June 30, 2012

Another one bites the dust

And they just keep failing — from the MIT Technology Review:

Abound Solar: Another Solar Casualty
In a decision that will surprise few energy observers, Abound Solar, a Loveland, Colorado-based maker of thin-film cadmium telluride solar modules has announced it will file for bankruptcy protection and suspend its operation. It’s the latest failure of an energy company that had received funding under the Department of Energy’s loan program.

Although Abound had received a $400 million DOE loan guarantee for building solar-panel manufacturing in Colorado, the company says it has used only $70 million of the funding and has not used any DOE funds since August 2011. The company also had $300 million in private investments. Earlier this year, Abound has stopped manufacturing its solar modules and it says it had been unsuccessfully looking for a buyer over the last several months.

There is no green energy. Chasing after this unicorn is a financial rathole.
Everyone who has tried this has had an epic fail. Doing it faster and more-erer (whatever) will only accelerate and amplify the eventual epic fail.
Forget it — this is a fantasy. It simply does not exist.

What people need to be pursuing:

Thorium Nuclear technology — Intrinsically safe and only 300 year confinement of waste.
Fusion — Intrinsically safe, no waste.

When these two are up and running, the oil business will be there to supply feedstocks to the plastics and pharma industries and precious little else (aviation, marine and long-haul transportation).

Posted by DaveH at 09:54 PM | Comments (0)

Celebrating our Nations Independence

Trust Obama to be tone-deaf on this one.
Instead of giving a speech from Arlington National Cemetery or having a beer and hot dog on the White House lawn, he is doing something else.
From Breitbart:

Obama Campaign Celebrates Independence Day … with Fundraiser in Paris
Apparently tiring of US soil as a source of campaign dollars, the Obama campaign is headed overseas — with its celebrity friends in tow. The European Obama campaign starts next week in Paris on July 4 with a reception organized by various fundraising heavy-hitters. Independence Day fundraisers in Paris – now that’s a flag-waving campaign.

The Obama campaign will host events in Geneva, Switzerland in August as part of their “European outreach effort.” George Clooney will headline a fundraiser there, with 150 tickets going for $20,000 per piece. There’s even more to the bargain: if you go as a couple, the second ticket is half-off!

With the Obama campaign’s increasingly desperate campaign emails begging for cash from the American people, perhaps the campaign thinks they’ll find more fertile soil outside the country. Especially in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling that upholds Obama’s European-style healthcare plan, Obama’s hoping to cash in on like-minded folks abroad. Americans don’t believe that Obamacare is a triumph; they see it as a massive net negative, sucking our coffers dry and handing us long-term rationing in return. Europeans, however, know nothing else. The entitlements have already kicked in. What better place to ask for campaign cash?

That also may be the only place Obama can still find cheering throngs.

Ya' know — he could do a lot of good by just staying over there. I am sure the French would welcome a kindred spirit with open arms. He could be the next President of France after Mr. Hollande's term of five years (and maybe a second term before term limits kicks in). Shuddering to think of what twenty years of unbridled socialism would do to that once great nation…

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

Sluggo

Just spent the last 20 minutes walking through the garden with a two-pound box of Kosher salt. With the incredibly damp spring, the slug population has exploded.

I am all about the environment but my environment happens to include lettuce and maters and chard and stuff like that. Worked hard to rehabilitate the garden and not letting stuff get chewed up.

About 50 slugs went to meet their maker tonight. More tomorrow morning.

Our community is having a farmer's market tomorrow so it will be fun to see who shows up…

Posted by DaveH at 09:12 PM | Comments (0)

Stupid fun!

I have mentioned my new Zombie Killah — it is a Saiga Semi-automatic 12 Gage shotgun. I have a couple ten-round banana clips and a 20-round drum like the one shown in this video.

The Saiga is based on Dr. Mikhail Kalashnikov's popular AK-47

This puppy is a custom build with an eight-inch barrel — mine is the standard 14”

A big tip of the hat to Oleg Volk for the link.
The shooter is one of the people from this blog: Walls of the City

Posted by DaveH at 05:21 PM | Comments (0)

Fallout from the Leap Second

From ServerFault:

Anyone else experiencing high rates of linux server crashes today?
Just today, Sat June 30th - starting soon after the start of the day GMT. We've had a handful of blades in different datacentres as managed by different teams all go dark - not responding to pings, screen blank.

They're all running Debian Squeeze - with everything from stock kernel to custom 3.2.21 builds. Most are Dell M610 blades, but I've also just lost a Dell R510 and other departments have lost machines from other vendors too. There was also an older IBM x3550 which crashed and which I thought might be unrelated, but now I'm wondering.

The problem was a library that wasn't able to handle the Leap Second — they had to remove it before the ssystems would load again:

THE WORKAROUND
Ok people, here's how I worked around it.
1.disabled ntp: /etc/init.d/ntp stop
2.created http://linux.brong.fastmail.fm/2012-06-30/fixtime.pl (code stolen from Marco, see blog posts in comments)
3.ran fixtime.pl without an argument to see that there was a leap second set
4.ran fixtime.pl with an argument to remove the leap second

Oopsie…

Posted by DaveH at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

June 29, 2012

A spell... On you...

Jimmy Slonina lip-syncing to a Screamin' Jay Hawkins classic:

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

Nothing tonight

Working on some stuff — radio and photography.

We have a leap second happening tomorrow around this time. We keep such accurate time that as the spinning of the Earth slows down, we have to adjust our clocks to compensate.

More from FOX News:

Earth adds leap second Saturday night
Saturday night will stretch longer by a second. A leap second.

International timekeepers are adding a second to the clock at midnight universal time Saturday, June 30, going into July 1. That's 8 p.m. EDT Saturday. Universal time will be 11:59:59 and then the unusual reading of 11:59:60 before it hits midnight.

A combination of factors, including Earth slowing down a bit from the tidal pull of the moon, and an atomic clock that's a hair too fast, means that periodically timekeepers have to synchronize the official atomic clocks, said Daniel Gambis, head of the Earth Orientation Service in Paris that coordinates leap seconds.

The time it takes the Earth to rotate on its axis — the definition of a day — is now about two milliseconds longer than it was 100 years ago, said Geoff Chester, spokesman at the U.S. Naval Observatory, keeper of the official U.S. atomic clocks. That's each day, so it adds up to nearly three-quarters of a second a year.

Timekeepers add that leap second every now and then to keep the sun at its highest at noon, at least during standard time. This is the first leap second since January 2009 and the 25th overall. Gambis said the next one probably won't be needed until 2015 or 2016.

More at Wikipedia Leap Second:

A leap second is a one-second adjustment that is occasionally applied to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) in order to keep its time of day close to the mean solar time. The next leap second will be inserted on June 30 2012 at 23:59:60 UTC.

The UTC time standard, which is widely used for international timekeeping and as the reference for civil time in most countries, uses the international system (SI) definition of the second, based on atomic clocks. Like most time standards, UTC defines a grouping of seconds into minutes, hours, days, months, and years. However, the duration of one mean solar day is slightly longer than 24 hours (86400 SI seconds). Therefore, if the UTC day were defined as precisely 86400 SI seconds, the UTC time-of-day would slowly drift apart from that of solar-based standards, such as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and its successor UT1. The purpose of a leap seconds is to compensate for this drift, by scheduling days with 86401 or 86399 SI seconds.

Because the Earth's rotation speed varies in response to climatic and geological events, UTC leap seconds are irregularly spaced and unpredictable. Insertion of each UTC leap second is usually decided about six months in advance by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS), when needed to ensure that the difference between the UTC and UT1 readings will never exceed 0.9 second. Between their adoption in 1972 and June 2012, 25 leap seconds have been scheduled, all positive.

Fun stuff

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

June 28, 2012

Like Watergate with dead bodies

Best sound-bite I have heard today regarding the Criminal Contempt vote (255-67) against Attorney General Eric Holder (first Cabinet member to be so charged).

More info at The Washington Times:

House holds Holder in contempt over ‘Fast and Furious’ documents
The House on Thursday cited Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. for contempt of Congress in a historic vote weighted with political significance — though it does little to break the stalemate over his decision to withhold documents regarding the Justice Department’s actions in a botched gunwalking operation.

The House voted 255-67 to hold Mr. Holder in criminal contempt in a vote that amounted to a political spanking for the attorney general and President Obama, underscored by the 17 Democrats who joined Republicans.

And of course, the circus grandstanders - - - grandstanded:

Most Democrats walked out of the vote in a protest led by the Congressional Black Caucus.

Holder was given chance after chance after chance to release the requested documents.
Why is he falling on his sword — something in the documents maybe??? Hmmm???

Posted by DaveH at 09:28 PM | Comments (0)

Not that much posting tonight

Just got back from town — was doing some work at my folks old condo and running some errands.

Still very bummed about the SCOTUS decision but the good news is that Mitt Romney's campaign has received $3.2 Million dollars today in unsolicited contributions. Today only.

From New York Magazine (and it must gall them to write this):

Romney Uses Anti-Obamacare Sentiment to Spark Fund-raising Spike
In the less than twelve hours after the Supreme Court delivered its landmark ruling Thursday upholding President Obama's Affordable Care Act, the Romney campaign raised $3.2 million and counting in donations through its website, according to Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. Buzzfeed reports that the donations poured in from more than 30,000 individual donors. Compare that with 27,661 individual donations Romney's campaign received during the entire month of May.

This is a hugely unpopular law and will influence the upcoming election.

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

Well Crap - SCOTUS folds

From the Associated Press:

High court upholds key part of Obama health law
The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the vast majority of President Barack Obama's historic health care overhaul, including the hotly debated core requirement that virtually all Americans have health insurance.

The 5-4 decision means the huge overhaul, still taking effect, will proceed and pick up momentum over the next several years, affecting the way that countless Americans receive and pay for their personal medical care.

The ruling hands Obama a campaign-season victory in rejecting arguments that Congress went too far in approving the plan. However, Republicans quickly indicated they will try to use the decision to rally their supporters against what they call “Obamacare.”

I do agree that the current system of healthcare needed some overhaul, this was not the way to do it.

It will be interesting to see what Romney will do once he gets in office…

Posted by DaveH at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)

Quite the leap

From Japan Times:

Sky Tree to offer world's highest bungee jump
Tokyo's newest and biggest visitor attraction, the 634-meter-high Tokyo Sky Tree in Sumida Ward, will open to the public on May 22. And if 11th-hour contract negotiations bear fruit, visitors to the Sky Tree may soon have the opportunity to plummet 430 meters (over 1,400 feet) toward terra firma, in what is claimed to be the world's highest commercial bungee jump.

More:

The jump was discovered after being inadvertently photographed by The Japan Times' sharp-eyed senior cameraman, Yoshiaki Miura, who was in the neighborhood shooting night exposures of the new tower.

“I didn't notice anything at all until I uploaded the pictures into my computer the next day,” Miura said with a grin. “That's when I saw this grainy line across the computer monitor and I thought, 'Oh, damn — something must have streaked my lens filter.' I was going to delete the photos but then I zoomed in and scrolled all the way to the bottom, which is when I realized I'd captured a bungee jumper in what looks like a Spider-Man costume.”

When this columnist confronted the Sky Tree front office with Miura's photographic evidence, the PR staff at first refused to confirm or deny this claim, stating the image on film showed one of the nighttime cleaning crew who had fallen off a gondola and was saved by his safety harness.

Two days later, however, the tower's operator phoned and provided off-the-record details of its negotiations with a concessionaire.

Because the project is still tentative, it has been kept under heavy wraps. To maintain secrecy while the negotiations are underway, test jumps have been conducted in the small hours of the morning, starting in January.

“The test jumps were made after midnight on nights when there was no full moon,” says Nobinaga Tobishima, acting manager of Botan Ltd.'s New Business Development Group. “The male and female test jumpers wore all-black, nonreflective clothing resembling ninja costumes. We suspected it might have been possible to catch a glimpse of them, but only under ideal conditions.”

Heh — a bit more:

The operator also agreed to impose rigid safety requirements. Jumpers will be limited to healthy persons who have passed an on-the-spot EKG (electrocardiogram), are aged between 18 and 45, and have a body weight of at least 40 kg. New-style bungee cables composed of special carbon fiber materials, developed by Japan's aerospace industry, will be used, and jumpers will be fitted with special safety gear, including a newly designed harness incorporating what is claimed to be the world's first gravity-activated airbag. In order to discourage late-night revelers from taking the plunge, would-be jumpers will also be required to pass a breathalyzer test to indicate Blood/Breath Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is below 0.06 percent.

Jumpers will receive a commemorative certificate with their name inscribed and a T-shirt emblazoned with “Death-defying 430-meter dive. I watered the Tokyo Sky Tree.”

The price for being allowed to perform the stunt has yet to be determined, but will reportedly include an injury and life-insurance premium. Jumpers will also be required to sign a form waiving liability beyond the amount insured.

That would be quite the ride. 9.3 seconds of freefall…

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

dONT FORGET - iNTERNATIONAL cAPS lOCK dAY

mORE HERE: iNTERNATIONAL cAPS lOCK dAY

Posted by DaveH at 08:08 AM | Comments (0)

Fun times in North Korea

From the UK Telegraph:

North Korea facing worst drought in 100 years
The state-run KCNA news agency said temperatures have been as much as eight degrees higher than usual for May and June and, combined with historically low levels of precipitation, have left rice paddies dried and cracked.

The maize crop stands a mere 15 inches tall in many places in North and South Hwanghae provinces, instead of the 60 inches that it should be by now, farmers said.

Nearly 50,000 acres in western parts of the country - known as the breadbasket of North Korea - have been affected by the drought, which will worsen an already acute food shortage. In September, the United Nations World Food Programme warned that 3.5 million people were at risk of malnutrition and starvation in North Korea, which has a total population of 24 million.

And of course, in this workers paradise:

No such shortages are evident in Pyongyang, however, where the elite of the regime is moving into gleaming new multi-storey apartments, complete with schools, medical facilities, restaurants and a People's Theatre, all enclosed within a lush green park.

The Changjon Street complex was opened last week to a cacophony of cheering and speeches. It is part of North Korea's wider ambitions to be recognised as a “strong and prosperous” nation in the 100th anniversary year of the birth of its founder, Kim Il-sung, and simultaneously boost the standing of his grandson and heir to the regime, Kim Jong-un.

According to KCNA, the entire complex was completed in 12 months by “builders, shock troops and helpers who performed shining labour feats.”

“Changjon Street represents the will of the dear respected Kim Jong-un to build a thriving nation, as well as the determination of the people of the DPRK to bring about a rosier future,” Kim Song-dok, vice-chairman of the Pyongyang City People's Committee, told KCNA.

Socialism — an idea so good it has to be mandatory.

Posted by DaveH at 07:46 AM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2012

Cool news regarding the Federal Reserve

From The Washington Times:

‘Audit the Fed’ bill advances in House
The House oversight committee voted Wednesday to demand a broad audit of the Federal Reserve System by congressional investigators — a major move that lawmakers said is designed to bring accountability to the murky workings of the independent central bank.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul, the Texas Republican who turned the push for an audit into a powerful presidential campaign slogan and whose criticism of the Fed’s monetary policy drew hundreds of thousands of voters into the political process.

It passed by voice vote, signaling the growing sense among lawmakers that the time has come for a full review.

The Fed has its uses but it has severely overstepped its role and powers. Needs to have a little sunlight shown in and have its wings clipped a bit.

I do not agree with Senator Paul on a lot of issues but this is really important.

Readers should check out The Money Masters and The Secret of Oz

More here: Wiki for Money Masters. Secret of Oz on sale at Amazon note: 140 reviews of which 134 are full five star.

Posted by DaveH at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

Close call

Lulu woke me at 7:00AM asking what the buzzer on the freezer was and why it was making a noise. This is the freezer holding a significant portion of my half-cow. Have two other units running so quickly shuffled the meat around. Glad it happened today and not in two weeks when we head out to the conference.

Gorgeous day so working in the garden and getting a dump-run ready.

Posted by DaveH at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)

Our entitled class

From the New Hampshire Sentinel Source:

Clerk loses job over stand
Jackie R. Whiton of Antrim had been a six-year employee at the Big Apple convenience store in Peterborough until a single transaction sent her job up in smoke.

The store clerk was fired after she refused to take a customer’s Electronic Balance Transfer card to pay for cigarettes.

Whiton said a young man came in to the store to buy two packs or cigarettes on May 29. When she asked him for his ID, he handed her his EBT card.

EBT cards are used for both food and cash assistance programs. There are two types of cards: one can only be used for food. The other can be spent on anything and used just like a debit card.

Whiton said she did not think EBT cards could be used to purchase cigarettes and refused to sell to him. The two “had a little go-around” as the line got longer behind him, said Whiton.

“I made the statement, ‘do you think myself, that lady and that gentlemen should pay for your cigarettes?’ and he responded ‘yes,’ ” Whiton said.

The “gentleman” in question is part of the $80 Billion dollar/year problem — we taxpayers are so subsidizing his life that he has no impetus to get off his ass and find a job. That $80 Billion is just the food stamp program — this doesn't begin to touch all the housing and benefits and cash payments that our government is handing over to these mokes. I do not begrudge having a safety-net out there for people who fall on hard times but it needs to be short-term with drug testing and job training playing a significant role.

Posted by DaveH at 02:19 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2012

Chicago

From the Investors Business Daily:

Decline In Obama's Chicago Clue To His Second Term
Another weekend of violence in the president's hometown, now run by his former chief of staff. If you want to see the fruits of a presidential second term, look at the decline of his city.

President Obama and Rahm Emanuel, current mayor and former White House chief of staff, brought the “Chicago Way” to Washington in more ways than one. Not only did they bring a style of bare-knuckled backroom politics of intimidation and cronyism, they brought a statist philosophy of government knows best that has left America's Second City a second-rate city with nowhere to go but down.

Last weekend was all too typical in Chicago these days, with four dead and 29 wounded throughout a city that's been home to one of the nation's toughest gun laws. Chicago has become the murder capital of America with a 50% increase in violence for the past year.

Obama recently paid his hometown, where he maintains a residence, a visit. As Wayne Allyn Root, writing on FoxNews.com, noted, 35 were injured and seven killed in gun battles with the president home that weekend. Included in that violent mess was a 16-year-old girl. Three of the murder victims were killed in one hour on Sunday morning. It was the third weekend in a row with gunshot murders and injuries in the double digits.

More:

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas recently disclosed a staggering $108 billion debt tab across various governing bodies in the county that translates to $63,525 per Chicago household. Unfunded pension liabilities make up nearly a quarter of that. Not all the debt is Chicago's, a city with the nation's highest sales tax, but enough of it is.

Chicago lost 200,000 people from 2000 to 2009. The only one of the nation's 15 largest cities to lose people. Of all cities, it fell between Detroit, reigning champion of progressive urban decay, and hurricane ravaged New Orleans, in the number of people fleeing to greener pastures.

It closes with the following 'graphs:

While Obama's critics delve into his Kenyan ancestry, and his defenders delve into likely opponent Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital and as governor of Massachusetts, pundits and voters would be wise to look at Obama's Chicago for clues to his past and our future.

Chicago was the political incubator for a community organizer who would become president. It is where President Obama sat in the pews on Sunday listening to the liberation theology of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright for two decades. Its liberal academia provided an educational haven for the likes of the former bomb-wielding terrorist Weatherman William Ayers, who was host to Obama's first fund-raiser.

Now the wheels are wobbly, and Chicago has become one of those overtaxed and overregulated places where growth has stalled. Chicago doesn't work so well anymore, having succumbed to the consequences of decades of urban liberalism, and neither does the country to whom it gave Rahm Emanuel, White House adviser David Axelrod and President Obama.

Forget Kenya and look at Obama's Chicago to find out what its favorite son is likely to produce unrestrained by any further electoral battles.

Excellent editorial. Visited Chicago a few times. Gorgeous city, great museums. Lousy politics.

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

About those green jobs?

From Hans Bader writing at The Examiner:

Obama, not Romney, is the Outsourcer-in-Chief
Despite the fact that Obama's own policies have wiped out countless jobs and resulted in other jobs moving to foreign countries, the Obama campaign today accused Mitt Romney of being the “Outsourcer-in-Chief.” That was deeply ironic, because the Obama Administration has spent billions of tax dollars subsidizing the outsourcing of American jobs to foreign countries. Obama, not Romney, is the Outsourcer-in-Chief.

79 percent” of all green-jobs spending in Obama’s $800 billion stimulus package went to foreign companies, with the largest payment going to a bankrupt Australian company. For example, the Obama Administration spent $1.6 billion on Chinese and other foreign wind power. The practical effect of those subsidies was to outsource American jobs. ABC News reported on the subsidies for Chinese wind turbines contained in the stimulus package:
Despite all the talk of green jobs, the overwhelming majority of stimulus money spent on wind power has gone to foreign companies, according to a new report by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at the American University’s School of Communication in Washington, D.C.

Nearly $2 billion . . . has been spent on wind power. . .But the study found that nearly 80 percent of that money has gone to foreign manufacturers of wind turbines.

“Most of the jobs are going overseas,” said Russ Choma at the Investigative Reporting Workshop. He analyzed which foreign firms had accepted the most stimulus money. “According to our estimates, about 6,000 jobs have been created overseas, and maybe a couple hundred have been created in the U.S.” Even with the infusion of so much stimulus money, a recent report by American Wind Energy Association showed a drop in U.S. wind manufacturing jobs last year.
The stimulus package showered money on left-wing community organizers and liberal lobbying groups.

The article goes on and then talks about Obama's relationship with General Electric:

The CEO of General Electric, which received government “green jobs” money, is a close Obama adviser. GE has been busy outsourcing American jobs, eliminating a fifth of its U.S. workforce since 2002. GE made $14.2 billion in profits in 2010, but paid no taxes at all, even though America’s corporate tax rates are among the highest in the world. Indeed, GE actually received a tax benefit of $3.2 billion from the government in 2010, and received a preferential bailout at taxpayer expense.

A bit more:

Democratic businessman Steve Wynn called Obama “the greatest wet blanket to business and progress and job creation in my lifetime,” saying that “the business community in this country is frightened to death of the weird political philosophy of the President of the United States. And until he’s gone, everybody’s going to be sitting on their thumbs.”

Time to move on…

Posted by DaveH at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

An interesting signal for the Democratic Party

From Bloomberg:

Democrats Cancel Speedway Event at Charlotte Convention
Democrats canceled a political convention kick-off event at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and will move the activities to Charlotte’s main business district, the convention’s host committee announced.

“While we regret having to move CarolinaFest away from our great partners at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the City of Concord, we are thrilled with the opportunity that comes with hosting this event in Uptown Charlotte,” said Dan Murrey, the executive director of the Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host Committee.

The move comes as party planners are grappling with a fundraising deficit of roughly $27 million, according to two people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity to discuss internal party politics. With a party ban on direct contributions from corporations, the host committee has raised less than $10 million, well short of its $36.6 million goal, said one of the people.

Murrey said that logistics, not costs, were behind the decision to cancel the Speedway event.

Hmmmm — logistics, not costs Whatever.
The only reason I would love to have had them go forward with the event would be to count the number of empty seats. I am sure they would have clustered people together and only released photos that showed the stadium “filled to capacity” but there would be enough unofficial photographers out there that the real story would become evident.

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

Life in Californistan

How's that big government spending working out? From Reuters:

Stockton, Calif. to take up bankruptcy budget plan
Stockton, California was poised on Tuesday to take a major step toward becoming the largest U.S. city ever to file for bankruptcy after talks with its creditors on Monday at midnight.

Negotiations aimed at averting bankruptcy may press on informally, the city's spokeswoman said, adding that city officials would next discuss any moves toward bankruptcy at the city council meeting on Tuesday evening.

The council's main order of business will be taking up and voting on a proposed budget to guide Stockton during bankruptcy, an option city officials have been considering since February.

Actually, a very good move on their part as this will allow them to renegotiate contracts with the Unions.

More:

About $7 million in savings would come from cutting retiree health care benefits for one year and then phasing them out. Stockton officials have said the benefits are a crushing expense due to their fast rise and projected liability of $417 million.

Yeah — they keep voting themselves more bennies without stoping to think of how they are going to be funded. Self-centered idiots…

Posted by DaveH at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

A good move from the House

From The Washington Free Beacon:

Walsh: Cut Aid to Egypt
Rep. Joe Walsh (R., Ill.) is calling for the U.S. to ax foreign aid to Egypt in light of a recent election that put in power a new Muslim Brotherhood-backed president who said that he is reassessing the country’s peace treaty with Israel and considering increasing ties to Iran.

“The sole purpose for providing Egypt with over $2 billion dollars a year in U.S taxpayer dollars was to maintain the peace treaty with Israel and promote stability in the region,” Walsh said in a statement provided to the Free Beacon. “With the Muslim brotherhood now calling on closer ties to Iran and a redo of the peace treaty with Israel, I see no reason to send one more dollar of U.S aid to Egypt. Every dollar wasted propping up this new government is a dollar wasted that should be going to paying down our debt or providing tax relief to struggling American families.”

I like it! Congressman Allen West had this to say on his Facebook page:

The Muslim B'Hood takeover in Egypt shows Arab Spring is radical Islamic nightmare.
A year ago there were those of us who warned the Obama Administration of a Muslim Brotherhood takeover in Egypt. We were castigated as alarmists and loose cannons. Today our predictions have come to reality and the ominous specter reminding us of the Iranian revolution is evident. The Muslim Brotherhood claimed they would not run a presidential candidate. Clearly the Arab Spring is nothing more than a radical Islamic nightmare. Now we need to unequivocally reiterate our support to the Coptic Christians and Israel. What an incredible foreign policy faux pas by the second coming of President Jimmy Carter, the Obama Administration. I call upon President Barack Obama to cut off American foreign aid to Egypt, denounce the results of this election, repudiate the Muslim Brotherhood, and all radical Islamist political entities.

There is no reason to be sending them $2B/year with no quid pro quo on their part.

Congressman West's comments about Jimmy Carter ring true.
From Yahoo/ABC News:

Jimmy Carter Accuses U.S. of 'Widespread Abuse of Human Rights'
A former U.S. president is accusing the current president of sanctioning the “widespread abuse of human rights” by authorizing drone strikes to kill suspected terrorists.

Jimmy Carter, America's 39th president, denounced the Obama administration for “clearly violating” 10 of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, writing in a New York Times op-ed on Monday that the “United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights.”

This “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” was issued by the United Nations and is widely ignored by almost everyone.

We are at war and the enemy has brought asymmetrical warfare to our shores. We are responding in kind. Carter needs to realize this. It is this sort of imbecilic thinking that made him a one-term president.

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

Another reason why not to fly

From Indianapolis, Indiana station RTV6:

Confrontation With TSA Agent Leaves Grandpa's Ashes On Floor
A man's attempt to bring the ashes of his grandfather home to Indianapolis ended with an angry scene in a Florida airport, with the ashes spilled on the terminal floor.

John Gross, a resident of Indianapolis' south side, was leaving Florida with the remains of his grandfather — Mario Mark Marcaletti, a Sicilian immigrant who worked for the Penn Central Railroad in central Indiana — in a tightly sealed jar marked “Human Remains.”

Gross said he didn't think he'd have a problem, until he ran into a TSA agent at the Orlando airport.

“They opened up my bag, and I told them, 'Please, be careful. These are my grandpa's ashes,'” Gross told RTV6's Norman Cox. “She picked up the jar. She opened it up.

“I was told later on that she had no right to even open it, that they could have used other devices, like an X-ray machine. So she opened it up. She used her finger and was sifting through it. And then she accidentally spilled it.”

Gross says about a quarter to a third of the contents spilled on the floor, leaving him frantically trying to gather up as much as he could while anxious passengers waited behind him.

“She didn't apologize. She started laughing. I was on my hands and knees picking up bone fragments. I couldn't pick up all, everything that was lost. I mean, there was a long line behind me.”

TSA rules say a crematory container in carry-on baggage must pass through the X-ray machine at the security checkpoint.

But the agency's own website says human remains are to be opened under, “no circumstances.”

And then of course, there is House Bill H.R. 3140 — the Mass Transit Intelligence Prioritization Act
From Federal News Radio:

House bill extends TSA intel sharing to mass transit
The Transportation Security Administration already shares intelligence it collects with airports. Now a House bill would expand TSA's intel sharing to local mass transit systems as well.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), the bill's sponsor, said the legislation is a “common sense approach” to fighting terrorism. The House passed the bill May 30 and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is now considering the bill.

More — quoting Speier:

“We have put in place through TSA a very elaborate system [in airports]. We all go through those metal detectors and those secondary searches. And we've put a lot of focus on the airlines for good reason. But we have neglected the mass transit components, generally speaking,” she said.

Speier said 2 million people fly each day, compared with more than 5 million who ride the subway each day in New York City alone. She pointed out that the most recent terrorist attacks have been on mass transit. Also, when U.S. Special Forces raided Osama Bin Laden's compound last year, intelligence gathered revealed the next attack was intended for mass transit.

Seriously? Hell No! These people are already too powerful — need to have their wings clipped.
Richard Reid tried to blow up an airplane with a bomb in his shoe in 2001 and we are still having to take our shoes off eleven years later. (Reid's personal life is quite the story — read the above link. Some people should just be shot at birth.)

The TSA is a perfect example of how not to run a security agency.

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

June 25, 2012

Stiff and tired

The weather was great — coolish/overcast but we dug out three beds and planted a bunch of stuff. As I said in an earlier post, some nurseries are offering large (and root-bound) starts at bargain prices. Since my growing season is a month later than Bellingham's, I can take advantage of these sales and jump-start my garden.

Lulu and I put in a good seven hours planting vegetable crops, put in some rhubarb and horseradish (both invasive crops so they share a small bed and can duke it out themselves) and a couple more 'mater plants. The 'maters are looking at me like “WTF Dude?¿?¿ — No I am serious!!!”. Mildew all over their leaves. Didn't get around to the Bordeaux today so tomorrow if it is reasonably clear and dry.

Did some meatloaf and corn on the cob (California but still decent) and a local hot-house 'mater with cucumber and home-grown mint and parsley in a balsamic vinaigrette emulsion (I cheat and use a dab of mayo — doesn't hold beyond fifteen minutes but a good and fast faux).

Good Lord — that cow did not die in vain — some of the most incredible meats for a bit under $3/pound. You do need a dedicated freezer to hold 300 pounds of meat but the savings and quality are amazing. Hold it at below zero and your meat is good for more than a year, zero problems.

Feeling good — whatever it was that had caught me decided to release me after only a few days. Early bed and see what tomorrow brings!

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

The Food Stamp President

We are now spending $80 Billion dollars of our taxes giving people Food Stamps and we do not know what this is being spent on.
From The Washington Times:

Top secret: $80B a year for food stamps, but feds won’t reveal what’s purchased
Americans spend $80 billion each year financing food stamps for the poor, but the country has no idea where or how the money is spent.

Food stamps can be spent on goods ranging from candy to steak and are accepted at retailers from gas stations that primarily sell potato chips to fried-chicken restaurants. And as the amount spent on food stamps has more than doubled in recent years, the amount of food stamps laundered into cash has increased dramatically, government statistics show.

But the government won’t say which stores are doing the most business in food stamps, and even it doesn’t know what kinds of food those taxpayer dollars buy.

Coinciding with lobbying by convenience stores, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the program in conjunction with states, contends that disclosing how much each store authorized to accept benefits, known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), receives in taxpayer funds would amount to revealing trade secrets.

As a result, fraud is hard to track and the efficacy of the massive program is impossible to evaluate.

Emphases mine — Bullshit. The C Stores are afraid that their complicity in fraud will come to light and they will be penalized. We need more sunlight, not less. Trade Secrets? Gimme a break.

More:

Maryland denied The Times’ request for data under the Freedom of Information Act, saying the information belonged to the federal government, which instructed states not to release it.

Legislation seemingly designed to protect the industry goes so far as to say that anyone who releases the amount of food stamp dollars paid to a store can be jailed.

Profiting from the poor’s taxpayer-funded purchases has become big business for a mix of major companies and corner bodegas, which have spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress and the USDA to keep the money flowing freely.

The National Association of Convenience Store Operators alone spends millions of dollars on lobbying yearly, including $1 million in the first quarter of this year.

Our government at work.

Posted by DaveH at 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

Feeling much better

Fever broke last night — back down to 98.6 this morning and feeling a lot better.

High overcast and cool - forecast shows chance of showers. Work in the yard until they manifest and find something to do inside.

After the sudden storm, the traffic at my hummingbird feeder was down significantly. Normally the little buggers will drain the feeder in a day. Now it's only a third gone and I refilled it yesterday morning. Winds like that could be very unsettling — see how long it takes for them to come back. I have a couple but not nearly as many as before.

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

June 24, 2012

A bit under the weather

I had been feeling a little bit off my game the last three days.

Lulu mentioned that I felt hot today and we found out that I am running a fever of 100F
Not bad but definitely keeping an eye on this.

Decent day today and tonight is drop-dead clear with prospects of decent weather for tomorrow. Planning to do some mowing, Bordeaux the 'maters and planting some more stuff — got some nice large starts from a local nursery and truck farm — Chard, spuds, delicatta squash.

The slugs are out in full force and I didn't get it together to get chickens this year. Picked up a big box of Corry's and have some nice hot-pepper tea ready for the little bunnies…

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

An amazing story

From The Delight Makers:

Wild Elephants gather inexplicably, mourn death of “Elephant Whisperer”
Author and legendary conservationist Lawrence Anthony died March 2. His family tells of a solemn procession of Elephants that defies human explanation.

For 12 hours, two herds of wild South African elephants slowly made their way through the Zululand bush until they reached the house of late author Lawrence Anthony, the conservationist who saved their lives. The formerly violent, rogue elephants, destined to be shot a few years ago as pests, were rescued and rehabilitated by Anthony, who had grown up in the bush and was known as the “Elephant Whisperer.”

For two days the herds loitered at Anthony’s rural compound on the vast Thula Thula game reserve in the South African KwaZulu – to say good-bye to the man they loved. But how did they know he had died? Known for his unique ability to calm traumatized elephants, Anthony had become a legend. He is the author of three books, Babylon Ark, detailing his efforts to rescue the animals at Baghdad Zoo during the Iraqi war, the forthcoming The Last Rhinos, and his bestselling The Elephant Whisperer.

There are two elephant herds at Thula Thula. According to his son Dylan, both arrived at the Anthony family compound shortly after Anthony’s death. “They had not visited the house for a year and a half and it must have taken them about 12 hours to make the journey,” Dylan is quoted in various local news accounts. “The first herd arrived on Sunday and the second herd, a day later. They all hung around for about two days before making their way back into the bush.” Elephants have long been known to mourn their dead. In India, baby elephants often are raised with a boy who will be their lifelong mahout. The pair develop legendary bonds – and it is not uncommon for one to waste away without a will to live after the death of the other.

A line of elephants approaching the Anthony house, but these are wild elephants in the 21st century, not some Rudyard Kipling novel. The first herd to arrive at Thula Thula several years ago were violent. They hated humans. Anthony found himself fighting a desperate battle for their survival and their trust, which he detailed in The Elephant Whisperer:
It was 4:45 a.m. and I was standing in front of Nana, an enraged wild elephant, pleading with her in desperation. Both our lives depended on it. The only thing separating us was an 8,000-volt electric fence that she was preparing to flatten and make her escape. Nana, the matriarch of her herd, tensed her enormous frame and flared her ears. ’Don’t do it, Nana,’ I said, as calmly as I could. She stood there, motionless but tense. The rest of the herd froze. 'This is your home now,’ I continued. ‘Please don’t do it, girl.’ I felt her eyes boring into me.

’They’ll kill you all if you break out. This is your home now. You have no need to run any more.’
Suddenly, the absurdity of the situation struck me, Anthony writes. Here I was in pitch darkness, talking to a wild female elephant with a baby, the most dangerous possible combination, as if we were having a friendly chat. But I meant every word. You will all die if you go. Stay here. I will be here with you and it’s a good place. She took another step forward. I could see her tense up again, preparing to snap the electric wire and be out, the rest of the herd smashing after her in a flash. I was in their path, and would only have seconds to scramble out of their way and climb the nearest tree. I wondered if I would be fast enough to avoid being trampled. Possibly not. Then something happened between Nana and me, some tiny spark of recognition, flaring for the briefest of moments. Then it was gone. Nana turned and melted into the bush. The rest of the herd followed. I couldn’t explain what had happened between us, but it gave me the first glimmer of hope since the elephants had first thundered into my life.

Much more at the site — an amazing story. Getting a copy of the book…

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

The New Computer

From the UK Daily Express:

MET Office's 100-year forecast (But it's wrong two days later)
THE boss of the cash-rich Met Office has boasted that its £41million super computer will deliver accurate forecasts “a century ahead”.

But critics say the money would have been better spent getting the next day’s forecast right.

John Hirst said taxpayers would be well served by the massive computer because it would ensure Britain leads the world in climate science.

He said £20.7million was invested in the project last year alone, taxpayers’ money “which will enable the Met Office to deliver more accurate forecasts, from hours to a century ahead”. Mr Hirst said this referred to climate change predictions.

A Met Office forecast issued last Thursday for yesterday predicted hours of sunshine in central London. But there was hardly any, with rain clouds covering the capital for much of the day.

Mr Hirst’s claim was made in the Met Office’s annual report for 2011-12, which reveals he was paid £215,000, including a £45,000 bonus.

Despite the recession, the Met Office saw revenues from governments and business hit a record £196.2million, although redundancy costs meant profits slipped slightly from £9.4million to £9.1million.

£215,000 UKP is about $335,000 USD — add to that the price to the UK taxpayer for this monster computer. Forecasts accurate to 100 years out? Talk about hubris. If we put sensors every ten feet throughout the atmosphere, we might might be starting to get accurate forecasts for the next 60 days. 100 Years is preposterous. Hirst's precious little organization needs to be defunded. Less computer models and more boots on the ground.

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

Abraham Lincoln - vampire hunter

Turns out Lincoln was not the only President with a secret.
From Chris Wade writing at Slate:

The Secret Histories of Other U.S. Presidents
As everyone knows, Abraham Lincoln was not only the 16th president of the United States, but also a vampire hunter. But his great feats in both lines of work have overshadowed the covert activities of other, less popular 19th-century American presidents.

Herewith, some of the more interesting and lesser known sidelines of just a few of these brave and accomplished men.

Chester A. Arthur: Sasquatch Assassin
Chester A. Arthur, our 21st president, vigorously pursued civil service reform during his time in office. He also vigorously pursued the roving bands of Ape-Men that terrorized his home state of Vermont and claimed the lives of his parents in 1845.

Grover Cleveland: Time Warrior
What most people know about Grover Cleveland is that, alone among U.S. Presidents, he served two non-consecutive terms of office. Less widely known is the reason those terms were non-consecutive. After commandeering an experimental time travel device from a young Nikola Tesla in early 1889, Cleveland spent the better part of the next four years traveling through the past, righting historical injustices. Below he is pictured during his extended stay in the late Cretaceous period.

More at the site…

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

Cool bit of technology - the Abyss Box

I majored in Marine Biology a long long time ago but switched over to computers when the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics came out with the MITS Altair 8800 kit on the front cover. I wanted to be Jacques Cousteau at the same time that every other Marine Biologist wanted to be Jacques Cousteau — job market was thin to non-existent…

When you retrieve a critter from several thousand feet down, it will not survive for long at atmospheric pressures. Fish will have their swim bladders explode and crustaceans and nematodes become paralyzed — their cells cannot operate properly.

Enter the Abyss Box — from Wired:

AbyssBox Displays Deep-Sea Animals Under Pressure
Unless you're James Cameron, you've probably never seen a Mirocaris fortunate—a shrimp that lives in the hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean. Or a little white crab named Segonzacia mesatlantica. That's because these deep-sea species can't survive in a standard aquarium—normal atmospheric pressure will kill them. Luckily, one of Europe's largest aquariums, Océanopolis, in Brest, France, has developed a solution: a unique high-pressure viewing cabinet called the AbyssBox (above). Visitors can now stare into the 4.25-gallon display and see the kinds of deep-dwelling sea fauna you used to have to spend a Titanic-sized budget to glimpse. Click through the photo gallery above to learn how it works.

A bit more:

The AbyssBox was inspired by deep submersibles — but with the water inside. It uses a system of pumps and valves to create a crushing 180 atmospheres of pressure—imagine an elephant standing on your fingernail. The force pushes against the cone-shaped window (above), forming a tight seal. The temperature is kept at 50 degrees Fahrenheit, while a thin stream of 86-degree water shoots along the base to mimic a hydrothermal vent.

Very cool — made from (relatively) off the shelf parts but it's the idea that makes it great. I wonder how many people are reading this and thinking Hmmmmm… Opens up a lot of avenues for research.

Posted by DaveH at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)

Recovery

Sections of the county are still without power and there are a lot of crews out on the road today.

The Department of Transportation were using their snow plows to get the branches off the road surface.

Playing with some more radio stuff and working in the garden — it's cloudy and cool but no rain (yet). Wednesday and Thursday are supposed to be kinda nice but cool — where is this Summer people keep talking about. Fortunately, the long range forecast looks really good starting July 3rd through the next two weeks.

There is a group of people who have collection bottles at various businesses in Glacier (a nearby town) and they take the money and buy fireworks. I was there last year and loved the community feel — Lulu and I will be there on the 4th.

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

June 23, 2012

Fun and games in our local community

I was in town today and heading back at 4:00PM, the clouds over the mountains were pitch black. It got really blustery and rained. I head further home and the Puget Sound Electric truck has part of the Mt. Baker highway blocked off and one of the high-wires is down (the 14.4KV feeders to the East County) The Kendall Valley Road was closed so they were routing people around that. I continued to head home and noticed that none of the homes were displaying any sort of electrical activity. The lights at the local substation five miles from me were out and a couple guys were there scratching their heads.

It turns out that we had quite the supercell. The weather was overcast but dry and then all of a sudden, the winds picked up (my weather station recorded a couple gusts of 65MPH) and we had hail and rain. Trees were knocked down and the power went off around 4:30PM. I stayed at the store to help run it (cash sales only, nothing from the coolers or freezers — we did sell a LOT of beer! Closed the store at 8:00PM and came home to fire up the generator.

I had upgraded generators a year ago and recently sold the old unit. I failed to check to see what the connection was. Suffice to say that a NEMA L14-20 plug will not fit into an L14-30 socket. DERP!

I ran extension cords to the freezers and spent the next couple hours finishing Joseph Kanon's excellent Istanbul Passage. John le Carré on steroids — the guy puts out a new novel every couple of years and they just keep getting better and better.

Everything just bleeped a few minutes ago so I went and shut down the generator and am back online — six hours without power. The PSE Engineers are wonderful — they are fast to respond when stuff like this happens. Seldom am I without power for more than a couple hours even with such widespread damage as we had in our community.

Posted by DaveH at 10:38 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2012

A letter from home

Dear Redneck son,
I'm writing this slow because I know you can't read fast. We don't live where we did when you left home.

Your dad read in the newspaper that most accidents happen within 20 miles of your home, so we moved. I won't be able to send you the address because the last West Virginia family that lived here took the house numbers when they moved so they wouldn't have to change their address.

This place is really nice. It even has a washing machine. I'm not sure about it. I put a load of clothes in and pulled the chain. We haven't seen them since.

The weather isn't bad here. It only rained twice last week; the first time for three days and the second time for four days.

About that coat you wanted me to send; your Uncle Billy Bob said it would be too heavy to send in the mail with the buttons on, so we cut them off and put them in the pockets.

Bubba locked his keys in the car yesterday. We were really worried because it took him two hours to get me and your father out.

Your sister had a baby this morning, but I haven't found out what it is yet so I don't know if you are an aunt or uncle. The baby looks just like your brother.

Uncle Bobby Ray fell into a whiskey vat last week. Some men tried to pull him out but he fought them off and drowned. We had him cremated, he burned for three days.

Three of your friends went off a bridge in a pickup truck. Butch was driving. He rolled down the window and swam to safety. Your other two friends were in the back. They drowned because they couldn't get the tailgate down.

There isn't much more news at this time. Nothing much out of the normal has happened.

Your Favorite Aunt,
Mom

It is always good to hear from the extended family…

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

June 21, 2012

Cool news - Unions get their wings clipped

I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA — Unions are a major component of working society. They filled a need. 100 years ago, the idea of picking up and moving to another city was a foreign concept — people simply did not do this. Back then, there were only a few employers in any large city so they got to write the rules on working conditions and pay. People began to Unionize and this process improved conditions for both the employees and the employers.

The workers got a humane wage and working conditions, the employers could visit the Union Hall, state that they needed ten Machinists to run some metal lathes and the Union (which at that time spent money training the workers (more skilled workers — better pay therefore higher Union dues)) would have those people waiting at the factory door that next morning.

WW-I and WW-2 happened and then, in the 1950's through the 1990's, the Unions began to get politicized. They sought to extend their power into the political arena to advance their cause. It was very common for people to move around the USA now so they did not have their 'captive workers' to protect.

What did they do? They followed Jerry Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy:

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people”:
First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisers in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.
The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

And the story? From Andrea Ryan at The Gateway Pundit:

Breaking: Supreme Court Rules Against SEIU And All Unions
The SEIU mob won’t like this one bit.

It’s a great day for freedom. While the Supreme Court has postponed announcing their ruling on ObamaCare and Arizona Immigration, they did issue a decision in the Knox v. SEIU case. A strong 7-2 vote ruled, not only against the SEIU, but against all labor unions.

FoxNews reports,
The Supreme Court says a union must give nonmembers an immediate chance to object to unexpected fee increases that all workers are required to pay in closed-shop situations.

The court on Thursday ruled for Dianne Knox and other nonmembers of the Service Employees International Union’s Local 1000, who wanted to object and opt out of a $12 million special assessment the union required from its California public sector members. Knox and others said the union did not give them a legally required notice that the increase was coming.

The union, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, said the annual notice that the union gives was sufficient. The high court disagreed in a 7-2 judgment written by Justice Samuel Alito.

This is very good news. I still see a need for Unions but they need to be in touch with reality and also, as most Unions are 501©3 organizations, they need to drop their political component. Violates Federal Law.

Finally, 23 States are Right-To-Work states — this number needs to grow. Just as it was 100 years ago, it should be a choice and not mandatory.

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

tick tock tick tock

2008 — housing bubble
2012 — derivative exposure
201x — municipal bonds bubble

Are you pissed off yet?

From The Hill:

Moody's downgrades 15 of the world's biggest banks
Moody's Investors Service issued downgrades to 15 of the world's biggest banks Thursday, saying that they all had “significant exposure” to volatility and risk inherent in their global trading activities.

Banks such as Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America were among the firms downgraded by the rating agency — a move that could require the banks to pony up billions in additional collateral to cover their derivatives transactions, and also make it more expensive for them to borrow.

And of course:

As rumors of the downgrades spread among financial markets Thursday afternoon, stocks took a steep turn for the worse. The Dow Jones Industrial Average close the day down 250 points or nearly two percent, its second worst day of the year.

From the excellent Demonocracy:

Derivatives: The Unregulated Global Casino for Banks
A buys you the option (but not obligation) to buy oil in 6 months for today's price/any agreed price, hoping that oil will cost more in future. (I'll bet you it'll cost more in 6 months). Derivative can also be used as insurance, betting that a loan will or won't default before a given date. So its a big betting system, like a Casino, but instead of betting on cards and roulette, you bet on future values and performance of practically anything that holds value. The system is not regulated what-so-ever, and you can buy a derivative on an existing derivative.

Most large banks try to prevent smaller investors from gaining access to the derivative market on the basis of there being too much risk. Deriv. market has blown a galactic bubble, just like the real estate bubble or stock market bubble (that's going on right now). Since there is literally no economist in the world that knows exactly how the derivative money flows or how the system works, while derivatives are traded in microseconds by computers, we really don't know what will trigger the crash, or when it will happen, but considering the global financial crisis this system is in for tough times, that will be catastrophic for the world financial system since the 9 largest banks shown below hold a total of $228.72 trillion in Derivatives - Approximately 3 times the entire world economy. No government in world has money for this bailout.

The post employs some very nice visuals — makes it very clear.

Municipal Bonds? Considering how most American cities are faring, not a big stretch (Detroit? Detroit to the courtesy phone please). My Mom and Dad invested in them and the monthly checks are down 30% in the last year. Used to be “safe” — now, not so much.

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

Nothing much tonight

Internet is a slug tonight — a page takes a couple minutes to load.

Having fun watching the Fast and Furious scandal melt down.

Working on some computer and ham radio stuff…

Posted by DaveH at 08:02 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2012

That's it for the night

Working on some other stuff (ham radio and computer)

Gorgeous day today — worked in the garden and planted a bed of kitchen herbs and flowers by the front door. Building a raised bed by the back kitchen door for lettuce, basil, etc. Tomorrow is supposed to be really nice as well but it's back to rain for one more week.

And a big happy Summer Solstice to everyone out there!

Now the days start getting shorter :-(

Posted by DaveH at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)

Quote of the day -

“An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.”
—Dwight D. Eisenhower

He warned us about the military-industrial complex but few people remember the next couple paragraphs of that speech:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

Emphases mine — it is just this behavior that has led to the rise of the anthropogenic global warming scam as well as items like the DDT ban, fear-mongering against nuclear energy, the EPA in general.

We have a situation where an out-of-touch 'elite' has been given too much power over our lives.

Posted by DaveH at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

Nice article on Prometheus (the movie)

From Electronic Design Magazine comes a nice behind the scenes look at the hardware and software:

Prometheus Takes Flight With Cutting-Edge VFX Technology
Sometime in the late 21st century, a team of explorers discovers a star map among other ancient alien artifacts. The spaceship Prometheus then embarks on an expedition to find the origins of the human race, leading to the darkest corners of the universe where the crew must battle to save mankind.

Ridley Scott’s long-awaited sci-fi epic hits theaters on June 8. But don’t expect the same special effects you’ve seen in other Hollywood blockbusters since the 3D renaissance began a few years ago. The cutting-edge director and producer tapped a host of new technologies to bring his singular futuristic vision to life.

Behind The Scenes
Scott’s movies, which include sci-fi classics Alien and Blade Runner, always push the envelope in terms of technology, and Prometheus is no different. He shot the film completely in 3D using Red Epic cameras and 3ality Technica’s Atom 3D rigs. It includes more than 1400 3D visual effects (VFX).

Have yet to see Prometheus but looking forward to doing so — everything I have heard is good.

The Red cameras sound amazing — the company came out of nowhere in 1999 with their first camera being released in 2007. They now lead the market for high-end cinematographic cameras.

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

June 19, 2012

News Flash: 19, 12, 8, Four Tons of Pot Recovered!!!

From the Associated Press:

19 tons of pot dumped at sea near US-Mexico border
The U.S. Navy says an aircraft carrier group recovered about 19 tons of marijuana dumped from small boats in the Pacific Ocean near California's border with Mexico.

The Navy said Tuesday that two single-engine boats - each about 25 feet long - were spotted about 15 hours apart on Saturday. People aboard the boats began dumping plastic bags, and the boats escaped before authorities arrived.

Lt. Aaron Kakiel says no one was captured. The seizures occurred in international waters about 85 miles off the Mexican coast.

Authorities recovered about eight tons of marijuana from the first boat and 11 tons from the second. The carrier USS Nimitz and cruiser USS Princeton were assisted by the U.S. Coast Guard and Mexican navy.

Talk about wrong place/wrong time.

BTW, the contraband three ounces of pot were incinerated in the USS Princeton's furnace. Inexplicably, three days later the entire Pacific Fleet ran out of Doritos and frozen pizza's.

Must have been a Depends moment for the crew of those two boats to see a bunch of military vessels looming up over the horizon!

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

Heh

Swiped from Gerard

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

Some real numbers

From Bjorn Lomborg writing at The Daily Star:

Rio will host another wasted opportunity on the environment
Tens of thousands of people are gathering in Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Earth Summit. The participants, ranging from weary politicians to enthusiastic campaigners, are supposed to reignite global concern for the environment. Unfortunately, the summit is likely to be a wasted opportunity.

The United Nations is showcasing the alluring promise of a “green economy,” that is focused on tackling global warming. In fact, the summit is striking at the wrong target, neglecting the much greater environmental concerns of the vast majority of the world.

Global warming is by no means our main environmental threat. Even if we assumed – unreasonable – that it caused all deaths from floods, droughts, heat waves and storms, this total would amount to just 0.06 percent of all deaths in the developing countries. In comparison, 13 percent of all deaths in what we can call the Third World are the result of water and air pollution.

So, for each person who might die from global warming, about 210 people die from health problems that are the result of a lack of clean water and sanitation, from breathing smoke generated by burning dirty fuels (such as dried animal dung) indoors, and from breathing polluted air outdoors.

This ruling elite — our political masterminds — are so out of touch that their actions could almost be considered criminal. But then, laws aren't for them, they are for the little people.

There should be a law in the US that all aspirants to political life must spend a minimum of five years in the workplace. They need to send their children to public school, ride the public transit on a regular basis, they need to make payroll for their employees.

The environmentalists are drawing close to the Communists — the enviros murder a couple million each year and the Communists have a known body count of around 100M. It's not leadership, it's a cognitive disorder…

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

Today's earworm

You're welcome!

More here and here

Posted by DaveH at 06:36 PM | Comments (0)

Round two

In 2011, I met a master machinist who went in to the Doctors with a persistent cough and was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He was looking to sell off his tools and had a bunch of blacksmith equipment which now has a place of honor in my shop.

Last week, his daughter called one of the other people who went tool buying that day and said that she had some more stuff to sell. This morning, I went back to his house and picked up a number of blacksmithing books (a lot of them were first editions) as well as a nice Whitney (now called Roper Whitney) #16 punch and dies and a big Plumbers Furnace — some older machines use Babbitt metal for their bearings and the melter is used for casting them.

The books will be a fun read — lots of ideas for projects…

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

June 18, 2012

Screw Afghanistan, let's get things fixed at home

We could fix things in Afghanistan in a couple months and get the Taliban out of power.
Follow the money — the economic driver is the opium poppy. The Taliban forces villagers to grow it so they can make money. All the USA has to do is step in and buy the entire crop at twice the price. The villagers will have steady work and income, a buyer that they trust and respect, the global pharma business will have a steady supply of opiates and the Taliban will have been priced out of the market.

What prompted the mini-rant is this little nugget: there were more Citizens killed in Chicago in 2012 than Soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
From The Daily:

Wild West in Chicago
The streets of Chicago are officially more dangerous than a war zone: Homicide victims in the Windy City outnumber U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan this year.

While 144 Americans have died in Afghanistan in 2012, a whopping 228 Chicago residents have been killed, and the murder rate is up a staggering 35 percent from last year. That’s a rash of homicides quadruple the rate of New York City’s, and police and crime experts fear it may only get worse.

This week, Chicago announced it will allow police in the cash-strapped city to work overtime at time-and-a-half pay in order to put more officers on the street.

The move comes as Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff, is under increased pressure to find a way to stem the violence. Last weekend, nine people were killed and 53 were shot, just two weeks after 10 people died and dozens more were wounded in gun-related mayhem.

More:

“Violence has always been most pronounced on summer weekends in Chicago,” said Roseanna Ander, executive director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab. “One likely factor [for this year’s rise in gun violence] is the warmer-than-usual weather and the early spring. Over 80 percent of shootings occur outdoors and in public places.”

Temperatures are forecast to hit the 90s this weekend in the city, and officers who choose to participate in the police department’s Violence Reduction Overtime Initiative will largely be deployed in the western and southern sections of the city, where the bulk of the shootings and homicides have taken place.

“These are the same neighborhoods that had the most violence happened in the ’80s and ’90s,” Ander said. “Chicago has used overtime this way in the past. It’s the right thing to do, but it’s only a piece of a larger strategy.”

Ander also blames budget cuts for contributing to the spike in shootings. As the city struggled to balance its budget, Emanuel’s administration has cut anti-violence programs targeting some of Chicago’s poorer neighborhoods by $9 million.

Emphasis mine — you will not effect a change by implementing programs. I have just as much urge towards projectile emesis when I hear of this and such program as when I hear of a College course of xyzzy studies.

They need to fix the schools — we are spending more and more money, hiring more and more people and the quality of education is getting worse and worse. Start up some trade schools — teach usable skills and get the kids out of the inner city and into the work force.

A Perfect Liberal utopia (but we didn't get enough funding — waaaaaaaaaa!!!!)…

Posted by DaveH at 08:28 PM | Comments (3)

A bit of an unexpected change

From CNN:

Iran's Ahmadinejad to leave politics, newspaper reports
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will leave politics when his second term comes to an end, and does not envision a Vladimir Putin-style return to office after sitting out for a term, a German newspaper reported Sunday.

“Eight years are enough,” the controversial Iranian leader told Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

He's barred by law from seeking a third consecutive term in 2013. Russian President Putin was forced out of office by a similar law, spent one term as prime minister, then returned to office this year.

And there is always a back-story:

Ahmadinejad has been in a power struggle with Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and he's losing, according to experts.

“I think Ahmadinejad underestimated the power of Khamenei, and he overestimated his own power,” Haleh Esfandiari, director of Middle Eastern studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, said last month.

One of the commentors summed up the dynamics perfectly:

Think of Ahmadinejad as Student Body President. Khamenei is the principal.

There you go…

Posted by DaveH at 03:53 PM | Comments (0)

Storing heat

One of the problems with any energy system is that there is always waste heat and how can you store this for future use.

Some geeks at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology are working on this and have an interesting solution:

Compact and flexible thermal storage
Biogas plants, combined heat and power plants don’t just generate electricity, they also produce heat. However, unlike the electricity they yield, the heat generally dissipates unused. A new technology is set to change this: It will allow the heat to be stored lossfree in the smallest of spaces for lengthy periods of time, for use as and when required.

There’s a growing trend towards generating electricity from biogas. But these systems would be considerably more effective if better use could be made of the heat that is produced in the process. Roughly half of the total energy content of the fuel is released as heat, which typically dissipates into the atmosphere unused. Large quantities of heat likewise escape from combined heat and power plants, not to mention many industrial installations. The root of the problem lies in the fact that the heat is not generally used at the time it is generated – and options for storing it are limited. Traditionally, water tanks have been used for this purpose, but they can only absorb a finite quantity of heat. And of course, the heat can only be stored for short periods of time, because although the water tanks are insulated, the water gradually loses its heat to the surrounding atmosphere.

Working together with industrial partners such as ZeoSys GmbH in Berlin, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart are currently developing a new type of thermal storage system. This new system can store three to four times the amount of heat that water can, so it only requires storage containers around a quarter the size of water tanks. Moreover, it is able to store the heat loss-free over lengthy periods of time and can even operate at temperatures well in excess of 100 degrees Celsius.

Very cool — more faster please!

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

June 17, 2012

An asshat troika

Three items in the news — none of them good.
From the Beeb:

Rio+20: Prince Charles in climate change warning
The Prince of Wales has warned of the “catastrophic” consequences of inaction on issues such as climate change, at a UN sustainability conference in Brazil.

If he wasn't the Queen's own son, he would be flipping burgers. The guy simply is not that bright. Not a leader. I shudder to think that he may be in line for the Throne.

From Associated Press:

Islamist claims victory in Egypt president vote
The Muslim Brotherhood declared early Monday that its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, won Egypt's presidential election, which would be the first victory of an Islamist as head of state in the stunning wave of protests demanding democracy that swept the Middle East the past year. But the military handed itself the lion's share power over the new president, sharpening the possibility of confrontation.

With parliament dissolved and martial law effectively in force, the generals issued an interim constitution granting themselves sweeping authorities that ensure their hold on the state and subordinate the president. They will be Egypt's lawmakers, they will control the budget and they will determine who writes the permanent constitution that will define the country's future.

Told 'ya so! These are radical islamofascists and will drive Egypt back into the stone ages. I am encouraged that the Military proactivly stepped up.

Finally, say buh-bye to France — from Yahoo/AFP:

Socialists take absolute majority in French parliament
France's Socialists won control of parliament Sunday, handing President Francois Hollande the convincing majority he needs to push through his tax-and-spend agenda to battle the eurozone debt crisis.

The Socialists' bloc obtained between 308 and 320 seats — an absolute majority in the 577-seat National Assembly — and so will not need to rely on the Greens or the far left, polling institutes CSA, Ipsos and Sofres said.

Of course, President Hollande will fail miserably and his excuse will be that they didn't spend enough. Must have dozed off during his history lessons.

And here he goes:

Hollande heads to Mexico for G20 talks on Monday flush with electoral success and brandishing a further mandate to push for growth strategies — rather than austerity measures — to battle the eurozone's debt crisis.

He has also floated a proposal for a 120 billion euro ($150 billion) “growth pact” to be discussed at a series of high-level meetings ahead of a European Union summit on June 28-29 in Brussels.

Fscking clueless…

Posted by DaveH at 10:11 PM | Comments (0)

Here we go again - will people never learn

From Reuters:

Karl Marx bank cards prove hit in eastern Germany
Two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, some eastern Germans are once again carrying round images of Karl Marx - if only in their pockets.

The disappearance of communist former East Germany has not deterred them from using credit cards emblazoned with the image of the man who foretold the end of capitalism and the triumph of communism.

More than a third of customers at Sparkasse bank in Chemnitz opted for the picture of a bronze bust of the bearded 19th century German-born philosopher, bank spokesman Roger Wirtz said.

A bit more:

A 2008 survey found 52 percent of eastern Germans believed the free market economy was “unsuitable” and 43 percent said they wanted socialism back.

Disgusting — I wonder what kind of hell-hole their schools are like, what they are teaching their children.

Now if they offered cards with F.A. Hayek or Milton Friedman or Henry Hazlitt, I would sign right up…

Posted by DaveH at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)

Yet another reason to avoid flying

From the Canada's Edmonton Journal:

Listening equipment 'will record conversations' at Canadian airports: CBSA
Airports and border crossings across Canada are being wired with high-definition cameras and microphones that can eavesdrop on travellers' conversations, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.

A CBSA statement said that audio-video monitoring and recording is already in place at unidentified CBSA sites at airports and border points of entry as part of an effort to enhance “border integrity, infrastructure and asset security and health and safety.”

As part of the work, the agency is introducing audio-monitoring equipment as well.

“It is important to note that even though audio technology is installed, no audio is recorded at this time. It will become functional at a later date,” CBSA spokesman Chris Kealey said in a written statement.

But whenever that occurs, the technology, “will record conversations,” the agency said in a separate statement in response to questions from the Ottawa Citizen.

Nothing like giving away the 'secret'.

If I was planning anything and needed to coordinate with other people, I would use a set of pre-arranged innocuous code words.

Have not flown in a couple of years and do not miss it at all.

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

Nails

I had heard this about five years ago and promptly forgot where I heard it so couldn't blog about it.
Very cool story — from National Public Radio:

Nailing The American Dream, With Polish
If you've had a manicure in California, odds are the person at the other end of the emery board was of Vietnamese heritage.

Vietnamese immigrants now dominate California's nail-care industry — and make up a significant percentage of all manicurists nationwide.

The story began with a hurried immigration after the fall of Saigon almost four decades ago.

Sparked by the interest of a group of refugees and the help of a Hollywood star, the demand for affordable manicures quickly became the foundation of the American dream for many Vietnamese newcomers.

A bit more:

“And the suggestion for them to see this niche actually came from a Hollywood actress.”

That actress was Tippi Hedren, an elegant blond who starred in several of Alfred Hitchcock's movies in the 1960s.

When she wasn't onscreen, Hedren was an international relief coordinator with the organization Food for the Hungry. After Saigon fell, she was working with Vietnamese women in a refugee camp near Sacramento when several admired her long, glossy nails.

Hedren had a manicurist named Dusty at the time and asked her if she would come to the camp to meet with the women. Dusty agreed, and Hedren flew her up to Camp Hope every weekend to teach nail technology to 20 eager women.

One of Dusty's students, Thuan Le, remains an in-demand manicurist at a posh salon in Los Angeles' wealthy Brentwood neighborhood.

Le remembers Hedren insisting the new students learn the then-cutting-edge technique of silk nail wrapping, which created long, natural-looking artificial nails.

“[Hedren] said, 'I trained you to become a very special manicurist, not just plain manicurist … because you make more money,' ” Le recalls.

One of those right-place/right-time moments. Great story!

Posted by DaveH at 06:59 PM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2012

Happy Birthday GIF file format

And BTW, it's pronounced like Jif, not a hard G as in Gift.

From IGN Entertainment:

Happy 25th Birthday, GIF
25 years ago today the Graphics Interchange Format was released, and the world has never been the same again.

The GIF was originally released by CompuServe to replace RLE - a file format which was limited to black and white only. But the GIF evolved over the next 25 years - first gaining color, then better color, then the ability to repeat itself, and finally an adoring audience willing to take GIFs to the next level.

It has been a while…

GIF was the first lossless format that offered a large measure of compression and options for color and animation. The porn industry went nuts and computer graphics took off. Color graphics cards used to cost about $600 in 1987 for a 640X480 VGA card — 64 colors. Adjusted for inflation, this is $1,213.81 in 2012 dollarettes. Now, a 1080p card is less than $200 — thank the porn industry (first) and the video game industry (second to the plate).

Posted by DaveH at 09:45 PM | Comments (1)

Rain rain go away

We have had a few nice days but for the last two months, it has been overcast and raining.

Accuweather shows partly sunny next Wednesday and Thursday but after that, more rain…

Got the attendent rain-fade so working on some other stuff. The tomatoes are getting powdery mildew so picked up a couple pounds of lime and I'll Bordeaux the hell out of them when it isn't raining (already had the CuSO4).

I also have a problem with bunnies eating my lettuce so I'll be soaking some red pepper flakes in water for a spray — a bit of white glue to help adhesion. Cute but not when they are munching my greens…

Posted by DaveH at 05:33 PM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2012

No posting tonight

Dealing with some unexpected crap.

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

June 14, 2012

A little war

From the New York Daily News:

Mob sauce summit! Colombos and Bonannos had sitdown over suspected family recipe theft from L&B Spumoni Gardens
A gangland war nearly erupted over pizza — but luckily, cooler heads prevailed during a sitdown at a Panera Bread cafe, a mob turncoat told Brooklyn jurors Wednesday.

Ex-Colombo capo Anthony Russo delivered delicious testimony about a former mob pal whose blood boiled like a simmering red sauce when he heard a Bonanno associate had stolen a family recipe.

Colombo associate Francis Guerra flipped his lid when he learned Eugene Lombardo stole the secret sauce recipe from his in-laws’ famed Brooklyn eatery, L&B Spumoni Gardens, to use at an upstart pizzeria, Russo said.

Lombardo, whose sons worked at L&B, had opened “The Square” in Staten Island and started serving slices that looked and tasted suspiciously like those at L&B.

“Frankie (Guerra) told me they caught Geno down in the basement looking at the supplies, the flour,” Russo said. “He was angry, he wanted to hurt Gene.”

Russo recalled how he, Guerra and Colombo goon Frank (Frankie Notch) Iannaci took a ride to Staten Island, where they confronted the rival pizza maker.

Iannaci started banging on the window where a sign brazenly advertised “L&B-style” pizza.

“Gene came out and (Guerra) started yelling at him. He told him he’s a ‘piece of s—-, a s—-bag, robbed my family, I’ll break your head!’ ” Russo said.

Heh — the article goes into the 'settlement'

The “mob” has its place in society as long as they don't overreach. A stabilizing influence.

Posted by DaveH at 09:00 PM | Comments (0)

Making plans

This year's ABANA conference is in Rapid City, South Dakota

These conferences run every other year, I was at the one in Memphis in 2010 and Seattle in 2006 (there was no 2008 conference)

Lulu is able to take a couple weeks off so she and I and the dogs will be driving out sometime mid-July and making a vacation out of it. Looking at heading out north, spending the night at the Grand Coulee Dam (never saw the laser show), through Butte (Mining Museum) and heading down through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons through Cody arriving at the conference in about ten days. Heading back, drop down to Cheyenne, through the Rocky Mountain National Park and then high-tail it to Route 80, Salt Lake City (never been there) Route 84 through Boise, Hood River, Mt. Hood, Portland (and the Spruce Goose) and back home through Seattle.

It will be really nice to get the hell out of Dodge for a while.

Looking at about three weeks total but all plans are subject to change…

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

Heading into town today

Back on the weekend. I'll be posting some later tonight.

Posted by DaveH at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2012

UPDATE: Candidate for the Darwin Award

Turns out the whole family were not legal residents of this Nation.
Plus, they were drunk.

From the McAllen, Texas The Monitor:

Sheriff: Drunken teen accidentally shoots self in head
A 17-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed himself with a semiautomatic handgun Monday night, authorities said.

“It was just an accident under the influence of alcohol,” Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño said Tuesday.

The Sheriff’s Office, which received a call about a shooting about 11:15 p.m. Monday, quickly dispatched officers to the South Tower Estates home, but family had already transported the wounded teen to a McAllen hospital, the sheriff said.

Authorities identified the deceased teen as Israel Torres.

Deputies spoke to the teen’s “highly intoxicated” father, who told them he and his two sons were in the backyard when they heard a gunshot and saw Torres drop. But that version of events did not make sense to officers, and after a brief period of questioning, the father told a different story.

“All three are pretty drunk when someone pulls a .380-caliber, semiautomatic (handgun) and shoots it into the backyard,” Treviño said. “The 17-year-old gets it and tells his girlfriend, ‘Here, look, pull the trigger.’”

The teen’s girlfriend refused to handle the loaded weapon, so he pulled out the gun’s clip and aimed at a butane tank, but he “thought twice” about shooting it and instead pointed it at his head, Treviño said.

“He fires one time and shoots himself in the head,” Treviño said.

Investigators did not find any indication of foul play or intentional suicide.

Deputies have not arrested anyone and were not planning on making arrests anytime soon, the sheriff said, but they are looking into the criminal responsibility of the father and researching applicable laws.

The whole family is in the United States illegally, Treviño said. The boy’s parents moved to the country several years ago, but their two sons had just arrived about six or seven months ago.
Israel's death is absolutely tragic — I am not trying to minimize this.
That being said:
Jeff Cooper says it best:
1.All guns are always loaded!
2.Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy!
3.Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target!
4.Always be sure of your target!
And my thoughts:
#1) - alcohol and firearms simply do not mix. Do not try.
#2) - dropping the clip does not unload the firearm
#3) - these people were not in this Nation legally. How were they able to acquire a firearm? Aren't there gun laws in effect? Didn't they have to fill out their 4473's?
Oh… Wait… These are not illegal aliens, these are Felons undocumented Obama Supporters.
Posted by DaveH at 11:40 PM | Comments (0)

A milestone

Was in a local plant nursery today getting about $80 worth of landscaping and vegetables.

Noticed a sign — Senior Discount: 60 and older, take 10% off on Wednesday.

Saved eight bucks.

Sure don't feel senior…

Posted by DaveH at 09:30 PM | Comments (0)

Taking a stand

From United Press International:

Swedish party wants sit-down urination
Party members of a Swedish county council said they want to encourage men using the council's toilets to sit during urination.

The Left Party in Sormland said it wants the Sormland County Council to pass a motion requiring toilets reserved for stand-up urination to be labeled, Swedish news agency TT reported Monday.

The party said sit-down urination is more hygienic and reduces the risk of bathroom users having to negotiate their way around puddles en route to the toilet.

Words… Fail…

Posted by DaveH at 05:38 PM | Comments (0)

Candidate for the Darwin Award

From the Houston Chronicle:

Teen dies from ricochet bullet
A 17-year-old South Texas boy is dead after a gunshot he fired at a butane tank ricocheted and hit him in the head.

Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino tells The Monitor of McAllen that he believes the shooting of Israel Torres just before midnight Monday near Alamo was accidental and influenced by alcohol.

He says he was urging his girlfriend to shoot the .380-caliber, semiautomatic handgun in his family's backyard, but she refused. He withdrew the gun's clip and fired once at a butane tank, hitting himself with the ricochet.

Geezzz — what an idiot. Suppose that the bullet had penetrated the tank. Could have torched the neighborhood.

Posted by DaveH at 05:30 PM | Comments (0)

Old school timekeeping in the Czech Republic

From station OK0EPB in Prague:

The Czech time radiobeacon driven by pendulum
The time signal of OK0EPB is generated by a pendulum with a rod made of fused quartz.

The clock's machine works on the basis of Froment's system with a constant impulse. (take a look here)

The maximum difference of time signal is held in the tolerance of 0.1 sec.

Some photos and a video at the site. The graphs indicate some very good timekeeping!

Posted by DaveH at 03:33 PM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2012

Light posting tonight

Working on some other stuff at the house (soldering up some cables, getting a couple things ready for sale on Craigslist).

Going to the birds: have had a big hummingbird feeder up and running for the last two months and I now have a good 20 or 30 birds visiting on a regular basis. I am going through about 32 Oz. of nectar every day! I lose a couple ounces when I fill and hang the feeder but still, that is a lot of nectar — making a serious dent in a 25 pound bag of Costco cane sugar!

(nectar: one part cane sugar, four parts water. Heat to a simmer, refrigerate and serve — I refill the feeder after 9:30PM — the sun is down enough that the birds are not actively feeding. Run the feeder through the dishwasher every couple of days — a short cycle is fine.)

The good news is that the usual spring bloom of mosquitoes has not happened. Zero. Zilch.

They use the nectar for energy but hunt bugs for protein.

Now that the vegetable garden is partly back up and running, I am now working on the landscaping around the house. The previous owners had done a nice job with rhododendrons and a rose bush but the majority of these were killed by the goats. Pulling the dead stuff out and putting in some new planting - flowers for the bees and birds and herbs. Doing some bulbs this fall (irises) and looking at low evergreen ground-covers (the location can get very sunny so this is an issue).

Posted by DaveH at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2012

Way to go North Dakota

From the New York Times:

North Dakota Considers Eliminating Property Tax
Since Californians shrank their property taxes more than three decades ago by passing Proposition 13, people around the nation have echoed their dismay over such levies, putting forth plans to even them, simplify them, cap them, slash them. In an election here on Tuesday, residents of North Dakota will consider a measure that reaches far beyond any of that — one that abolishes the property tax entirely.

“I would like to be able to know that my home, no matter what happens to my income or my life, is not going to be taken away from me because I can’t pay a tax,” said Susan Beehler, one in a group of North Dakotans who have pressed for an amendment to the state’s Constitution to end the property tax. They argue that the tax is unpredictable, inconsistent, counter to the concept of property ownership and needless in a state that, thanks in part to wildly successful oil drilling, finds itself in the rare circumstance of carrying budget reserves.

“When,” Ms. Beehler asked, “did we come to believe that government should get rich and we should get poor?”

They are in an unusual position being #48 in population of the 50 states and having the all the revenues from the Bakken oil fields but still, it is an idea worth looking at.

In Whatcom County, a good chunk of my property taxes go to fund highway maintenance and police and emergency crews — this is cool. A lot of it also goes to subsidize the bus and ferry system, homeless shelters, low-income housing and public education. I am all for charity on a regular basis but a lot of my expenditures are going for things I have no use for and will never need. Neither Lulu nor I have any kids in the school system — why should we be paying to support this.

Posted by DaveH at 10:11 PM | Comments (0)

Practice what you preach

Obama's Secretary of Commerce was in a car accident — from the Los Angeles Times:

Commerce Secretary John Bryson accused in hit-and-run crashes
Authorities are investigating a series of traffic collisions in the San Gabriel Valley involving U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson, authorities said Saturday.

Bryson was found unconscious in his vehicle and has been hospitalized, officials said.

Bryson was driving a Lexus in the 400 block of South San Gabriel Boulevard shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday, when he allegedly rear-ended a Buick as it was waiting for a train to pass, according to a statement released by the L.A. County Sheriff's Department and the San Gabriel Police Department.

Hmmm — Lexus (from WikiPedia):

Lexus is the luxury vehicle division of Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corporation.

Shouldn't the Secretary of Commerce be driving an American made vehicle? Seriously…

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

University 'studies' programs

An excellent analysis of the problem Blacks have in College — their own worst enemy is their own teachers.
From Minding the Campus:

The Trap of Minority Studies Programs
When Naomi Schaefer Riley was fired by the Chronicle of Higher Education for her trenchant remarks on Black Studies programs, most of those who criticized the firing saw in it a display of the campus left's intolerance. Fair enough, but this episode also has a much broader meaning.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, large populations of poor immigrants arrived in the U.S.—Irish, Italians, and Jews from Russia and Poland. Their extreme poverty placed them at the bottom of the social ladder, and they were often treated with contempt. Yet just a few generations later they were assimilated, and their rapid upward social mobility had produced mayors, senators, judges, and even Presidents from among their ranks. None of this could have happened without first-rate public education.

To be sure, they worked hard to get ahead, but they were not obstructed by something that afflicts the have-nots of today: as they walked through the school gates they were not met by people intent on luring them into Irish or Italian Studies programs whose purpose was to keep them in a state of permanent resentment over past wrongs at the hands of either Europeans or establishment America. Instead, they could give their full attention to learning. They took courses that informed them about their new land's folkways and history, which gave them both the ability and the confidence needed to grasp the opportunities it offered them.

When we compare this story with what is happening to minority students today, we see a tragedy. Just as Pinocchio went off to school with high hopes, only to be waylaid by J. Worthington Foulfellow, minority students are met on the way to campus by hard-left radicals who claim to have the interests of the newcomers at heart but in reality prey on them to advance their own selfish interests. Of course, what black students need is the same solid traditional education that had raised Irish, Italians, and Jews to full equality. But that would not serve the campus radicals' purpose. Disaffected radicals wanted to swell the ranks of the disaffected, not the ranks of the cheerfully upward mobile. Genuine progress for minority students would mean their joining and thus strengthening the mainstream of American society—the mainstream that campus radicals loathe.

Faculty radicals worked hard to put the kind of coursework that had served others so well out of the reach of minority students. They stigmatized those courses as Eurocentric, oppressive, and dominant-class oriented, and they worked successfully to remove them from curricular requirements. The very idea of upward mobility was made to appear a capitulation to the corrupt value system of the dominant class.

As thinkers, campus radicals are poor role models for students. Their ideas are simple and rigid, and they rely heavily on conspiracy thinking that infers far too much from too little. They are powered by emotional commitments that are highly resistant to the lessons of experience. As a result, their cherished ideas are now virtually obsolete, and strike any reasonably well-informed observer as downright silly. The minority students that they attract into their orbit are dragged down to this low intellectual level.

Could not have said it better myself. Be sure to scroll down for the comments — a great mix of spot-on and liberal trolling.

Hat tip Peter at Bayou Renaissance Man for the link.

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

Youv'e got mail!

Fascinating bit of computer history:

The Inventor of Email - The Facts
In 1978, a 14-year-old named V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai developed a computer program, which replicated the features of the interoffice, inter-organizational paper mail system. He named his program “EMAIL”. Shiva filed an application for copyright in his program and in 1982 the United States Copyright Office issued a Certificate of Registration, No. TXu-111-775, to him on the program. As required by the Regulations of the Copyright Office, he deposited portions of the original source code with the program. Prominent in the code is the name “EMAIL” that he gave to the program. He received a second Certificate of Registration, No. TXu-108-715, for the “EMAIL User’s Manual” he had prepared to accompany the program and that taught unsophisticated user’s how to use EMAIL’s features.

A bit more:

Shiva embraced the project and began by performing a thorough evaluation of UMDNJ's paper-based mail system, the same as that used in offices and organizations around the world. He determined that the essential features of these systems included functions corresponding to “Inbox”, “Outbox”, “Drafts”, “Memo” (“To:”, “From:”, “Date:”, “Subject:”, “Body:”, “Cc:”, “Bcc:”), “Attachments”, “Folders”, “Compose”, “Forward”, “Reply”, “Address Book”, “Groups”, “Return Receipt”, “Sorting”. These capabilities were all to be provided in a software program having a sufficiently simple interface that needed no expertise in computer systems to use efficiently to “Send” and “Receive” mail electronically. It is these features that make his program “email” and that distinguish “email” from prior electronic communications.

That would cover it — never knew the story.

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

Good news on the Castle doctrine front

From AllGov:

Indiana First State to Allow Citizens to Shoot Law Enforcement Officers
Police officers in Indiana are upset over a new law allowing residents to use deadly force against public servants, including law enforcement officers, who unlawfully enter their homes. It was signed by Republican Governor Mitch Daniels in March.

The first of its kind in the United States, the law was adopted after the state Supreme Court went too far in one of its rulings last year, according to supporters. The case in question involved a man who assaulted an officer during a domestic violence call. The court ruled that there was “no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.”

There have been a number of cases where the police have the wrong street address, there is also the distressing uptick in swatting. I understand that these scenarios are very stressful and a clear picture of what is happening is often not available.

That being said, if a homeowner finds people breaking into his house at 0-dark-30, said homeowner has a right to defend themself and there should be no legal repercussions if the intruder is a police officer there on unwarranted grounds.

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

500 Free Movies

List of 500 movies available for download or on YouTube

Check out 500 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc.

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

Bigger than Bakken

The Bakken Shale is a huge resource for the USA — it is estimated to hold 24 Billion barrels of oil.
From Forbes:

Meet The Oil Shale Eighty Times Bigger Than The Bakken
Everyone has heard about the Bakken shale, the huge expanse of oil-bearing rock underneath North Dakota and Montana that billionaire Harold Hamm thinks could yield 24 billion barrels of oil in the decades to come. The Bakken is a huge boon, both to the economic health of the northern Plains states, but also to the petroleum balance of the United States. From just 60,000 barrels per day five years ago, the Bakken is now giving up 500,000 bpd, with 210,000 bpd of that coming on in just the past year. Given the availability of enough rigs to drill it and crews to frack it, there’s no reason why the Bakken couldn’t be producing more than 1 million bpd by the end of the decade, a level that could be maintained for halfway through the century.

But as great as the Bakken is, I learned last week about another oil shale play that dwarfs it. It’s called The Bazhenov. It’s in Western Siberia, in Russia. And while the Bakken is big, the Bazhenov — according to a report last week by Sanford Bernstein’s lead international oil analyst Oswald Clint — “covers 2.3 million square kilometers or 570 million acres, which is the size of Texas and the Gulf of Mexico combined.” This is 80 times bigger than the Bakken.

Getting access to the Bazhenov appears to be a key element in both ExxonMobil and Statoil‘s big new joint ventures with Kremlin-controlled Rosneft. Exxon’s recent statement says the two companies have agreed “to jointly develop tight oil production technologies in Western Siberia.”

No wonder. The geology of the Bazhenov looks just as good if not better. Its pay zone averages about 100 feet thick, and as Clint points out, the Bazhenov has lots of cracks and fractures that could make its oil flow more readily. The couple of test wells that he cites flowed at an average of 400 barrels per day. That’s in line with the Bakken average.

Peak oil anyone? Very cool news.

PDF document on the Bazhenov from the USGS here

Anything that makes the Arab nations less relevant is a good thing in my book.

Posted by DaveH at 02:56 PM | Comments (0)

Eric Holder getting deeper and deeper

We have not had an Attorney General this corrupt since the days of John Mitchell (Nixon's AG)
From CBS News:

House committee schedules contempt vote against Holder
CBS News has learned the House Oversight Committee will vote next week on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress. It's the fourth time in 30 years that Congress has launched a contempt action against an executive branch member.

This time, the dispute stems from Holder failing to turn over documents subpoenaed on October 12, 2011 in the Fast and Furious “gunwalking” investigation.

A bit more:

“The Obama Administration has not asserted Executive Privilege or any other valid privilege over these materials and it is unacceptable that the Department of Justice refuses to produce them. These documents pertain to Operation Fast and Furious, the claims of whistleblowers, and why it took the Department nearly a year to retract false denials of reckless tactics,” Issa wrote in an announcement of the vote to be released shortly. It will reveal the vote is scheduled for Wednesday, June 20.

Issa says the Justice Department can still put a stop to the contempt process at any time by turning over the subpoenaed documents.

The vote is set for Wednesday, June 20th. The rules only apply to the little people.

Someone, somewhere is writing a book about Holder and it will be devestating. The guy is completely corrupt.

Posted by DaveH at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)

About those jobs numbers

Veeery interesting — from Investors Business Daily:

Private Jobs Down 4.6 Million From January 2008; Federal Jobs Up 11.4%
President Obama’s statement Friday that the private sector is “doing fine” drew so much ridicule that he was forced to backtrack hours later. But it’s clear that Obama and many other Democrats see job problems — and solutions — starting and stopping with government employment.

A quick look at payroll stats shows that’s not the case.

Private-sector jobs are still down by 4.6 million, or 4%, from January 2008, when overall employment peaked. Meanwhile government jobs are down just 407,000, or 1.8%. Federal employment actually is 225,000 jobs above its January 2008 level, an 11.4% increase. That’s right, up 11.4%.

Talk about out of touch — like more government is going to fix things.

As I said last night, I want FREEDOM, not FREE STUFF.

Posted by DaveH at 01:42 PM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2012

A light at the end of the fscking tunnel - Venezuela

From Reuters:

Capriles rallies Venezuelans to challenge Chavez
Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans flooded downtown Caracas on Sunday to support opposition candidate Henrique Capriles in the biggest rally to date of his campaign to unseat cancer-stricken socialist President Hugo Chavez.

The athletic 39-year-old walked and jogged 10 km (6.2 miles) in the company of supporters to register his candidacy with electoral authorities, burnishing his image of physical fitness in contrast to the convalescing Chavez.

Capriles hopes to replace Chavez's state-driven socialism with a Brazil-style balance between free enterprise and social programs, and promises an end to the sectarian polarization of Chavez's 13-year rule.

“On October 7th we will decide not between two men but between two different ways of life,” Capriles intoned from a stage set up before a plaza jam-packed with sympathizers before entering the election's council.

“Today I'm the candidate because the people have decided, but on October 7th I'll be the next president of all Venezuelans,” said Capriles, saying one million people had turned out.

Chavez had this hand-waving 'idea' of some Bolivarian Revolution (end to political corruption — good luck on that!) that was going to fundamentally transform Venezuela. He put the Nation into deeper and deeper debt, nationalized major industries and generally made things worse for the man on the street all the while he was 'floating' above it all. He was a mastermind who knew how to rule, the dirty little details weren't for him, those were for other people. He was The One with The Vision.

Fortunately, it seems that Chavez might have is royal ass handed to him in a few months. There seems to be a bit of that going around which is a very wonderful thing to see.

I have some complaints about Brazil — their social welfare programs are being funded by their natural resources which at some time will diminish. The desire and expectation for those programs will only increase over time — there is a profound crunch-point scheduled for about 20-30 years from now as these resources play out. Of course, there is always fusion, more oil deposits being found, etc.

And Chavez

He faces a formidable electoral battle against Chavez, whose inimitable mix of folksy charisma and torrential public spending have maintained his popularity even though his cancer has lowered his profile.

The president and his allies have since last year been handing out apartments, pensions and stipends to poor mothers in a wave of election-driven state largesse.

Blowing even more money out the door, runaway inflation and increased debt. But my granny got a free apartment so I am voting for FREE STUFF instead of FREEDOM.

Posted by DaveH at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)

Unclear on the concept

What was she thinking? From The Oregonian:

Salem woman arrested in $2.1 million Oregon tax fraud case
Authorities arrested a Salem woman Wednesday who is accused of swindling the Oregon Department of Revenue out of more than $2 million by filing what could be one of the biggest fraudulent tax returns in state history.

Krystle Marie Reyes was booked into the Marion County Jail on charges of computer crime and aggravated theft, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by The Oregonian.

According to the affidavit, Reyes used Turbo Tax, a popular tax preparation software package, to file a faked 2011 income tax return that reported wages of $3 million and claimed she was owed a $2.1 million refund. The state authorized the refund, and Turbo Tax issued Reyes a Visa debit card with the full refund amount.

What is even more odd is that this return didn't raise any flags:

State revenue officials did not discover the fraud until Reyes reported the card as lost or stolen. In the meantime, she racked up more than $150,000 in purchases. Reyes, according to the affidavit, paid $2,000 in cash for a 1999 Dodge Caravan and used the card to buy $800 worth of tires and wheels.

And this:

According to the probable cause statement, Reyes spent $13,000 in Marion County over two days in February, $26,000 in March and more than $35,000 in April.

So she had been using the card for three months and nobody raised an eyebrow. And of course, the State of Oregon's Department of Revenue is on top of things:

In 2010, the state reported $559 million in delinquent taxes, mostly from unpaid personal and corporate income taxes. That's the amount the state knew about. Revenue officials estimate that, in 2006, Oregon's personal income tax compliance rate was 81.5 percent — far lower than other states — and translating to $1.2 billion in unreported or uncollected taxes that year.

No way to run a business let alone a state. It will be interesting to see if there is any shakeup at DOR. Peter Principle. Tell me again just how big government is so much more efficient than small government?

Posted by DaveH at 08:00 PM | Comments (0)

Finally, someone is growing a pair

and standing up to the current regieme. From FOX News:

Florida Officials Fight Back, Accusing Federal Authorities of Violating Laws
The gloves are off.

Florida's top elections officials are pushing back at the federal government, which says the state's review of registered voters may be discriminatory.

The Sunshine State's elections officials are saying that it's the federal government that is wrong.

The decision by the administration of Republican Gov. Rick Scott to fight back against the administration of President Barack Obama sets the stage for a legal showdown just months before the swing stage of Florida could help determine the presidential election.

The article doesn't go into the numbers but we are looking at at least 53,000 Dead citizens still active and voting. In 2000, Florida purged 100,000 illegal voters from the rolls.

Time to send a resounding message. Less than 150 days!

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

Taxing the imagination

The state of Maine is trying to increase their tax revenue with a tax on “snack food”.
Nice simple bit of legislation — not.
From the Lewiston/Auburn Sun Journal:

Maine's food tax far too complex
Faced with mounting pressure from aggravated Mainers who had long blasted the state's snack tax as far too complex, confusing and unfair, the Legislature dumped the tax in 2000.

No longer would families have to pay more for lunch-box staples such as granola bars, crackers and pretzels, lawmakers promised. No longer would annoyed shoppers have to wonder why a blueberry muffin was taxed but an English muffin was not. No longer would businesses have to spend an inordinate amount of time and money making sure they could distinguish the long list of taxable foods from the long list of non-taxable foods.

Or that was the goal.

Fast forward to 2012.

Maine's snack tax is gone, but in its place is a tax on . . . snacks. Sometimes. And baked goods. Sometimes. And juice, poultry and ice cream. Sometimes.

Today, the purchase of five bakery doughnuts can be subject to sales tax; six are tax free. A small container of milk is tax free at the convenience store but taxed at a sandwich shop. Ham and cheese are tax free when bought at the deli counter, but a deli platter of ham and cheese at the same place is taxed.

Lots more at the site — perfect example of the kind of legislation you get from a mastermind who is decoupled from the real world and has never worked a real job or bought groceries for their family.

Posted by DaveH at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

Memo to self - when instituting draconian budget cuts

Maybe the IT department is not the place to go.

From Alabama's The Birmingham News:

Computer crash cripples Jefferson County
A server that runs Jefferson County's financial software system has crashed and halted financial activity in a number of county departments, officials said Thursday.

Since Tuesday, the hardware problem has slowed or stopped transactions in the finance, treasurer and purchasing departments, preventing vendor payments and deposits and delaying preparation of the fiscal 2011 audit, according to county officials.

The server runs SAP, the accounting software system the county uses to track financial activity.

“The SAP functionality is so diminished that it does not allow us to do the day-to-day financial operations of our county,” Commissioner Jimmie Stephens said. “It's the financial backbone of the county. It's the language that we use to communicate with all of our vendors and all of our financial contacts throughout the county. And to have it go mute to where we can't communicate is a tremendous problem.”

SAP is an excellent program but it requires, nay demands, decent hardware to run properly. It has a lot of capability and is truly an Enterprise Application but it is a resource hog.

Why are they having these problems?

County Manager Tony Petelos said all of the servers that run the SAP program have outlived their useful life, and of the 16 servers in the Information Technology Department, only one has any life left.

“The rest of them are outdated and they need to be replaced,” Petelos said. “When one server crashes it causes the whole system to go down. I've said this over and over again: The county has to reinvest in its infrastructure, and this is only one key example.”

A bit more:

The cash-strapped county laid off hundreds of workers last year to conserve cash until a fix could be found for a shortage of general fund revenue. Wayne Cree, director of information technology, has said his department lost approximately 30 budgeted positions in the past year because of layoffs, retirements, transfers and resignations.

Now there well may have been some fluff in their budgets and hiring but the IT department is the one department you want to keep running at full speed as it is what runs the rest of your departments - IT don't work, nobody works.

This old adage comes to mind: Pay now or pay later…

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

June 09, 2012

Factoring in all of the elements

From the UK Telegraph:

Gas ‘better than wind’ for low carbon, Policy Exchange claims
In a report today, Policy Exchange argued that the government should scrap 4GW of its planned 13GW target for offshore wind generation by 2020.

By building cheaper gas generation instead it could save £700-£900m a year in costs that would have been passed onto billpayers, it calculated.

These savings could be redeployed by insulating hundreds of thousands more homes and doubling public funding for research and development in key low-carbon technologies, it said.

That would still leave enough money to “buy and retire sufficient carbon permits each year to reduce emissions by six times as much as the 4GW of offshore wind”.

Makes all kinds of sense to me — the best improvements are the small ones but the masterminds in control of the environment want to build monuments to themselves.

Defund! Defund! Defund!
(channeling my inner Dalek)

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

A troll

I am on several online fora for various hobbies. In one, XXXX had been trolling and someone had the wonderful comment:

XXXX, you are coming across as a small dog flailing a rag that you are not able to release.

Well said!

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

Our Environmental Protection Agency at work

From FOX News:

Man visited by armed EPA agents not satisfied with answers, wants agency changes
The North Carolina man visited by armed EPA agents after sending an email to a controversial agency official says he not satisfied with the explanations about what he considers an excessive response and that he wants changes to agency policies and procedures.

“This isn't over,” Keller said.

He told Fox News.com that Environmental Protection Agency officials have said the agency followed procedures and that the agents acted appropriately during their visit last month. However, Keller is still invited to come to EPA headquarters to discuss the situation.

Keller said he's not willing to come to Washington without knowing what will be discussed.

The incident unfolded after Keller sent an email April 27 to the EPA to try to reach Al Armendariz — a regional administrator who was under fire for a YouTube video post days earlier in which he said his enforcement strategy was to “crucify” executives from big oil and gas companies.

The letter to an EPA external affairs director read “Do you have Mr. Armendariz's contact information so we can say hello? - Regards- Larry Keller.”

Seriously WTF visited by armed EPA agents

Time to cut their funding by 40%

Jerry Pournelle's Iron Law again:

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people”:
First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.
The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.

Where is this generation's Dr. Lawrence J. Peter

These people are employed by us — where is the oversight?

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

Sea Changes

Lost a major scientist recently but hers is a name that is not as well known as it should be.

From the UK Telegraph:

Saskia Jelgersma
Saskia Jelgersma, who has died aged 82, was a Dutch geologist who revolutionised the investigation of sea-level changes, developing a methodology that is now employed by all serious researchers; the field is central to the ongoing debate about the potentially devastating consequences of global warming.

She was best known for her doctoral thesis on Holocene Sea Level changes in the Netherlands, published in 1961 in the Memoirs of the Geological Survey of The Netherlands. The Holocene is the name given to the last 11,700 years of the Earth’s history — the time since the end of the last ice age. Saskia Jelgersma presented her data in the form of a curve, showing that sea levels rose sharply until about 4000 BC. By then the ice caps on North America and Scandinavia had melted, so the rate of sea level rise slowed.

She was given an award for her lifetime of work:

For her contributions to coastal and sea-level science Saskia Jelgersma was awarded the Van Waterschoot van der Gracht Medal. The medal was presented to her at a 1997 symposium in Amsterdam on “Sea Level and science fiction”. The title was hers and reflected her disdain for the sea level projections of the IPCC which, in her view, were based on computer models bereft of empirically-based geological evidence.

Heh…

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

Well crap - Bellingham Scottish Highland Games

I was sitting here thinking that it was about time for the Bellingham Scottish Highland Games. I love this event and was looking forward to taking Lulu and her son.

Turns out the event is one week away but in the wrong direction. June 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

Damn!

Next year…

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

Do they never learn? Argentina headed for trouble (again)

From Reuters:

Argentina loses a third of its dollar deposits
Argentine banks have seen a third of their U.S. dollar deposits withdrawn since November as savers chase greenbacks in response to stiffening foreign exchange restrictions, local banking sources said on Friday.

Depositors withdrew a total of about $100 million per day over the last month in a safe-haven bid fueled by uncertainty over policies that might be adopted as pressure grows to keep U.S. currency in the country.

The chase for dollars is motivated by fear that the government may further toughen its clamp down on access to the U.S. currency as high inflation and lack of faith in government policy erode the local peso.

“Deposits keep going down,” said one foreign exchange broker who asked not to be named. “There is a disparity among banks, but in total it's about $80 million to $120 million per day.”

Nothing says stability like a run on the bank. So who is running the show down there?

Feisty populist leader Fernandez was re-elected in October vowing to “deepen the model” of the interventionist policies
associated with her predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, who is also
her late husband.

Since then she has limited imports, imposed capital controls and seized a majority stake in top energy company YPF.

Great — choosing charisma instead of leadership. She screws with the commerce, fixes prices and nationalizes companies. Of course things are going to go down the tubes.

So how bad is the inflation?

She wants Argentines to end their love affair with the greenback and start saving in pesos despite inflation clocked by private economists at about 25 percent per year.

25% per year? Failed economic policies, the citizens start using a (reasonably) stable alternative currency and she gets her knickers in a bunch.

Don't cry (again) for me…

Posted by DaveH at 08:15 PM | Comments (0)

Memo to self -- do not have surgery in New York

From The Washington Post:

Kidney donation saga takes another grim turn for NYC man who lost sister during surgery
Two weeks ago, Roberto Medina’s sister died while undergoing surgery to give him one of her kidneys. Now, the ailing New York City man is leaving the hospital feeling traumatized — again.

Medina told reporters he was summoned to Montefiore Medical Center on Wednesday and told that a new kidney had been found to replace the one lost in the botched surgery on his sister, Yolanda.

People normally wait years for a transplant. But Medina said doctors told him he was rushed to the top of a waiting list out of sympathy.

On Friday, he was discharged with bad news: The agency that oversees transplants doesn’t allow people to skip to the head of the line unless it is a medical emergency.

Unreal — the doctors botch the surgery on his sister — killing her — they then botch the surgery on him — necessitating a new kidney, they promise him a replacement and then break that promise.

One or two of these events would be tragic but this borders on the incompetent. Welcome to Obamacare.

Strange too as Montefiore Medical Center is a very big hospital and is rated as being one of the best although in this same rating, 8% of respondents would Probably or definitely not recommend the hospital to friends and family while the national average for all US hospitals is only 5%…

Posted by DaveH at 07:45 PM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2012

Back in town / Internet 'issues'

Got back yesterday — long day as I woke up at 6AM to be able to inspect some items before the auction started.

It was pure amateur hour - an older (10-15 years guessing) Enerpac hydraulic unit went for $750. New ones these days are quite pricey as they have become the “Cadillac” of power units but this puppy was worth a couple hundred if that. The cost of a half-horse electric motor, a steel box holding a gallon of hydraulic oil and an $80 pump are not worth $750.

I did score a nice Dayton shop fan — floor standing on a cast iron pedestal. These retail for around $250 and at $25, I was made a happy man. It was a lot of fun poking around the site — they took raw logs in on one end and spat out finished sheets of plywood on the other. The whole site was about the size of a city block — great urban exploration.

It was very sad to hear that the patriarch, Jim Murphy had passed away last Sunday.

He was not only a great auctioneer, he was also a great man and a pillar of the community. His son Tim took over day-to-day operations in 1990 but Jim continued to auction as late as April 2012. I really like Murphy Auctions as they run a clean show — no shilling and pure theater…

Posted by DaveH at 05:28 PM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2012

Whiny baby - Scott Walker re-election

Sums up the intellectual capacity of the progressives:

And the numbers do not pencil out. It is not $34M to $4M, it is a lot closer to $34M-R to $20M-D with the union efforts (people manning phone banks, petitioning, soliciting) totally off the books. A few days will present the exact ratio.

Democracy did not die — it thrived and this little putz just did not like the way that it turned out…

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

RIP Ray Bradbury

Other people have posted first and posted better.

I cannot add anything but 91 years is a good run. Heaven just got a lot more interesting.

Here he is in 2001:

An hour well spent.

Posted by DaveH at 10:28 PM | Comments (0)

68 Years ago Today

D-Day

Never forget…

And Google does a doodle about the anniversary of the first Drive-in-Movie theater instead.

What part of Don't be evil do you fail to understand. The very fact that you are reading this in English speaks volumes to the efforts of those men on that horrible day…

Posted by DaveH at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

Beautiful downtown Port Angeles

Actually, the place is gorgeous. There is a vitality to the downtown that was not here ten years ago.

Holed up in the local Super8 with a 6:30AM wakeup call.

Visited the auction site this afternoon and it is huge — the auction has over 1,000 lot numbers. They are running it in two streams, regular bidding (900 lots) and 100 vehicles (100 X-lots). One of the items I am salivating over is in the low 50's so I need to quickly examine and bid on that and then move on to the odd bits and pieces. The saw blades used in a mill like this are generally a tool steel and are excellent for knife making.

Walked around downtown a bit, had an excellent local Cod fish and chips and surfing a bit before an early bedtime…

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

June 05, 2012

Godspeed Governor Walker

The people have spoken.

There was a nasty recall election in Wisconsin as current Governor Walker balanced the budget, eliminated the state's deficit, cut property taxes, made Wisconsin more business-friendly (16% to 94% on surveys) — but — passed a law allowing individual employees to opt out of union representation. Progressives have touted this as “destroying collective bargaining”. He also required public union members (teachers, fire and police, etc…) to ante up a few percent of their paycheck to cover a part of the cost of their health care and benefits.

He won again with some strong poll numbers (still too early for final results).
There have been apocryphal reports of busses full of union employees coming in from other states to register and vote, also of the Madison, Wisconsin precinct having 119% voter turnout. It will be interesting to see how this is covered…

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

Getting ready

The auction is Thursday — I am heading there tomorrow (five hour drive including ferry ride), spending the night and I'll come in early to check the items I am interested in.

Should be fun — there are a couple items that I have been looking for - the acorn table is the primary item (here and here).

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

The Transit - meh...

I did look at the Sun and I did have my welding goggles at the ready, it was socked in.

Well, I'll just have to hang around to catch the next one — 2117 is not that long a wait…

Posted by DaveH at 09:08 PM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2012

Dealing with Chinese software

What is it about Chinese software?

Their hardware is brilliant but the software (drivers and applications) are so often pure abject crap.

It's like they had a drunken Uncle Wen who once owned an Atari game console and they hired him to write the drivers for a ham radio transceiver. Picked up a well built and nice Wouxun two-band transceiver and the software supplied with it will not cut and paste a spreadsheet of frequencies. Each cell on each row has to be entered manually. And don't get me started on their USB to Serial adapter cable — the Windows Vista/7 software didn't work, turns out that it doesn't work on 64-bit systems. Went to the manufacturers website, downloaded the 3MB of Win7 64-bit drivers and zip, zilch, nada…

My 64-bit system runs every other piece of ham software (and some of these are pretty obscure) perfectly. I gotta haul out an XP machine to program this @#$% Wouxun — looks like it is going to get a lot of use when I travel as programming new repeaters is soooooooo easy.

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

June 03, 2012

Astronomy - #2 and #3

I posted about the Solar Annular Eclipse on May 18th. (Sigh - rain)

Now we have a partial lunar eclipse and the Transit of Venus in the next couple of days.

The Strawberry Moon Lunar Eclipse is early this morning - 3AM PDT Tuesday 4th.

The Transit of Venus is a big event — next one happens in December of 2117.
The USA is not well positioned for this event so the Coca Cola Space Science Center will be live streaming the event from three observatories around the globe. From their website:

On June 5, 2012, a unique celestial event will take place, never to be repeated in our lifetimes. The planet Venus will align itself perfectly between the Earth and the Sun. This rare alignment will allow Venus to be visible as it passes directly across the face of the Sun in an event that astronomers call a transit. The 2012 Transit of Venus will last nearly 7 hours, and it will provide an extraordinary viewing event for observers around the world. Unfortunately, this event is not well positioned for audiences in the continental United States and will only be visible to Georgia viewers for about 2 hours as the Sun sets in the west. An additional limitation in viewing the Sun is the danger posed to the naked eye, therefore special equipment and techniques are required to create a safe observing environment.

In an effort to make this event more accessible to the public, Columbus State University’s Coca-Cola Space Science Center (CCSSC) has partnered with NASA and the International Space School Education Trust (ISSET) to provide a multi-continent webcast of the 2012 Transit of Venus. Audiences throughout the world, including those in Georgia, will have an opportunity to experience this entire event safely via the internet and NASA TV. CCSSC teams will travel to both the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and the Australian outback near Alice Springs to be in optimal observing conditions to acquire images and video of the entire transit. Additionally, one CCSSC team will remain in Georgia to provide local images and video of the event and Columbus State University student, Katherine Lodder, will provide a second set of U.S. images from Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. The three continental teams will be equipped with hydrogen alpha, calcium K-line, and solar white light filters that will allow for spectacular imaging of this event. These filters are provided by the CCSSC’s Mead Observatory, where they are used regularly to obtain images and animations of solar phenomena such as sunspots, flares, plages, faculae, prominences, and filaments. Typically, students from Columbus State study these solar phenomena to better understand the Sun’s cycle of activity and its interaction with the Earth. However, during the Transit of Venus, these solar features will become, for one final period in our lives, the stunning backdrop against which Venus’s planetary disk will cross the Sun’s 865,000-mile wide face.

An alternative site is this: TransitofVenus.org

I know I'll be glued to the internet for this one — forecast is for clouds and rain. If it is clear, I will be down at the store with my welding helmets showing people the once-in-a-lifetime event…

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

Crap - big quake south of Panama

6.6 and only 9km deep — epicenter is about 200 miles south of the coastline between Panama and Costa Rica.

Two friends are visiting CR — wonder if they felt anything…

No indication of tsunami from either the Hawai'i or Alaska centers.

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

June 02, 2012

Not very wordy tonight either

Did a bunch of work in the garden today (the rain finally let up) and working on some other stuff tonight. Tomorrow is forecast for Sunny so spending the day in the garden. Lettuce and beans and peas are starting to flourish and the maters are settling in for July and August.

I overdid on the tomatoes (got 12 plants in the ground) so I will probably be cooking them and freezing them. Or canning — never canned before but it should not be rocket science especially with something as safe (high acid) as maters.

Have an auction coming up in a few days: PENINSULA PLYWOOD GROUP, LLC.
Auctions like this are a lot of fun as 90% of the people are going for specific pieces of equipment and I love watching two or three bidders being played off of each other by the auctioneer. For large industrial plants like this, there is always an “engineers corner” where the people that did maintenance on this equipment stashed the cool little kibbles and bits. You need to know what you are looking at but there are some incredible bargains to be picked up for pennies on the dollar.

I am also looking forward to drooling over this entry: Brown & Sharpe No. 3A universal mill — these machines were built back in the early 1900's and are classic heavy metal. I may even offer a bid if it looks to be in good shape.

Anyway, more posting later this week…

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

June 01, 2012

Nothing tonight either

Working on some stuff.

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