November 30, 2008

Che on the silver screen

Humberto Fontova at Babalu Blog makes mention of a new 'documentary' called Che movies featuring everyone's favorite left-wing murderer. He links to this review -- it doesn't pull any punches -- from Human Events:
Cannes Snores Through Che Biopic
Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh unveiled his 4 ½ hour Che Guevara Biopic at the Cannes Film Festival last Thursday. One reviewer described the movie as “maniacally anticipated.” Variety hailed it as Cannes' “most-anticipated” film.

But based on reviews thus far, it looks like Soderbergh blew it. After suffering what some critics described as the film's “butt-numbing” duration, Variety's Todd McCarthy branded the movie “defiantly nondramatic” and “a commercial impossibility.” New York Magazine calls it, “something of a fiasco.” Everyone seemed bored if not actually catatonic while viewing the film. Time's Richard Corliss described Benicio Del Toro in the starring role as “seemingly sedated.” Bloomberg news wrote of the “viewers' bleary eyes.”
And the big question (with the big answer):
Almost all who actually interacted with Ernesto Guevara (and are now free to express their views without fear of firing squads or torture chambers) know that the The Big Question regarding Ernesto, the most genuinely fascinating aspect of his life, is:

How did such a dreadful bore, incurable doofus, sadist and and epic idiot attain such iconic status?

The answer is that this psychotic and thoroughly unimposing vagrant named Ernesto Guevara had the magnificent fortune of linking up with modern history's top press agent, Fidel Castro, who for going on half a century now, has had the mainstream media anxiously scurrying to his every beck and call and eating out of his hand like trained pigeons. Had Ernesto Guevara De La Serna y Lynch not linked up with Raul and Fidel Castro in Mexico city that fateful summer of 1955--had he not linked up with a Cuban exile named Nico Lopez in Guatemala the year before who later introduced him to Raul and Fidel Castro in Mexico city-- everything points to Ernesto continuing his life of a traveling hobo, panhandling, mooching off women, staying in flophouses and scribbling unreadable poetry.
About sums it up -- a bully in life, a coward at death. His face may look good on a tee-shirt but he was scum through and through.
Posted by DaveH at 6:05 PM

The cost of being Mr. Bill

Vetting Hillary is proving interesting. The following restrictions are being placed on President Bill -- from the Associated Press:
Clinton's nomination is the latest chapter in what began as a bitter rivalry for the Democratic presidential nomination. After Obama defeated her, Clinton backed his general election campaign against Republican Sen. John McCain, and she now has agreed to give up her Senate seat to be his top diplomat.

To make it possible for his wife to become secretary of state, party officials said, former President Bill Clinton agreed to:
  • Disclose the names of every contributor to his foundation since its inception in 1997 and all contributors going forward.
  • Refuse donations from foreign governments to the Clinton Global Initiative, his annual charitable conference.
  • Cease holding CGI meetings overseas.
  • Volunteer to step away from day-to-day management of the foundation while his wife is secretary of state.
  • Submit his speaking schedule to review by the State Department and White House counsel.
  • Submit any new sources of income to a similar ethical review.
Heh... The rest of the article is interesting as well -- Obama is choosing some good people. The lefties will be a bit surprised when they find out that instead of the rainbows and light they thought they were electing, we are getting a pragmatic, tough, intelligent, zero bullshit centrist. The next four (or eight) years will be interesting to say the least -- a good wakeup call to the Republican party...
Posted by DaveH at 5:25 PM

I hab a code in my head

The worst thing about having a cold is that it scoops out 30% of your grey matter and makes you stupid. Or at least it feels like it. The good news is that now I will be able to watch mainstream television and actually enjoy it! /snark
Posted by DaveH at 4:01 PM

More Melamine - this time it's baby food again

Just wonderful -- from CNN:
FDA finds more traces of melamine in formula
Several samples of infant formula have tested positive for trace amounts of the toxic contaminant melamine or a related compound, the Food and Drug Administration said Thursday.

Of 77 samples tested, one contained trace levels of melamine, FDA spokeswoman Judy Leon told CNN. A trace amount is defined as less than 2,500 parts per billion, she said.

On Tuesday, the agency had said that one sample had tested positive.

But Thursday, the FDA said two tests of a sample of Nestle's Good Start Supreme Infant Formula with Iron showed melamine at levels of 137 and 140 parts per billion.

In addition, Mead Johnson's infant powder, Enfamil LIPIL with Iron, had three positive tests for cyanuric acid, at an average of 247 parts per billion, also well below the FDA trace level.
And a bit more:
Last month, the FDA set the safety threshold for melamine at 2,500 parts per billion for foods other than infant formula. The agency said it did not have enough data to set a safety threshold for infants.

A spokeswoman for the Atlanta, Georgia-based International Formula Council, a trade group, said she had not seen the data, but was encouraged that the quantity found was below levels deemed safe in infants by the governments of China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Canada and New Zealand.

"Apparently these trace levels can be found in lots of food," said spokeswoman Mardi Mountford.

The FDA also found trace levels of melamine in several samples of medical formula supplements for the elderly, but the amounts posed no health risk to adults, Leon said.
These levels are fine for short-term consumption and probably fine for long-term as well -- a few hundred parts per Billion of anything can easily be processed by the body and eliminated. What really concerns me is that this is probably from cross-contamination which means that they are still adding Melamine to other products manufactured at that plant on that equipment. They may be cleaning the processing machines between cycles but enough Melamine is remaining that it shows up in these batches. The danger here is that someone will mistakenly dump a bag of Melamine into a batch of Infant formula and that it will not be detected. This is not good. The only reason for Melamine to be used at all is to defeat the test for protein content and jack the number up higher. Case in point this paragraph:
Its presence in Chinese infant formula has led to the hospitalization of more than 12,000 children and the deaths of several in China, according to the FDA, which said it is not aware of any such illnesses in the United States.
Rope. Tree. Some assembly required.
Posted by DaveH at 3:42 PM | Comments (0)

A dietary link to Alzheimer's

From Reuters News Service:
Research on mice links fast food to Alzheimer's
Mice fed junk food for nine months showed signs of developing the abnormal brain tangles strongly associated with Alzheimer's disease, a Swedish researcher said on Friday.

The findings, which come from a series of published papers by a researcher at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet, show how a diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol could increase the risk of the most common type of dementia.

"On examining the brains of these mice, we found a chemical change not unlike that found in the Alzheimer brain," Susanne Akterin, a researcher at the Karolinska Institutet's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, who led the study, said in a statement.

"We now suspect that a high intake of fat and cholesterol in combination with genetic factors ... can adversely affect several brain substances, which can be a contributory factor in the development of Alzheimer's."
The Institutes's home page is here but I do not see any papers online. I wonder if there have been any epidemiological studies done on diet and brain function.
Posted by DaveH at 12:08 PM | Comments (1)

England and Food

It seems that English food manufacturers are cutting more than corners when selling 'budget priced' products... From the London Times:
Yuk - the sausage rolls with just 6% pork
Big supermarkets’ budget food is selling well but its quality is poor

Some of Britain’s biggest supermarket chains are compromising on quality by selling budget items such as sausage rolls with as little as 6% pork.

Sainsbury’s and Tesco are working hard to market their low-cost lines as they compete with discount chains to attract cash-strapped shoppers.

This is often coming at the expense of quality, however. An analysis of low-cost foods at the two chains has found, in addition to the sausage rolls, fisherman’s pies with 9% fish and square cheese slices with 11% cheese. The products have been bulked out with ingredients such as water, animal fat and sugar.

The items help the supermarkets to undercut bargain-basement stores such as Aldi and Lidl, which have posed a growing threat as middle-class families seek to economise.
The article goes on to note that some other companies are actually delivering a lot better product for the money. Pays to read the labels...
Posted by DaveH at 10:12 AM | Comments (0)

Jimmy Carter and Zimbabwe

Seems like Carter isn't understanding the gravity of his prior actions. From Mere Rhetoric:
jimmy_carter_zimbabwe.jpg
Carter: Gosh, That Guy That I Helped Put In Charge Of Zimbabwe Sure Is Screwing Things Up
Zimbabwe is about to go from bad to worse because of a massive cholera outbreak. So he's not exactly wrong...
Carter issued a statement Tuesday condemning what he said was Harare's decision to renege on an agreement to allow him, Annan and Machel into the country. He also offered a damning assessment of the Mugabe regime. "After almost three decades of governmental corruption, mismanagement and oppression, Zimbabwe has become a basket case, an embarrassment to the region and a focus of international concern and condemnation," he said.
... he's just a shameless hypocritical simpleton:
Carter had barely settled in at the White House in 1977 when he set about establishing his presidency as different. Instead of leading with the pragmatic idealism that marked most successful U.S. presidencies, the former governor of Georgia said he would base his leadership on a new, ill-defined concept of "human rights."... In Rhodesia, Carter kept up sanctions begun under his predecessors. But he went further by undermining the election of Bishop Abel Muzorewa as prime minister in 1979 to protest the exclusion of candidate Robert Mugabe. In response to Carter's pressure, new elections were held, giving Mugabe the victory he has held onto as Africa's worst dictator.
What next? A tirade against the mullahs who took over after Iran after he sold out the Shah?
Posted by DaveH at 9:56 AM | Comments (0)

Bruce Lee playing Ping Pong

OMFG!
He died 35 years ago -- there has never been another one like him. Hat tip to Resistance is Futile for the link.
Posted by DaveH at 9:50 AM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2008

An odd bit of a coincidence

The Worlds Oldest Woman died recently. Edna Parker passed away on November 26th of this year; living to be age 115 Years and 200 Days. The World's Tallest Woman died August 13th of this year. Sandy Allen was seven feet and 7.25 inches tall. The odd bit? They were both living at the Heritage House Convalescent Center in Shelbyville, Indiana
Posted by DaveH at 7:39 PM | Comments (0)

Can't believe it's only 6:30PM

Feels about 11:30PM Going upstairs for that hot shower and to bed -- screw the sleep schedule, I am tired...
Posted by DaveH at 5:39 PM | Comments (0)

Back in town

Whew! It was a fun trip but is it ever good to be back in our own little town and our own house. Getting to be more and more of a hermit as time goes by... I picked up a cold while I was down there -- just in time to spread the holiday joy around up here. There has been a pernicious 48-hour intestinal bug going around and both of us have managed to miss catching it but now we get to expose our whole community to the 'Great Fresno Cold of 2008'. Taking some Alka Seltzer Plus and some Dextromethorphan for the cough. Unpack and take a long hot shower and try to steam some of the stuffiness out of my sinuses... Comments have been turned back on and Blogging will resume shortly.
Posted by DaveH at 5:09 PM | Comments (0)

November 27, 2008

The Big Three - an interesting observation

Mark Perry at Carpe Diem found an interesting observation about the Big Three Automakers and their profitability in the Wall Street Journal:
Big 3 Are Profitable Around the World, But Not U.S.
GM CEO Rick Wagoner told Congress last week that GM's China operations are profitable. They actually help to underwrite the massive losses in the U.S. The brainpans on the Hill might have asked why Ford and GM managed to build viable auto businesses all over the world but not in North America.

You don't need the Hubble telescope to tell the answer: The UAW is present only in the U.S., not all over the world.

Here's a plan: Buy out the UAW with taxpayer dollars and free the Big Three to staff their factories with nonunion workers the way Toyota and Honda and BMW do. Last week's Hill circus notwithstanding, the negotiation that really needs to take place now is between Democrats and their union allies. The Big Three executives are just in the way.
And it's not just the UAW - the enviros with their emissions limits and Congress with CAFE.
Posted by DaveH at 11:20 AM

The Hockey Stick is baaaack!!!

The (in)famous Mann et. al. Hockey Stick is back again and Climate Skeptic is all over it:
Deconstructing the Hockey Stick
Will there ever be a time when sane people are not having to deconstruct yet another repackaging of Mann's hockey stick, like some endless wack-a-mole game? Mann is back with a new hockey stick and, blow me away with surprise, it looks a heck of a lot like the old hockey stick.
Read on and follow the links. Basically, Mann uses 95 Climate Proxies to try to reconstruct the Earth's average temperature for the last 1,000 years. What is shown is a sudden increase in temperature in the last hundred years or so. There are two Climate Proxies in question - one of which is known to be corrupt (lake sediments which have been disturbed and mechanically mixed up). Remove these two Proxies and the temperature chart looses that sudden uptick. UPDATE: I misread -- the Lake Sediment is one Proxy. The other is Bristlecone Pine tree-rings of which Mann used a number of instances so the bogus Proxies total about 20% of the whole and not just two out of 95.
Posted by DaveH at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

English as a Second Language

An interesting story in today's Fresno Bee:
Jury clears NIBCO's Fresno plant of discrimination
It finds English-only job-skills assessment was valid way to test workers.

A Fresno manufacturing plant did not discriminate when it laid off workers who couldn't get a perfect score on a skills test that was only offered in English, a federal jury found Wednesday.

The unanimous verdict ended a nine-year legal journey for NIBCO Inc., an Indiana-based irrigation-systems manufacturer. The company's lawyers successfully argued that the test was needed to make the plant safer for workers, and to be more competitive.

The jury found that the exam was "a business necessity" and a valid way to test job skills. They also found that the test did not cause the workers to get laid off, and that there was no better alternative to the test.

"We are very, very disappointed," said Fresno attorney William J. Smith, who represented the workers, 23 Hispanic and Southeast Asian women who spoke little or no English. "We had high hopes that we would win this case."
OK - a typical case of the evil corporate overlord oppressing the poor workers. But wait -- there's more:
At Judge Oliver Wanger's invitation after the verdict was read, jurors told attorneys how they came to their decision. They said the workers should have learned English -- especially since NIBCO had offered to pay for the classes.

The jurors also said the company went out of its way to help the workers, giving them a study sheet and three chances to pass the test.

The jury foreman -- Albert Veldstra, a retired Stanislaus County sheriff's deputy -- also said the panel had trouble believing the workers couldn't understand the test, because it required only a sixth-grade reading level.

One of the workers was a Hoover High School graduate, according to testimony. Another frequently read newspapers and magazines. The panel also saw writing samples from some of the workers with correct English, Veldstra said.
Curiouser and curioser... A bit about the company and the reason for the tests:
NIBCO purchased Pepco Water Conservation Products and R.M. Wade and Co. in 1995 and combined the operations of the two plants to make irrigation products. Once it took over, NIBCO turned the part-time employees into full-time ones and gave them raises and health, dental and retirement plans -- benefits that they hadn't had before.

But problems soon arose because raw materials were incorrectly mixed, inventory records were inaccurate, and safety training seldom took place, said NIBCO's lead lawyer, William Hahesy of Fresno. He was assisted by Fresno lawyers Michael Helsley and Sara Hedgepeth-Harris.

The skills tests were given in 1997 and 1998. But as financial losses continued to mount, layoffs came in 1998.
And finally:
The plant shut down in 1999 after losing $14 million. NIBCO still operates 12 manufacturing plants throughout the United States and in Mexico and Poland.
Geezzz -- NIBCO converts the part time employees into full-time, gives them health insurance and benefits, offers to pay for the English classes, gives three chances to pass, offers cheat-sheets for the test and the test is only at a sixth-grade level and the employees who failed bring a lawsuit? Talk about ungrateful fools...
Posted by DaveH at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2008

Quantum of Solace

Went to see this today -- I am liking Daniel Craig more and more as the definitive Bond. Connery was good but Craig brings the character that Fleming originally wrote about to life. The other films are not like Ian Fleming's original books, much to their loss. The gadgets are nice but a plot with some meat on it is much nicer... Oh. And BTW. To those people that made the "pre-quel" to the StarTrek television series -- you know, the one coming out soon whose trailer I just saw today. You did not have to fuck with the hull of the NCC-1701. I know that she did have a major refit back in 2770 but this is quite some time after this movie is set. These changes are gratutious and contribute nothing to any story arc I could imagine. We will see it on the big screen but that still rankles. That being said... Fixing a side dish for Thanksgiving dinner at Jen's parents and will be back (and blogging regularly) in a few days.
Posted by DaveH at 5:12 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2008

In California

Flew in yesterday, spent the night in San Francisco and drove down to Jen's parents place this afternoon. The computer at the hotel has been locked down as to be useless so posting will be infrequent. Fun to be down here but it will be great to get back again!
Posted by DaveH at 5:07 PM | Comments (0)

November 20, 2008

Time for some heads to roll - literally

Only took about an hour for this to show up on YouTube:
If I was Palin, I would be a bit pissed off. We slaughter and eat our own chickens and this is where roast turkeys do come from but a lot of people blot that thought out of their minds when they sit down to Thanksgiving dinner. To show it on television news is a bit off-putting.
Posted by DaveH at 9:27 PM | Comments (0)

Freeman Dyson and Global Warming &c.

A bit of a puff-piece but good to see that he is still kicking around. From the Princeton University Town Topics:
Freeman Dyson Debunks Dire Forecasts on Global Warming and Other Tenets
Freeman Dyson gets around. Last Wednesday, for example, the 85-year-old “retired” physicist regaled a lunchtime audience at the Nassau Club with his “heretical” ideas about global warming. Just a few hours later he could be found once again sharing his thoughts on global warming, as well as on intelligent design, nuclear warfare, extraterrestrial life, and HAR-1 (a DNA component that distinguishes human beings from other animals) with a standing-room-only crowd at Labyrinth Books.

Mr. Dyson’s credentials are venerable: the British-born scholar received a BA from the University of Cambridge in 1945, and was, from 1953 until his retirement in 1994, a physics professor at the Institute for Advanced Study. The absence of a PhD in his resume has been more than compensated for by the 21 honorary degrees he has received over the years.

He seems happiest, however, when he is working at being the rebel, and indeed, one of his books, a compilation of essays published earlier in The New York Review of Books, is called The Scientist as Rebel. Wearing an effusively-colored tie that set off his gray suit, Mr. Dyson began his talk at the Nassau Club by encouraging the audience to interrupt him as he spoke, since, he declared, “it’s much more fun to have an argument than do a monologue.”

In the absence of audience interruptions, Mr. Dyson had an argument anyway with the scores of people (like Al Gore) who weren’t present to defend their belief in the dire consequences of global warming. (“There’s no accounting for human folly,” Mr. Dyson said when asked about Mr. Gore’s Nobel Prize.) Saying that on a recent trip he and his wife found Greenlanders to be delighted with their warmer climate and increased tourism, Mr. Dyson suggested that representing “local warming by a global average is misleading.” In his comments at both the Nassau Club and Labyrinth, he decried the use of computer modeling to make “tremendously dogmatic” predictions about worldwide trends, without acknowledging the “messy, muddy real world” and the non-climatic effects of increased carbon dioxide. “There is no substitute for widely-conducted field operations over a long time,” he told the Nassau Club audience, citing the “enormous gaps in knowledge and sparseness of observation” that characterize the work of global warming experts.

Mr. Dyson’s fearless commentary continued later at Labyrinth, where, standing for over an hour and without a microphone, he delighted a full house by declaring the existence of 10,000 string theorists to be “sociologically dangerous” (“one thousand would be enough”), and balked at an audience member’s query about what he would do with a $700 billion grant. “When science gets rich it becomes political,” he observed. As an example of the most expensive efforts not necessarily being the most worthwhile, he pointed to CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, the subject of much recent attention, noting that it was designed to identify only certain particles, losing much potentially interesting information in the process. “The important things are the ones you don’t expect,” he noted.
What he said. His son, George, lives in Bellingham and that fruit did not fall far from the tree.
Posted by DaveH at 9:00 PM | Comments (0)

50 words and eight 8 material mistruths and misrepresentations about the Environment

Even the Goracle took 58 words to commit five mistruths. From American Thinker:
Obama Out-Gores Gore at Climate Summit
Barack Obama managed to say all the wrong things at this week's Governors Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles -- without even showing up. The President-elect appeared to the green faithful on Tuesday in the form of a mammoth video image, and opened his pre-recorded pledge to "take the lead" in addressing global warming with these eerily familiar words:
"Few challenges facing America -- and the world -- are more urgent than combating climate change. The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear. Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. We've seen record drought, spreading famine and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season."
Marc then proceeds to dismantle each of the eight assertions and shows them to be misrepresentation or out and out falsehoods. AGW has a Political Agenda and not a Scientific one.
Posted by DaveH at 8:39 PM

Intermittent posting for a week

Heading down to California to Jen's parents for Thanksgiving tomorrow. I am bringing a bunch of camera stuff and will not have room for the laptop so blogging will be intermittent. I have turned off comments for that time as we have quite the crop of script kiddies stinking up the Blogosphere with their advertising for the same tired PP&C.
Posted by DaveH at 8:32 PM

Hip Blogging - two months down the road

Went to my Orthopod this afternoon for an XRay and a final evaluation of the hip replacement surgery. Piece of cake. Since they are not able to produce digital files, I brought my camera and took some photos of the radiographs.
old-hip-01_blog.jpg
Click for full-size Image
Here is the hip about two years ago -- I had periodic outbreaks of load-bearing pain but weeks of no abnormal sensation at all. You can see the faint outline of a lesion on the right side of the ball.
old-hip-02_blog.jpg
Click for full-size Image
This is what it looked like about six weeks before the surgery. You can see a collapse of the top of the ball and deterioration of the cartilage. Very painful to the point of affecting my sleep -- I would sleep 12-14 hours/day and wake up groggy and lethargic (more than normal anyway). Because of the General Anesthesia, they had me do a sleep study and it turned out that I was only getting 10-15 minutes of REM Sleep at a time, I would rise out of REM for 20 minutes and shift position trying to get comfortable, enter REM for a bit and then the joint ache would make me wake up a bit. I am now sleeping 8-10 hours (what is normal for me) and waking up fully refreshed with energy throughout the day.
new-hip-01_blog.jpg
Click for full-size Image
We have the technology! It has been a long two years and looking back, I can see where this affected me even before the breakout pain two years ago. I thought it was mild depression or SAD but no, it was having a pound or two of dead tissue in my body. Very glad to have had this surgery and the team at St. Josephs Hospital was absolutely first rate -- every single person.
Posted by DaveH at 7:13 PM | Comments (0)

More on the Lynden Fire

Back in June of this year, there was a large fire in the commercial section of Lynden, WA and two teenagers were taken into custody. Now, it turns out that they have a couple other 'events' in their past. From the Lynden Tribune:
Boys responsible for Delft fire also charged with May vandalism
The two boys responsible for starting the June 9 Delft Square fire in Lynden have also been charged with the vandalism of about a dozen city vehicles a month earlier.
And the vandalism in question:
According to the affidavit of probable cause on the vandalism, the older boy on Oct. 27 supplied a written confession of involvement in the May incident and said he was with the other boy. However, the younger, when confronted with the claims the next day, said officers had no evidence against him and it was one person's word against another; he refused to talk to a detective.

Lynden public works employees came to work on May 11 and found gang slang spray-painted on 10 city vehicles, a generator trailer and a temporary structure, and also two trailers owned by the Lynden Pioneer Museum.

A building was entered and a fire extinguisher was taken from city equipment and discharged into several of the vehicles.
Nice kids -- I love how the younger one was so defiant to the cop. That will be really good for whatever career path he chooses down the road. Lynden is very small and very conservative -- should be interesting for the parents...
Posted by DaveH at 8:52 AM | Comments (0)

Dear Whole Foods

Vanderleun knocks another one out of the park with this rant:
Dear Whole Foods: We're through. It's not me. It's you.
You know how it is, Whole. You know. And I know you know. We just can't pretend it is what it was any longer.

Bad things have been happening between us whenever I've tried to get into your sack for quite some time. It's time to face the fact that we just don't have that old natural spark between us any longer. We've faded from organic to conventional. It's time to move on to fresh fruits and vegetables new -- elsewhere. Ditto your firm, moist and alluring meats of many flavors. None of what you're doing to me is doing it for me any more.

I ignored a lot of your irritating habits, Whole -- like keeping that entire wing of the dairy case jammed with your revoltingly raw vegan pastes and six flavors of tofu, those sloppy seconds of soy. I rationalized you were just trying to keep your green ass from getting so fat you couldn't get into that tacky green apron you insist on wearing all the time, because "they go with my Earth shoes".

I put up with your petulant insistence on "helping me" find things I wasn't looking for whenever I paused in an aisle to ask myself "Johnson Grass and Brayla Suet Sausage? What the hell is that and what life form eats it?"

I put up with your plucking money from my wallet while I slept, so you could blow it on wind power and floats in the Green Pride Parades. I figured that every Whole needs a hobby.

Yes, I put up with your junkies' greed as you whined for more and more.... especially in the cheese department where you had no shame in marking up English and French and "local, sustainable" cheeses first to $20 a pound (Or as you coyly say, "$19.99!").... and then up to $25 a pound... and then -- since somebody was evidently paying you to screw them this hard -- when you went whole hog and started into the $35 a pound range with no end to your cheese needs in sight.

Yes, I just looked the other way, Whole. I figured I could always just skulk around the deli counter cadging slices of salami and smidgens of cheese off your perky crew until they grew tired or I was full. But the feeling of being used by you -- especially with the Euro cheeses which went up and up regardless of how heavily the Dollar was sitting on the face of the Euro -- kept on pinching me in the pocket.
It's a matter of balance. We sell boutique milk (Twin Brook) and organic and "natural" products at the store but we don't gouge our customers for that privilege. We shop in our local food co-op and at Trader Joe's whenever we are in Bellingham as well. There was a Whole Foods store that opened about two miles from where I used to live in Seattle and I went in there maybe once or twice. Talk about running a business into the ground by being too passionate about one's ideologies:
wfmi.jpg
(Click on the above link to see a full-size interactive chart.)
Posted by DaveH at 8:33 AM | Comments (0)

Heh - how stupid can you be? You are a Rapper? There's your answer!

From CBS News/AP:
Rapper Gets 20 Years After Writing Shooting Song
Georgia Rapper Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison After Writing A Song Describing Shooting

He shot a man twice and felt so good about it, police said, a rapper wrote a song describing the shooting and calling out the victim by name. A judge sentenced 25-year-old Rico Todriquez Wright Monday to spend the next 20 years in prison after his victim mentioned the hip hop confession to police.

Chad Blue, 28, told police he had known Wright before the September 2006 shooting, but that the men weren't friendly. He testified companions egged Wright on as he chased and shot his victim in the thigh and groin.

Later, Blue told police he recognized Wright's voice on a CD, rapping "Chad Blue knows how I shoot."

Wright was sentenced to 20 years for two counts of aggravated assault. He will spend another 20 years on probation.
But he was just pursuing a career in the arts. Blue should have shot back and ended this mokes existence -- a great case for putting some clorox in the gene pool if there ever was.
Posted by DaveH at 8:24 AM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2008

An interesting person to have a few beers with - Max Hardberger

Billing himself as "The Good Pirate", Max has lived an interesting life. I remember seeing him interviewed on television a few years ago but didn't realize that he had this website. Check out The Official Website of Max Hardberger Here is an excerpt of the About Max page:
At various times in his life, Max has worked as a ship captain, newspaper reporter, English and history teacher, crop duster, private investigator, maritime lawyer, flight instructor, ship surveyor, commercial aircraft pilot, sailing instructor, insurance adjuster, vessel repossession specialist, filmmaker, oilfield mud engineer, stuntman, ship breaker and even a drummer in a blues band. His adventures have taken him throughout the world—from lawless ports in the Caribbean and the war-torn jungles of Central America to the once-forbidden city of Vladivostok—where he crossed paths with a veritable rogue’s gallery of characters, including Haitian rebels, modern-day Caribbean pirates, and Russian mobsters. The world in which Max operates is a tough, gritty place, full of danger and opportunity.
Like I said, it would be fun to have a few beers with the guy and swap stories about places traveled...
Posted by DaveH at 5:48 PM | Comments (0)

Very cool news for Monty Python fans

Want to watch the classic Monty Python clips on YouTube but have to suffer through the poor quality of user uploaded files? Check this out:
Link here: YouTube/MontyPython Only about 30 clips there so far but a good beginning! Hat tip to Neatorama for the heads up.
Posted by DaveH at 5:24 PM | Comments (0)

Back online with WildBlue

The installer today was from a different company than installed the unit the first time. What makes it interesting is that the first installer did a poor job -- used the wrong kind of cable to connect between the dish and the modem, used several wrong connectors on the cable (low pass filters for blocking noise but the wrong specification -- these blocked a lot of the signal as well). That will go a long way to explain the poor performance that we have experienced in the past -- packet loss was a big deal before. Will be running some utilities to test for it tonight after I get a bite to eat and read the internet.
Posted by DaveH at 5:07 PM | Comments (0)

Comments are back online

WildBlue is supposed to come this afternoon to repair the satellite dish. Broadband at home at last!!!
Posted by DaveH at 1:57 PM | Comments (0)

How much Mugabe loves his people - Cholera epidemic

I'm really beginning to loathe this person. From the UK Telegraph:
Hundreds die of cholera in Zimbabwe
Hundreds of people are dying of cholera in Zimbabwe amid an epidemic that President Robert Mugabe is trying to cover up.

The Daily Telegraph has learnt that dozens of people have died from the outbreak in the last two weeks alone.

With the country's infrastructure neglected for years by Mr Mugabe's government, large sections of Harare rely on standpipes and wells for water, increasing the risk of infection.

Most government medical staff downed what few tools they had last month to protest at the lack of medicines and equipment in state hospitals, leaving only only army doctors are available to treat the sick.

In Budiriro, a small, poverty-stricken township in the west of the capital, a policeman outside the local Polyclinic said more than 60 people had died in the last two weeks.

The perimeter fence was covered in plastic, preventing outsiders from looking in as many, including private doctors and some donors, accuse the government of grossly under-reporting cholera deaths. It says there have been 80 in the entire country.

A long-serving doctor in Harare said that the epidemic in the townships was the worst in living memory.

"It will get worse as the rains come," he said as the first summer showers drenched the city. "The laboratories are overwhelmed."
People have known about the link between bad water and Cholera since 1854 when Dr. John Snow removed the pump handle of the Broad Street well. Why water isn't being trucked in for these poor people is beyond me. I trust there is a very special place in Hell for the likes of Mugabe...
Posted by DaveH at 1:46 PM | Comments (0)

What spare time - Google does it again

Google keeps getting more and more amazing. They now have millions of photos from Life Magazine digitized and available online. From the website:
Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google.
And from the Google Blog:
LIFE Photo Archive available on Google Image Search
The Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination; The Mansell Collection from London; Dahlstrom glass plates of New York and environs from the 1880s; and the entire works left to the collection from LIFE photographers Alfred Eisenstaedt, Gjon Mili, and Nina Leen. These are just some of the things you'll see in Google Image Search today.

We're excited to announce the availability of never-before-seen images from the LIFE photo archive. This effort to bring offline images online was inspired by our mission to organize all the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. This collection of newly-digitized images includes photos and etchings produced and owned by LIFE dating all the way back to the 1750s.

Only a very small percentage of these images have ever been published. The rest have been sitting in dusty archives in the form of negatives, slides, glass plates, etchings, and prints. We're digitizing them so that everyone can easily experience these fascinating moments in time. Today about 20 percent of the collection is online; during the next few months, we will be adding the entire LIFE archive — about 10 million photos.
And if you see an image you like, click on it and there is an option to purchase a photographic print from Life, matted and framed. If you view a large image online, there is a Life watermark but it is not obtrusive. This is an amazing resource... Tip of the hat to Telstar Logistics for the link.
Posted by DaveH at 1:33 PM | Comments (0)

HOLY $#@%!!!!!!!!

Check out this guys driving skills: Ken Block Racing Makes all of those 'drifting' movies look lame-o -- this is the real deal...
Posted by DaveH at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

The automakers problems

A nice editorial article by Mitt Romney at the New York Times:
Let Detroit Go Bankrupt
If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.

Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.

I love cars, American cars. I was born in Detroit, the son of an auto chief executive. In 1954, my dad, George Romney, was tapped to run American Motors when its president suddenly died. The company itself was on life support — banks were threatening to deal it a death blow. The stock collapsed. I watched Dad work to turn the company around — and years later at business school, they were still talking about it. From the lessons of that turnaround, and from my own experiences, I have several prescriptions for Detroit’s automakers.

First, their huge disadvantage in costs relative to foreign brands must be eliminated. That means new labor agreements to align pay and benefits to match those of workers at competitors like BMW, Honda, Nissan and Toyota. Furthermore, retiree benefits must be reduced so that the total burden per auto for domestic makers is not higher than that of foreign producers.

That extra burden is estimated to be more than $2,000 per car. Think what that means: Ford, for example, needs to cut $2,000 worth of features and quality out of its Taurus to compete with Toyota’s Avalon. Of course the Avalon feels like a better product — it has $2,000 more put into it. Considering this disadvantage, Detroit has done a remarkable job of designing and engineering its cars. But if this cost penalty persists, any bailout will only delay the inevitable.

Second, management as is must go. New faces should be recruited from unrelated industries — from companies widely respected for excellence in marketing, innovation, creativity and labor relations.

The new management must work with labor leaders to see that the enmity between labor and management comes to an end. This division is a holdover from the early years of the last century, when unions brought workers job security and better wages and benefits. But as Walter Reuther, the former head of the United Automobile Workers, said to my father, “Getting more and more pay for less and less work is a dead-end street.”
Some really good points -- as he said, his Dad was able to turn American Motors around back in 1954. There are competent executives out there and they need to be hired. That last line about "Getting more and more pay" needs to be looked at as well -- I don't have the exact numbers but I read that a union autoworker gets around $70/hour while their counterparts working at a Japanese plant in the USA get around $40/hour. No wonder they have lost 500,000 jobs in the last couple years.
Posted by DaveH at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)

People unclear on the concept - big three automakers

This is just ludicrous -- from ABC News:
Big Three CEOs Flew Private Jets to Plead for Public Funds
Auto Industry Close to Bankruptcy But They Get Pricey Perk

The CEOs of the big three automakers flew to the nation's capital yesterday in private luxurious jets to make their case to Washington that the auto industry is running out of cash and needs $25 billion in taxpayer money to avoid bankruptcy.

The CEOs of GM, Ford and Chrysler may have told Congress that they will likely go out of business without a bailout yet that has not stopped them from traveling in style, not even First Class is good enough.

All three CEOs - Rick Wagoner of GM, Alan Mulally of Ford, and Robert Nardelli of Chrysler - exercised their perks Tuesday by flying in corporate jets to DC. Wagoner flew in GM's $36 million luxury aircraft to tell members of Congress that the company is burning through cash, asking for $10-12 billion for GM alone.
How about tying the CEOs salary to corporate performance -- the business tanks, you don't get paid. Makes sense to me...
Posted by DaveH at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)

Someone finally grows a pair and does something

From the UK Guardian:
Indian navy destroys pirate ship after coming under fire
Somali bandits terrorising the busy shipping routes around the Horn of Africa suffered a rare setback when an Indian warship destroyed a pirate "mothership" after coming under fire in the Gulf of Aden.

The Indian navy said that its frigate, one of the numerous international warships dispatched to patrol the waters around the Horn of Africa, had approached a suspicious vessel yesterday evening. It turned out to be a previously captured ship being used by pirates as a base from which to launch their speedboats far out to sea.

"The INS Tabar closed in on the mother vessel and asked her to stop for investigation," an Indian navy spokesman said today. "But on repeated calls, the vessel's threatening response was that she would blow up the naval warship if it approached."

After a heavy exchange of fire the mothership was destroyed. Two speedboats escaped.

The firefight came on a day when pirates successfully seized three other ships; a Greek bulk-carrier, a Thai fishing boat and an Iranian-chartered cargo ship carrying 36,000 tonnes of wheat from Germany. The hijackings, which followed the capture on the weekend of the Sirius Star, the Saudi supertanker carrying $100 million worth of oil bound for US, sent a powerful message of the pirates' potency.
Good job! The actions of the "international community" in paying the ransom and bribes to these islamist thugs only serves to encourage them. Maybe this will make them stop and think for a bit. Religion of peace my ass...
Posted by DaveH at 11:34 AM

November 18, 2008

No posting tonight either

Was working on the farm (yes, we still do that along with the store) today -- had a spot of clear weather and have hired two people to help me lift stuff as my hip still needs to take it easy. Then, went south to Bow, WA and had a delightful evening tasting Australian wines. This was hosted by one of our distributors -- they do events like this a couple times/year and it's a good way to find new wines and meet the people we talk with on the phone. Bow and Edison WA are delightful little towns -- well worth a visit if you are ever in the area and the Chuckanut Manor was a gorgeous venue. Pleasantly stuffed and feeling a bit nappish. The internet should be on at the house tomorrow or Thursday. YES!
Posted by DaveH at 7:50 PM

November 17, 2008

No posting tonight

Had to be in town for some errands and there was a meeting tonight so no posting today. The folks from WildBlue said that they would be out either late Wednesday or first thing Thursday. Yippee!!!
Posted by DaveH at 7:48 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2008

More heat - we are freezing here

From the UK Telegraph:
The world has never seen such freezing heat
A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China's official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its "worst snowstorm ever". In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.

So what explained the anomaly? GISS's computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. But when expert readers of the two leading warming-sceptic blogs, Watts Up With That and Climate Audit, began detailed analysis of the GISS data they made an astonishing discovery. The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.

The error was so glaring that when it was reported on the two blogs - run by the US meteorologist Anthony Watts and Steve McIntyre, the Canadian computer analyst who won fame for his expert debunking of the notorious "hockey stick" graph - GISS began hastily revising its figures. This only made the confusion worse because, to compensate for the lowered temperatures in Russia, GISS claimed to have discovered a new "hotspot" in the Arctic - in a month when satellite images were showing Arctic sea-ice recovering so fast from its summer melt that three weeks ago it was 30 per cent more extensive than at the same time last year.
And of course, the United Nation's IPCC is as classy as ever: (talking about NASA 'Scientist' Dr. James Hanson)
Another of his close allies is Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, who recently startled a university audience in Australia by claiming that global temperatures have recently been rising "very much faster" than ever, in front of a graph showing them rising sharply in the past decade. In fact, as many of his audience were aware, they have not been rising in recent years and since 2007 have dropped.

Dr Pachauri, a former railway engineer with no qualifications in climate science, may believe what Dr Hansen tells him. But whether, on the basis of such evidence, it is wise for the world's governments to embark on some of the most costly economic measures ever proposed, to remedy a problem which may actually not exist, is a question which should give us all pause for thought.
This is a classic example of sub-prime science -- it is being pushed down our throats by a political agenda and not a scientific one.
Posted by DaveH at 6:07 PM | Comments (0)

A good start at Goldman Sachs

From the London Financial Times comes this good news from Goldman Sachs:
Top seven at Goldman forgo bonuses
Top executives at Goldman Sachs will receive no bonus for 2008 after the Wall Street group’s seven most senior bankers waived their right to a payout.

The move, which is likely to put pressure on other banks to follow suit, comes after a turbulent year in which Goldman converted itself into a commercial bank and received a $10bn capital injection from the US government. It also follows intense scrutiny of Wall Street bonuses from legislators and regulators.

Goldman’s compensation committee yesterday approved the request from executives including Lloyd Blankfein, the bank’s chairman and chief executive, not to pay bonuses for 2008.

Other executives giving up their payouts include Jon Winkelreid and Gary Cohn, Goldman’s co-presidents; chief financial officer David Viniar, and Michael Evans, Michael Sherwood and John Weinberg, who are all vice-chairmen of the bank.

A Goldman spokesman said the bankers decided to waive their bonus voluntarily. “Our senior executive officers made this decision because they believe it is the right thing to do. We cannot ignore the fact that we are part of an industry that is directly associated with the ongoing economic problems.”

Fuelled by its enormous profits, Goldman has in recent years topped the league tables for executive bonuses. Last year, which was a record year for Goldman, Mr Blankfein was paid $68.5m in cash and stock, while Mr Cohn and Mr Winkelreid were each paid $67.5m. Mr Viniar received $57.5m. Goldman does not disclose the pay of Mr Evans, Mr Sherwood and Mr Weinberg.
Nice to see that they are realizing that people are watching a lot more closely these days and although the bailout and the bonuses are not necessarily the same dollars, it still looks really bad for the company...
Posted by DaveH at 5:59 PM | Comments (0)

Less tired and more stiff

Working on a machine at the store. Got a call this morning from WildBlue and they are looking at the 19th or the 20th to come out and bring us back into the 20th century. And not a minute too soon!!! Only downside is that all of my links to interesting sites are at home and as I am building this machine to be my new media machine (music, photography and video), I don't want to load a bunch of crap wonderful links and utilities on it. Oh well...
Posted by DaveH at 3:57 PM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2008

Tired, stiff and still without broadband at home

Got 85 bales of hay in and stacked in the barn -- the remaining 14 Jen picks up on Monday. To keep things interesting, this is the day that our firewood person was able to deliver the two cords we had ordered so it has been a busy day. Hired two local friends of ours to help us out -- it's been two months after the hip surgery and I am a lot more mobile and feeling a lot better but still not able to carry any heavy weights. Went out for dinner and heading off to home. Still no word from WildBlue as to when they will get a technician out to repair our system. Took some time today to look at the outside installation and it physically looks fine -- no damage. The electronics inside are on a large TrippLite UPS system so that should be fine. Going through withdrawl...
Posted by DaveH at 6:48 PM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2008

Congratulations India - Chandrayaan Lunar Probe lands successfully

This is awesome -- from New Delhi Television (NDTV):
India makes history, launches Tricolour on moon
India marked its presence on Moon tonight to be only the fourth nation to scale this historic milestone after a Moon Impact Probe with the national tri-colour painted successfully landed on the lunar surface after being detached from unmanned spacecraft Chandrayaan-1.

Joining the US, the erstwhile Soviet Union and the European Union, the 35-kg Moon Impact Probe(MIP) hit the moon exactly at 8.31 PM, about 25 minutes after the probe instrument descended from the satellite in what ISRO described as a "perfect operation".

Miniature Indian flags painted on four sides of the MIP signalled the country's symbolic entry into moon to coincide with the birth anniversary of the country's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, observed as Children's Day.

"It will signify the entry of India on Moon," an ISRO official said. The MIP is one of the 11 scientific instruments (payloads) onboard Chandrayaan-1, India's first unmanned spacecraft mission to Moon launched on October 22 from Sriharikota spaceport.
It was not a soft landing, it was an impact probe but it did exactly what it was supposed to do and all of the instrumentation is working just fine. Hat tip to Slashdot for the link to this excellent news!
Posted by DaveH at 5:39 PM | Comments (0)

Cool place to work - the Bahnhof ISP DataCenter in Sweden

Talk about geek paradise - from pingdom:
The world’s most super-designed data center – fit for a James Bond villain
This underground data center has greenhouses, waterfalls, German submarine engines, simulated daylight and can withstand a hit from a hydrogen bomb. It looks like the secret HQ of a James Bond villain.

And it is real. It is a newly opened high-security data center run by one of Sweden’s largest ISPs, located in an old nuclear bunker deep below the bedrock of Stockholm city, sealed off from the world by entrance doors 40 cm thick (almost 16 inches).
Talk about a gorgeous work environment:
bahnhof_NOC.jpg

bahnhof_servers_power.jpg
Pictured are the Network Operations Center, one of the three Server Halls and the Power Control Room. Hat tip to Slashdot for the link. Wish I was in the keyboard business as there will be a lot of them ruined by drool in the next few hours. This place is hella cool...
Posted by DaveH at 5:13 PM | Comments (0)

Major NSA secret report declassified

This is going to keep historians and conspiracy theorists busy for years. From George Washington University:
National Security Agency Releases History of Cold War Intelligence Activities

Forty-six years ago, a month before the Cuban Missile crisis, Soviet leaders put their strategic forces on their “highest readiness stage since the beginning of the Cold War,” according to a newly declassified internal history of the National Security Agency published today for the first time by the National Security Archive. Possibly responding to President Kennedy’s call for reserves, perhaps worried that the White House had discovered Moscow’s plans to deploy missiles on Cuba, the Kremlin kept forces on alert for 10 days, beginning on September 11, 1962.

The NSA’s signals intelligence (SIGINT) history also discloses that, a month later, on October 15th, the Soviets initiated a “precautionary, preliminary” alert, perhaps because Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev feared that U.S. intelligence had discovered the missiles. After President Kennedy’s speech on October 22nd 1962, announcing the “quarantine” (blockade) of Cuba, the Kremlin put military forces, especially air defense forces, on an “extraordinarily high state of alert.” Significantly, “offensive forces avoided assuming the highest readiness stage, as if to insure that Kennedy understood that the USSR would not launch first.”

In response to a declassification request by the National Security Archive, the secretive National Security Agency has declassified large portions of a four-part “top-secret Umbra” study, American Cryptology during the Cold War. Despite major redactions, this history discloses much new information about the agency’s history and the role of SIGINT and communications intelligence (COMINT) during the Cold War. Researched and written by NSA historian Thomas Johnson, the three parts released so far provide a frank assessment of the history of the Agency and its forerunners, warts-and-all.

According to National Security Archive visiting fellow Matthew Aid (author of the forthcoming history The Secret Sentry: The Top Secret History of the National Security Agency), Johnson’s study shows “refreshing openness and honesty, acknowledging both the NSA’s impressive successes and abject failures during the Cold War.” Another striking feature of Johnson’s study is the candor with which it discusses the fractious and damaging relationships between the agencies which make up the U.S. government’s intelligence establishment.
The documents themselves are here: one, two, three, four, five and six. All in all, over 900 pages. Unfortunately, it is just raw page scans so there is no text searching. There are the usual redactions as well but still, an historical treasure for those interested in this period.
Posted by DaveH at 4:46 PM | Comments (0)

The Language of the Perpetually Poor

An interesting commentary on the entitlement class of the Perpetually Poor. From Frugal Dad:
Language of the Perpetual Poor
Do you know someone who is “perpetual poor?” You know the type - constantly complaining, poor-mouthing, griping about the price of everything and jealous of everything others have. I think we all know at least one or two of those types. I’ve had the displeasure of knowing many, and over time I have heard my share of sob stories related to their personal finances. I recognize that some people are generally down on their luck, or going through a rough patch. Maybe they have faced a debilitating illness, or a job layoff, or some other tragic event that has derailed them from leading successful, productive lives. Those are not the people I am referring to when I attach the label “perpetual poor.”

Perpetual poor people have a language of their own - a way of speaking that almost immediately identifies them as members of this class. When kids are young and they use an inappropriate word parents remind them to “watch their language.” As adults we still need an occasional reminder when we utter a financial expletive. I recognize that the words that follow will likely step on some toes, so put on a pair of steel-toe boots and read on.

“The poor man just can’t get ahead”
He starts with the classic: “The poor man just can’t get ahead” and proceeds to disembowel all of the tropes of the disadvantaged. Be sure to check out the 80+ comments -- some of them are: "How do you know my ex so well", some of them are just plain clueless like this one: “I’m a pompous unfunny elitist” How to identify members of this group: They write articles like this one.. Pot meet kettle. Heh...
Posted by DaveH at 4:23 PM | Comments (0)

Honey, we are going on vacation to Lithuania

Talk about a great idea for a theme park. From Environmental Graffiti:
Europe’s Strangest Theme Park
When confronted with the issue of what to do with an ex-Soviet bunker in the countryside, an enterprising Lithuanian decided that some things should be left the way they are…

Welcome to 1984: Išgyvenimo Drama, otherwise known as Survival Drama in a Soviet Bunker.

Built near Vilnius in 1980, when Lithuania was still a part of the USSR, the bunker’s past life includes protecting a television transmitter and acting as a secure outpost for Soviet troops. Encompassing 4,000 cubic meters and buried 5 meters deep, the bunker is a remnant of Soviet occupation, which the Lithuanians have found more difficult to get rid of than the army.

Instead of letting the building fall into complete disrepair, some lucrative Lithuanians decided to put the bunker to some use, so, concerned about young Lithuanians lack of understanding about their country’s past, producer Ruta Vanagaite was prompted to create a re-enactment project, demonstrating the experiences of the previous generation.

Išgyvenimo drama opened in early 2008 to some controversy. Tourists pay 120 LTL ($US 220) each to step back into 1984 as a temporary USSR citizen for 2.5 hours. On entry, all belongings, including money, cameras and phones, are handed over and under the watchful eye of guards and alsatians, tourists change into threadbare Soviet coats and are herded through the bunker.

Experiences include watching TV programs from 1984, wearing gas masks, learning the Soviet anthem under duress, eating typical Soviet food (with genuine Soviet tableware) and even undergoing a concentration-camp-style interrogation and medical check.

The Soviet Bunker is not a theme park for the faint-hearted; all of the actors involved in the project were originally in the Soviet army and some were authentic interrogators, however there are performances tailored specifically for school groups so they know when to cool it, too.
It's actually only about $45/person and not $220 -- the abbreviations for Lithuanian and Latvian currency are the same (LTL). Sounds like an interesting way to spend an afternoon... I wonder if there is a way to sponsor a troupe of liberals so they can get a firsthand look at a true Marxist paradise.
Posted by DaveH at 4:15 PM | Comments (0)

Surviving in a vacuum

It is amazing how much I depend on broadband at the house... Not only for work and blogging but just for general googling of facts, getting (or updating) a needed utility or driver, email, etc... Called today and they are booked out through December for new equipment installs but as this is a repair, they should be able to get to me sooner. Hughes Net has a program that looks pretty good -- might consider going with them.
Posted by DaveH at 4:02 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2008

This has not been the month for Satellite Dishes at our household

First the television one goes out and now the one for our Internet Service Provider. No word as to when they will be able to get a technician out to fix it. I am a bit peeved too as both systems are on good UPS and Surge Protection systems and both went out during relatively quiet times. Since I am still getting a lot of attempts at comment spam, I will be disabling Comments for the next couple days until I get service back at the house. I will be posting a bit from the store as there is a landline (sniff!) there.
Posted by DaveH at 7:29 PM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2008

Africa is a nation - the hoax against Sarah Palin

And now it all comes out... From the New York Times:
A Senior Fellow at the Institute of Nonexistence
It was among the juicier post-election recriminations: Fox News Channel quoted an unnamed McCain campaign figure as saying that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent.

Who would say such a thing? On Monday the answer popped up on a blog and popped out of the mouth of David Shuster, an MSNBC anchor. “Turns out it was Martin Eisenstadt, a McCain policy adviser, who has come forward today to identify himself as the source of the leaks,” Mr. Shuster said.

Trouble is, Martin Eisenstadt doesn’t exist. His blog does, but it’s a put-on. The think tank where he is a senior fellow — the Harding Institute for Freedom and Democracy — is just a Web site. The TV clips of him on YouTube are fakes.

And the claim of credit for the Africa anecdote is just the latest ruse by Eisenstadt, who turns out to be a very elaborate hoax that has been going on for months. MSNBC, which quickly corrected the mistake, has plenty of company in being taken in by an Eisenstadt hoax, including The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times.

Now a pair of obscure filmmakers say they created Martin Eisenstadt to help them pitch a TV show based on the character. But under the circumstances, why should anyone believe a word they say?
I would hate to think of how this might of affected the election. Don't these people think of their consequences?
Posted by DaveH at 7:04 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2008

Paging Doctor Karl, Doctor Karl to the white courtesy phone please

Hat tip to Anthony Watts writing at Watts Up With That:
More flubs at the top of the climate food chain - this time NCDC’s Karl
It has been one of those days…first the GISS data train wreck in apparently reusing last months temperatures to make this months “hottest October ever” announcement, now we find that the director of The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) may not have the goods for the PhD he goes by. He’s about to become the president of the American Meteorological Society. Interesting times - Anthony
Anthony then quotes from this post at Planet Gore / National Review Online:
Dr. Pepper, Dr. J, Dr. Karl . . .
Well, this testimony, submitted to the House of Representatives is strange, what with “Dr. Tom Karl” — now the lead author of the U.S. government’s Climate Change Science Program assessment being prepared to support EPA regulation of carbon dioxide — having never earned an academic Ph.D.

That’s according to North Carolina State University, that is, which is the school from which I found a Karl resume claiming a Ph.D., earned “1977-78”. I first found this on a Johns Hopkins website but, after asking Karl’s employer NOAA to clarify where the “Dr.” title they serially tout was earned, that CV has been taken down (but not before I saved the file, of course). NOAA wouldn’t answer my question, but only sniffed that if I can point to them claiming Karl has a Ph.D. — as opposed to just promoting him as “Dr. Karl” apparently on the basis of a 2002 honorary doctorate of humane letters — I should tell them.

The thing is, I have just received documents under the Freedom of Information Act showing that Mr. Karl is indeed styled as “Dr. Karl” on the express basis of having earned that 1978 NCSU Ph.D., as a proposed “co-investigator” in an application for a million-dollar-plus federal grant. The grant was awarded. No word yet whether the U.S. mail was involved in the process.
The question about the U.S. Mail deals with Title 18 United States Code Chapter 63 § 1341. Frauds and swindles. OWIE! Karl did receive an honorary degree:
Tom Karl, Ph.D., received his B.S. degree in Meteorology from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, in 1973, his Masters Degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1974, and he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from North Carolina State University in 2002.
But according to WikiPedia:
Doctor of Humane Letters
The degree of Doctor of Humane Letters (Latin: Litterarum humanarum doctor; D.H.L.; or L.H.D.) is always conferred as an honorary degree, usually to those who have distinguished themselves in areas other than science (these normally receive the Doctor of Science), government (these often receive a Doctor of Laws degree), religion (these often receive a Doctor of Divinity degree) or literature (these often receive a Doctor of Letters degree).
Emphasis mine -- perfect! You could not pick a better way to express the whole Anthropogenic Global Warming Political Bullshit...
Posted by DaveH at 9:44 PM | Comments (0)

We have a comment

Earlier, I posted about the $2M offer to Sara Palin for "services rendered" if she would do a porn film. Reader Bosco wrote back:
You're a complete noob. Do you call Obama Nigger too?
I would much rather be a noob than a deranged idiot. Bosco, you are dumber than a box of rocks... (and my contrite apologies to all of the wonderful rocks out there)
Posted by DaveH at 9:35 PM | Comments (0)

Some neighbors in New Westminster, BC

From the Boot Hill website:
Background
In 1985 the site of the former British Columbia Penitentiary in New Westminster, BC, which had languished unoccupied for several years, was sold by the federal government to a private developer. Over the course of nearly a decade, the property was redeveloped as premium housing – a community of landscaped, adults-only condominiums overlooking the Fraser River and, higher up the hill, larger homes for the well-to-do. Two former penitentiary buildings were renovated as heritage properties, and the rest were razed.

Unbeknownst to most local residents, included in a parcel carved from the penitentiary lands and donated by the developer to the City of New Westminster was the penitentiary cemetery, destined to become part of Glenbrook Ravine Park. The cemetery -- known to some as "Boot Hill" -- thereby became the institution's third surviving feature.
An interesting bit of Northwest history and some good research.
Posted by DaveH at 9:23 PM | Comments (0)

Pushing back against the tide

Whenever something swings, there is usually a return swing in the other direction. From Bloomberg comes the initial whispers of something much needed:
Bonuses for Wall Street Should Go to Zero, U.S. Taxpayers Say
U.S. taxpayers, who feel they own a stake in Wall Street after funding a $700 billion bailout for the industry, don't want executives' bonuses reduced. They want them eliminated.

"I may not understand everything, but I do understand common sense, and when you lend money to someone, you don't want to see them at a new-car dealer the next day," said Ken Karlson, a 61-year-old Vietnam veteran and freelance marketer in Wheaton, Illinois. "The bailout money shouldn't have been given to them in the first place."
An example:
Goldman, the largest and most profitable U.S. securities firm in the world last year, paid Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein a record $67.9 million bonus for 2007 on top of his $600,000 salary. That was justified, he told shareholders at the company's annual meeting in April, because of Goldman's superior financial results.
And the money quote (as it were):
"Bonuses and severance packages will obsess the American public" and become "a humiliation and embarrassment," said Arthur Levitt, a senior adviser to the Carlyle Group, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and a board member of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. "Compensation committees, believe me, are paying close attention to this."

Several of the companies -- including Citigroup and Wells Fargo -- have said they won't use federal funds to pay bonuses. That's disputed by some, including former compensation consultant Graef Crystal.

"The argument of saying we're not using the bailout money is just crap because money's fungible, money's money," said Crystal, who writes the newsletter graefcrystal.com. "It exposes them to ridicule."
The Crystal Report referenced in the last paragraph is interesting reading...
Posted by DaveH at 8:53 PM | Comments (0)

It's not just news, it is actually happening

On November 9th, I wrote about this article in the London Daily Mail:
March of the dustbin Stasi: Half of councils use anti-terror laws to watch people putting rubbish out on the wrong day
More than half of town halls admit using anti-terror laws to spy on families suspected of putting their rubbish out on the wrong day.

Their tactics include putting secret cameras in tin cans, on lamp posts and even in the homes of 'friendly' residents.
Well, it's happening -- from the UK Daily Express:
gary_rostron.jpg
FINED BECAUSE MY BIN FELL OVER
A householder who had his wheelie bin knocked over while he was out at work was prosecuted in a case that cost taxpayers thousands of pounds.

Care worker Gary Rostron, 34, got home to find his bin bags spilling out in an alleyway, and was then fined £60 by council snoopers for dumping rubbish.

When he protested his innocence and refused to pay, council chiefs took him to court for breaching environmental laws.

But magistrates found him not guilty following a trial costing up to £3,000.

Last night Mr Rostron attacked the council for squandering taxpayers’ cash.

“This is penalising people who go out to work and who cannot put their bins out minutes before the binmen come, or bring them back in the moment they are emptied,” he said.
Fucking Gauleiters...
Posted by DaveH at 8:35 PM | Comments (0)

Yet more people unclear - California and nutritional standards

Talk about being a Food Nazi -- from the New York Times:
Bake Sales Fall Victim to Push for Healthier Foods
Tommy Cornelius and the other members of the Piedmont High School boys water polo team never expected to find themselves running through school in their Speedos to promote a bake sale across the street. But times have been tough since the school banned homemade brownies and cupcakes.

The old-fashioned school bake sale, once as American as apple pie, is fast becoming obsolete in California, a result of strict new state nutrition standards for public schools that regulate the types of food that can be sold to students. The guidelines were passed by lawmakers in 2005 and took effect in July 2007. They require that snacks sold during the school day contain no more than 35 percent sugar by weight and derive no more than 35 percent of their calories from fat and no more than 10 percent of their calories from saturated fat.

The Piedmont High water polo team falls woefully short of these standards, selling cupcakes, caramel apples and lemon bars off campus in a flagrant act of nutritional disobedience.

“I know obesity is a big problem, and it’s good the school cares,” said Sam Cardoza, a senior who briefly became a successful entrepreneur last year when chocolate chip cookies were banned from the cafeteria. “At the same time, you shouldn’t stop a kid from buying a cookie.”
Christ on a corn dog... I can see keeping the provided school meals nutritious and possibly watching the content of the vending machines and providing healthy alternatives. Cutting out Bake Sales? Get real! Since this is a school, why not educate the kids to make healthier choices instead of instituting a draconian top-down nanny-state conformity. Naaa -- then the teachers would actually have to work for their living...
Posted by DaveH at 8:25 PM | Comments (0)

More people unclear on the concept - the Carnegie Hall management

Another perfect example of clueless management -- from The Online Photographer:
'Duchess of Carnegie' Faces Cruel Eviction
editta_sherman.jpg
Carnegie Hall is seeking to evict photographer Editta Sherman, who has lived in her photography studio above Carnegie Hall for the past 60 years and photographed hundreds of show-biz luminaries over the years. Here she is with her 100+-year-old camera and her portrait of actor Anthony Quinn (photo by Colleen M. Delaney).

One good reason for letting her stay? She's 97 years old. The people who run Carnegie Hall must be pretty hard-hearted to not let her live out her life in her longtime home. Let her stay, we say!
There is more over at National Public Radio:
'Duchess' Demands $10M To Leave Carnegie Hall
Photographer Editta Sherman has lived above Carnegie Hall for more than 60 years. In her home studio, she has photographed some of the most famous names in show business, including Elvis Presley, Cary Grant and Marlon Brando.

Now, Carnegie Hall is asking her to leave. But the self-proclaimed "Duchess of Carnegie Hall" tells Alex Chadwick that she is not leaving her rent-controlled studio without a fight.

"I don't think they can put me out; I'm 97 years old coming up. I only have three years to be 100, and I am still skipping rope and running around; I have no wrinkles on my face," she says. "I'm not going to leave. I don't think it's right that they do this, because I need my skylight."

She says she would not be happy living anywhere else and has agreed to leave only if Carnegie Hall agrees to pay her $10 million. Though this seems like an extravagant number, Sherman insists it is only fair if she has to leave her historical studio.
She sounds like an amazing woman. I hope the idiots managing Carnegie Hall come to their senses stat. Talk about a poor decision.
Posted by DaveH at 7:27 PM | Comments (0)

People unclear on the concept - the price of Gasoline

People fail to realize that Gasoline is a volatile commodity and its price varies in response to a lot of things. Last summer at over $4/gallon, it was artificially high. Now at $2/gallon and less it is artificially low. From Orlando station WFTV:
Falling Gas Prices Jump-Start GM SUV Sales
Automaker Puts Texas Plant On Overtime Amid Other Closures

Despite the down economy, falling gas prices have driven consumers back to the sport utility vehicles they once gave the cold shoulder.

Workers at General Motor's Arlington, Texas, SUV assembly plant began working overtime this month and are scheduled to remain on overtime for the rest of the year.

The plant, which employs 2,500 workers, is now the only GM factory building full-size sport utility vehicles like the Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade.

Although sales of the vehicles are still down overall, they have rebounded in recent weeks as gas prices have fallen and cash-strapped automakers have slashed prices. The vehicles have proven to be a solid source of revenue for GM.

"We're still on overtime," plant spokeswoman Wendi Sabo told The Dallas Morning News. "Nothing has changed."

GM is also placing a high-stakes bet on its SUV line overseas, opening a new $300 million plant Friday near St. Petersburg, Russia.

The plant will produce GM SUVS, the Chevrolet Captiva and Opel Antara, which have become status symbols in Russia, reported Edmunds.com.
And when gas hits $5/gallon next summer, these morons will be crying into their beer and the car manufacturers will wonder what hit them (again). And the Big Three's commitment to the development of efficient turbo diesels? ... ... ... ... crickets ... ... ... ...
Posted by DaveH at 3:02 PM | Comments (0)

The Carbon swindle

Seems to have hit a bubble here -- the politicians are pushing for Carbon Offsets all the while heavily investing in companies that manage said offsets -- All Gore is a prime offender (here, here, here, here, here and here) This seems like a real moneymaker as the price of stuff keeps going up -- right? Wrong -- from The Australian:
Carbon crash hits Europe's emission trading scheme
While you were distracted by crashing banks and clashing US senators, you may have missed a small environmental earthquake.

The price of carbon has collapsed.

In only three months, life has become a lot cheaper for polluters. The financial cost of warming the planet has plummeted in Europe's emissions trading system (ETS) and the effectiveness of such a volatile market mechanism in curbing carbon is being questioned.

You may recall that the ETS is a mechanism to encourage businesses to reduce their carbon output. Europe's larger companies are allocated permits to emit CO2, and these allowances, called EUAs, can be traded on exchanges.

Companies that emit less CO2 than their allocation can sell EUAs for cash, but inefficient polluters must buy EUAs or face financial penalties.

The idea is that a shortfall in EUAs allocated by governments will cause the carbon price to rise, stimulating investment in carbon reduction.

It's a market solution to pollution, but this carbon market is showing a distressing tendency to behave like most financial markets -- hysterically. In July, the right to spew out one tonne of CO2 from a chimney would have cost a power generator E29.33, but yesterday it could be bought for only E18.25 ($34.14).

The sudden collapse of the carbon price mirrors the rout in the wider commodity markets. Carbon peaked in July, its price summit occurring within 10 days of the peak in the crude oil price.

Since then, everything from steel to potash has been tumbling and you might think it unsurprising that carbon has tracked the general retreat. Hedge funds and other financial investors dabbled in EUAs as they fiddled with palm oil and soya.
Heh -- gotta love it. The Eurocrats think that they can meddle with this and the force of the market undoes their work as if they never tried. Idiots!
Posted by DaveH at 2:44 PM | Comments (0)

Our Main-Stream Media - Classy as always

Hat tip to the E3 Gazette for the link to this Drudge story:
BUSH ANGER: OBAMA AIDES LEAK CHAT DETAILS
Tue Nov 11 2008 09:28:10 ET

Just hours after President Bush and President-elect Obama met in the Oval Office of the White House, details of their confidential conversation began leaking out to the press, igniting anger from the president, sources claim.

"Senator Obama would be wise to keep close counsel," a top Bush source warned.

"BUSH AND OBAMA AT ODDS OVER AID FOR AUTO INDUSTRY," splashed the NEW YORK TIMES in an exclusive Monday evening, quoting "people familiar with the discussion."

The two met at the White House in private, without staff.

"Bush indicated at the meeting that he might support some aid and a broader economic stimulus package if Obama and congressional Democrats dropped their opposition to a free-trade agreement with Colombia," claimed the TIMES.

MORE

The ASSOCIATED PRESS quickly followed with details of the conversation, citing "aides who described the discussion on grounds of anonymity, citing the private nature of the meeting."

Bush advisers view the leaks as an effort to undermine the president's remaining days in office.

"Senator Obama may not be familiar with a long-standing tradition of presidents holding their private conversations, private," a senior adviser explained to the DRUDGE REPORT.

Developing...
I know the guy is eager to get going but this is not cool...
Posted by DaveH at 2:07 PM | Comments (0)

Proof once again that anyone can put up a web page

I present for your interest the 11:11 PHENOMENON:
11:11 PHENOMENON MADE SIMPLE
My name is Gary L. Johnson and I am a Lightworker/Spirit Master.

Just in case you haven't already heard about it, people all over the world have been experiencing the most amazing phenomenon in the history of our planet. It has come to be known as the 11:11 phenomenon. As unbelievable as it may be, this phenomenon is one of the major indicators that our planet is in a state of ascension from the 3rd dimension into the 4th dimension (where we are now) and finally into the 5th dimension. Everything else pales by comparison.

What does this mean as far as you are concerned? It means change far beyond the scope of most people's comprehension and we all know that change is the one thing that everyone resists the most. As a result of that one fact alone, you might suspicion that our planet and its population are in for some rough times ahead.

Like it or not, believe it or not, you are mutating from your 3rd dimensional human body into a 5th dimensional Lightbody much like a caterpillar into a butterfly. The scary part of this phenomenon is there is no turning back or any way to stop it.
And it gets better and better and better -- keep reading...
Posted by DaveH at 1:53 PM | Comments (0)

The end of Wall Street?

Michael Lewis spent four years working for Salomon Brothers and wrote about it in Liar's Poker. He has now written a wonderful post-mortem on the current 'troubles' in the Condé Nast Portfolio:
The End
To this day, the willingness of a Wall Street investment bank to pay me hundreds of thousands of dollars to dispense investment advice to grownups remains a mystery to me. I was 24 years old, with no experience of, or particular interest in, guessing which stocks and bonds would rise and which would fall. The essential function of Wall Street is to allocate capital—to decide who should get it and who should not. Believe me when I tell you that I hadn’t the first clue.

I’d never taken an accounting course, never run a business, never even had savings of my own to manage. I stumbled into a job at Salomon Brothers in 1985 and stumbled out much richer three years later, and even though I wrote a book about the experience, the whole thing still strikes me as preposterous—which is one of the reasons the money was so easy to walk away from. I figured the situation was unsustainable. Sooner rather than later, someone was going to identify me, along with a lot of people more or less like me, as a fraud. Sooner rather than later, there would come a Great Reckoning when Wall Street would wake up and hundreds if not thousands of young people like me, who had no business making huge bets with other people’s money, would be expelled from finance.

When I sat down to write my account of the experience in 1989—Liar’s Poker, it was called—it was in the spirit of a young man who thought he was getting out while the getting was good. I was merely scribbling down a message on my way out and stuffing it into a bottle for those who would pass through these parts in the far distant future.

Unless some insider got all of this down on paper, I figured, no future human would believe that it happened.
It's a bit of a long read (nine pages) but a fascinating story and Lewis is a good storyteller. I do hope there is a good shakeup. As good as these stories are to read, the idea that people would play these kinds of games with investors money is unconscionable and unethical. That house needs cleaning...
Posted by DaveH at 1:21 PM | Comments (0)

November 10, 2008

Remembering tomorrow - November 11th

Tomorrow is Veterans Day in the USA, Remembrance Day in Canada. A couple of things to think about. From User Friendly:
uf012110.gif
Click for full-size...
From Maggie's Farm comes a shout out to the United States Marines who are having a birthday party. Over in England, The First World War Poetry Digital Archive has come online today. Ostensibly for Poetry, there are a lot of amazing photographs, film clips and other writings available for viewing and thinking about. Finally, from our brothers to the north comes this powerful song from Terry Kelly. A bit of backstory from his website:
A Pittance of Time
On November 11, 1999 Terry Kelly was in a drug store in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. At 10:55 AM an announcement came over the store’s PA asking customers who would still be on the premises at 11:00 AM to give two minutes of silence in respect to the veterans who have sacrificed so much for us.

Terry was impressed with the store’s leadership role in adopting the Legion’s “two minutes of silence” initiative. He felt that the store’s contribution of educating the public to the importance of remembering was commendable.

When eleven o’clock arrived on that day, an announcement was again made asking for the “two minutes of silence” to commence. All customers, with the exception of a man who was accompanied by his young child, showed their respect.

Terry’s anger towards the father for trying to engage the store’s clerk in conversation and for setting a bad example for his child was channeled into a beautiful piece of work called, “A Pittance of Time”. Terry later recorded “A Pittance of Time” and included it on his full-length music CD, “The Power of the Dream”.
I will leave you with A Pittance of Time
Posted by DaveH at 9:00 PM

Light posting tonight

Was in town all day so didn't have time to read the entire Internet like I usually do. Also, working on some other stuff out in the DaveCave(tm) (web development for a client).
Posted by DaveH at 8:57 PM | Comments (0)

R.I.P. - Phoenix Mars Lander

From the BBC:
Nasa Mars mission declared dead
Nasa says its Phoenix lander on the surface of Mars has gone silent and is almost certainly dead.

Engineers have not heard from the craft since Sunday 2 November when it made a brief communication with Earth.

Phoenix, which landed on the planet's northern plains in May, had been struggling in the increasing cold and dark of an advancing winter.

The US space agency says it will continue to try to contact the craft but does not expect to hear from it.

"We are actually ceasing operations, declaring an end to operations at this point," Phoenix mission project manager Barry Goldstein said at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"However, since we've been surprised by the robustness of this vehicle, we're going to keep listening. As the orbiters fly overhead every two hours, we'll constantly turn on the radio and try to hail Phoenix to see if it is alive."
Well crap. It was expected to die sometime around now when the sunlight was going to go away but still... A bit about the mission:
The mission was scheduled to last just three months on the surface, but continued to work for more than five months.

During its ground operations, the robot dug, scooped, baked, sniffed and tasted the Martian soil to test whether it has ever been capable of supporting life.

Phoenix's major achievement was in becoming the first mission to Mars to "touch water" in the form of the water-ice it found just centimetres below the topsoil. Chunks of ice were seen to vaporise before the lander's cameras.

"This was quite a thrill for everybody and it has been the study of that ice that has kept us busy for the last five months," said Phoenix principal investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Godspeed you plucky little Droid and enjoy your sleep!
Posted by DaveH at 8:46 PM | Comments (0)

It's not just Congress that caused this problem...

Check out what the damn Treasury Department just did... From the Washington Post:
A Quiet Windfall For U.S. Banks
With Attention on Bailout Debate, Treasury Made Change to Tax Policy

The financial world was fixated on Capitol Hill as Congress battled over the Bush administration's request for a $700 billion bailout of the banking industry. In the midst of this late-September drama, the Treasury Department issued a five-sentence notice that attracted almost no public attention.

But corporate tax lawyers quickly realized the enormous implications of the document: Administration officials had just given American banks a windfall of as much as $140 billion.

The sweeping change to two decades of tax policy escaped the notice of lawmakers for several days, as they remained consumed with the controversial bailout bill. When they found out, some legislators were furious. Some congressional staff members have privately concluded that the notice was illegal. But they have worried that saying so publicly could unravel several recent bank mergers made possible by the change and send the economy into an even deeper tailspin.

"Did the Treasury Department have the authority to do this? I think almost every tax expert would agree that the answer is no," said George K. Yin, the former chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the nonpartisan congressional authority on taxes. "They basically repealed a 22-year-old law that Congress passed as a backdoor way of providing aid to banks."

The story of the obscure provision underscores what critics in Congress, academia and the legal profession warn are the dangers of the broad authority being exercised by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. in addressing the financial crisis. Lawmakers are now looking at whether the new notice was introduced to benefit specific banks, as well as whether it inappropriately accelerated bank takeovers.

The change to Section 382 of the tax code -- a provision that limited a kind of tax shelter arising in corporate mergers -- came after a two-decade effort by conservative economists and Republican administration officials to eliminate or overhaul the law, which is so little-known that even influential tax experts sometimes draw a blank at its mention. Until the financial meltdown, its opponents thought it would be nearly impossible to revamp the section because this would look like a corporate giveaway, according to lobbyists.

Andrew C. DeSouza, a Treasury spokesman, said the administration had the legal authority to issue the notice as part of its power to interpret the tax code and provide legal guidance to companies. He described the Sept. 30 notice, which allows some banks to keep more money by lowering their taxes, as a way to help financial institutions during a time of economic crisis. "This is part of our overall effort to provide relief," he said.

The Treasury itself did not estimate how much the tax change would cost, DeSouza said.
Everyone is crying about how bad this recession could be and then, they are doing everything to make it worse. We need a good long hard drawback in the economy and to get these bastards (and I know that I am insulting a lot of wonderful bastards out there -- my contrite apologies) out of fucking office... And still, to put things into perspective, looking at the numbers from the 30's and from today, this is Depression Lite. The conditions back in the 30's were so much harder that we, as a very soft nation, would be hard pressed to even imagine...
Posted by DaveH at 8:33 PM | Comments (0)

Psst??? Out of work? Need a Job?

From The Vancouver Sun:
Sarah Palin offered $2 million to appear in porn film
Husband Todd offered $100,000 and a snowmobile if he'll co-star, says Florida adult film producer

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has received her first job offer since failing in her bid to become vice-president of the United States, and it comes with a large cash offer. Florida-based porn director Cezar Capone has offered to pay Palin $2 million to appear in an adult film production.

Capone, who calls himself "the king of all MILF films," promises in an open letter on his website that the film would be distributed internationally, shot in high definition, and feature a "beautiful mother recognized by all of America ... as the most desirable woman over 40."

To prove he's serious about the offer, Capone says he's prepared to hold the money in escrow immediately.

To sweeten the deal, Palin's husband Todd has been offered a co-starring role in the production, for which Capone would be "prepared to kick in an extra $100,000," and a new Arctic Cat snowmobile.

Palin hasn't publicly responded to the offer, which was sent to her administration office in Juneau, Alaska on Nov. 6.
Heh... $2,000,000 is $2,000,000 -- that would pay off a lot of campaign debts and get you some more of that nice clothing you have gotten to like so much.
Posted by DaveH at 7:56 PM | Comments (1)

A question of evidence - the five minute gap

A possible case of taking the law into ones own hands. From the FOX/AP:
Police: No Video of Inmate's Death
Internal reports at the Prince George's County jail reveal that a video camera failed to record the first five minutes when guards arrived in a cell to find a dead inmate.

The Washington Post reports it reviewed 13 statements that guards, supervisors and jail nurses provided to internal investigators on the day 19-year-old Ronnie White was found dead.

The statements show that a hand-held camera, which guards are required to use when responding to emergencies in cells, malfunctioned and did not record the time when guards entered White's cell and started CPR and called 911.

The camera did not start recording until after White was removed on a stretcher and his cell was ordered shut.

White was found June 29 in his jail cell, several days after he was arrested in the hit-and-run death of Cpl. Richard Findley during a traffic stop. Maryland's chief medical examiner has ruled that White was strangled.
I do not doubt that White was responsible for the death of Officer Findley. Traffic stops are recorded these days so the evidence should be very clear. That being said, White deserved due process as an American Citizen. I would not want to be the officers in question. Still, odd lapses of evidence are not unheard of...
Posted by DaveH at 7:40 PM | Comments (0)

November 9, 2008

Some local excitement

From the Bellingham Herald:
Rock slide closes Chuckanut Drive until at least Monday
A rock slide has closed a portion of Chuckanut Drive near Oyster Creek at least until Monday, Nov. 10, so crews can do emergency repairs on the unstable hillside responsible for the slide.

Drivers are encouraged to use Interstate 5 as an alternate route.

Officials with the state Department of Transportation inspected the slope, between mileposts 11 and 12, Saturday morning and decided it was unstable.

The original slide occurred at about 3 p.m. Friday, and the road was supposed to be closed temporarily so crews could clear it.

However, more rocks fell, which made it unsafe to work under, said Dustin Terpening, a spokesman with the DOT.
Chuckanut Drive is a gorgeous cliff-side road that stretches from Fairhaven (itself a wonderful little town) down the coast terminating at the Skagit Valley (also a wonderful destination especially in Spring during the Tulip Festival).
Posted by DaveH at 8:25 PM | Comments (0)

From the Maple Falls Institute for the Study of Advanced Cuteness

I had written a few days ago about the newest addition to our menagerie. He has calmed down enough to be handled and has a lot of playfulness and energy. Still no idea where he will fit in -- maybe as a store or shop cat -- we will see how he integrates in with the rest of our critters...
newcat_01.jpg

newcat_02.jpg

newcat_03.jpg
Click for full-size cuteness...
Posted by DaveH at 7:52 PM | Comments (0)

More Ford Fun - the TH!NK

Earlier today I had posted about Ford's wonderful decision to not import a sporty little vehicle that gets 65MPG and has a lot of nice options available. Well, this sort of piss-poor management is not a new thing at Ford Motor Company. Check out the TH!NK:
Developed in Norway and brought by Ford to the USA in 2000, they sold for a couple years and then... From Greenpeace (2004):
Th!nk Again: Ford Does a U-Turn
Following a meeting yesterday with the Norwegian Transport Minister, Ford Europe has confirmed it will not scrap its US fleet of zero emission electric cars, but instead send them to eager customers in Norway.

Ford was planning to scrap their US fleet of electric Th!nk vehicles, but following pressure from us and other environmental groups, the car manufacturer has changed its mind. Last month, our activists occupied the roof of Ford Norway's offices, prompting Norwegian Transport and Communications Minister Torild Skogsholm to ask Ford to Th!nk again.

Now, 300 of the cars will now be shipped to Norway, and sold through Ford dealerships to eager customers. Ford has even thanked Greenpeace for having brought this issue to their attention!

Ford had attempted to justify scrapping the cars by citing a lack of US government regulation, and have since claimed that some 180 of the cars have already been scrapped. This was despite the Th!nk car's popularity with American consumers - there's been waiting lists to buy the cars since the hugely popular leasing period started in 2001. Zero-emission cars reduce urban smog, and when charged by electricity from renewable sources, they help fight the biggest threat to our planet: climate change. With rising oil prices causing increased gasoline costs, they are also a sound economic choice. Popular, clean and efficient, shouldn't this be part of the future of transport?
Segue back to 2008 again. The major domestic automobile makers are crying in their soup about needing government (read: our damn money!) bailouts in order to survive. Add to this the fact that the United Autoworkers union is still strong and still doing its job -- the domestic automobile and parts industry lost close to 500,000 jobs since 2000. These business need to fail so that their corporate culture will truly absorb the lesson that they are so far refusing to learn...
Posted by DaveH at 7:22 PM | Comments (0)

A new look at Sunlight and Climate

Another crack in the wall. From PhysOrg:
Sunlight has more powerful influence on ocean circulation and climate than North American ice sheets
The distribution of sunlight, rather than the size of North American ice sheets, is the key variable in changes in the North Atlantic deep-water formation during the last four glacial cycles, according to the article. The new study goes back 425,000 years, according to Lorraine Lisiecki, first author and assistant professor in the Department of Earth Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Lisiecki and her co-authors studied 24 separate locations in the Atlantic by analyzing information from ocean sediment cores. By observing the properties of the shells of tiny marine organisms, called foraminifera, found in these cores, they were able to deduce information about the North Atlantic deep water formation. Scientists can discern historical ocean temperature and circulation patterns through the analysis of the chemical composition of these marine animals.

Previously, scientists relied on a study called "Specmap," performed in 1992, to find out how different parts of the climate system interacted with one another during glacial cycles. Specmap analyzed ocean circulation at only one place in the Atlantic.

"What I found was that the one site that the Specmap study used actually didn't match most of the other sites in the Atlantic," said Lisiecki. "They just happened to have a strange site that didn't behave like most of the other sites. The other sites show that the circulation is not responding to the ice volume, but that it is responding to changes in the distribution of sunlight."
For people to base their models on one site when so much other data are available makes me immediately think: "Cherry-picking your Data" which is a cardinal sin in Science. Nice to see this finally hit the light of day and in Nature no less... The paper is here: Atlantic overturning responses to Late Pleistocene climate forcings but you need to subscribe or pay to see the full document. Best to check a local library...
Posted by DaveH at 7:12 PM | Comments (0)

More Math jokes

Hat tip to Neatorama for these. Check out Volker Runde, Math Jokes Here's one:
Q: How can you tell that Harvard was planned by a mathematician?
A: The div school is right next to the grad school...
(rimshot) And one more:
Three statisticians go hunting. When they see a rabbit, the first one shoots, missing it on the left. The second one shoots and misses it on the right.

The third one shouts: "We've hit it!"
Heh...
Posted by DaveH at 6:34 PM | Comments (0)

Memoirs of a Space Engineer

A wonderful but all too short collection of stories from Doug Rickard. Doug was from Australia and worked alongside NASA scientists when they came down under to set up the tracking stations for their various missions. Check out Memoirs of a Space Engineer There is also a reference (in the About Doug page) to this:
Doug also worked on the British Atomic Weapons Tests at Maralinga in South Australia in the late 1950s, and as a result of radiation received there he now has bone marrow cancer (myelofibrosis) which has forced his premature retirement.

For more information see: The Maralinga Cobalt 60 Incident
Unfortunately, that link has rotted away but fortunately, the wayback machine has a copy here: The Maralinga Cobalt 60 Incident It is amazing how brazenly cavalier we were about nuclear radiation and testing procedures at that time. We knew of the dangers but ignored them. For more on the British tests in Australia, check out the Google Books copy of Beyond Belief as well as OCEANIA BOMB TESTS
Posted by DaveH at 6:12 PM | Comments (0)

Staking out new territory

The "ownership" of the Arctic is "governed" by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and it states that the five polar nations -- Canada, Russia, the U.S., Denmark and Norway -- are the ones who can stake a claim. Only problem is that there is no dry land so any exploration has to be done by air or by sea. Conditions there are not what one would call hospitable by any stretch of the imagination. Adding some interest is the very good possibility that huge quantities of oil are waiting to be found. Canada is launching its own expedition only they are using their brains and not their brawn. From the Canwest news service/Canada.com:
Unmanned robot subs key to Canada's claim on Arctic riches
The Canadian government has commissioned a pair of miniature submarines - torpedo-shaped, robotic submersibles - to probe two contentious underwater mountain chains in the Arctic Ocean, part of the country's quest to secure sovereignty and potential oil riches in a Europe-sized swath of the polar seabed.

The twin Autonomous Underwater Vehicles are being built by Vancouver-based International Submarine Engineering Ltd. in a $4-million deal with Natural Resources Canada, Defence Research and Development Canada and other federal agencies.

The submersibles, scheduled to be launched in 2010, would be sent on a series of 400-kilometre missions north and west of Ellesmere Island, Canada's northernmost land mass and the country's gateway to the open Arctic Ocean - the scene of an international power struggle over undersea territory and petroleum resources believed to be worth trillions of dollars.

Federal scientists have been gathering evidence in recent years in support of a Canadian submission due in 2013 under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which will ultimately determine how much of the Arctic sea floor each of the five polar nations - Canada, Russia, the U.S., Denmark and Norway - will control.

The key criteria for determining sea floor extensions to Canada's continental shelf is whether science confirms geological links between the country's northern coastline or High Arctic islands and two key underwater mountain ranges - the Alpha and Lomonosov ridges.

In early October, Canada and the U.S. completed a joint seabed-mapping mission in the Beaufort Sea, a region widely seen as the top prize in the Arctic oil rush. But like other research in support of Canada's UNCLOS submission, the Beaufort Sea project involved icebreakers towing survey equipment along the surface of the water to record data about the shape and structure of the ocean bottom.

But the bright yellow, six-metre-long, 1,800-kilogram submersibles - being designed to cruise a long, pre-programmed course above the Arctic's underwater mountains - would allow Canadian scientists to gain more detailed information about the geology of the polar seabed.

Jacob Verhoef, the chief federal scientist responsible for Canada's Arctic mapping mission, said Friday that the AUVs being built will make it much easier to conduct seabed surveying in the sometimes harsh polar conditions that can buffet ships, ground helicopters and create long delays in data collection.
Heh -- very clever idea! Here are the people who will be building the autonomous exploration vessels: ISE Here is the website for their AUV's: Fully Submersible AUVs Looks like a fun place to work!
Posted by DaveH at 2:26 PM | Comments (0)

Ford management hits bottom, keeps digging

Just wonderful. Meet the Ford Fiesta ECOnetic:
0904_mz_ecocar.jpg
65MPG Diesel, sporty vehicle, lots of options. Sounds perfect for today's market right? Mostly Cajun delivers a fine rant on Ford's decision not to market this car in the states:
Try us!
One little reason why GM, Chrysler and Ford are headed down the tubes AGAIN:
The 65 mpg Ford the U.S. Can’t Have
Ford’s Fiesta ECOnetic gets an astonishing 65 mpg, but the carmaker can’t afford to sell it in the U.S.
By David Kiley

If ever there was a car made for the times, this would seem to be it: a sporty subcompact that seats five, offers a navigation system, and gets a whopping 65 miles to the gallon. Oh yes, and the car is made by Ford Motor (F), known widely for lumbering gas hogs.

Ford’s 2009 Fiesta ECOnetic goes on sale in November. But here’s the catch: Despite the car’s potential to transform Ford’s image and help it compete with Toyota Motor (TM) and Honda Motor (HMC) in its home market, the company will sell the little fuel sipper only in Europe. “We know it’s an awesome vehicle,” says Ford America President Mark Fields. “But there are business reasons why we can’t sell it in the U.S.” The main one: The Fiesta ECOnetic runs on diesel.
Okay! Say it with me. All together. One. Two. Three! GOOFY BASTARDS!!!!

Detroit is in trouble now for the same reason they were in big trouble in the Seventies. They lack vision. They sit in their ivory towers and decide to produce and sell a product. Through the miracle of modern advertising, they flim-flam the American public into believing that we WANT what they sell. And it works for a while until some external force comes along and shakes consumers up.

In the Seventies it was a combination of quality and fuel economy. And it caught the Big Three flat-footed. And thirty years later, it happens again. And they just don’t get it.
More to read at Mostly Cajun's site What are these people thinking?
Posted by DaveH at 2:16 PM | Comments (0)

Our e-waste in China

Just wonderful... Hat tip to BoingBoing for the link to this story in CBS News/60 Minutes:
Following The Trail Of Toxic E-Waste
60 Minutes Crew Gets Roughed Up Reporting On Electronic Waste Shipped Illegally From U.S.

When 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley and his crew went to China to record the black market dismantling of electronic waste, or "e-waste," the experience was almost as hazardous for the 60 Minutes team as working with the toxic material is for poor Chinese workers.

Jumped by a gang of men overseeing the e-waste operations who tried to take the CBS team's cameras, Pelley’s crew managed to escape and bring back footage of the hazardous activities. Pelley's investigation will be broadcast this Sunday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

The Chinese attackers were trying to protect a lucrative business of mining the e-waste-junked computers, televisions and other old electronic products-for valuable components, including gold. "They're afraid of being found out. This is smuggling. This is illegal," says Jim Puckett, founder of the Basel Action Network, a group working to stop the dumping of toxic materials in poor countries that certifies ethical e-waste recyclers in the United States. "A lot of people are turning a blind eye here. And if somebody makes enough noise, they're afraid this is all going to dry up."

E-waste workers in Guiyu, China, where Pelley's team videotaped, put up with the dangerous conditions for the $8 a day the job pays. They use caustic chemicals and burn the plastic parts to get at the valuable components, often releasing toxins that they not only inhale, but release into the air, the ground and the water. Potable water must now be trucked into Guiyu and scientists have discovered that the city has the highest levels of cancer-causing dioxins in the world. Pregnancies in Guiyu are six times more likely to result in miscarriages, and seven out of 10 children there have too much lead in their blood.

Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, outlines the e-waste pollutants and their effects. "Lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, and polyvinyl chloride, all of these materials have known toxicological effects that range from brain damage, kidney disease, to mutations, cancers," he tells Pelley. And there's no shortage of refuse that contains these hazardous materials. "We throw out about 130,000 computers every day in the United States...we throw out over 100 million cell phones every year," says Hershkowitz.
This is scheduled to air tonight -- worth watching. China Digital Times has a slideshow showing pollution is seen from Google Earth
Posted by DaveH at 2:08 PM | Comments (0)

Cool idea, Bad Management

From the Salt Lake Tribune:
Nonprofit eatery can't bring home bacon
One World Cafe, where patrons set prices, has had trouble paying employees

For nearly a year, Salt Lake City's One World Cafe - founded on the altruistic goal of letting customers set their own meal price - has been on a crash course with business reality.

In mid-October, employee paychecks bounced and the longtime manager was fired. Bo Dean's dismissal angered the rest of the staff enough that they walked out in protest.

Founder Denise Cerreta was forced to call a temporary staffing agency so she could serve customers.

Inexperience seems to be the main problem for the nonprofit cafe at 41 S. 300 East.

“As the restaurant grew, I didn't have the expertise at running a kitchen,” acknowledged Cerreta during a media teleconference call on Friday. “We needed more structure and a more professional kitchen.”

A recent review of the business showed the restaurant was overstaffed and management of employee time was poor. It never even had an employee time clock. The restaurant also had failed to keep concise records of food costs and fixed costs. All told, mismanagement cost the restaurant $8,000 to $10,000 a month, Cerreta said.
Some nice ideas but with a manager who is always on the road and with no time management, a sure candidate for failure. Nice to see that they are trying to turn it around though...
Posted by DaveH at 1:58 PM | Comments (0)

Mathematics Humor

A canonical collection of Mathematics Humor Sample joke:
Math saves lives
A math professor was explaining a particularly complicated calculus concept to his class when a frustrated pre-med student interrupts him. "Why do we have to learn this stuff?" the pre-med blurts out.

The professor pauses, and answers matter-of-factly: "Because math saves lives."

"How?" demanded the student. "How on Earth does calculus save lives?"

"Because," replied the professor, "it keeps certain people out of medical school."
Heh... OK - one more:
The copy machine
A mathematician, down on his luck, takes a job as a photocopier repairman. After his first day on the job, receives an irate call from one of his customers.

"The copy machine is still broken! It prints out each of my memos on a loop of paper with a half twist! What did I do?"

"Ah," says the mathematician. "You must have set it to Single Sided Copy..."
(rimshot)
Posted by DaveH at 1:44 PM | Comments (0)

Our neighborhoods and the government

This was left as a comment over on the E3 gazette (a spinoff from Bill Whittle's Eject! Eject! Eject! website) and it was so good that it was promoted to an entry of its own.
I grew up spending my summers in the Polish ghetto of Chester, Pennsylvania. I use the word "ghetto" in the sense that neighborhoods were strictly segregated. The Poles held the area of Front St. throught 4th Street. Beyond that other immigrant groups had staked out their claims. It was never clear to me why I had to stay away from Irish and Italian neighborhoods. In my child's mind's eye my mental map said simply "there be monsters." My little enclave was a safe and secure place to grow up.

The Polish people of that generation, first and second, were known as the working poor. My grandfather quit school at age twelve when his father died. The custom was to keep a factory seat open for the next in line, that being the only social security on offer. My grandfather became the family bread-winner. Somehow the family survived the Great Depression if only barely. Then came the war. The neighborhood sent its young men off to fight. Some did not return, but the neighborhood survived.

My grandparents owned a modest rowhouse on the 100 block of Thurlow St. Some people called it the wrong side of the tracks. Actually, we were on the tracks. We used to shoot cans off the rails with a BB gun from the neighbor's porch. I guess to the older folks it seemed far safer than the old habit of sending young boys clambering up the side of moving coal cars to rob them of the precious fuel that would keep a family warm for the day. Despite our "poverty" the neighborhood was thriving.

The center of our lives was St. Hedwig's Church, a majestic structure with stain glass windows stretching to a vaulted ceiling. The congregation was large enough to require five masses on Sunday. Piety was our chief virtue, except for Joe Schpok and Handsome Harry. But those two were excused because Joe was a bum, and Harry was mad. Joe lived in an abandoned car and earned his livelihood doing odd jobs. Harry owned a rowhouse next to my aunt. I guess he was harmless, but his sudden appearance sent our mob scurrying for cover. The neighborhood monster was tall and oily with fingernails an inch long. When he got sick, the local women would bring him food and medicine. Same for Joe. The community looked after its own.
And then the government shows up... Read the rest for an understanding of why government management is not a good thing.
Posted by DaveH at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

R.I.P. - Big Blue

From the Sioux City Journal:
Largest North American catfish in captivity dies
State officials say Big Blue -- believed to have been the largest North American catfish in captivity -- has died in a Nebraska aquarium.

Known as "Big Blue," the 95-pound catfish was brought to the Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium in Gretna more than 11 years ago in 1997, in the bed of a pickup. The fish was caught by Cliff and Donna Ferguson in the Nishnabotna River in northwest Missouri.

Aquarium staff say the fish had stopped eating his regular diet of trout, of which he used to eat seven a week. The fish died Tuesday.

Based on an examination of the Big Blue's spine and ear bone, aquarium staff determined the fish was at least 35 years old at the time of his death. That would make him among the longest living blue catfish ever documented.
35 years is an old fish of any species! Had a good and happy life.
Posted by DaveH at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

Racism and the Religion Of Peace(tm)

An interesting observation on Race and the Middle East from Sunil at Simplistic Art:
Ways to go...
Meanwhile the rest of the world (esp. the Middle East) have quite some catching up to do in matters of race. As this Lebanese daily reports:
Racism against black people has been alive and well in Arab countries for a long time, with Saudi Arabia ending its own private brand of slavery only at the beginning of the sixties and Mauritania still maintaining a very active slave trade until this day. Even in countries in which the practice of slavery never existed, the view of blacks as inferior has been prevalent for many years, and carries its own brand of prejudice culturally and politically.

One of the highest selling type of cosmetics in Egypt, Sudan and the Gulf today are skin-whitening creams that carry names such as "Fair and Lovely," "Ultra Fair" and "B-White," and whose advertisements send the message that girls will get the job/ men/look of their dreams if only they were whiter.

"Most westerners do not have an idea of how racist a place the Middle East can be," said Anthony Badran, a Lebanese Fellow for the DC-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. "They are completely unaware, for example, that in many Arab countries, the word still used to refer to a black person is 'abed' or 'slave.'"
Many do not remember that the black slaves in this country were sold to the slave traders by the Islamists living in Africa. This has been going on for a long long time. As a reminder, go visit here: The Religion of Peace, and scroll down about a third of the way to the bottom of the page. You are looking for this line: List of Islamic Terror Attacks For the Past 2 Months Keep reading and wonder why this is not being reported in the press...
Posted by DaveH at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

Life in Jolly Olde England - state monitoring

Just wonderful -- and the joke is that nobody has protested this encroachment... From the London Daily Mail:
March of the dustbin Stasi: Half of councils use anti-terror laws to watch people putting rubbish out on the wrong day
More than half of town halls admit using anti-terror laws to spy on families suspected of putting their rubbish out on the wrong day.

Their tactics include putting secret cameras in tin cans, on lamp posts and even in the homes of 'friendly' residents.

The local authorities admitted that one of their main aims was to catch householders who put their bins out early.

The shocking way in which the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act - an anti-terror law - is being used was revealed through freedom of information requests made by the Daily Mail.

MPs and civil liberties groups last night accused councils of using the draconian powers for trivial reasons.
This is just so wrong on so many different levels. Not only the idea that the government has these powers but the cost to the taxpayer for the time and equipment. All for garbage.
Posted by DaveH at 11:38 AM | Comments (0)

November 8, 2008

Light posting tonight

Working on some other stuff... Maybe a post or two later
Posted by DaveH at 9:21 PM | Comments (0)

Great idea - Sleep Safe Tape

Could have used this in some of the places I worked. One place in particular, the boss loved to have several-hour-long meetings. It was a public aquarium and my job was to take care of the audio-visual infrastructure and therefore somewhat crucial. Always managed to have myself paged 40 minutes into the meetings... Check out Sleep Safe Tape:
Sleep Safe Tape
Sleep Safe Tape is a roll of standard transparent 1/2" wide tape that has pictures of an eye printed along the length of the tape. Many situations exist where it is taboo to sleep despite the natural inclination of humans to rest their tired eyes. Examples include meetings, lectures, and conversations. With Sleep Safe Tape, users can get the shuteye they need while appearing to be wide-awake. Of course, Sleep Safe Tape is a novelty product and might not be used as advertised except by those audacious enough. Those less bold may choose to use it as a regular roll of tape.
Turns this:
sleep_safe_tape_before.jpg
Into this:
sleep_safe_tape_after.jpg
Beats using toothpicks to prop them open.
Posted by DaveH at 7:51 PM | Comments (0)

Aww crap - accident aboard Russian Submarine kills 20

From CNN/AP:
Russia: More than 20 dead in nuclear sub accident
An accident aboard a nuclear-powered Russian navy submarine doing a test run in the Pacific Ocean on Saturday killed more than 20 people, the navy said.

The nuclear reactor aboard the submarine was operating normally and radiation levels were normal, navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo said on Sunday.

The accident occurred when a fire-extinguishing system went into operation in error aboard the submarine, Dygalo said. He said the dead included sailors and shipbuilders.

The submarine was heading back to shore on its own power, and 21 people injured in the accident were evacuated to a ship that was escorting the sub. There were 208 people aboard the vessel.

The state-run RIA-Novosti news agency cited an unnamed official in Russia's Pacific Fleet as saying the accident occurred toward the bow of the submarine and that there was no threat to the nuclear reactor, closer to the center.

Dygalo would not name the submarine or say exactly where the accident took place.
They have been having a bad run of luck and this comes at a time when they are trying to build up their navy.
Posted by DaveH at 7:46 PM | Comments (0)

November 7, 2008

Sometimes these write themselves: China and Pollution

From Yahoo/Reuters:
China tells rich polluting nations to change lifestyle
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said rich nations must abandon their "unsustainable lifestyle" to fight climate change and expand help to poor nations bearing the brunt of worsening droughts and rising sea levels.

Wen told the opening of a conference Friday the financial crisis was no reason for rich nations to delay fighting global warming.

"As the global financial crisis spreads and worsens, and the world economy slows down apparently, the international community must not waver in its determination to tackle climate change," Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.

The two-day meeting is to push China's call for rich nations to fund a huge infusion of greenhouse gas-cutting technology for developing countries. But foreign officials at the meeting raised doubts about Beijing's proposal, which could stoke contention over who pays and how much.

China is widely believed to be the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from industry, power plants and vehicles lifting global temperatures. But Wen threw the onus back on rich nations, with their much higher emissions per person and long history of polluting the air.
Sure, we have higher emissions per person but this is because we are producing more product per person. As for the long history of polluting the air, we didn't realize this was an issue until recently and we are doing better than China in this respect. Much better. And it is not like China's own population is unaware: New York Times: Rural Chinese Riot as Police Try to Halt Pollution Protest Asia News: 30,000 clash with police in village pollution riot The BBC: Bloody China riot caught on film China Digital Times: Hundreds of villagers in China riot against polluting factory Pot meet Kettle
Posted by DaveH at 9:25 PM | Comments (0)

Typical out-of-touch bureaucrat - Brussels and food package labels

Leave it to a middle-management fu*%-up to design something like this. From the London Daily Mail:
EU's new healthy eating food labels are so big they don't fit on the packet
Demands by the EU to fit nutritional information on to food packaging will not work because the labels are too big, food companies have complained.

Some of the world's biggest brands, including Nestle and Coca-Cola, claim the information panels are so large they will swamp packs, bottles and tins, and obscure logos and brands.

The problem stems from the fact that Brussels says nutrition information should be printed in large clear font at least 3mm tall so shoppers can see clearly the amount of calories, salt, saturated fat and sugar in what they are buying.

EU experts insist only large print will help shoppers choose healthy products and so prevent the rising tide of obesity and associated ill health.

But food and drink manufacturers are concerned that smaller portions - which do the most to combat obesity - will be covered in huge labels and so become unrecognisable to consumers.

Susanne Doring, of the Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the EU (CIAA), said the proposals were 'impractical and a burden for manufacturers'.

She added: 'What the commission is proposing is disproportionate - in more ways than one.'
coke_EU_label.jpg
Click for larger.
One of the commentors said it perfectly:
No matter the font size, label readers will continue to read labels and non-label readers will continue to not read labels.

I want to see studies EU relies on to say larger font = less obesity.

GO TO SCHOOL TOMORROW!!!!! There, I just reduced truancy. Good for me!
What he said...
Posted by DaveH at 9:09 PM | Comments (0)

A girls best friend

From PhysOrg:
Scientists Turn Tequila into Diamonds
Whoever thought that science was a dry subject might change their mind after learning about a new discovery in which tequila is turned into diamonds. A team of Mexican scientists found that the heated vapor from 80-proof (40% alcohol) tequila blanco, when deposited on a silicon or stainless steel substrate, can form diamond films.

The key to the surprising discovery is tequila's ratio of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon, which lies within the "diamond growth region." The resulting diamond films could have inexpensive commercial applications as electrical insulators, say researchers Javier Morales, Luis Miguel Apátiga, and Víctor Manuel Castaño from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Morales is also with Nuevo León´s Autonomous University).

Originally, the scientists were experimenting with creating diamonds from organic solutions such as acetone, ethanol, and methanol. They found that diluting ethanol in water resulted in high quality diamond films. The scientists then noticed that the ideal compound of 40 percent ethanol and 60 percent water was similar to the proportion used in tequila.

"To dissipate any doubts, one morning on the way to the lab I bought a pocket-size bottle of cheap white tequila and we did some tests," Apátiga said. "We were in doubt over whether the great amount of chemicals present in tequila, other than water and ethanol, would contaminate or obstruct the process, it turned out to be not so. The results were amazing, same as with the ethanol and water compound, we obtained almost spherical shaped diamonds of nanometric size. There is no doubt; tequila has the exact proportion of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms necessary to form diamonds."
Sometimes Science is stranger than reality. Funny that a Hard Liquor could potentially be the downfall of de Beers... (rimshot)
Posted by DaveH at 9:04 PM | Comments (0)

Our new Cat

For the last three days, we have been serenaded by an orange kitten camped in the crawlspace of our house. We started feeding it as the weather is going to turn brutal shortly (and we both have a soft spot for critters). It was a shy little bug and would eat the food but not come to us. Tonight was the time for the heavy artillery. I have a couple of Have-A-Heart traps and I deployed a small one with a can of tuna fish as bait. This was two hours ago. A few minutes ago I heard a soft 'click-thunk' and went outside to check and found a little orange thing OM NOM NOMing away on the can of Tuna as contented as it could be. I picked up the trap and its vocal cords went into hyperdrive. I am now sitting in the kitchen typing this and being professionally TOLD OFF by a little piece of orange fluff that cannot weigh more than a pound or so. It's in the downstairs bathroom with some dry catfood, a litter box and some water. Still very very pissed off and telling the world about it. Give it a couple days and it should fit right in... Heh
Posted by DaveH at 8:45 PM | Comments (0)

Dave Barry on 'last Tuesday's election'

Wonderful column by Dave Barry:
Dave Barry: And the winner is . . . the man with the martini
In analyzing the results of Tuesday's historic election, the question we must ask ourselves, first and foremost, is: what the heck were the results of Tuesday's historic election?

I personally don't know. The Miami Herald made me send in this analysis before the election was actually over, so that it could be printed in a timely manner. This is part of the newspaper industry's crafty plan to defeat this ''Internet'' thing that has the youngsters so excited.

Anyway, my election analysis, based on weeks of reading political bogs, listening to talk radio and watching campaign ads on television, is that one of the following things is true:
• Barack Obama is our next president, which is very bad because he is a naive untested wealth-spreading terrorist-befriending ultraliberal socialist communist who will suddenly reveal his secret Muslim identity by riding to his inauguration on a camel shouting ''Death to Israel!'' (I mean Obama will be shouting this, not the camel) after which he will wreck the economy by sending Joe the Plumber to Guantánamo and taxing away all the income of anybody who makes over $137.50 per year and giving it to bloated government agencies that will deliberately set it on fire.

• Or, John McCain is our next president, which is very bad because he is a 287-year-old out-of-touch multiple-house-owning fascist who will rape the environment and build nuclear power plants inside elementary schools and reinstate slavery and create tax loopholes that benefit only people who own three or more personal helicopters, after which he will declare war on the entire United Nations and then keel over dead and leave us with commander-in-chief Sarah ''Flash Card'' Palin.

• Or, Ralph Nader is our next president, which is very bad because it means there has been a successful Klingon invasion.
Heh...
Posted by DaveH at 8:19 PM | Comments (0)

The right to keep and bear

Interesting article in the New York Times about sales at Gun Shops post election:
On Concerns Over Gun Control, Gun Sales Are Up
Sales of handguns, rifles and ammunition have surged in the last week, according to gun store owners around the nation who describe a wave of buyers concerned that an Obama administration will curtail their right to bear arms.

“He’s a gun-snatcher,” said Jim Pruett, owner of Jim Pruett’s Guns and Ammo in northwest Houston, which was packed with shoppers on Thursday.

“He wants to take our guns from us and create a socialist society policed by his own police force,” added Mr. Pruett, a former radio personality, of President-elect Barack Obama.

Mr. Pruett said that sales last Saturday, just before Election Day, ran about seven times higher than a typical good Saturday.

A spot check by reporters in four other states easily found Mr. Pruett’s comments echoed from both sides of the counter.

David Nelson, a co-owner of Montana Ordnance & Supply in Missoula, Mont., said his buyers were “awake and aware and see a dangerous trend.”

Mr. Nelson said sales at his store had risen about 30 percent since Mr. Obama declared his candidacy. “People are concerned about overreaching legislation from Washington,” he said. “They are educating themselves on the Internet.”

In Colorado, would-be gun buyers set a one-day record last Saturday with the highest number of background check requests in a 24-hour period, according to figures from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

“We’re not really sure who is promoting the concept that a change in federal administrations might affect firearms possession rights,” said an agency spokesman, Lance Clem, “but we do know that it’s increased business considerably.”
We need only look at this passage at CHANGE.GOV:
Address Gun Violence in Cities: As president, Barack Obama would repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, which restricts the ability of local law enforcement to access important gun trace information, and give police officers across the nation the tools they need to solve gun crimes and fight the illegal arms trade. Obama and Biden also favor commonsense measures that respect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, while keeping guns away from children and from criminals who shouldn't have them. They support closing the gun show loophole and making guns in this country childproof. They also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent, as such weapons belong on foreign battlefields and not on our streets.
A couple of points: First, the Tiahrt Amendment has absolutely zero effect when a legitimate Law Enforcement Officer requests data regarding a firearm. The Tiahrt Amendment does restrict this information however and does not allow it to be passed on to policy makers or any people not directly involved in a specific case involving a specific firearm. We accept this level of security whenever we visit our Doctors or check into a Hospital -- there it is called HIPPA. Second -- I quote: while keeping guns away from children and from criminals who shouldn't have them If this is such a major issue to you, why, in all of your years as a Community Organizer in Chicago, have you done nothing about this? We can see from Chicago television station CBS2 that:
Chicago Beats New York, Los Angeles In Murders
Chicago is the Second City in nickname and the third in population, but when it comes to murder, the city has the dubious distinction of being second to no city in America.

As CBS 2's Mike Puccinelli reports, the Chicago Sun-Times pointed out on Friday that Chicago has seen 426 homicides this year through Tuesday, compared with 417 in New York and 302 in Los Angeles.

At the end of 1998, Chicago made international headlines as the U.S. "murder capital" after surpassing New York's homicide totals for the first time ever. Chicago shed that dubious distinction when murders plummeted over the last decade.

There are more than 8 million people in New York, compared to slightly under 3 million in Chicago. The population of Los Angeles exceeds that of Chicago by more than 800,000.
And even one of your own, John R. Lott, Jr., says (from an interview):
Question: It just seems to defy common sense that crimes likely to involve guns would be reduced by allowing more people to carry guns. How do you explain the results?

Lott: Criminals are deterred by higher penalties. Just as higher arrest and conviction rates deter crime, so does the risk that someone committing a crime will confront someone able to defend him or herself. There is a strong negative relationship between the number of law-abiding citizens with permits and the crime rate—as more people obtain permits there is a greater decline in violent crime rates. For each additional year that a concealed handgun law is in effect the murder rate declines by 3 percent, rape by 2 percent, and robberies by over 2 percent.

Concealed handgun laws reduce violent crime for two reasons. First, they reduce the number of attempted crimes because criminals are uncertain which potential victims can defend themselves. Second, victims who have guns are in a much better position to defend themselves.

Question: What is the basis for these numbers?

Lott: The analysis is based on data for all 3,054 counties in the United States during 18 years from 1977 to 1994.
(quick heads up -- John R. Lott, Jr. is a resident scholar at American Enterprise Institute. He was previously the John M. Olin Visiting Law and Economics Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School. The rest of the interview is a good read.) Finally, and I quote again: They also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent, as such weapons belong on foreign battlefields and not on our streets. The Federal Assault Weapons Ban was an incredibly poorly written piece of legislation that considered firearms to be "Assault" based on their looks and not on their performance. It banned guns that were "Oooooo Look at that SCARY GUN!!!" and let slip guns that could be quickly adapted to fire at full automatic, could take aftermarket extended clips and were truly an assault weapon. There very well might be a place in the books for a ban on certain weapons but to revive this piece of crap is not a good move. There is a reason why it expired so quietly... Arrrrggghhh -- Barak Obama is my next President and he has my full support. But I will be watching what he does very very closeley...
Posted by DaveH at 6:55 PM | Comments (0)

November 6, 2008

Cool technology - a flute playing robot

From the London Daily Mail:
The flawless flautist: The musical robot that plays Flight Of The Bumblebee perfectly
Classical musicians could have good reason to be worried as scientists have developed a musical robot that makes no mistakes.

Waseda University’s robotic flautist can play the challenging musical score of the ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ almost flawlessly.

And the robot has been designed with a human-like quality that allows it to engage with the audience, making in a contender for concert performances.

The Waseda Flutist No. 4 Refined IV was unveiled at the BioRob 2008 conference in Arizona two weeks ago.

Thanks to a series of technical advances, the latest version makes smoother transitions between notes than the original model built in 2003.

The robot’s mouth and lungs have been carefully designed to mimic the expert air control of a professional flautist.
A YouTube video is here:
And after watching it, I do not fear for the careers of live musicians. This performance was wooden. A lot of that depends on the programming but a good performer can 'read' the audience and other musicians and interact with them -- it is subtle but very noticeable. This one was too perfect. The BioRob 2008 conference looks fascinating.
Posted by DaveH at 8:10 PM | Comments (0)

Saving a bit of history - Bletchley Park

Some very good news from the UK Telegraph:
Grant to save wartime code-breaking centre Bletchley Park from ruin
The country house whose secret code-breaking centre helped Britain win the Second World War is to receive a "substantial" government grant to save it from dereliction.

Bletchley Park, which has fallen into disrepair despite the achievements of its spies in intercepting private messages between Hitler and his generals, is to be given money from the historic monuments commission.

The plight of the Buckinghamshire site, where information encrypted by Germany's Enigma machines was deciphered, was highlighted earlier this year when leading computer scientists demanded that the government step in to rescue the building from its "terrible" state.

The complex, home to a museum, is run by a charitable trust that receives no money directly from the government.

English Heritage is to announce a grant worth hundreds of thousands of pounds to prevent the main building from ruin.

"Bletchley Park is renowned globally for the achievements of its code-breakers in the Second World War and workers here made an enormous contribution in a whole range of spheres from mathematics to computing," said Andrew Brown of English Heritage. "It is our job to make sure this site is properly protected and interpreted for future generations."

However, the future of the wooden huts where the Engima codes were cracked is still in doubt.

Bletchley's codebreakers, led by Alan Turing, managed to crack the complex Engima codes, which the Germans thought were unbreakable. The intelligence that this generated saved countless Allied lives and may have shortened the war significantly.

As the German ciphers became more elaborate, the codebreakers fought back, and their efforts culminated in the Colossus, one of the world's first programmable electronic computers. It was an advance that kick-started modern British computing.
The outcome of World War Two could have been horribly different had this work not been done. Nice to see that people are finally stepping up to the plate and preserving this important bit of history for future generations.
Posted by DaveH at 3:43 PM | Comments (0)

A new stamp for the office

I am going to have one of these made just for the hell of it:
wtf_stamp.jpg
Hat tip to Theo via Maggie's Farm
Posted by DaveH at 2:53 PM | Comments (0)

Too much of a good thing

Generating electricity is one thing. Being able to move it from Point A to Point B is quite another. Our electrical 'grid' has not been substantially upgraded in the last 30 years or so and adding new generating capacity is not always a good thing. From Portland Oregon station KATU:
'Too much' wind power could actually hurt salmon
Wind turbines are the hottest rage in 'going green' but the technology has a dangerous side for endangered salmon in the Columbia River.

No one is saying wind power is bad by any stretch - it will play a huge role in producing sustainable, green energy.

For example, the new Rattlesnake Road Wind Farm at the eastern end of the Columbia River will produce enough power to light 30,000 homes and will prevent the annual emission of 70,000 tons of carbon dioxide, which is equivalent to taking 7,000 cars off the road.

And the blueprint for wind energy in the Northwest, known as the Wind Integration Plan, calls for even more wind power online by 2009.

But while all that sounds great, it is important to understand that there are serious concerns to consider.

You see, when the wind is really blowing and the farms are operating at maximum capacity, the present system will not be able to handle all of that electricity, which ultimately affects fish.

This isn't just a theory - it actually happened recently. At the end of June, there was an unexpected surge in wind power and too much energy was created for the regional grid to handle. To compensate, the dams cut their power by spilling more water.

Spilling more water is dangerous for fish because water plunging from the dams into the river becomes saturated with air. Air is mostly nitrogen and salmon do not like nitrogen saturation.

"I think it caught us just a little bit off guard because the rate of growth of wind has been so fast," said Elliot Mainzer with the Bonneville Power Administration. He's in charge of strategies for balancing the electricity needs and supplies of the future.

Part of the problem is that right now we actually have enough electricity to meet demand in the Northwest but excess green power produced here can't just be sent back east.

That's because the electrical grid in the Western United States has little connection to the rest of the country.
What was that about unintended consequences? Promoting clean energy has to look at the whole system and not just a generator here and a generator there...
Posted by DaveH at 11:02 AM

Redistributing the wealth the Obama way

From the Texas Rainmaker:
Obama Supporters Learn Obama’s Policies the Hard Way
Apparently the Obama campaign is implementing his policies on Americans before he even takes the oath of office.
Lines were long and tempers flared Wednesday not to vote but to get paid for canvassing for Barack Obama. Several hundred people are still waiting to get their pay for last-minute campaigning. Police were called to the Obama campaign office on North Meridian Street downtown to control the crowd.
Perhaps the campaign thought there were other people more deserving of the money.
Eventually people did start getting paid, but some said they were missing hours and told to fill in paperwork making their claim and that eventually they would get a check in the mail.

“Still that’s not right. I’m disappointed. I’m glad for the president, but I’m disappointed in this system,” said Diane Jefferson, temporary campaign worker.

“It should have been $480. It’s $230,” said Imani Sankofa.
Maybe when Obama said he would only raise taxes on those making over $250, he literally meant $250. Go home and wait for your free healthcare.
As people start to wake up...
Posted by DaveH at 10:53 AM

2008: The year in review

So true:
2008_year_in_review.jpg
Swiped from Carpe Diem who got it from 4-Block World
Posted by DaveH at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

November 5, 2008

Well snap!

I missed the one candidate that I could really get behind. Check out Adama for President Here is the LA Times coverage of the race: Adama: change we can suspend disbelief in
Given that the presidential campaign seems to be moving away from reality and toward the fictional realm (thanks Slate), it makes sense that a new, more appealing and powerful candidate is bursting onto the scene.

That's Adm. William "Bill" Adama, commander of the human star fleet, whose exploits have been faithfully chronicled in the excellent space documentary Battlestar Galactica.

Adama's campaign is headquartered at adamaforpresident.org, which sports the banner reproduced above. This is a man who ought to have a reasonable chance running as a third-party candidate. He's got extremely high-level military experience, has saved the human race several times, has repeatedly shown himself to be cool under pressure and, perhaps most important, he knows what's going to happen in the future...
Maybe in 2012 - Adama/Number Six
Posted by DaveH at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)

Steven Den Beste essay on the recent election

There are a few people whose writing I really like. Bill Whittle is one and Steven Den Beste was another -- he is otherwise occupied these days but every so often, he pops up with another wonderful bit of writing. Steven writes:
Not the end of the world
It's easy to let yourself go in despair and start thinking things like "We are well-and-truly fucked" or "This is the worst of all possible outcomes". But it isn't true.

I think this election is going to be a "coming of age" moment for a lot of people. They say, "Be careful what you wish for" and a lot of people got their wish yesterday.

And now they're bound to be disappointed. Not even Jesus could satisfy all the expectations of Obama's most vocal supporters, or fulfill all the promises Obama has made.

I think Obama is going to turn out to be the worst president since Carter, and for the same reason: good intentions do not guarantee good results. Idealists often stub their toes on the wayward rocks of reality, and fall on their faces. And the world doesn't respond to benign behavior benignly.

But there's another reason why: Obama has been hiding his light under a basket. A lot of people bought a pig in a poke today, and now they're going to find out what they bought. Obama isn't what most of them think he is. The intoxication of the cult will wear off, leaving a monumental hangover.

And four years from now they'll be older and much wiser.
Well said and the rest of the essay is just as good (Steven is just getting warmed up).
Posted by DaveH at 7:43 PM | Comments (0)

Crap... R.I.P. - Michael Crichton

From Michael Crichton:
In Memoriam
Best-selling author Michael Crichton died unexpectedly in Los Angeles Tuesday, November 4, 2008 after a courageous and private battle against cancer.

While the world knew him as a great story teller that challenged our preconceived notions about the world around us -- and entertained us all while doing so -- his wife Sherri, daughter Taylor, family and friends knew Michael Crichton as a devoted husband, loving father and generous friend who inspired each of us to strive to see the wonders of our world through new eyes. He did this with a wry sense of humor that those who were privileged to know him personally will never forget.

Through his books, Michael Crichton served as an inspiration to students of all ages, challenged scientists in many fields, and illuminated the mysteries of the world in a way we could all understand.

He will be profoundly missed by those whose lives he touched, but he leaves behind the greatest gifts of a thirst for knowledge, the desire to understand, and the wisdom to use our minds to better our world.

Michael's family respectfully asks for privacy during this difficult time.

A private funeral service is expected, but no further details will be released to the public.
Sixty six is way too young... Check out his speech to the National Press Club, Washington, D.C -- January 25, 2005
Posted by DaveH at 5:55 PM

November 4, 2008

Election finale

XKCD nails it:
election.png
Click for full size awesomeness
Posted by DaveH at 10:27 PM | Comments (2)

Well this will be interesting

Congratulations to Barack Obama -- it will be an interesting four years. Hope the Republican party gets its shit together for 2012
Posted by DaveH at 9:23 PM | Comments (0)

November 3, 2008

'Ya know - the one thing that is missing from this whole political thing...

...is a photo of a cute bunny with a pancake on its head. Solved:
pancake_bunny.jpg
Click for full 1024X768 goodness...
And a big tip o' the hat to Jen for the reminder. Original image swiped from here via Google Images (scroll down a lot).
Posted by DaveH at 8:48 PM

Fatigue

Jen and I were out to dinner tonight and were discussing our growing fatigue of the overall partisan mud-slinging this election year. I said that it was something like Nasal Fatigue and then realized that that is exactly what I was feeling. It will be nice in a few weeks when the last tendrils of stench dissipate in the morning winds...
Posted by DaveH at 8:08 PM | Comments (1)

Canonical list of Obama connections

John Perazzo at Discover the Networks has put together a the canonical list of Obama's shady connections and political ideas complete with links to the relevant documents. From his Preface:
“The Closing Argument”
Barack Obama has now delivered his nationally televised “closing argument” summarizing the supposed justifications for electing him to be the next President.

Following is a compelling argument against electing him. It is an argument founded on a thorough analysis of Obama’s record vis a vis the votes he has cast, the positions he has taken, and the promises he has made during the course of his entire political career—eight years in the Illinois state senate and four years in the U.S. Senate (of which the last two years, incidentally, were spent almost entirely on campaigning for the presidency rather than on attending to any legislative duties—as evidenced by the very large number of votes for which he was not present during that period).

This document will look also at several of Obama’s alliances that are of immense significance, examining the nature of those relationships and the reasons why they are so important.

If you, the reader, are already aware of the considerations discussed herein and you intend nevertheless to vote for Barack Obama, your decision is to be respected. In the marketplace of ideas, we are not all required to select items from the same shelves.

But perhaps you are an Obama supporter who is unaware of many or most of the things discussed in this document. If that is the case—as it probably is—the information contained herein is likely to have a profound influence on your measure of Mr. Obama. It is for your consideration that this is written.

You may approach this document in either of two ways. You may, as is recommended, start at the beginning of the narrative and read it through to the end. But if you prefer, you may also click on those particular subheadings that most interest you, and read them in any sequence you wish.
It is well worth reading even if your mind is made up. Ask yourself why these questions have never been covered in detail on the mainstream media.
Posted by DaveH at 8:53 AM | Comments (0)

Heresy - a question of who to vote for

I have already cast my ballot but am having second thoughts. If Obama wins, the USA will get a cold hard taste of socialism and will rebel against it strongly. If McCain wins, it will be business as usual for the Republican party. My concern is that the Republicans have drifted far from their roots and are becoming Democrat-lite: Big Government, Higher Taxes, Impotent Energy Policy, Handouts to those who can help themselves. We need to clean house and if Obama wins, it will give us four years to do so. There will be a lot of work for the next Republican president to do -- either in 2008 or 2012, I wish we had someone a bit more old skool running this year.
Posted by DaveH at 8:46 AM | Comments (0)

November 2, 2008

Someone nails it - election fatigue

Check this out: This. Fucking. Election.
this_fucking_election.png
Click to see it in all of its cosmic glory...
Hat tip to Vanderleun
Posted by DaveH at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)

R.I.P. - Yma Sumac

Damn! An amazing singer with a 4.5 octave vocal range. The LA Times has a good obit:
Yma Sumac, 'Peruvian songbird' with multi-octave range, dies at 86
The singer with a persona matching her exotic voice became an international sensation in the 1950s.

Yma Sumac, the Peruvian-born singer whose spectacular multi-octave vocal range and exotic persona made her an international sensation in the 1950s, has died. She was 86.

Sumac, who was diagnosed with colon cancer in February, died Saturday in an assisted-living facility in Silver Lake, said Damon Devine, her personal assistant and close friend.

Bursting onto the U.S. music scene after signing with Capitol Records in 1950, the raven-haired Sumac was known as the "Nightingale of the Andes," the "Peruvian Songbird" and a "singing marvel" with a 4 1/2 -octave (she said five-octave) voice.

"She is five singers in one," boasted her then-husband Moises Vivanco, a composer-arranger, in a 1951 interview with the Associated Press. "Never in 2,000 years has there been another voice like hers."
For a taste of her singing, visit her own website -- a music clip will autoplay. More clips here. Truly one of a kind -- she had not performed for quite some time but she left an amazing body of work and will be missed.
Posted by DaveH at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

Big troubles in Florence Italy

The art world is in shock over what happened to the priceless Michelangelo sculpture of King David when it was brought over to America on its recent tour. Curators from the Accademia di Belle Arti are working with their counterparts at the Metropolitan Museum in New York to see how this damage can be undone. You can see the tragic damage yourself here:
michelangelo_david_statue.jpg
Click for full size
Swiped from here. What a waist...
Posted by DaveH at 7:17 PM | Comments (0)

Another business run into the ground - Circuit City

Chalk up another one for clueless dipshit managers -- Circuit City is shuttering 155 stores From The Consumerist:
UPDATED: Breaking: Circuit City Closing 155 Stores
According to anonymous insider tips, Circuit City is closing 155 stores and withdrawing from 12 markets. This will be officially announced tomorrow at 8am, says our source. A scan we received of a letter distributed to CC employees helps corroborate the story. The tipsters say that store employees were told this morning. No information was provided at that time about severance pay. Employees in certain departments, like car installation, and Firedog, will likely be out of a job within 48 hours. Warranties will still be honored. A Consumerist commenter on this post says this story is true, and a few posts in Google Finance forums also attest to the store closing. One post there says the store closings will be effective 12/31/08.
I liked them a lot more than I like Best Buy. They had 660 stores all told so this is just a bit more than 20% of them but still, for a retailer, this is major. Doesn't help that their stock has been in the terlit for the last couple of months. I was in the Bellingham branch in September trying to find a network cable and it took forever to flag someone down. Stood around looking at the cameras on display (they had some high-ticket items there -- $500 to $1K) and nobody wandered over to strike up a conversation and maybe make a sale. I guess the writing has been on the wall for some time now and the employees are just going through the motions. One of the commenters in the Consumerist said that their primary source of revenues has been the sale of extended warranties.
Posted by DaveH at 6:58 PM | Comments (0)

Whither Iceland - a question of future

Iceland's finances melted down a few weeks ago and now, Bjork raises some questions about its future. From the London Times Online:
After financial meltdown, now it's smeltdown
The men who made Iceland go cap in hand to the IMF are now bent on ruining its landscape

After touring for 18 months I was excited to return home a few weeks ago to good, solid Iceland and enjoy a little bit of stability. I had done a concert there earlier this year to raise awareness about local environmental issues and 10 per cent of the nation came to it; but I still felt it wasn't enough.

So when I returned I decided to contact people all over the island who had attempted to start new companies and bring in new greener ways of working but had not succeeded. For a long time Iceland's main income was fishing, but when that become uneconomic people started looking for other ways to earn a living. The ruling conservatives thought that harnessing Iceland's natural energy and selling it to huge companies such as Alcoa and Rio Tinto would solve the problem.

Now we have three aluminium smelters, which are the biggest in Europe; and in the space of the next three years they want to build two more. The smelters would need energy from a handful of new geothermal power plants and the building of dams that would damage pristine wilderness, hot springs and lava fields. To take this much energy from geothermal fields is not sustainable.
She then offers these observations:
Usually I don't notice politics. I live happily in the land of music-making. But I got caught up in it because politicians seem bent on ruining Iceland's natural environment. And I read last week that, because of the crisis, a number of Icelandic MPs are lobbying for the environmental assessment to be ignored so that the dams can be built as quickly as possible to give Alcoa and Rio Tinto the energy they need for the two new smelters.

Iceland is a small country. We missed out on an industrial revolution and my hope was that we would skip it completely and go straight to sustainable hi-tech options. If anyone could achieve this, we could. There is a wonderful characteristic in the Icelandic mentality - fearlessness, with an addiction to risk-taking to the point of being foolhardy. In music-making, storytelling and creative thought, this risk-taking is a great thing. And after my introduction to a lot of Iceland's small, growing companies, I realise how many of them have shown this fearless approach either in biotechnology or high technology.

Icelanders are highly educated in advanced sciences. We have ORF, one of the best biogenetics company in the world; Össur, an artificial limb-maker; CCP, a computer games maker, and so on. We also have a lot of doctors and health professionals. Because of the hundreds of naturally hot pools all over the island and our (so far) almost untouched nature, Iceland could easily become one big lush spa where people could come and nurse their wounds and relax. If only the Government could put its money into supporting these companies rather than serving Alcoa and Rio Tinto.
I visited there for two months back in 1974 -- one year after the volcanic eruption in Heimaey. Almost every street in every town had a bookstore. The people were very well educated and fascinating to talk with and meet. A shame that a few plutocrats are ruining that nation. Better a slower and steadier growth -- one that is not tied to a single commodity. Be sure to read the 40+ comments -- a lot of them from people in Iceland and England.
Posted by DaveH at 6:28 PM | Comments (0)

On the menu for tonight

Ran into this recipe for Split Pea Soup yesterday while surfing the web. Got the veggies sautéing in Costco Extra Virgin Olive Oil (amazing flavor for the money) and ready to add the Chicken broth, water and ham hocks. Wish it didn't take three hours to cook but we have been eating late in the day anyway so a 9:00PM dinner will not be stretching it too much and it will be there for tomorrows dinner too (tasting even better).
Posted by DaveH at 5:41 PM | Comments (0)

What Global Warming

From The Australian:
Sorry to ruin the fun, but an ice age cometh
The scariest photo I have seen on the internet is www.spaceweather.com, where you will find a real-time image of the sun from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, located in deep space at the equilibrium point between solar and terrestrial gravity.

What is scary about the picture is that there is only one tiny sunspot.

Disconcerting as it may be to true believers in global warming, the average temperature on Earth has remained steady or slowly declined during the past decade, despite the continued increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, and now the global temperature is falling precipitously.

All four agencies that track Earth's temperature (the Hadley Climate Research Unit in Britain, the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, the Christy group at the University of Alabama, and Remote Sensing Systems Inc in California) report that it cooled by about 0.7C in 2007. This is the fastest temperature change in the instrumental record and it puts us back where we were in 1930. If the temperature does not soon recover, we will have to conclude that global warming is over.

There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence that 2007 was exceptionally cold. It snowed in Baghdad for the first time in centuries, the winter in China was simply terrible and the extent of Antarctic sea ice in the austral winter was the greatest on record since James Cook discovered the place in 1770.

It is generally not possible to draw conclusions about climatic trends from events in a single year, so I would normally dismiss this cold snap as transient, pending what happens in the next few years.

This is where SOHO comes in. The sunspot number follows a cycle of somewhat variable length, averaging 11 years. The most recent minimum was in March last year. The new cycle, No.24, was supposed to start soon after that, with a gradual build-up in sunspot numbers.

It didn't happen. The first sunspot appeared in January this year and lasted only two days. A tiny spot appeared last Monday but vanished within 24 hours. Another little spot appeared this Monday. Pray that there will be many more, and soon.

The reason this matters is that there is a close correlation between variations in the sunspot cycle and Earth's climate. The previous time a cycle was delayed like this was in the Dalton Minimum, an especially cold period that lasted several decades from 1790.

Northern winters became ferocious: in particular, the rout of Napoleon's Grand Army during the retreat from Moscow in 1812 was at least partly due to the lack of sunspots.

That the rapid temperature decline in 2007 coincided with the failure of cycle No.24 to begin on schedule is not proof of a causal connection but it is cause for concern.

It is time to put aside the global warming dogma, at least to begin contingency planning about what to do if we are moving into another little ice age, similar to the one that lasted from 1100 to 1850.

There is no doubt that the next little ice age would be much worse than the previous one and much more harmful than anything warming may do. There are many more people now and we have become dependent on a few temperate agricultural areas, especially in the US and Canada. Global warming would increase agricultural output, but global cooling will decrease it.

Millions will starve if we do nothing to prepare for it (such as planning changes in agriculture to compensate), and millions more will die from cold-related diseases.
Ahh you say, a know-nothing AGW denier. From The Australian:
Phil Chapman is a geophysicist and astronautical engineer who lives in San Francisco. He was the first Australian to become a NASA astronaut.
So Phil does have a clue as to what he is talking about and yes, Space Weather does show one small spot:
sun_11_02_2008.gif
Inconvenient Truth indeed...
Posted by DaveH at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

Somebody get rid of Mugabe now!

From the UK Telegraph:
Roberte Mugabe supporters grab one of Zimbabwe's last white-run farms
A leading Zimbabwean farmer working some of the country's last productive land has had his property invaded by allies of Robert Mugabe.

Doug Taylor-Freeme is one of Africa's most respected farmers, a white Zimbabwean chosen by his mostly black peers to be their champion.

Elected unanimously as president of Zimbabwe's Commercial Farmers Union, Mr Taylor-Freeme has represented the interests of hundreds of thousands of Southern African farmers on international agricultural organisations and he addressed the European Parliament last summer.

But he faced his greatest challenge yet when his property at Romsey, one of Zimbabwe's last productive farms, was invaded by allies of President Mugabe last week despite half the country teetering on the brink of starvation.

Romsey has the only productive fields for miles around in the once-fertile Makonde South district, 90 miles north of Harare. Now it is under threat from a local strongman, Chief Nemakonde, a strong supporter of Mr Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party, whose land grab is being supported by local government officials. He has already taken over five formerly white-owned farms in the district, all of which are derelict after his efforts at planting failed.

Mr Taylor-Freeme, 43, tried to continue his work after the demands started. But on Thursday evening, when he was planting a new crop of maize for the summer season, police arrived at the farm to enforce the wishes of Chief Nemakonde that all work be stopped. With five million people in Zimbabwe currently in need of United Nations food aid, even one of the police force admitted to The Sunday Telegraph that he felt the effort was "mad".

Before he forced his way on to Mr Taylor-Freeme's land last week, Chief Nemakonde, who is in his late 60s and has several wives and scores of children, sent men to torch a field of winter wheat stalks. meaning there will be no hay for cattle.
Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of Africa -- a food exporter. Mugabe is a Marxist thug and needs to be removed from office.
Posted by DaveH at 12:29 PM | Comments (1)

Talk about irony

From Maggie's Farm who got it from Red State:
instant-tax.jpg
Click for full-size...
What happens in Vegas, well, sometimes doesn't stay in Vegas. This is a genuine photo of an Obama campaign office in Las Vegas. I couldn't have planned this shot better myself, and I'm a guy who knows his way around photoshopping for fun and vengeance.
Posted by DaveH at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)

Just wonderful: "I’ll make energy prices “skyrocket”

Why is it that the mainstream media is giving this guy such a free pass? From Ed Morrissey at HotAir:
Obama: I’ll make energy prices “skyrocket”
In another clip from the same January 2008 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle in which Barack Obama promised to bankrupt anyone foolish enough to build coal-burning power plants, he also made an interesting admission about his entire energy plan. Obama told the editors that his policies would make energy prices “skyrocket” as the energy industry passed along the exorbitant costs of his cap-and-trade policy:
Ed's post has a transcript of the Obama interview and offers this observation:
Energy prices skyrocketing will leave the economy in tatters, as we saw earlier this year. While no one doubts the need to start transitioning to better sources of energy, the manner in which that gets done means the difference of whether it gets done at all. A stagnant or receding economy does not produce scientific breakthroughs, especially when government both increases taxes and imposes steep cost burdens on energy. That cuts into both manufacturing and R&D, because as profits fall, fewer dollars go into research — which means that all of these wonderful developments would get delayed, or go unrealized altogether.
I know I need to take a chill-pill as the USA will survive four years of this but sheesh! And I read this morning that Barney Frank wants to cut military spending by 25%
Posted by DaveH at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

An interesting trend - what swings, swings back

From the Seattle Times:
Consumers' taste for organic is tapering off
Whole Foods Market, a showcase for the natural and organic industries, is struggling through the toughest stretch in its history. And the organic industry is starting to show signs that a decadelong sales boom may be ending.

Once upon a time, sales of organic and natural products were growing in double digits most years. Enthusiastic grocers and venture capitalists prowled the halls of trade shows looking for the next big thing. Grass-fed beef? Organic baby food? Gluten-free energy bars?

But now, shaky consumer spending is dampening the mood. It turns out that when times are tough, consumers may be less interested in what type of feed a cow ate before it was chopped up for dinner or whether carrots were grown without chemical fertilizers, particularly if those products cost twice as much as the conventional stuff.

Whole Foods Market, a showcase for the natural and organic industries, is struggling through the toughest stretch in its history. And the organic industry is starting to show signs that a decadelong sales boom may be ending.

The sales volume of organic products, which had been growing at 20 percent a year in recent years, slowed to a much lower growth rate in the past few months, according to Nielsen, a market-research firm. For the four weeks that ended Oct. 4, the volume of organic products sold rose just 4 percent compared with the same period a year earlier.

"Organics continue to grow and outpace many categories," Nielsen concluded in an October report. "However, recent weeks are showing slower growths, possibly a start of an organics growth plateau."

If the slowdown continues, it could have broad implications beyond the organic industry, whose success spawned a growing number of products with values-based marketing claims, from fair-trade coffee to hormone-free beef to humanely raised chickens. Nearly all command a premium price.
There will always be shakeouts with any new product line and, quite honestly, a lot of the boutique "organic" food products taste like crap. I have had some carob brownies that I wouldn't even use to patch asphalt, let alone consider eating again. The companies who take their time and grow slowly will succeed. The companies who leverage themselves and take out all sorts of business loans to get bigger will collapse under their own debt. This has been true forever -- just because you have market growth now doesn't mean that you will have that forever.
Posted by DaveH at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)

Knew it had to happen - drinkable cigarettes

Never underestimate the power of marketing. From the UK Daily Mail:
Pour yourself a cigarette: The new 'Liquid Smoking' drink that promises an instant high for smokers trying to beat the ban
It's the sort of news that will make a smoker's eyes light up.

A company has created a fruit-flavoured herbal drink that claims to deliver the same fix as cigarettes.

Called Liquid Smoking, it promises an instant high followed by a 'euphoric calming feeling'.

It is targeted at those who can no longer light up inside public premises under the smoking ban but want to feed their cravings.

Anti-smoking groups fear it could promote addiction at a time when the Government is trying to discourage smoking.

The Dutch supplier, United Drinks and Beauty Corporation, hopes the drink will go on sale here in the week before Christmas.

It says it does not contain the highly addictive drug nicotine, but a potent mix of roots from South African plants, which has been used since the 14th century by bushmen.

The bushmen would chew the concoction of leaves to achieve a high, but the producers of Liquid Smoking distilled the mix into an oil for their drink.

United Drinks and Beauty Corporation hopes to follow Red Bull and have the product sold in pubs and bars as a mixer with spirits such as vodka.
Wonderful... Wonder what genius thought that one up.
Posted by DaveH at 9:51 AM | Comments (0)

November 1, 2008

HFCS - the reason behind its use

An interesting observation from Lee at Moorewatch:
A few weeks ago the lovely DonnaK posted a list of Mikey’s latest idiocies, as well as her critique of them. One particularly stuck out in my mind.
Proposal Three: Ban high fructose corn syrup. “And I will be the poster boy of that campaign.” Earlier in his lecture, Moore suggested that corn syrup’s historical dominance as a sweetener was a result of government collusion with large agribusinesses.
This is, simply put, one of the most retarded things he has ever said. The EXACT OPPOSITE is true. The prevalence of HFCS is a direct result of government interfering in the free market, and it was implement by the Grand Socialist himself FDR. Here’s what I wrote FOUR YEARS AGO on my personal blog regarding this issue.
There’s one aspect to this that this article neglected to mention. The next time you buy a Coke look at the ingredients. You won’t see sugar, you’ll see “high fructose corn syrup.” This is sugar syrup made from corn, and it’s used in almost everything. Why? Because the high tariffs on imported sugar inflate the price to such a high level that using corn syrup is far less expensive. The main group lobbying for these high sugar tariffs is a corporation called Archer Daniels Midland. Why should ADM care about sugar tariffs? Because, you guessed it, ADM are the makers of, among other things, high fructose corn syrup. There’s absolutely no reason that Coca Cola couldn’t be made, as it used to be, with sugar, except for the artificially high price caused by government interference in free trade.
To put it in simple terms, the government puts tariffs on imported sugar in order to keep the price artificially high. (I have heard estimates that sugar is five to ten times more expensive than it would be if subject to market forces.) The makers of HFCS only have to make their product a penny or two cheaper than sugar to make it an economically attractive alternative. Coca Cola alone must save millions, of not billions, of dollars by saving those few pennies with each batch of Coke they produce.

Why is business able to collude with government? If government were to get out of the sugar price support business, and let the market decide, you would have fewer products using HFCS because sugar would immediately drop in price. What Mikey is proposing with his ban on HFCS is treating the symptom, not the disease itself. If the government were not involved in sugar prices, then there would be no avenue for business to collude with them to keep the price of sugar high. Mike is therefore correct in stating that it is collusion between agribusiness and government, but he implies some kind of corporate conspiracy, when the simple solution is to just end all farm subsidies once and for all.
Another reason to thank Archer Daniels Midland -- nice job watching out for the consumer there guys. Oh, and the lobbying for the huge government subsidies on Ethanol Production -- sheer genius. Companies like ADM give business a bad name...
Posted by DaveH at 8:30 PM | Comments (0)

A classy move by a Seattle monthly

Used to live in Seattle and really liked The Stranger -- it's sort of an alt. monthly with an intelligent snarky attitude that covers interesting music and cultural events. A bit liberal for my tastes but hey, I support freedom of speech and they can say whoever they want. Today, they crossed a very big line. Hat tip to Seattle blogger Gotta Get Drunk First via Grouchy Old Cripple From Gotta Get Drunk First:
Message to The Stranger. Two can play this game Asshole!!
Drudge Report just linked your filth journalism all over the world.

First off, you're a bunch of punk mother fuckers. Secondly, you should ask yourself whether or not you would want some rag journal publishing your addresses like that. I assume you wouldn't, but its too late for that now.

Below are the home addresses and some phone numbers of The Stranger staff members.
What Brendan Kiley at The Stranger had done was to drive around, take photos of houses with Republican signs and publish these photos along with the address of the house The Stranger changed the above link to re-direct to The Drudge Report and it has redacted the addresses on its article. Fast work morons... The new article is here: Hell Houses: the Freakout
Posted by DaveH at 8:05 PM | Comments (0)

Some amazing flying!

Ran into this short YouTube clip over at The Other McCain:
That man needs a change of shorts but I would fly with him in a heartbeat.
Posted by DaveH at 7:08 PM | Comments (0)

It's not just the USA that is colder than usual - Tibet

From Watts Up With That comes this story of a snowfall in Tibet:
Tibet’s ‘worst snowstorm ever’, 7 killed
LHASA, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) — The death toll has risen to seven, and one person remains missing, as a result of the worst snowstorm on record in Tibet, local authorities said Thursday.

The seven people killed either frozen to death or were crushed by collapsing buildings. About 144,400 heads of livestock died in the storm, which also knocked out telecommunications and traffic in parts of Shannan prefecture.

In Lhunze County, 1,348 people stranded by damaged buildings or blocked roads had been rescued, the county government said. Rescue operation for the remaining 289 trapped was still underway.

The worst-hit county had 36 consecutive hours of snowfall from Sunday, with an average snow coverage of 1.5 meters. Four people died and one remained missing in the snowstorm.
1.5 meters in 36 hours - holy crap! Xinhua News Agency has a photo gallery here. Here is one of them:
xinhua_tibet_snow.jpg
A local man transfers the sheep after the worst snowstorm
on record in Lhunze county in southwest China's
Tibet Autonomous Region, Oct. 31, 2008. (Xinhua/Jia Lijun)
Posted by DaveH at 6:56 PM | Comments (0)

DUCK! - a bit of space debris for your enjoyment

Back in July of 2007, the International Space Station got rid of an ammonia reservoir that was no longer needed. They tossed the refrigerator-sized device over the side by hand. The 1,400 pound device is scheduled to slam into the Earths surface sometime soon. When? Early this Monday morning (3:46 UTC ± 15 hours) Where? ??? (the ticks on the map indicate five minute intervals)
Posted by DaveH at 6:37 PM | Comments (0)

Defining middle class

The Obama campaign has said that there will be tax cuts for people who make under $250,000, then it was $200,000. Now (from FOX News):
How Low Can It Go? Richardson Pegs Middle Class as Those Making Under $120,000
For the second time in a week, a prominent Democrat has downgraded Barack Obama's definition of the middle class -- leading Republicans to question whether he'll stick to his promise not to raise taxes on anyone making under $250,000.

The latest hiccup in the campaign message came Friday morning on KOA-AM, when New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson pegged the middle class as those making $120,000 and under.

Click here to listen to Richardson talk about Obama's tax plan.
"What Obama wants to do is he is basically looking at $120,000 and under among those that are in the middle class, and there is a tax cut for those," Richardson said in the interview, according to a clip posted on YouTube.
Reminds me of this earlier post:
What did the majority of 1976 get in return for its votes? Carter’s campaign vow to avoid increasing payroll taxes went out the window: He and Congress raised Social Security taxes through the roof. They also slapped large new taxes on oil and gas. Meanwhile, Carter canceled his plan for a tax refund to Americans earning under $30,000. Casting aside more campaign pledges, Carter and Congress increased annual federal spending from $403 billion to $579 billion and grew the national debt from $709 billion to $914 billion. Tens of billions of dollars went to new jobs programs, urban aid, and mushrooming entitlements, and Carter’s promise to stop Democratic pork-barrel spending was abandoned.

Carter and the Democratic Congress generated 18 percent inflation and economic stagnation at the same time. Unemployment rose. Americans came to regret the votes they had cast — Carter’s approval rating sank to 21 percent in 1980, the lowest in the history of polling.

Carter also threw out his professed hawkishness on foreign policy. Declaring America liberated from its “inordinate fear of Communism,” he sought better relations with the Communists in the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and Vietnam. He was much less nice to America’s allies, withdrawing support from those who did not accept his self-righteous demands for human-rights reforms. Friendly regimes in Nicaragua and Iran fell to hostile tyrants.

If Obama abandons his promises the way Carter did, his presidency will be even more dangerous. Carter at least had longstanding tendencies toward fiscal restraint, and he, together with a large block of conservative Democrats in Congress, prevented the most left-wing elements of Congress from taxing and spending even more. Obama, on the other hand, has himself been part of the most left-wing element in the U.S. Senate, and conservatives do not have a significant presence on the Democratic side of the Reid-Pelosi Congress. Also, Obama has no history of breaking with his party before this year.
Well, the good news is that Carter only lasted four years -- the USA is resilient. Someone like Fred Thompson will come along in 2012 and meanwhile, we can vote the bastards out of Congress and the Senate.
Posted by DaveH at 4:12 PM | Comments (0)

Daylight Savings time tonight

Turns out that there is a curious medical statistic associated with Spring Ahead/Fall Behind. From the LA Times:
End of daylight saving time is good for the heart
Fall back? Researchers say there's a 5% drop in heart attack deaths after clocks are reset to standard time. But spring forward? That's bad for the pumper.

Turning your clock back one hour for the end of daylight saving time could do your own ticker some good.

Researchers have found a 5% drop in heart attack deaths and hospitalizations the day after clocks are reset each year to standard time, according to a study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Unfortunately, the Swedish researchers also found that the onset of daylight saving time in the spring appears to increase the risk of heart attacks.

Physicians can now add daylight saving time to the list of seemingly mundane events that have an effect on the heart, said Dr. Ralph Brindis, a vice president of the American College of Cardiology who practices in Oakland. The risk also rises on holidays and anniversaries, though no one knows why, he said.

"This study is fascinating," Brindis said.

The culprit is probably sleep. Scientists have known that sleep deprivation is bad for the heart -- the body responds by boosting blood pressure, heart rate and the tendency to form dangerous clots -- but they didn't realize a single hour could have a measurable effect.
Curious!
Posted by DaveH at 4:04 PM | Comments (0)

People unclear on the concept - iPhone demographics

Consider this, you are living below the national poverty line and want a cell phone. What do you get? An iPhone - from Slashdot:
Low-Income Users Latch On To iPhone
The iPhone crowd is still dominated by affluent males between the ages of 18 and 35, but in a series of surveys ending in August, ComScore found that iPhone purchases grew fastest among people with annual household incomes between $25,000 and $50,000. The growth rate in this group was 48 percent, compared with just 16 percent among people with incomes above $100,000. And the down economy isn't going to turn this trend around, says ComScore Mobile analyst Jen Wu. 'I don't see there's going to be much of a slowdown, just because wireless devices are so much more of a necessity than they used to be,' Wu said.
Let's see now -- $200 for a phone and $70+ per month for a telephone? I can get pre-paid phones for $40 at wally-world and add minutes as needed. And these people call themselves poor?
Posted by DaveH at 3:56 PM | Comments (0)