday issued a petition calling for him to step down.

The QuickSKAT uses microwave scattering to determine wind velocities at the surface of the ocean. It was launched in a polar orbit and scans about 90% of the earth's surface every day.

Here is the JPL website for their WINDS project of which QuickSKAT is a component.

My thought is that since QuikSKAT (who thought up that acronym?) was a replacement for an earlier satellite:

The SeaWinds on QuikSCAT mission is a “quick recovery” mission to fill the gap created by the loss of data from the NASA Scatterometer (NSCAT), when the satellite it was flying on lost power in June 1997. The SeaWinds instrument on the QuikSCAT satellite is a specialized microwave radar that measures near-surface wind speed and direction under all weather and cloud conditions over Earth's oceans.

if it was not important, why was it launched (and supported over a ten year lifespan) in the first place.

To announce to the public that it's imminent failure would affect forecasts by 16% would be a good call if you wanted to get funding for its replacement. If you didn't need to have it replaced, again, why the funding and support.

I think that Proenza was being an excellent administrator. The job of a scientific administrator is to support the people working under you by getting grant money and funding wherever possible. Proenza was spinning the importance of the satellite and this is what was needed if they wanted to get a replacement.

I don't know about his personality, he may be a royal dickhead to work with and this was viewed as an opportunity by his staff to do a lateral arabesque on his career but I don't think so.

Surface temps and surface winds are the two key elements for weather forecasting and getting the remote data over the ocean can only be done by satellite. Storms develop in the matter of a few days and the cell will be forming before an imaging satellite shows the vortex.

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

July 08, 2007

Situation at the Red Mosque getting worse

From the LA Times:

Cleric at besieged Pakistan mosque defiant
Fears deepened today over the fate of hostages reportedly being held by Islamic militants inside a besieged radical mosque in the heart of the capital.

Meanwhile, as Pakistani troops encircled the Red Mosque for a fifth day, the cleric in charge declared that he hoped the standoff, which has left at least two dozen people dead, would help trigger an Islamic revolution in Pakistan.

It was unclear how many people were inside the mosque complex, which contains two madrasas, or seminaries, with an enrollment of about 5,000 students. Some 1,200 people have surrendered to authorities, but the number of those leaving the mosque has slowed to a trickle. Some emerging students have said a hard-core group of about 50 militants is preventing hundreds of people inside, including women and children, from leaving. The army has been blasting holes in the wall of the compound in hopes of providing escape routes, and the sound of explosions echoed again today through the well-kept residential neighborhood where the mosque is located.

The government says it has held off on a full-scale assault out of concern for those being held against their will, but described the ringleaders as “terrorists” affiliated with radical Pakistani groups.

The mosque's head cleric, who took over as leader after his cleric brother was caught last week trying to slip out of the compound in women's clothes, said security forces had killed 300 of his followers. Authorities dismissed that claim.

The cleric, Abdul Rashid Ghazi, was quoted in Pakistani newspapers today as saying that he and his followers hoped their “martyrdom” would inspire a wider fight against the government.

However, the standoff has not generated significant support even from hard-line religious parties, and the general public seems to approve the government's decision to move against the mosque.

Yeah — that line about the 72 white raisins of incredible purity would certainly motivate me to kill myself. Talk about a rational spiritual practice… Mohammed is the pig prophet of Satan.

And I love that the guy's brother (the head cleric) tried to get his ass out of the situation by dressing up as a girl. Talk about a class act.

Posted by DaveH at 10:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Defective Chinese Products - a timeline for 2007

The blog Who Sucks has compiled a list of defective junk coming from China for this year alone. Check it out at: Dangerous Made-In-China Products: 2007 Timeline

With recent high-profile incidents involving dangerous goods imported from China, the American media has finally begun to warn consumers about the dangers of cheaply producing goods in a country hardly known for its strict safety regulations. After spending some time digging through product recall press releases, we’ve found that the mainstream media is still only reporting the tip of the iceberg when it comes to dangerous products imported from China. Here’s a timeline we’ve created, which shows the huge amount of faulty/dangerous Chinese product scandals so far this year [this list will be regularly updated]

Here are just the entries for January:

  • Toxic Overalls: Samarra Brothers recalled Chinese-manufactured children’s two-piece overall sets because the coatings on the snaps in the overalls and shirt contain excessive amounts of lead, posing a serious risk of lead poisoning and adverse health effects to young children.
  • Fire Hazard Heaters: Family Dollar Stores recalled 35,000 oscillating ceramic heaters that were found to overheat and smoke, which could pose a fire hazard to consumers.
  • Bad Wiring In Fans: Holmes Group recalled about 300,000 Chinese-manufactured oscillating tower fans that were found to have bad wiring that creates a fire hazard.
  • Dangerous Candles: Sally Foster recalled over 46,000 sets of imported Tea Lights candles after it was reported that the candles have a clear, plastic shell that can melt or ignite, posing a fire or burn hazard to consumers.
  • Dryers With Electrocution Hazard: Metropolis Beauty recalled about 18,000 Travel’N Baby Mini Hair Dryers, which were not equipped with an immersion protection plug to prevent electrocution if the hair dryer falls into water. Electric shock protection devices are required by industry standards for all electric hand-held hair dryers.
  • Improperly Wired/Flammable Lamps: Hong Ten Trading recalled about 4,000 electric oil lamps that had power cords that were not correctly secured and had no strain relief on their switch housing. The switch housing was also not flame-retardant, which poses a fire hazard.

And July which is only eight days old already has two entries…

Posted by DaveH at 02:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 07, 2007

Chinese weapons being used in Iraq - by terrorists

I am developing a really fond feeling towards the nation of China.
I realize that it is a sovereign nation and can do what it want's to, just as the United States of America does but still…

From the London Financial Times:

US concerns over China weapons in Iraq
The US has raised concerns with the Chinese government about the discovery of Chinese-made weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Richard Lawless, departing senior Pentagon official for Asia, on Friday said Washington had flagged the issue with Beijing. In recent months, the US has become increasingly alarmed that Chinese armour-piercing ammunition has been used by the Taliban in Afghanistan and insurgents in Iraq.

A senior US official recently told the FT that Iran appeared to be providing the Chinese-made weapons. He said Washington had no evidence that Beijing was complicit, but stressed that the US would like China to “do a better job of policing these sales”. Mr Lawless said the question of origin was less important than who was facilitating the transfer.

The concerns about Chinese weapons follow months of allegations from US officials that Iran is helping attack US troops in Iraq, and more recently Afghanistan, by providing technology for bombs that can destroy Humvees and other heavily armoured US vehicles.

And of course, there is some elaborate shell—game with weapons being sold to intermediary parties and the moneys being laundered but… China should know the caliber of people they are dealing with and should act accordingly.

A little more accountability, openness and grace on the world stage would mitigate a lot of the bad feelings towards China these days.

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

Chinese product quality extends to building materials

Building materials for Chinese projects!
From the Toronto, Canada Globe and Mail:

Fake building material imperils new Chinese railway
Fake construction material is jeopardizing the safety of China's newest high-speed railway, a Chinese newspaper says.

An investigation by the newspaper found that large quantities of bogus material had been used in several hundred kilometres of a $12-billion (U.S.) high-speed railway between the cities of Wuhan and Guangzhou.

The newspaper, China Economic Times, said the scam by unscrupulous suppliers could lead to cracking in the railway's concrete supports, creating a “great danger” to the railway.

The newspaper report, published this week, has triggered an investigation by the Chinese Railways Ministry.

And a bit about Chinese product problems in general:

The report is the latest revelation in the widening scandal over shoddy and hazardous goods in China. The issue has emerged as a global concern, with many countries, including Canada, increasingly worried by the dangers of food and other products from China.

Almost 20 per cent of goods made in China for domestic consumption have failed China's own standards for safety or quality in the first half of this year, a government agency reported this week. The tests focused on food products, fertilizers, farm machinery and common consumer goods.

China has also announced that 180 food factories have been shut down in recent months because their products were contaminated with illegal materials such as formaldehyde, industrial dyes and paraffin wax.

Fake cellphone batteries are another lethal danger. This week, the Chinese media revealed that a number of counterfeit batteries have exploded in safety tests. A man was killed in western China last month when a cellphone exploded in his chest pocket while he was welding. The explosion broke his ribs, and rib fragments pierced his heart. The faulty battery was labelled Motorola, but it was reportedly a fake.

One of the many benefits of a corrupt government. Communism at its finest…

Posted by DaveH at 06:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Springtime in Greenland

Some excellent research on Greenland Ice Cores has yielded some interesting results. From MS/NBC/LiveScience:

Ancient Greenland was actually green!
DNA analysis reveals ice-covered country was once home to butterflies

The oldest ever recovered DNA samples have been collected from under more than a mile of Greenland ice, and their analysis suggests the island was much warmer during the last Ice Age than previously thought.

The DNA is proof that sometime between 450,000 and 800,000 years ago, much of Greenland was especially green and covered in a boreal forest that was home to alder, spruce and pine trees, as well as insects such as butterflies and beetles.

From the genetic material of these organisms, the researchers infer that Greenland’s temperature once varied from 50 degrees Fahrenheit in summer to 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit in winter — the temperature range that the tree species prefer.

“We have shown for the first time that southern Greenland…was once very different to the Greenland we see today,” said study leader Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen.

And a wee bit about the science being used:

The findings, detailed in the July 6 issue of the journal Science, demonstrate how far the young field of ancient DNA research has come: scientists can now recreate an environment’s climate and ecology using only recovered DNA, without the need for fossils that might be absent or hard to reach.

“To go from dirty water to a forest full of insects is pretty amazing,” Matthew Collins, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of York who was not involved in the study, said in a related Science news article.

Greenland’s thick ice sheets served as a perfect, natural freezer for preserving the prehistoric DNA. Older genetic samples have been found, but none in such pristine condition as the new Greenland samples.

The Science article is here but you need to be a subscriber to read anything more than the Abstract: Ancient Biomolecules from Deep Ice Cores Reveal a Forested Southern Greenland

Very clever idea, all of the organic materials have long since decayed but there are still bits of the DNA floating around in the ice. There is very little difference between a current Pine Tree's DNA (or butterflies and beetles) and the ones from 800,000 years ago so it is very easy to identify the fragments from the various species. The hardware has been around for long enough that it is within the financial reach of a modest lab and the results are bulletproof in terms of accuracy.

Very cool!

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

Spin Control at NASA - Climate Change

Whoops! it seems that NASA's Chief Executive Michael Griffin ruffled some feathers and that they are spinning it as hard as they can. From Live Science:

NASA Chief's Global Warming Remarks Called 'Naive'
NASA sought today to deflect criticism its chief received following skeptical comments he made on the topic of the agency's role in global warming research.

During an interview Wednesday with NPR, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin expressed doubts that global warming was an issue that humans could or should address.

In a telephone interview today, NASA spokesman David Mould told LiveScience that climate is an important issue about which the agency provides a significant quantity of data, and that it will continue to provide that data, but that NASA's job is not to make policies or advise on policies.

Along the same lines, NASA clarified Griffin's remarks in a press release issued late Wednesday:
“NASA is the world's preeminent organization in the study of Earth and the conditions that contribute to climate change and global warming. The agency is responsible for collecting data that is used by the science community and policy makers as part of an ongoing discussion regarding our planet's evolving systems. It is NASA's responsibility to collect, analyze and release information. It is not NASA's mission to make policy regarding possible climate change mitigation strategies. As I stated in the NPR interview, we are proud of our role and I believe we do it well.”

Bollocks! Griffin still managed to make his position clear with this:

Griffin's comments to NPR's Morning Edition included: “I have no doubt that global—that a trend of global warming exists. I’m not sure it’s fair to say that is a problem we must wrestle with.”

Like I said before — the idea that we caused this current warming trend or that we can make a significant change or reversal is pure hubris.

Posted by DaveH at 05:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happy 60th Birthday - The AK-47

From ABC News:

Russia marks AK-47's 60th birthday
With his shock of white hair, brown sandals and hearing aid, the designer of the world's deadliest assault rifle took a philosophical outlook as he celebrated his invention's 60th anniversary on Friday.

“It was the Germans who turned me into an arms designer,” Mikhail Kalashnikov, 87, said at celebrations in Moscow of the 60th anniversary of the creation of his AK-47 automatic rifle.

“If I hadn't taken part in the war, I would probably have made technology to ease the tough work of the peasants,” said Mr Kalashnikov, who grew up in a peasant family in the remote Altai mountain region by the Mongolian border.

Instead, he created a rifle that has become an iconic brand, as symbolic of Russia as vodka and fur coats, and the weapon of choice of guerrillas and dozens of armies around the world.

Mr Kalashnikov started working on his rifle in 1947, driven to design by Soviet defeats in the early years of World War II at the hands of far better-armed German soldiers.

The Kalashnikov quickly became prized for its sturdy reliability in difficult field conditions. It can also be built relatively easily - “in any workshop,” he said.

More than 100 million Kalashnikov rifles have now been sold worldwide.

mikhail_kalashnikov.jpg

Relatively cheap to build, does the job under very adverse conditions, what's not to like?

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

July 06, 2007

Meet Wendy the Whippet

She has a genetic quirk that causes increased muscle mass.
From the Victoria Times-Colonist:

Big Wendy the muscular whippet
Rare genetic mutation increases muscles, weight of sleek breed

People mistake her for a pitbull with a pinhead, but Wendy the whippet is one rare breed.

So rare that the Central Saanich dog recently graced the New York Times. She also had several of her photos shown on The Today Show, all because of a rare genetic mutation that has led to her being the Incredible Hulk of dogs.

Wendy is a 27-kilogram rippling mass of muscle. Forget the so-called six-pack stomach: Wendy has a 24-pack. And the muscles around her neck are so thick, they look like a lion's ruff.

“People have referred to her as Arnold Schwarzenegger,” says doting owner Ingrid Hansen, stroking Wendy's sleek black coat and white chest.

Wendy was recently part of a genetics study done in the U.S. on mutation in the myostatin gene in whippets, which resemble greyhounds in appearance. The National Institute of Health study reported that whippets with one single defective copy of the gene have increased muscle mass that can enhance racing performance in the breed, known for speeds up to 60 kilometres an hour.

wendy_the_whippet.jpg

Wow — A friend of mine has whippets and they are wonderful friendly dogs — the combination of personality with the size of dog like this would be fantastic. They are hard to train though but complete sweethearts.

Posted by DaveH at 10:37 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Great rant from Ted Nugent on the 40th Anniversary of the "Summer of Love"

Rocker Ted Nugent has never been known for his politically correct viewpoints and is probably responsible for more than one case of hippie spontaneous cranial explosion or HSCE.

Today, at the Opinion Journal, he rants about the Summer of Love:

The Summer of Drugs
Forty years ago, dirty, stinky hippies converged on San Francisco to “turn on, tune in and drop out.”

This summer marks the 40th anniversary of the so-called Summer of Love. Honest and intelligent people will remember it for what it really was: the Summer of Drugs.

Forty years ago hordes of stoned, dirty, stinky hippies converged on San Francisco to “turn on, tune in, and drop out,” which was the calling card of LSD proponent Timothy Leary. Turned off by the work ethic and productive American Dream values of their parents, hippies instead opted for a cowardly, irresponsible lifestyle of random sex, life-destroying drugs and mostly soulless rock music that flourished in San Francisco.

The Summer of Drugs climaxed with the Monterey Pop Festival which included some truly virtuoso musical talents such as Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, both of whom would be dead a couple of years later due to drug abuse. Other musical geniuses such as Jim Morrison and Mama Cass would also be dead due to drugs within a few short years. The bodies of chemical-infested, brain-dead liberal deniers continue to stack up like cordwood.

As a diehard musician, I terribly miss these very talented people who squandered God's gifts in favor of poison and the joke of hipness. I often wonder what musical peaks they could have climbed had they not gagged to death on their own vomit. Their choice of dope over quality of life, musical talent and meaningful relationships with loved ones can only be categorized as despicably selfish.

Heh — speaking truth to power. Always liked Ted…

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

July 05, 2007

A small question of ability

From the UK Lancashire Evening Post:

Ex-mayor played golf while on disability benefit
A former mayor who claimed disability allowance saying he needed help to wash and dress was an active member of a local golf club and helped his son on a paper round, a court was told.

John McGowan, ex Mayor of Clitheroe, was also seen by a witness “running from door-to-door” with newspapers during his son's paper round.

Preston Crown Court heard that McGowan, described as an “active Labour councillor” began claiming disability living allowance, initially legitimately, in 1992.

“The defendant said he was virtually unable to walk without mobility aids and assistance,” said Miss Teresa Loftus on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.

“He claimed he needed help when washing, dressing and taking medication.”

However, she explained, the Department's case was that from at least April of 2004 he had made “significant improvements in his capabilities”.

The offence he admitted occurred over a two-and-a-half year period, the court heard.

McGowan had claimed his condition had actually worsened and he was placed on a higher rate of benefit.

But an anonymous phone call was received on the National Benefits hotline in March last year and investigations by the Department began which included surveillance.

“A wealth of information was gained”, explained Miss Loftus.

He was seen regularly walking without difficulty, driving, shopping and playing golf at Stonyhurst Golf Club.

Whoops… When the 'dole' becomes so easy for everyone to get, everyone will try to get it. One of the unintended consequences of socialism.

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

Communing with nature

Not the way to do it — Berkeley California resident Gerald Horne decides to do a little fast in the woods and has to be medevaced.
From the San Jose Mercury:

Hiker rescued from forest after eight-day fast
The revelation was not, perhaps, what he expected. A Berkeley man who hiked into the Los Padres National Forest to conduct a multi-day fast found himself too emaciated eight days later to hike out and was rescued Tuesday by the Monterey County Sheriff's Department.

Backpackers who had encountered Gerald Horne 12 miles into the rugged backcountry hiked to the trail head and alerted authorities. Rescue team members were lowered to the hiker via helicopter and then airlifted him out of the forest to a waiting ambulance.

Horne, 38, was transported to Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.

“He said he was just going out to find himself and get away a little bit and go on a fast,” said Sgt. Joe Moses on Wednesday.

But by day five Horne couldn't hold down food or water, Moses said.

By the time the backpackers stumbled upon him at Sykes Camp over the weekend, it was clear Horne wasn't leaving the forest under his own power, Moses added.

“A couple of them came out and said, 'This guy needs help,' ” Moses said. “So we went in and got him.”
Posted by DaveH at 10:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fun with a sharpie and a bag of produce

Nothing to comment on, just go here

Posted by DaveH at 10:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It was about the oil after all

And this comes from a world-class reputable source - Al Jazeera:

Australia admits oil motive in Iraq
Australia has admitted for the first time that securing the supply of oil is a key motive for its involvement in the US-led war in Iraq.

Brendan Nelson, the defence minister, said “energy security” was one of the main priorities behind his country's support for the war, which is unpopular among Australians.

His remarks add weight to war protesters' arguments that the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was amied at grabbing the country's oil supplies rather than a bid to counter the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, which later proved to be non-existent.

Nelson told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Australia's priorities were set out in a defence and security review being released on Thursday “and resource security is one of them”.

Cough(bullshit)Cough

Hussein's weapons of mass destruction were trucked to Syria in the days leading up to the war. The first company to benefit from iraqi oil was the French Total/Fina/Elf corporation.

Fair and balanced reporting my sweet ass — unmedicated is more like it…

Posted by DaveH at 10:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A bad few days

The last week has not been good for Knoxville, Tennessee resident Tony Hicks.
From the Knoxville WBIR:

Man goes to hospital three times in three days, then to jail
After getting struck by a car Sunday and beaten by an intruder Monday, Tony Hicks returned to a hospital a third straight day when police investigating a convenience store robbery in Athens shot him.

A McMinn County judge today set a $100,000 bond for Hicks. He is charged with aggravated robbery and attempted first degree murder.

Police say Hicks was shot after making “aggressive movements” toward officers who were looking to question him as part of an investigation of a Tuesday night convenience store robbery.

Hicks was treated at a Knoxville hospital and has been released. He is back in jail.

Police reports show that before dawn Sunday, Hicks was struck outside his apartment by a car driven by a woman who had been revving the engine. Police say Hicks went on his own to a hospital.

On Monday night, Hicks' apartment was broken into by a knife-wielding burglar. He was robbed after being struck in the face with a coffee mug. Hicks was taken to a hospital for treatment.

I'd crawl into a hole and hide for a year or two but the hole would probably flood…

Posted by DaveH at 09:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 04, 2007

The Bald Eagle and Malaria

Nice essay by Marc Sheppard over at American Thinker:

Bald Eagle No Longer Endangered - Malaria Victims Still Are
You've probably heard that the American bald eagle has just been removed from the federal list of protected species. While this comeback is certainly wonderful news for our revered national bird, those spreading the story are exploiting its opportunity to dust off moldy activist folklore.

Virtually every news organization (including Fox News) reporting this magnificent milestone is erroneously perpetuating the environmentalist lie that the disappearance of the great bird was due to the effects of DDT and that only the 1972 ban of the insecticide saved the eagle from extinction.

Go ahead and search “Bald Eagle” at Google News. Entrenched in each article lauding its reappearance, you'll find reference to DDT. But you'll find little or no mention that the majestic raptors were actually hunted to near extinction decades before DDT was ever used in the U.S. There'll be no indication that the DDT connection has been refuted in favor of such causes as continued illegal shooting, widespread loss of habitat, power line electrocution, in-flight collisions, and poisoning from consuming lead shot contaminated ducks.

Look closely for mention that prior to 1948, when Dr. Paul Muller won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering that DDT could kill malarial mosquitoes, two thirds of the world lived under the daily threat of death-by-malaria.

Or that in 1955, armed with Muller's cocktail, the World Health Organization began an extremely successful campaign to eradicate the deadly disease worldwide. As a result, global mortality rates were quickly reduced from 192 to fewer than 7 per 100,000. It actually appeared that the blight which had killed more people than the black plague was to finally be lifted from the planet — until one woman's silly observations and theories literally changed mankind's destiny.

In 1962, American Biologist Rachel Carson's book, “Silent Spring,” denounced DDT as a threat to human health and, more-to-the-point, bird populations. Carson claimed that the pesticide killed adult birds and thinned their egg shells, decreasing survival likelihood. While her facts themselves were thin and her conclusions downright anorexic, her words sparked a worldwide environmental movement hell-bent on the ban of DDT.

Here's just one example of the unintended consequences you're not likely to find extolled in the bald eagle stories. According to the American Council on Science and Health, in what is now Sri Lanka, malaria cases went from 2,800,000 in 1948, before the introduction of DDT, down to 17 in 1964 as a result of its use. Two years after Carson's book, DDT spraying was abruptly discontinued. Malaria cases then shot back up to 2,500,000 just five years later.

Sure, in the '50's and '60's, this planet was marinating in DDT. We were using much more than was ever needed. Still, when used properly, it has the power to save over two million people's lives each year. Why is the ban still being enforced?

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

Not to laugh at someone when they are down but

Jeeeezzzzz… The Goracle should spend less time being a fucking publicity whore and more time being a Father.

From Reuters:

Al Gore's son busted for drugs in hybrid car
The 24-year-old son of former Vice President Al Gore was arrested for drug possession on Wednesday after he was stopped for speeding in his hybrid Toyota Prius, a sheriff's official said.

Al Gore III — whose father is a leading advocate of policies to fight global warming — was driving his environmentally friendly car at about 100 miles per hour on a freeway south of Los Angeles when he was pulled over by an Orange County sheriff's deputy at about 2:15 a.m.

The deputy smelled marijuana and searched the car, said sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino. The search turned up a small amount of marijuana, along with prescription drugs including Valium, Xanax, Vicodin, Adderall and Soma. There were no prescriptions found, he said.

Gore was arrested on suspicion of drug possession and booked into the Inmate Reception Center in Santa Ana, about 34 miles south of Los Angeles, on $20,000 bail. Although he quickly identified himself as the son of the former vice president, Amormino said Gore received no special privileges.

Gore made bail and was released at 2 p.m., Amormino said. He will receive notice of a court date within 30 days.

The youngest child and only son of the former vice president, Gore has had previous brushes with the law. He was arrested in 2003 for marijuana possession and in 2002 for suspected drunken-driving.
Posted by DaveH at 09:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Windows and Linux

Great post at Friction and Harmony:

Making Microsoft the Penguin’s Bitch
Take a close look. Microsoft has validated my installation of Windows XP and is telling me that I’m eligible for a honey of a deal on an upgrade to Microsoft Vista. Sweet! (Ha - NOT!)

Big deal? Sure. Now look where Windows XP is running…

IN A VIRTUAL MACHINE UNDER LINUX!!

Heh.

Now I can have my native MS Office applications and documents without having to run a dual-boot system! (…although my system still has dual-boot capability installed with GRUB.)

Now that is sweet!

Oh, and yes, it runs quite beautifully with Beryl installed. And Windows XP has no clue that it’s running in a sandbox…

Very cute technique. Linux has advanced more in the last few years than any Microsoft product. XP is now the stable operating system of choice. I have one machine with Vista on it (the back office computer used for accounting and some web design) and it has had its share of issues. I would not install Vista on a production machine for another year at least.

And regarding the server market, Linux (and other Unixes) owns the server market. From Netcraft:

Three of the 10 most most reliable hosts run their web sites on Linux, two on Windows, three on FreeBSD and one on Solaris.
Posted by DaveH at 09:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Happy Birthday

United States of America

Kim Du Toit sums it up the best: Citizenship And Our Society

Go there and read…

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

DOH! - Showing off and loosing it

From WXIA-TV Atlanta:

Car 'Drifts' Off Parking Deck
Atlanta police are still trying to figure out what caused a car to plunge six stories out of a parking deck in Midtown, with the driver still inside early Wednesday morning.

Police said the 23-year-old driver behind the wheel of the car was trying to do something called drifting, not unlike the movie “Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift.” A driver would pick up a lot of speed, and then cuts his wheel sharply, causing the car to slide sideways, or “drift.”

At the Savannah Midtown Apartments at North and Piedmont Avenues, the bumper of the red Chevrolet Cavalier can be seen hanging from the sixth level of the parking deck. The car plunged from the sixth level to a dumpster behind the garage.

Part of the fence went through the passenger side of the car, where the driver had just dropped off his passenger. Police said that they were certain that the passenger would have been killed, had she still been in the car.

After the car hit the ground, apartment residents said they had heard the squealing from the parking deck. They ran downstairs to see if the driver was okay. They said he was conscious, but bleeding a lot.

I would love to hear that telephone conversation — “Unh hello Dad; you know that car you gave me?”

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

July 03, 2007

Alfred Hitchcock film techniques

A nice list of 12 film techniques used by Hitchcock.
From Borgus:

How to turn your boring movie into a Hitchcock thriller…
Borgus.com - We've put together a list of the most significant film techniques that were used by Alfred Hitchcock. This information comes out of many books and interviews from the man himself and his been simplified for your consideration.

This page is mostly for filmmakers who are sad and depressed because their movie is so average that nobody will watch it. Stop crying and pay attention. What is written here will save your career (at least until tomorrow morning.) However there is no cure for a bad producer - there may be no help for you!

Good stuff — Hitchcock's work is just as watchable (and scary) today as it was when it first came out. I saw The Birds when it first came out and it scared the bejeesus out of me.

Posted by DaveH at 10:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Career Limiting Move - Hindu and Buddhist department

From the BBC:

'Goddess' sacked for visiting US
A 10-year-old girl who is worshipped as a living goddess in Nepal has been stripped of her title for defying tradition and visiting the US.

Sajani Shakya was one of the three most-revered Kumaris, who are honoured by Hindus and Buddhists alike.

Chosen after undergoing tests at the age of two, she had been expected to bless devotees and attend festivals until she reached puberty.

But she provoked the ire of temple elders by travelling to the US.

That is a bit harsh — the 'temple elders' said:

Elders said the visit had tainted her purity, adding that they would now begin the search for a successor.

Now what makes me think that we are dealing with a bunch of old men here… The kid is a 'Goddess' but on a very short leash.

Posted by DaveH at 10:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A cool bit of therapy for stressed out Spaniards

From Independent Online/AFP:

Stressed out in Spain?
Eight stressed-out people took hotel chain NH Hotels at its word on Tuesday, giving vent to their social frustrations by smashing up rooms in one of the group's establishments, facing renovation.

“This anti-stress technique consists of destroying everything in order to feel liberated,” explained Eduardo Aldan, a Spanish actor charged with selecting the edgy eight for the demolition job on Madrid's central Alcala boulevard.

There were an initial 1,000 candidates - which means there are plenty of frustrated people still out there.

Those selected were “the most stressed,” Aldan said.

The group donned white overalls, a helmet, mask and safety goggles and then set about their business of demolishing 21 rooms with a hammer.

“That's got to be worth 15 years' therapy,” Jorge, an Argentine living in Madrid for two years, told AFP afterwards.

The unemployed 26-year-old was a little reserved to begin with, letting on only that he felt “very stressed” amid issues such as “hair loss and stomach upsets.”

But, hammer in hand, he quickly set about destroying the room, its bathroom and the television and cupboards for good measure.

“It was great,” enthused Pablo, an IT worker aged 32, after undertaking an activity which allowed him to forget for a brief while “the bank, the lack of free time, and the home” he cannot afford as prices spiral in the city.

Participants had to warm up for the task by pummelling a punch ball dressed as an archetypal boss while yelling out the cause of their woes.

Jorge whipped on a pair of boxing gloves before laying into the punch ball and screaming: “Money!”

Another stressed soul, 40-year-old taxi driver Felix, shouted: “The M30,” the generally packed ring road which surrounds Madrid and is often a nightmare for capital commuters.

Very cool and not bad publicity for the Hotel either. If given the chance, I would love to do something like this too — I have seen events where for $5 you can take a swing at a car with a sledgehammer; it would be fun to do a whole room…

Posted by DaveH at 10:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mike Rowe's earlier career - QVC late night

Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe has had a checkered career.
For a while in 1992, he worked for QVC doing their late night show.

YouTube has 18 clips: Search Results for “mike rowe qvc”

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

Two from Victor Davis Hanson

He has been on a roll this week with two essays here and here.

The first one from July 2nd is titled The Impending Food Fight:

While we worry about gas prices, the costs of milk, meat and fresh produce silently skyrockets. So like the end of cheap energy, is the era of cheap food also finally over?

Since the farm depression of the early 1980s — remember the first Farm Aid concert in 1985 — farmers have gone broke in droves from cheap commodity prices. The public shrugged, happy enough to get inexpensive food. Globalization saw increased world acreage planted and farmed under Western methods of efficient production. And that brought into the United States even more plentiful imported food.

Continued leaps in agricultural technology ensured more production per acre. The result was likewise predictable: the same old food surpluses and low prices. My late parents, who owned the farm I now live on in central California, used to sigh that the planet was reaching 6 billion mouths and so things someday “would have to turn around for farmers.”

Now they apparently have. Food prices are climbing at rates approaching 10 percent per year. But why the sudden change?

The second one from June 29th is titled The Passion of the Left:

CIA’s new revelations fan the flames of “progressive” myths of our past.
The publication of the CIA’s “family jewels” -— the record of its domestic spying, hare-brained plots against Castro, and mind-control experiments, among other oddities -— is sure to add fuel to that roaring bonfire of a myth that so-called “progressives” have been warming their egos at for forty years.

You know the story, since it continues to be told non-stop by the media, television, movies, and half the curricula in schools and universities: evil American corporations and their lackeys in the government were (and still are) brutalizing the Third World in order to maximize profits and strengthen their hold on power. This nefarious capitalist plot was sold to the oafish American people under the camouflage of Cold War rhetoric about resisting Communism (now “terrorism”) and protecting American “freedom,” which was in fact an illusion masquerading the uptight, repressed American’s servitude to consumerism and mindless entertainment. A handful of doughty college professors, “activists,” and journalists, however, bravely unmasked this wicked conspiracy, and despite the counter-attack unleashed by corporate government henchmen in the FBI and CIA, eventually exposed the capitalist conspiracy. A neo-imperialist war in Southeast Asia was ended, the crypto-fascist Nixon regime brought down, and limits placed on the CIA, the FBI, and the Pentagon. Pulitzer prizes, tenure, flattering movies, and six-figure book deals followed, not to mention what South Park calls the “huge cloud of smug” polluting the bicoastal liberal enclaves and every university campus.

Indeed, this melodrama continues to provide the template for the way popular culture and the mainstream media interpret the current war against Islamic jihad. From Vietnam and Watergate derive the plot and formulas into which current events are shoe-horned. The harping on pre-war intelligence mistakes and the missing WMD’s, for example, can be traced back to the alleged lies that justified the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. The hysteria over Scooter Libby and the attention lavished on the duplicitous Joe Wilson are incomprehensible without Watergate and its beatified “whistle-blowers.” The sophomoric anti-war movement and its shrill saints like Cindy Sheehan are taken seriously only because of the inflated mythic paradigm of the protests against the Vietnam War.

The problem is, subsequent history has uncovered the facts that expose the hollowness of these myths. The war in Vietnam was started by a communist regime attempting to extend the revolution throughout Southeast Asia. The war was not “lost,” but won and then lost when the U.S. Congress lost its nerve and abandoned South Vietnam to the tender mercies of the communists. Journalists like the recently deceased and lionized David Halberstam were not intrepid truth-seekers exposing the lies of a corrupt government, but opportunists and ideologues driven by their vision of “social justice,” which in the event turned out to be suspiciously similar to the communist version. Watergate was not a triumph of justice but a disastrous inflation of a political misdemeanor, crippling the Nixon administration at a critical moment and emboldening America’s enemies, as subsequent Soviet adventurism throughout the seventies proved. And the anti-war movement was riddled with communist ideologues beholden to Moscow and manipulating the herd of sappy idealists, sophomoric utopians, and other useful idiots.

I have just excerpted the first few paragraphs of these essays — they are very thoughtful and a perfect example of Dr. Hanson's exquisite writing.

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

July 02, 2007

A case of discrimination

Some people can't stand anyone outside of their perception of 'normal'.
Hint — some of them work for McDonalds…
From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Denied service for using her feet, woman says
DRIVE-THRU DEBACLE | Says McDonald's workers balked at tiny hands, short arms

In a lifetime of using her feet the way most people use their hands, Dawn Larson never felt as discriminated against as she did at McDonald's, she said.

Born with Holt-Oram Syndrome, Larson has diminutive hands about six inches from her shoulder.

That has never stopped her from leading a productive life.

“I drank my baby bottle with my feet. Nobody ever taught me how to do it, I just did it,” Larson said. “I can ride a regular 10-speed bike. I can swim. It has not been a problem in my life at all. It didn't stop me from having four boys. I've never dropped one of them.”

On Nov. 3, Larson pulled up to the speaker at a McDonald's in Rockford and ordered food for her and her boys totaling $23.59. She drove to the first window and passed them her credit card, gripped with the toes of her left foot. The cashier took the card, processed her payment and handed the card back to her.

According to a lawsuit Larson filed against the restaurant's owner last week in Winnebago County, when Larson pulled up to the second window to get her food, an employee said “with a tone of disgust and repulsion,” “What's the matter with you? . . . You ain't got no arms. … Let me see your arms,” and drew back the bags of food from Larson's outstretched foot. After making more allegedly rude statements, the employee closed the window and went to consult a manager, the suit states.

The manager appeared at the window and likewise stared in disgust at Larson while her children watched from their seats in the car, the suit states. Larson suggested that they hand the bags to her son, who has one full-size arm. He reached over and took them.

Larson later called a manager at McDonald's to complain and was told “corrective action has been taken” against the employees, the suit says. McDonald's sent her $10 in gift certificates.

Like $10 is going to make all this go away… And it didn't stop there.

'Oh, no, I'm not doing this'
On Feb. 15, Larson went to a different McDonald's in Rockford and the same thing happened, she alleges. The employee at the first window was happy to take her card from her foot, but the employee at the second window threw up her hands and said, “Oh, no, I'm not doing this,” and closed the window, the suit states.

The employee would not hand the bags to her son, either, the suit says. Larson asked her friend to enter the restaurant and get the food, and they would not give it to him. After several minutes, an employee came out and handed the food to the friend.

(putting on my psychic hat)

Lawsuit.

Posted by DaveH at 10:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Say hi to Uncle Sam (and pay your speeding ticket)

From Local6:

'Uncle Sam' Tickets Hundreds Of Speeding Central Floridian Drivers
Dressed Up Deputy Helps Nab Drivers

Hundreds of Central Florida motorists were ticketed Monday by a costumed Uncle Sam officer in a weeklong operation targeting speeding holiday drivers.

About 20 sheriff's deputies on motorcycles pulled over speeding motorists after they were detected by Uncle Sam's laser speed-detection gun.

During the four-hour traffic operation, 275 citations were issued, according to sheriff's deputies.

“Unless Uncle Sam hops in your car and puts his foot on your gas pedal and makes you speed, we are not entrapping anybody,” Orange County traffic division Officer Ken Wynne said.

Speeding tickets handed out by Uncle Sam start at $80 and increase with each mile per hour over the speed limit, Orange County sheriff's deputies said.

And the police department seems to have a sense of humor:

In the past, deputies have dressed up as elves near Christmas, the Grinch at New Year's and a leprechaun around St. Patrick's Day.

uncle_sam_traffic_cop.jpg

Heh…

Posted by DaveH at 08:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Scooter Libby gets pardoned

President Bush pardoned Scooter Libby today. Needless to say, the lefties are having a meltdown while conservatives are saying ” 'bout time “.

Here is Fred Thompson's take:

Likely presidential candidate Fred Thompson ® released this statement: “I am very happy for Scooter Libby. I know that this is a great relief to him, his wife and children. While for a long time I have urged a pardon for Scooter, I respect the President's decision. This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life.”

Of course, the lefties are not looking at President Clinton's track record on this — it's too embarrassing for them.

Posted by DaveH at 08:36 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

History of CGI in movies

A nice short history of the use of CGI in Movies from your3Dsource:

First Computer Rendering
Arguably the first movie ever to use computers to create a visual effect (a 2D rotating structure on one level of the underground lab) was The Andromeda Strain, in 1971. The effect was extremely advanced for its time, with work by Douglas Trumbull (who also worked on “2001: A Space Odyssey”), James Shourt, and Albert Whitlock (who worked on the Alfred Hitchcock film “The Birds”).

Hat tip to SciFi Scanner for the link.

Posted by DaveH at 08:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pot farm busted by an "unusually frisky" deer

From The Register:

'Unusually frisky' deer blow lid on marijuana plantation
Italian police busted two would-be marijuana cultivators after “unusually frisky” deer alerted the authorities as to the presence of their mountaintop dope plantation, UPI reports.

Locals in Trento began telling tales of the abnormally high-spirited animals, while forest rangers began to wonder why the normally shy and straight-laced cervine population was letting it all hang out by day and “making great leaps on the mountainside”.

Rangers duly made their way to the top of the suspect mountain, and discovered “some plant pots and shredded marijuana”. The pair responsible for the high-altitude high facility - a factory worker and a university student in their 20s - were cuffed when they ascended the peak on a harvesting mission.

Despite the seemingly damning nature of the prosecution's case, defence lawyers say the charges may yet be dropped since the deer had eaten most of the evidence. Reports that some Trento residents were awoken from their beds at 2am by pothead Bambis demanding bowls of Rice Krispies are unconfirmed. ®

Heh…

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

July 01, 2007

This sounds like a _lot_ of fun!

From Geekdad:

Alka-Seltzer Tag
If you've got some Alka-Seltzer tablets, a drill, some string, and lots of water, you've got all you need for a fun, summer-time (outdoor) game.

Set-up is very easy:
  1. drill a small hole through the center of an Alka-Seltzer tablet

  2. thread a string through the hole. Make sure the string is long enough to tie around a person's neck so the Alka-Seltzer can be worn as a necklace

  3. have lots and lots and lots of water

Then, the object of the game is to get the other person's Alka-Seltzer wet. As the tablet reacts to the water, it will start foaming and eventually fall off the string. The last person with an Alka-Seltzer necklace is the winner. As an alternative, you can divide into teams instead of every-person-for-themselves.

This will show up at one of the Farm parties…

Posted by DaveH at 11:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A nice rant on Islamism and it's 'modern' 'culture'

From Dr. David Yeagley:

The Curse of Islam and Immigration
The modern history of India presents a loud and colossal lesson about the ill effects of Islam, but a lesson seemingly forgotten (—by everyone but India.) Because of Islam, India lost enormous territories on its western and eastern borders. Two separate countries came into being: Pakistan (on the west) and Bangladesh (on the east). Wherever Muslims gather and multiply, they eventually become “independent.” It's their way, or no way. Mahatma Gandhi has a beautiful vision for an independent India, but, underneath the surface was the enormous Islamic factor, which took advantage of the opportunity the minute the Biritish loosened their controls over India. India became independent in 1947, but Pakistan became independent also, in two parts. West and East Pakistan. In 1971, East Pakistan became Bangladesh, independent from Pakistan.

There is no question but that Islam is devisive, unable to peacefully coexist, and it is the destroyer of nations. Islam is intolerant, uncooperative, and deadly. It is a curse to the nations of the world.

Now look again at Kosovo, the Serbian province trying to break away as a separate nation. Why? It is overrun with migrated Albanian Muslims. Muslims cannot and will not abide under any other jurisdiction but their own. And they will bring everyone under their jurisdiction. Again, it is their way, or no way. It is only a matter of time, and usually not much time. They will have their own nation—in your face—made from your land. Islam will take from you that which is yours.

The only Islamic people out side Islamic countires who do not impose themselves or their religion on host countries are the Iranians. The Iranians of Sweden, Germany, England, America, etc., are not interested in evangelizing anyone. In fact, it might be said that their version of Islam is not really Islam, and it suits only their personal communities, and is of no interest, no concern, and no threat to anyone else (—except maybe the jihadists). The Islam of the Iranian diapsora is a a religion of reverence, and quiet social custom. Quite innocuous, as far as anyone has ever known.

Otherwise, Islam, real Islam, is a threat to every nation in the world. It is a threat to freedom, a threat to prosperity, and a threat to life. This is the blatant track record of this religion in the modern world, and of every people who espouse it.

Islamic immigration into other countries is invasive. It is colonization with the plan to spread the iron cowl of cruelty and oppression on all it overshadows. There is no place for Islam in the modern world. It should be confined to its historical environs, and not allowed anywhere else. It should be banned from the free world. It is an aggressive, deadly enemy.

True words…

Posted by DaveH at 09:59 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A handsome couple

Saw this at Theo Spark while doing some research and thought I'd share:

Moqtada Al Sadr gets himself some lovin'…..

Moqtada_al_Sadr_pig.jpg

I feel sorry for the pig — she is gorgeous!

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

Talking about the weather - some inconvenient truths

A nice list of some of the more glaring inaccuracies in Algore's “documentary”.
From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Alarmist global warming claims melt under scientific scrutiny
In his new book, The Assault on Reason, Al Gore pleads, “We must stop tolerating the rejection and distortion of science. We must insist on an end to the cynical use of pseudo-studies known to be false for the purpose of intentionally clouding the public's ability to discern the truth.” Gore repeatedly asks that science and reason displace cynical political posturing as the central focus of public discourse.

If Gore really means what he writes, he has an opportunity to make a difference by leading by example on the issue of global warming.

A cooperative and productive discussion of global warming must be open and honest regarding the science. Global warming threats ought to be studied and mitigated, and they should not be deliberately exaggerated as a means of building support for a desired political position.

Many of the assertions Gore makes in his movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” have been refuted by science, both before and after he made them. Gore can show sincerity in his plea for scientific honesty by publicly acknowledging where science has rebutted his claims.

A few examples:

For example, Gore claims that Himalayan glaciers are shrinking and global warming is to blame. Yet the September 2006 issue of the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate reported, “Glaciers are growing in the Himalayan Mountains, confounding global warming alarmists who recently claimed the glaciers were shrinking and that global warming was to blame.”

And:

Gore claims global warming is causing an expansion of African deserts. However, the Sept. 16, 2002, issue of New Scientist reports, “Africa's deserts are in 'spectacular' retreat . . . making farming viable again in what were some of the most arid parts of Africa.”

And one last one:

Gore argues Greenland is in rapid meltdown, and that this threatens to raise sea levels by 20 feet. But according to a 2005 study in the Journal of Glaciology, “the Greenland ice sheet is thinning at the margins and growing inland, with a small overall mass gain.” In late 2006, researchers at the Danish Meteorological Institute reported that the past two decades were the coldest for Greenland since the 1910s.

Inconvenient truths indeed… Science should be left to the scientists and not the politicians.

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

Nancy Pelosi playing the blame game

Pelosi had some high words coming into Congress but ran a very divisive game, public approval for Congress slipped to below that of President Bush (Congress at 14%, Bush at 30%) and now, she is spinning her little way out of it.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Pelosi lays blame for missed goals on Senate
The problem for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn't just President Bush.

It's the Senate.

Pelosi sounded more apologetic than celebratory Friday when she announced with her Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democrats' list of accomplishments six months after they seized control of Capitol Hill and promised “a new direction” in Washington.

“I'm not happy with Congress, either,” Pelosi, of San Francisco, conceded.

She pinned the blame on “the obstructionism of the Republicans in the United States Senate.”

Immigration has joined Iraq, stem cell research, Medicare drug pricing, the 9/11 Commission's recommendations and other promises in the dustbin of the current Congress. Heading into a July Fourth recess after a bruising failure on immigration, Congress has a public approval rating in the mid-20s, lower than Bush's and no better than Republicans' ratings on the eve of their catastrophic election defeat in November, when the GOP lost control of the Senate and the House.

I had written about the Congressional effectiveness last June 3rd: The achievements of the 110th Congress

Time to clean house and get some fresh faces working for us… I am seriously looking at voting anti-incumbent next election.

Posted by DaveH at 08:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack