December 05, 2003

Large Bird Die-Off in Oregon

from Yahoo/AP

LINCOLN CITY, Ore. - Thousands of dead birds have washed up on West Coast beaches this fall in a die-off that has stumped experts.

The birds are northern fulmars (a smaller cousin of the Albatross) and beachgoers in Lincoln County have counted more than 400 dead ones this fall.

The fulmars spend most of their time at sea, so it could mean massive numbers are dead in the ocean, said Scott Hatch, a research biologist in Anchorage, Alaska.


Bob Loeffel of Newport has tracked the number of dead birds on the Lincoln County beach for 26 years. He said this year’s die-off shattered his previously recorded high of 172 in 1995.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 01:19 PM | Comments (0)

"Trampled" Wal-Mart Shopper Has History Of Injury Claims

from Florida TV station WKMG

A woman reported “trampled” last Friday by Wal-Mart shoppers desperate for $29.87 DVD players has a long history of claiming injuries from Wal-Marts and other businesses where she worked or shopped.

Patricia Vanlester, 41, was knocked unconscious and, her sister said, “trampled by a herd of elephants” by a stampede of shoppers reaching for DVD players that went on sale at 6 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving, according to Orange City police and the sister, Linda Ellzey.

The story was picked up by the Associated Press and carried in newspapers and other media as far away as Australia and China, an example — some commentators have opined — of American excess during the holiday shopping season.

An investigation by WKMG-Local 6 reveals Vanlester has filed 16 previous claims of injuries at Wal-Mart stores and other places she has shopped or worked, according to Wal-Mart, court files and state records. Her sister, who accompanied her Friday on the visit to Wal-Mart, has also filed a prior injury claim against Wal-Mart, with Vanlester as her witness, a company spokeswoman said yesterday.

and more:

According to state worker’s compensation records and court files at the Volusia County courthouse in DeLand, here’s some of what Vanlester has claimed over the years under some of her various legal last names: Rastellini, Findley, Crabtree, Platt and Vanlester.

  • In 1978 and 1982, more than $400 in worker’s compensation was paid after she claimed injuries from being struck by a falling object and from slipping and falling while working as a machine operator at a now-defunct manufacturing plant in DeLand.
  • In 1984, she claimed a back sprain from working at a restaurant in Winter Haven, producing $356 in worker’s compensation.
  • In 1987, she filed an injury claim against Deltona Lanes, a Volusia County bowling alley, after claiming she slipped and fell while bowling there. In a 1993 sworn deposition in another case, Vanlester testified she received a cash settlement from the bowling alley claim, but did not recall the amount.
  • In 1989, after her car ran off Interstate 4 in Volusia and overturned, she filed a claim against Big T Tire and Wheel Service, of Orange City, claiming the crash was caused by a tire blowout. She testified she received a cash settlement in that case, as well.
  • In 1991, she claimed to have slipped on a puddle of hand lotion while shopping for a curling iron at an Orange City Walgreen’s, causing “permanent injury, disability, disfigurement (and) mental anguish.” She filed suit in 1993, but it was thrown out in January 1994 after a 10-minute hearing. Walgreen’s argued no one at the store had seen any liquid on the floor, so it could not be liable for failing to clean it up.
  • In 1995, Vanlester reported slipping and falling on liquid or grease while working in the meat department of a Eustis Publix, resulting in more than $1,200 in worker’s compensation.
  • In 1996, she claimed to have slipped and fallen while working at the layaway desk of a Mt. Dora Wal-Mart, leading to more than $600 in worker’s compensation payments.
  • In 1997, she claimed a back strain while working at the snack bar of an Orange City Wal-Mart that was replaced by the Wal-Mart Superstore where she claims to have been trampled last Friday.
Posted by Dave Halliday at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

Researchers fake AIDS study data

from the Washington Times

Three Maryland researchers have admitted fabricating interviews with teenagers for a study on AIDS prevention that received more than $1 million in federal funds.

Lajuane Woodard, Sheila Blackwell and Khalilah Creek were employed by the University of Maryland at Baltimore’s department of pediatrics as researchers on the study, funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The three admitted they made up interviews with teenagers, which they had claimed took place from May to August 2001, for the study on preventing the transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The fabrication was first reported in the journal Research USA.

This is sick…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

ViewSonic AirPanel review

from Ars Technica

Neither fish nor fowl and not very good with some applications. Good for casual home use but when you need decent video rendering, this doesn’t work well…


  • 15” LCD touchscreen
  • Instant-on and quick connect
  • Variety of data entry methods to choose from
  • Built-in USB and docking ports for expandability.


  • Heavy (6 lbs)
  • Tiny keyboard
  • Expensive (compared to a laptop)
  • Poor audio/video performance
  • No VGA/DVI port (cannot double as an LCD monitor)
Posted by Dave Halliday at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

Dumb crime

from The Miami Herald

Many people view a jury-duty summons as a hassle.

Investigators say Todd Lorin Nelson saw it as an opportunity for six months of paid vacation, courtesy of the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County.

Nelson, 33, an employee of the county clerk’s office for 13 years, was arrested Thursday and charged with grand theft and official misconduct by falsely claiming to be on federal jury duty for six months. He collected $17,388.47 in pay during that time.

Nelson was summoned to federal jury duty April 7, but the court wound up not needing him. Still, he told his bosses he was serving on a jury, the county inspector general’s office said.

”They accepted what he said,” inspector general Christopher Mazzella said.

He would drop by his office from time to time to pick up his pay stubs.

‘During these visits, his co-workers noted he was always rushed and would state that he was `at lunch,’ ‘on break’ or ‘needed to get back to jury duty,’ ” investigator Jennifer Chirolis wrote in the arrest report.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)

Motorist gets vehicle registered online during traffic stop

from CBS

When officer Jason Zier pulled over a 1992 Mazda 626 on Thursday afternoon, the vehicle’s registration had expired. By the time he’d finished writing up Sean Leach for the infraction, the car was legal again.

That’s because the 36-year-old Jersey City man had a cell phone, a friend with a computer who he could reach and the foresight to use the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission’s online registration service.

Leach’s ingenuity did not save him from getting a ticket, but it did keep him from having his car towed and getting socked with the towing bill.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

Socialised Medicine is a good thing...

The Flu season is upon us and it seems to be hitting Europe quite strongly.

Hospitals in France — still having problems since the 15,000 people died this summer — are gearing up for what may be 2 million cases of Flu

Agence France-Presse

Over the weekend, emergency departments in the Paris area were overloaded as worried parents brought in hundreds of children suffering from flu, bronchitis or gastroenteritis. In some cases patients had to wait up to seven hours.

from Reuters/AFP

The French government, criticized for reacting too slowly to a deadly August heat wave, has urged hospitals in Paris to take swift emergency measures to fight an epidemic of flu and gastroenteritis. More than half a million people in France, including many children, have contracted flu, gastroenteritis or bronchitis in recent weeks in an unusually early winter outbreak, and experts say the epidemic has yet to peak. Media coverage of crowded hospital waiting rooms and off-duty health workers being recalled to cope with the influx may have exacerbated the crisis, prompting more people to bypass their doctors and head straight to the hospital. ‘‘The health authorities have added beds and made staff come back to work. They are all scared stiff,’’ said Patrick Pelloux, head of the Emergency Hospital Doctors Association. ‘‘We are in a permanent state of crisis, so as soon as there is a problem, the system explodes,’’ he told the daily newspaper Libération. The situation comes as France battles to plug a gaping hole in its health budget. Pelloux and other doctors have criticized the government for failing to improve hospital resources since the August heat wave, which killed 15,000 people, most of them elderly.

The BBC has a bit more

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

University of Tennessee Hokes Archives


Some interesting stuff here - check out the Centaur exhibit:

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville is known internationally for its research on centaurs. The Jack E. Reese Galleria in the Hodges Libary includes one of the finest adult male centaurian specimens yet discovered, and the library includes the most extensive collections of centaurian epic literature in the south-eastern United States. From 1998 through 2001, annual panel sessions were held at the University Center to present the last Centaurian Research by noted scholars at the University of Tennessee.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

Mr. Picassohead



Posted by Dave Halliday at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

report from IAAPA convention

a report with lots of pictures from this years IAAPA convention in Orlando.

IAAPA you ask?

International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions

Posted by Dave Halliday at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)

Victor Davis Hanson

another excellent essay today…

Saddam’s Baathists recently blew apart Japanese diplomats on their way to a meeting in Tikrit to discuss sending millions of dollars in aid to Iraq’s poor. Their ghosts join those of U.N. officials who likewise were slain for their humanitarian efforts. On the West Bank, three Americans were killed: Their felony was trying to interview young Palestinians for Fulbright fellowships for study in the United States. In turn, their would-be rescuers were stoned by furious crowds — not unlike the throngs that chant for Saddam on al Jazeera as they seek to desecrate or loot the bodies of murdered Spanish and Italian peacekeepers in Iraq while the tape rolls. All this, I suppose, is what bin Laden calls a clash of civilizations.

Jews at places of worship are systematically being blown up from Turkey to Morocco — along with British consular officials murdered in Istanbul, American diplomats murdered in Jordan, and Western tourists, Christians, and local residents murdered by Muslims in Bali, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. The new rule is that the more likely you are to help, give to, or worship in the Middle East, the more likely you are to be shot or blown up.

Most of the recent dead were noncombatants. All were either attempting to feed or aid Muslims, or simply wished to be left alone in peace. Their killers operate through the money and sanctuary of Middle East rogue regimes, the implicit support of thousands in the Muslim street, and the tacit neglect of even “moderate” states in the region — as long as the tally of killing is in the half-dozens or so, and not noticeable enough to threaten foreign investment or American aid, or to earn European disapproval.

But when the carnage is simply too much (too many Muslims killed as collateral damage or too many minutes on CNN), then suspects are miraculously arrested in Turkey or Saudi Arabia, or in transit to Iran or Syria — but more often post facto and never with any exegesis about why killers who once could not be found now suddenly are. No wonder Pakistani intelligence officers, Palestinian security operatives, Syrian diplomats, and Iraqis working for the Coalition are all at times exposed as having abetted the terrorists.

and mroe:

We are not in a war with a crook in Haiti. This is no Grenada or Panama — or even a Kosovo or Bosnia. No, we are in a worldwide struggle the likes of which we have not seen since World War II. The quicker we understand that awful truth, and take measures to defeat rather than ignore or appease our enemies, the quicker we will win. In a war such as this, the alternative to victory is not a brokered peace, but abject Western suicide and all that it entails — a revelation of which we saw on September 11.

Despite some disappointments about the postbellum reconstruction and the hysteria of our critics, our military is doing a wonderful job. We should understand that they have the capability to win this struggle in Iraq and elsewhere — but only if we at home accept that we have been all along in a terrible war against terrible enemies.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 09:08 AM | Comments (0)

Bush Derangement Syndrome

from Charles Krauthammer

Diane Rehm: “Why do you think he (Bush) is suppressing that (Sept. 11) report?”

Howard Dean: “I don’t know. There are many theories about it. The most interesting theory that I’ve heard so far — which is nothing more than a theory, it can’t be proved — is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis. Now who knows what the real situation is?”

Diane Rehm Show, NPR, Dec. 1

and more

Now, I cannot testify to Howard Dean’s sanity before this campaign, but five terms as governor by a man with no visible tics and no history of involuntary confinement is pretty good evidence of a normal mental status. When he avers, however, that “the most interesting” theory as to why the president is “suppressing” the 9/11 report is that Bush knew about 9/11 in advance, it’s time to check on thorazine supplies.

When Rep. Cynthia McKinney first broached this idea before the 2002 primary election, it was considered so nutty it helped make her former Rep. McKinney. Today the Democratic presidential front-runner professes agnosticism as to whether the president of the United States was tipped off about 9/11 by the Saudis, and it goes unnoticed. The virus is spreading.

Great stuff

Posted by Dave Halliday at 09:03 AM | Comments (0)

More SCO fud, this time insulting the constitution

from Lawrence Lessig

Darl McBride (CEO of SCO) published an open letter regarding their ongoing lawsuits and licensing issues with regards to Linux.

Lessig fisks this very well - worth reading if you are interested in intelectual property or copyright issues…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2003

Things in Iraq are just sooo bad since the US took over... (yeah right)

from the Boxing-Central

Iraqi Boxers Prepare to Return to Olympics

By Rich DiBona

Iraqi athletes in the past were “motivated” by the evil and sadistic Uday Hussein who was president of the Iraqi National Olympic Commitee. He used torture and imprisonment as ways to get through to the Olympians. With Uday now gone forever, the Iraqi athletes are happy and excited about the prospects of the 2004 Olympics. Boxers have now begun competing to attempt to qualify for the games.

The fighters are being supplied new equipment including shoes, mouthpieces and boxing gloves by the Americans. “I have been practicing boxing since 1993 and I never had better equipment, ” said one member of the Iraqi team, Ayad Farhat. “It is great. We are really motivated.”

Cultural Imperialism if I ever saw it…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:07 PM | Comments (0)

Colymbosathon ecplecticos - ie: World's Oldest (Astounding) Penis

from MS/NBC

Actually pretty cool - first tissue differentiation for that specific purpose…

To quote the original AAAS paper:

The specimen described here is classified as Arthropoda, Crustacea, Ostracoda, Myodocopa, Myodocopida, Cylindroleberididae, Colymbosathon ecplecticos gen. et sp. nov. Name: Kolymbos (swimmer) + sathon (with a large penis); ekplektikos (astounding). Material: A carapace with preserved soft parts, Oxford University Museum of Natural History specimen number OUM C.295670 (holotype). The specimen (Fig. 1 H) has been reconstructed in three dimensions (Fig. 1, A to C, E to G, and I to P). Locality and stratigraphy: Herefordshire, England; Wenlock Series, Silurian. Diagnosis: Cylindroleberidid with well-developed adductorial sulcus and long, simple gape; six pairs of posteriorly attached gills; second maxilla lacks setose “comb.” Description: The bivalved carapace is large (maximum length, height, and width, 5210, 3100, and 3150 µm, respectively) and smooth (Fig. 1, F and I). In lateral view, the anterior, posterior, and ventral outlines of the valve are gently curved. A gape extends from the anterior cardinal corner to just behind mid-length. An adductorial sulcus curves forward slightly, to about mid-height. A weak anterior lobe and evenly curved post-adductorial dorsal margin extend just above the hinge line.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:02 PM | Comments (0)

IPO fun and games..

from Reuters

Orbitz chief could make lots of money if the company’s IPO fails:

Orbitz CEO Jeffrey Katz could profit handsomely from a cushion in his pay package if the online travel company’s initial public offering is a bust, but analysts say he probably won’t have to use it.

Katz has an insurance policy of sorts that gives him the option for a one-time cash payout in an amount that increases as the company’s shares decline, according to documents filed with regulators.

Katz can cash in on the payout 30 days after the IPO, on the first four anniversaries of his July 2003 contract, or if he resigns or is terminated.

“I’ve never seen that before. I think it’s a howl,” said John Fitzgibbon, analyst at, which monitors IPOs. “What he’s done is (essentially bought) a put against his stock — in other words, he gets money if it goes down.”

Orbitz, the No. 3 online travel site, plans to sell 4 million shares in its IPO, and stockholders will sell 7 million more, for a total of 11 million shares at $22 to $24 apiece. The offering is expected the week of Dec. 15, according to people familiar with the IPO.

Orbitz was founded in 2000 by the top five U.S. airlines, most of which are selling big chunks of stock in the IPO.

Interesting… more in the article

Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:56 PM | Comments (0)

"Nano" in firm's name fuels stock's hefty gain

from Forbes

Basic deal - a company has nothing to do with Nanotechnology but their name has those four golden letters and their tickker symbol is NANO - result? Major gains on their IPO

A growing fascination with nanotechnology seems to be doing wonders for the stock price of Nanometrics Inc.

Too bad the company’s only connection with the hot field of molecular-scale machinery is the first four letters of its name and a stock ticker, NANO. But that, apparently, is enough to confuse some investors.

It has been a remarkable few days on the stock market for the Milpitas, California-based Nanometrics, whose true identity is perhaps more mundane than its name would suggest: it makes tools that measure the thickness of films deposited on silicon wafers.


Posted by Dave Halliday at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

French seeking to replace Aircraft carrier with Brittish ship

from Strategy Page via InstaPundit

NAVAL AVIATION: French Carrier Disaster Gets Very Strange

December 4, 2003: France is considering quietly retiring their new nuclear powered aircraft carrier and joining with Britain to buy a new carrier of British design. Actually, the French had planned to built a second nuclear powered carrier, but they are having so many problems with the first one that they are quite reluctant about building another one. Britain is building two 50,000 ton conventionally powered carriers, at a cost of $2.5 billion each. France would order a third of this class, and bring down the cost of all three a bit. The new French nuclear carrier “Charles de Gaulle” has suffered from a seemingly endless string of problems. The 40,000 ton ship has cost over four billion dollars so far and is slower than the diesel powered carrier it replaced. Flaws in the “de Gaulle” have led it to using the propellers from it predecessor, the “Foch,” because the ones built for “de Gaulle” never worked right. Worse, the nuclear reactor installation was done poorly, exposing the engine crew to five times the allowable annual dose of radiation. There were also problems with the design of the deck, making it impossible to operate the E-2 radar aircraft that are essential to defending the ship and controlling offensive operations. Many other key components of the ship did not work correctly, and the carrier has been under constant repair and modification. The “de Gaulle” took eleven years to build (1988-99) and was not ready for service until late 2000. It’s been downhill ever since. So the plan is to buy into the new British carrier building program and keep the “de Gaulle” in port and out of trouble as much as possible. The British have a lot more experience building carriers, and if there are any problems with the British designed ship, one can blame the British.

Wouldn’t mind knowing who were the engineers for that project… Sheesh!

Posted by Dave Halliday at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)

Cod fishing problems...

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea is a scientific body that looks at ocean resources including fishing. They have been very specific about the Cod population and the fact that it is crashing from overfishing.

The European Commission says:
bq. “EU fishing boats should be allowed to catch the same amount of North Sea cod in 2004 as they were allowed this year

From New Scientist

EU COmmission report (PDF)

Posted by Dave Halliday at 02:18 PM | Comments (0)

Afrian AIDS epedemic - WHO and UN ignoring key data

from New Scientist

“The worry is that if too much attention is paid to unsafe injections it will take away from the message about sexual transmission,” says James Whitworth at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who backs the WHO position. Another fear is that vaccination programmes will be undermined if injections are seen as risky.

Using the WHO’s own estimate that 7.6 per cent of infections in 1988 were from dirty needles or blood transfusions, he says healthcare is to blame for 10 million infected people today. If needles cause closer to half of all infections, as Gisselquist believes, tackling the problem would have kept the epidemic confined to high-risk groups, he claims.

“In Asia, if we don’t get that message out, the epidemic could really blow up,” he warns. The WHO’s own figures, based on observations in hospitals and clinics, suggest that up to 75 per cent of injections in parts of south-east Asia are carried out using unsterilised equipment, compared with just 20 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa.

and more

Six months before the meeting, UNAIDS drew up a report, which has been seen by New Scientist, that contradicts this position. Based on a review of 23 studies, it concludes that in sub-Saharan Africa, “contaminated injections may cause between 12 and 33 per cent of new HIV infections”. That is far higher than the accepted 2.5 per cent figure.

That report has never been published, prompting Gisselquist to accuse the WHO of ignoring evidence that does not support its views. But according to Peter Ghys of UNAIDS in Geneva, the document was a preliminary draft that has since been incorporated into a much larger summary of the evidence. That study, due to be published early next year, will support the WHO estimate of about 2.5 per cent.

Sickening stuff - politics should not be getting in the way of health care and health care people should not be playing politics…

Posted by Dave Halliday at 02:11 PM | Comments (0)

Rumsfeld meets with Afghan Warlords

from Fox News

Interesting developments - the two primary northern Afghan warlords turned in their weapons and stated that they wanted to meet with coalition forces to negotiate peace…

Rumsfeld went to parlay with them.

Rumsfeld, making his fourth trip to Afghanistan since the Taliban’s fall, met for the first time with northern Afghanistan’s two major warlords, welcoming them warmly. Afterward, he said he was satisfied they were moving toward disarmament of their rival armies — a step considered critical to extending the central government’s authority beyond Kabul, the capital.

“Each of them has initiated that process,” Rumsfeld told reporters. “It’s under way and that is a very good thing. At what pace it will proceed I guess remains to be seen, but we’re pleased that they’ve agreed to do so.”

Tentative but wonderful steps towards peace.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

Fun Facts about Liberals

from Frank J.’s wonderful site

Here are some:

Liberals hate people who are not open minded. Open minded is defined as thinking just like they think (otherwise you’re evil).

Liberals tend to congregate on college campuses as it is a safe haven for their idiotic ideas, protecting them from scrutiny. Thus, avoid college at all costs.

Liberals are invulnerable to reason and logic. They are vulnerable to firearms, knives, and the bitch slap.

If you see a fuel-efficient car, it’s probably being driven by a liberal. Run it off the road with your SUV.

Even if you satisfy liberals’ demands, they’ll come up with new thing to complain about that you could never even imagine; they’re just that creative. That creativity is put towards much better use as forced labor in a coal mine.

Good stuff…

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

Ten foods you should not eat

Here is an interesting list of ten foods you should not eat and why…


Posted by Dave Halliday at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2003

Back home again

We just arrived in town this evening.

Getting ready for bed and for work tomorrow.

Blogging will continue then.

Posted by Dave Halliday at 11:45 PM | Comments (0)