Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Planned obsolescence

For some reason, I found this story a bit creepy. It seems Microsoft's Zune 30 MP3 players, an early version of the device, all decided to freeze up today.
On Wednesday, Zune owners flooded blogs and Internet chat sites to complain that they couldn't listen to music on the 30 gigabyte version of the Zune, an early version of the device, because it wouldn't start up properly. The postings noted that the digital music players get stuck on the Zune logo screen when the machine's software is loading.

A message on the Zune support Web site acknowledged the problem and informed customers Microsoft was working to address it, but didn't identify the cause. Microsoft declined to say how many devices were affected.
Weird. I suppose it's not coincidence that this just happens to be the last day of the year, but really...what the hell? I checked the Zune forums, and there are a number of threads on the topic, but no fix yet from Microsoft.

I've stayed away from Apple's iPod because I don't like being shackled with iTunes to manage the device. I've used nothing but Creative Labs MP3 players (got my first one in 2000 or 2001) and have never had issue one.

Update: It was a leap year bug.
...Microsoft finally figured it out. While writing some of the driver software, the world's biggest software company had forgotten to compensate for leap years.

The solution? Wait 24 hours until Jan. 1.
I hope there are no mission-critical Zune 30s out there. Microsoft, of course, is rushing a patch right out:
The Microsoft posting promised a fix by the end of the next leap year in December 2012.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Caroline Kennedy's Schoolhouse Rock

Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star cartoonist Clay Jones ran this 'toon in last Sunday's paper, and I just about busted a gut when I saw it.

A bit of background may be in order for those unfamiliar with the "I'm just a bill" reference. Back in the 1970s, ABC started a series of educational cartoon shorts called "Schoolhouse Rock" during the Saturday morning cartoons. This one outlined the legislative process:

Monday, December 29, 2008

Russian prof: US to collapse in 2010

Igor Panarin, a Russian academic, predicts that the US will collapse and break up in 2010. Not just "by" or "around" 2010. In 2010. Late June or early July, to be exact.
For a decade, Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010. For most of that time, he admits, few took his argument -- that an economic and moral collapse will trigger a civil war and the eventual breakup of the U.S. -- very seriously. Now he's found an eager audience: Russian state media.

[ ... ]

Mr. Panarin posits, in brief, that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war next fall and the collapse of the dollar. Around the end of June 2010, or early July, he says, the U.S. will break into six pieces -- with Alaska reverting to Russian control.

[ ... ]

California will form the nucleus of what he calls "The Californian Republic," and will be part of China or under Chinese influence. Texas will be the heart of "The Texas Republic," a cluster of states that will go to Mexico or fall under Mexican influence. Washington, D.C., and New York will be part of an "Atlantic America" that may join the European Union. Canada will grab a group of Northern states Prof. Panarin calls "The Central North American Republic." Hawaii, he suggests, will be a protectorate of Japan or China, and Alaska will be subsumed into Russia.
Let me just go out on a limb here and say without reservation that Mr. Panarin is, uh, how do I put it? Oh yeah...full of crap.

Greek paper: Jews to blame for Gaza strife...oh yeah, and financial crisis, too

Haaretz reports that Greek news source Avriani blames unspecified Jews (I guess all of them?) for the violence in Gaza and the global financial crisis. Oh, and they're also preparing for World War III.
After the American Jews acquired once again the world's wealth and plunged the planet into an unprecedented financial crisis, they started rehearsing for WWIII.
Oh, and that whole global love affair thing with Barack Obama? can forget about that.
The paper also blamed U.S. President-elect Barack Obama for "playing dead" in the present crisis by not saying anything against the Jews, urging him to prove that he is not owned by the Jewish lobby.
I, for one, welcome the age of "pure, delicious crazy".

Cynthia McKinney to provide aid and comfort to Hamas

Ousted Georgia congresswoman, failed Green Party presidential candidate, and batshit-crazy barking moonbat Cynthia McKinney will join 15 other barking moonbats in running Israel's blockade of Gaza in an attempt to bring medical aid to the Palestinians.
A group of international activists said it would defy an Israeli blockade and send a boat with medical supplies to Gaza from Cyprus.

Free Gaza Group spokeswoman Caoimhe Butterly said their 20-meter yacht Dignity would leave Larnaca port around 5 p.m. (1400GMT) Monday with 3.5 tons of donated supplies.

She said the yacht would carry 16 passengers, including former US Congresswoman Cynthia Mckinney, Cypriot lawmaker and doctor Eleni Theocharous and activists from Britain, Australia, Ireland and Tunisia.
Actually, I don't have any particular beef with the idea of bringing medical and relief supplies for Palestinian civilians in Gaza. I'd just rather see it done by an organization a bit more impartial than a group that calls itself "Free Gaza".

Oh, and by the way...the Israelis did "free Gaza" a couple years ago, and it hasn't worked out all that well.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bucky And The Blues Buckets

Went with Mrs. Pool Bar and saw these guys last night at the Colonial Tavern. It's about the third or fourth time we've seen them, between open mic nights and full-on shows, and they put on a great show every time. The young (20 year old) lead singer Pat has grown into his frontman role nicely, and it's kind of cool to see his dad "Doc" hold up his end on bass. Keith on drums and Scott on lead and rhythm guitar round out Bucky And The Blues Buckets.

Just a word of advice to "Bucky": Get your show dates on your web page!

Chavez condemns Israeli retaliation

Venezuela's chunky commie president Hugo Chavez condemned Israel for defending itself...of course.
President Hugo Chavez says Venezuela condemns Israel for its attacks on Hamas-ruled Gaza.

Israel bombed key security installations Saturday, leaving more than 200 Palestinians dead and more than 400 wounded. Palestinian officials say at least 15 civilians were among the dead.

The Israeli army says Palestinian militants have fired 300 rockets and mortars at Israeli targets over the past week.

But Chavez on Saturday called Israel's retaliation "criminal" and urged a "massive campaign of repudiation." the delusional mind of Chavez, Israel's right of self-defense is criminal. Hamas targeting civilians with rockets and mortars? Not so much.

UN Security Council a little slow on the uptake

The UN Security Council has issued a call for an end to violence in Gaza.
The U.N. Security Council called early on Sunday for an immediate halt to all violence in Gaza after a day of Israeli air strikes in response to rocket and mortar fire by Gaza militants against Israel.

"The members of the Security Council expressed serious concern at the escalation of the situation in Gaza and called for an immediate halt to all violence," said a statement read to reporters by Croatian Ambassador Neven Jurica, president of the council.
Funny...I don't remember the Security Council expressing any "serious concern" over the past year while Hamas launced 3,000 or so rockets into Israel.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Skip breakfast, get laid

A Japanese study suggests that kids who skip breakfast lose their virginity earlier. Well, duh, they have more time.
Japanese researchers studied 3,000 people and said that teens who skip breakfast lose their virginity earlier than those who start their days off with some food, Agence France-Presse reported Friday.
I guess this will lead to millions of kids with raging hormones rushing out the door each morning without eating in the hope that they won't have to wait quite so long for that first roll in the hay.

'We must refight the battles of the 1970s'

As I read this opinion piece in the Telegraph, I was struck by how easily it could have appeared in any US paper...just swap "Labour" for "Democrat" and "Conservative" for "Republican".
The Left sees capitalism gasping for breath, and hopes a well-aimed blow could do mortal damage. Invigorated by the market's collapse, socialists are on the march. No more talk about a third way. No more twaddle like the Blairite "what matters is what works". Pulsating with core belief and conviction, the Left are preaching "the state can save us".

Belief and conviction. Where does this leave the Conservatives? Having worked with David Cameron, I can vouch for his strong Conservative beliefs, as well as his cool head in a crisis. The task that befalls him and his team is to spell out those convictions, loud and clear, and to join battle with the Left. Britain needs a clarion cry for a just cause, a noble object, something [that] appeals not just to the head, but also the heart and makes people understand that, unless we have a change of government and direction, we will all go the way of Woolies.

What is that noble object? Not a policy, but a call to arms. "We want to work with the grain of human nature, helping people to help themselves – and others. This is the way to restore that self-reliance and self-confidence which are the basis of personal responsibility and national success. Attempting to do too much, politicians have failed to do those things that should be done. This has damaged the country and the authority of government. The balance of our society has been increasingly tilted in favour of the state at the expense of individual freedom. This election may be the last chance we have to reverse that process, to restore the balance of power in favour of the people. It is therefore the most crucial election since the war."
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Christmas message from The Pogues

As Christmas songs go, Fairy Tale of New York is a bit of a downer. But it ends on a hopeful note, and that's what Christmas is all about, right? Not that hopey-changey stuff spewed by Obama and his cultists, but a genuine feeling that as bad as things were, they can get better. Sort of like 2008, no?

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

UK's Channel 4 to air alternative Christmas message...from Ahmadinejad

Britain's Channel 4 will air a Christmas "message of peace" from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Channel 4 is positioning this as an "alternative" to the Queen's annual Christmas address.
President Ahmadinejad's address will focus on spiritual messages of seasonal goodwill, but also contains an attack on "bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers".

[ ... ]

Stephen Smith, director of the Holocaust Centre, said the president's message of peace was "deceptive", describing him as a "wolf in sheep's clothing".

He criticised "the fact that somebody who openly denies the Holocaust is given legitimacy on prime-time television, someone who uses Holocaust denial to be divisive.

"This message of so-called peace needs to be treated very carefully."

Philip Davies MP, a Tory member of the culture select committee, said that the address was "completely unacceptable on every level".

"His previous comments don't strike me as being in tune with what most people feel at Christmas time. He is an offensive man and the last person you would want to use for a Christmas message.

"Channel 4 have lost sight of what a Christmas message should be. They are trying to be controversial for the sake of being controversial, and are treating their viewers with contempt by pretending this is not a publicity stunt."
To be fair, this seems somewhat consistent with Channel 4's practice of airing opposing viewpoints. Early last year they broadcast The Great Global Warming Swindle, an excellent dismantling of the anthropogenic global warming argument.

But really...Ahmadinejad of all people?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

'Science will not intrude on public policy'

From Hot Air headlines, who got it from Ace of Spades HQ, we hear of a Princeton scientist fired from his Department of Energy job in 1993 by Al Gore. The reason for his dismissal? He concluded that "Fears about man-made global warming are unwarranted and are not based on good science."
Dr. [Will] Happer views climate change as a predominately natural process. "The earth's climate is changing now, as it always has. There is no evidence that the changes differ in any qualitative way from those of the past."

In 1991, Happer was appointed director of energy research for the US Department of Energy. In 1993, he testified before Congress that the scientific data didn't support widespread fears about the dangers of the ozone hole and global warming, remarks that caused then-Vice President Al Gore to fire him. "I was told that science was not going to intrude on public policy", he said. "I did not need the job that badly".
Dr. Happer is one of the 650 scientists mentioned in this earlier post.

'Drive-by socialism'

Hugo Chavez, the chunky commie who runs Venezuela, indulged in a little impromptu Marxism when he saw a shopping mall under construction, decided he didn't like it, and ordered it expropriated by the state.
President Hugo Chavez says he was heading through downtown Caracas when he was shocked by the sight of a huge, nearly finished shopping mall amid the high-rise offices and apartments.

"They had already built a monster there," Chavez said. "I passed by there just recently and said, 'What is this? My God!'"

So the often-impulsive president told an allied mayor to halt construction and said this prime block of urban real estate should be expropriated. He said the sprawling six-story building might be put to better use as a hospital or university.

The exercise in drive-by socialism illustrates Chavez's tendency to govern from his gut, and to leap in when he thinks other government agencies — in this case city planners — aren't doing their job.

[ ... ]

Venezuelan architect Gaspar Arancibia said he agrees the mall was ill-conceived, without adequate streets to handle the traffic — a symptom of perpetually poor planning.

"I agree with the president, but it was very late. It should have been stopped a long time ago," Arancibia said.

"The president can't be making decisions of that sort. They have to be made by municipal governments," he added. "Because if everything depends on the president, we'd need to have a lot of similar presidents at the same time to solve many of our local problems."
Now there's a pleasant thought.

Monday, December 22, 2008

DUmmie FUnnies

I stumbled across this site today, and can't believe I've never heard of it before.

Democratic Underground is a fever swamp of far-left delusional thinking and I'll occasionally visit just to get a chuckle over the bizarre drivel that gets thrown around by the DUmmies (as they're known by right-wing bloggers) over there. The problem is I often feel like I need a long, hot shower with disinfectant afterward.

Well, no more. DUmmie FUnnies gathers some of the more crazed babble and reposts it with a humorous running commentary. Check it out.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

White House calls bullshit on New York Times

The New York Times published a hit piece on George Bush today, saying the sub-prime mortgage crisis was a mess of his making and laying blame for the ensuing economic meltdown at his feet, and the White House wasted no time in calling bullshit on the Times.
The response accused the nation's largest Sunday paper of "gross negligence."

"The Times' 'reporting' in this story amounted to finding selected quotes to support a story the reporters fully intended to write from the onset, while disregarding anything that didn't fit their point of view," White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said in an e-mailed statement.

[ ... ]

"The Times story frequently repeats a charge by the Administration's critics: a 'laissez faire' attitude toward regulation. We make no apology for understanding the concept of regulatory balance. That is, regulation should be stringent enough to protect the greater public good and safety but not overly strong so that it unnecessarily inhibits innovation, creativity and productivity gains that are the sole source of increasing Americans' standards of living. But while repeating this charge, the reporters gave glancing attention to the fact that it was this Administration that pushed for strengthened regulation and oversight, greater transparency, and housing reform.

"The story also gives kid glove treatment to Congress. While the administration was pushing for more transparent lending rules and strengthening oversight and supervision of Fannie and Freddie, Congress for years blocked attempts at stronger regulation and blocked reform of the Federal Housing Administration. Democratic leaders brazenly encouraged Fannie and Freddie to loosen lending standards and instead encouraged the housing GSEs to play a larger and larger role in the housing market -- even while explicitly acknowledging the rising risks. And while the story notes the political contributions of some banks to Republicans, it neglects that political contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac overwhelmingly supported Democratic officials -- in particular the chairmen of the banking committees. In fact, even in the midst of what by then was a housing crisis, it took Congress nearly a full year to pass specific legislation called for by the president in the summer of 2007, especially legislation to reform oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Actually, I think the White House went easy on the Times, and on members of Congress like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and Barack Obama by not calling them by name in their response.

Here's a link to the full text of the response.

Update: The White House must have been really pissed. Here's another link to the White House web site in which they engage in a righteous Fisking of the NYT piece, and they do name names.

Daily Mail: 76% ain't buyin' it

I saw this poll over at the Daily Mail, and while online polls are scientifically useless (sort of like global warming theory), the results are still revealing.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Jihadi invasion of Facebook repulsed

A Facebook group known as Fursan Ghazawat Alnusra has been shut down by the company after being tipped off to their presence by Fox News.
A quickly growing jihadist group that used Facebook to spread its radical message has been shut down by the popular Web networking site after alerted the company to the group's activities.

Facebook blocked the group, Fursan Ghazawat Alnusra — Arabic for "Knights in Support of the Invasion" — Thursday evening after the group swelled to about 120 members in just over one week.

The group had been exhorting its members to wage "Jihad to aid the religion of Allah and his Prophet."
Too bad. I would like to have written something on their wall.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Something to watch

An article from raises the specter once more of upcoming solar flares wreaking havoc on communications and electronics here on earth. I pretty much dismiss these since we see news items like this all the time yet I don't recall any widespread communications outages attributed to solar activity.

But since there's a faction in the scientific community which insists that solar activity affects our climate more than human-generated CO2, I found it interesting.
The Sun operates on an 11-year cycle, alternating between active and quiet periods. We are currently in a quiet period, with few sunspots on the sun's surface and fewer solar flares, though the next cycle of activity has begun.

It is expected to peak around 2012, bringing lots of sunspots, flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs). CMEs can interact with the Earth's magnetosphere, causing problems for satellites, communications, and power grids.

This upcoming active period now looks like it will be more intense than the previous one, which peaked around 2006, some scientists think.
Simply put, the theory behind solar effect on the weather is that high solar activity inhibits cloud formation here on earth, leading to warmer temperatures. Low solar activity leads to more cloud formation and lower terrestrial temperatures.

The current period of cooling we're experiencing (which prompted the name change from "Global Warming" to "Climate Change") coincides pretty nicely with the current lull in solar activity. So it'll be interesting to see if we experience an increase in global temperatures concurrent with the increase in solar activity, especially if the global economic slump results in a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Minority Report

Apropos of last night's post on the global warming "consensus" in shambles, here's a link to the senate Environmental and Public Works committee minority (read, Republican) report referenced in the WND article.

Good stuff.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cracks in global warming dogma growing wider and deeper

Reader Ayrdale posted a link to a WND article with some juicy quotes from dissenting scientists sure to give Al Gore fits of apoplexy. A sampling of my favorites:
"I am a skeptic ... . Global warming has become a new religion." -- Nobel Prize Winner for Physics, Ivar Giaever.

"Since I am no longer affiliated with any organization nor receiving any funding, I can speak quite frankly ... . As a scientist I remain skeptical." -- Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Joanne Simpson, the first woman in the world to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology and formerly of NASA who has authored more than 190 studies and has been called "among the most pre-eminent scientists of the last 100 years."

"The models and forecasts of the U.N. IPCC "are incorrect because they only are based on mathematical models and presented results at scenarios that do not include, for example, solar activity." -- Victor Manuel Velasco Herrera, a researcher at the Institute of Geophysics of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

"It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that makes it seem there is only a fringe of scientists who don't buy into anthropogenic global warming." -- U.S. Government Atmospheric Scientist Stanley B. Goldenberg of the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming? For how many years must cooling go on?" -- Geologist Dr. David Gee, the chairman of the science committee of the 2008 International Geological Congress who has authored 130 plus peer-reviewed papers, and is currently at Uppsala University in Sweden.

"Many [scientists] are now searching for a way to back out quietly (from promoting warming fears), without having their professional careers ruined." -- Atmospheric physicist James A. Peden, formerly of the Space Research and Coordination Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.
And this one which reminds me of a recent post of mine:
"The [global warming] scaremongering has its justification in the fact that it is something that generates funds." -- Award-winning Paleontologist Dr. Eduardo Tonni, of the Committee for Scientific Research in Buenos Aires and head of the Paleontology Department at the University of La Plata.
Game over, guys.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Louis CK Calls it

A cross post from my corner of the web:

Eric's travel adventures seem to make this tangentially applicable:

Domino effect

I was booked today on a 12:10PM Delta flight from Richmond to Atlanta, where I was to connect to a 4PM flight for San Francisco. When I checked in, I was informed that the flight was delayed until 12:30. No big deal...there'd still be plenty of time to make the connection. Then Delta announced it would be departing at 1:35. Er, still tight, but doable. As a backup, Delta listed me on standby for a later flight for San Francisco. But as I walked up to the gate, I saw the new departure time listed as 2:00...not good. It seemed the ice storms in the north east were having a domino effect on flights along the east coast.

So rather than freak out and enter the moshpit that was forming in front of the gate agent, I called Delta and asked what my options were. The kind lady at Delta said that the later flight for SFO was still an option, but that there was only one seat remaining...a middle seat in coach. Blech. Since my dinner plans were already scrapped for the evening, I asked what was available for first thing Monday morning and she offered me a 6AM flight out of Richmond with a connection in Atlanta that gets into SFO at 11AM...perfect. My schedule for Monday morning was flexible enough so I could afford to get into the office there a bit later.

The best part? I guess being nice with the ticketing agents when everyone else is probably screaming pays off because she put me in first class for both legs of the trip. And I get to go to a Christmas party tonight I otherwise would have missed.

Moral #1: Be nice to airline people. They don't like delays any more than we do.
Moral #2: Avoid air travel in winter.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Global warming fear-mongering is here to stay

My post a couple days ago about the Argo ocean monitoring system got me wondering. How does one maintain a network of over 3000 buoys floating around the world? And how much does each one of them cost in the first place? If something goes wrong, how are they repaired or replaced? I found the answers to some of these and other questions in this article.
"We have 3,000 floats now — but you have to keep replacing them," Riser said. "This is only the beginning."

[ ... ]

Each buoy costs about $20,000 to build and deploy. To keep the network at its current strength will require about 700 replacements a year, at a cost of $14 million. More than 20 nations have contributed to the project so far, with the U.S. picking up half the tab [Natch. --ed.].
OK, so they cost a lot of money, but I guess $14 million a year isn't a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. But what are they telling us about global warming?

Argo data also are pointing up weaknesses in the current understanding of climate change. Between 2003 and 2007, Argo floats measured no appreciable warming in the upper oceans — despite the fact that temperatures on land have continued to break records. At the same time, sea level is rising faster than can be explained by melting glaciers alone, said Josh Willis, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab.

"The lack of warming over a period of a few years isn't really that surprising, because of all the natural variability," he said. "It's a bit of a mystery what's going on with sea level." Which is all the more reason to make sure Argo keeps running, Trenberth said.

In other words, they're not telling us squat, and they're sure as hell not doing anything to support the hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming, since so much of that rests on increases in ocean temperatures. But that's "all the more reason to make sure Argo keeps running".

Which brings me back to why I titled this post as I did. Global warming fear-mongering won't go away as long as lots of people are making lots of money off of it. And it seems that this is one business that will continue to thrive in the global recession.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dial 'P' for pirates

Via my brother, Chuck, who left a comment on yesterday's post about going after the Somali pirates on shore.

A BBC reporter provides an amusing view into how she got the Somali pirates who are holding the Sirius Star supertanker on the phone.
It was a cold, dark, wet and miserable Sunday afternoon. I was in my car, driving my 12-year-old daughter and her friend back from a birthday party. I was tired and fed up from being in the car.

"Mummy, mummy," trilled a voice from the back. "I want to phone the pirates."

My daughter had heard me repeatedly trying to get through to the Somali pirates on board the Sirius Star.

They usually picked up the phone but put it down again when I said I was from the BBC. My obsession with getting through to them had reached the point that I had even saved their number on my mobile phone.

"Mummy, mummy, please can I phone the pirates for you?"



By this time, with rain battering my windscreen and cars jamming the road, I was at the end of my tether.

"OK", I said, tossing the phone into the back of the car.

"They are under P for pirates."

"Hello. Please can I talk to the pirates," said my daughter in her obviously childish voice.

I could hear someone replying and a bizarre conversation ensued which eventually ended when my daughter collapsed in giggles.
Of course, this being the BBC and all, the reporter can't help but feel sorry for the bad guys and educate us on the "root causes" of piracy:
A pirate, who called himself Daybad, spoke in Somali, calmly and confidently. He said Somalis were left with no choice but to take to the high seas.

"We've had no government for 18 years. We have no life. Our last resource is the sea, and foreign trawlers are plundering our fish."
OK, maybe that's not fair. We've known since Bill Clinton's first term that Somalia is 'profoundly under the shithammer'.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Don't ask questions the answers to which you don't already know

Once again, Roger at XDA unearths a global warming-debunking gem, this one about an array of 3,283 buoys floating around the world's oceans measuring and reporting ocean temperatures at various depths, down to about 2000 meters. Known as Argo, these tireless automatons do nothing but bob up and down spewing out data from the seven seas. So, as Argo's own web site asks, why do we need Argo?
We are increasingly concerned about global change and its regional impacts. Sea level is rising at an accelerating rate of 3 mm/year, Arctic sea ice cover is shrinking and high latitude areas are warming rapidly. Extreme weather events...
...Zzzzz -- *thunk* Oh, uh...sorry 'bout that. Anyway, Roger links this article which suggests that Argo is not exactly toeing the party line, global warming-wise:
When they were first deployed in 2003, the Argos were hailed for their ability to collect information on ocean conditions more precisely, at more places and greater depths and in more conditions than ever before. No longer would scientists have to rely on measurements mostly at the surface from older scientific buoys or inconsistent shipboard monitors.

So why are some scientists now beginning to question the buoys' findings? Because in five years, the little blighters have failed to detect any global warming. They are not reinforcing the scientific orthodoxy of the day, namely that man is causing the planet to warm dangerously. They are not proving the predetermined conclusions of their human masters. Therefore they, and not their masters' hypotheses, must be wrong.

In fact, "there has been a very slight cooling," according to a U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) interview with Josh Willis at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a scientist who keeps close watch on the Argo findings.

[ ... ]

The big problem with the Argo findings is that all the major climate computer models postulate that as much as 80-90% of global warming will result from the oceans warming rapidly then releasing their heat into the atmosphere.

But if the oceans aren't warming, then (please whisper) perhaps the models are wrong.
By the way, this article is dated in March of this year, so it's not exactly late-breaking news. But then again, you didn't really expect stuff like this to be covered in the global warming-friendly media, did you?

Oh, and someone may want to check up on those buoys congregating between Japan and Russia. I think they're up to no good.

(Edited to correct. That cluster of buoys is between Japan and Russia, not mainland China, of course.)

Obama to Israel: If Iran nukes you, we'll nuke 'em right back

A news item at Haaretz suggests that Barack Obama has decided that a nuclear-armed Iran is a foregone conclusion, but not to worry...if Iran annihilates Israel, he'll annihilate Iran.
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's administration will offer Israel a "nuclear umbrella" against the threat of a nuclear attack by Iran, a well-placed American source said earlier this week. The source, who is close to the new administration, said the U.S. will declare that an attack on Israel by Tehran would result in a devastating U.S. nuclear response against Iran.
Cold comfort, indeed.

Somali piracy: Cutting it off at the source?

Now here's a great idea to fight piracy in Somalia that'll probably never get off, or in this case, on the ground.
Somalia's government has welcomed a call by the United States for countries to have U.N. authority to hunt down Somali pirates on land as well as pursue them off the coast of the Horn of Africa nation.

[ ... ]

Diplomats at the United Nations said the U.S. delegation there had circulated a draft resolution on piracy for the Security Council to vote on next week.

A draft text seen by Reuters says countries with permission from Somalia's government "may take all necessary measures ashore in Somalia, including in its airspace" to capture those using Somali territory for piracy.
Awesome, right? The US wants to do it, Somalia's government wants us to do it, so what's the hold up? Why even bother going to the UN if both of the lawful parties involved are in agreement? As a Somali provincial government official says:
"We are not happy because the United Nations never implements what they endorse," Abdulqadir Muse Yusuf, Puntland's assistant fisheries minister, told Reuters in Bosasso.
The hell with the UN. With both Somalia and the US in agreement, it seems there's no need for a UN Security Council resolution, and I'm pretty sure we'd have plenty of help in this effort from other countries.

'Day Without A Gay' day fails

An effort to have workers "call in gay" and not work yesterday didn't get much traction and failed pretty miserably. The idea was to demonstrate the impact gays have on the economy and to protest the vote on Proposition 8 in California, which passed in November by a thin majority and bans gay marriage in the state. It didn't even resonate much with many gays:
In San Francisco's gay Castro district, residents and merchants said they endorsed the message behind "Day Without a Gay" but didn't think a work stoppage was practical given the poor economy and the strike's organization.

"If we are going to make a huge impact and not be laughed at, then we have to take the time and make the time to communicate with all the parties. We could have shut down a lot of the hotels," said David Lang, a gymnastics coach. "In theory it's a great idea, but it's being done wrong and now that it's been done wrong, I don't think it will be done again."
Oddly enough, I probably would have voted against Prop 8 if I were a California voter. I just don't think gay marriage would herald the end of civilization as some claim. At the same time, I don't think most of society is ready for gay marriage (hell, if even a majority of Californians oppose it...), and even people like myself who don't oppose it outright resent having it forced down their throats. The protests in the aftermath of Prop 8's passage didn't do much for the cause. Spewing vitriol at people is not the way to get them to vote your way next time around.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What are they hiding?

I was talking to my brother tonight about a news item he'd seen on the KHQA web site dated 5 November which mentioned a meeting Barack Obama was to have with Gov. Rod Blagojevich on filling Obama's vacated senate seat. He said he still had the page open, but that if you tried to get to it now, it was gone. I walked him through the steps for snagging a screen shot of it and posting it on his blog.

On checking KHQA's web site, I came across this "clarification".
KHQA TV wishes to offer clarification regarding a story that appeared last month on our website The story, which discussed the appointment of a replacement for President Elect Obama’in the U.S. Senate, became the subject of much discussion on talk radio and on blog sites Wednesday.

The story housed in our website archive was on the morning of November 5, 2008. It suggested that a meeting was scheduled later that day between President Elect Obama and Illinois Governor Blagojevich. KHQA has no knowledge that any meeting ever took place. Governor Blagojevich did appear at a news conference in Chicago on that date.
What in the hell are they hiding, and at whose request? My brother later e-mailed me this link to American Digest, which correctly notes that the previous innocuous news item reported a mundane story of a meeting between Obama and Blagojevich that would have been completely expected and not out of the ordinary.

AD states that not only did KHQA dump the story, but it has also since been scrubbed from Google's cache. What the hell is going on here? Why deny that a meeting - one which would have been completely routine even in the hindsight after Blago's arrest - ever took place?

Pool Bar music

Blogger has a new widget courtesy of iLike which allows users to embed a list of songs in the side bar. I figured I'd try it out, and it's fairly cool...feel free to listen to a random sampling of some of my personal favorites.

I noticed that not all songs are full length. For example, Full Moon, Empty Heart and Lawyers, Guns and Money and This Is Us in my playlist are only short samplings. Still, kind of a cool toy.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I just caught a video clip on Fox News of Jeremiah Wright's post retirement guest rant at Trinity United Church...the one in which he makes oh-so-clever jabs at Elizabeth Hasselbeck, CNN, Fox News, Sean Hannity, and other entries in his book of enemies.

The guy's not a preacher, or man of any god I've ever heard of...he's a showman. A sideshow huckster. He's a fucking carney, and his parishioners (including Barack Obama) are just as stupid as the idiots who plunk down dollar after dollar expecting to knock down all the milk bottles and win the big stuffed teddy bear for their sweethearts.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Blog fodder

I've been looking for something to post today that hadn't already been covered at length by my betters, but without much luck. Let's see...Supreme Court declines to hear stupid Obama birth certificate case? Done. Major MSM outlet goes Tango Uniform? Done. Khalid Sheik Mohammed and others want to "confess" at Gitmo? Done. Detroit bailout? Done, done and done. Even the Joe Satriani sues Coldplay for copyright infringement story...done, as well as the Boy George arrested after freaky gay sex story...done.

Just as I'd despaired of finding something newsworthy or just plain weird that hadn't already been done by the Big 3...manna from heaven.
Several UK internet providers have blocked access to a Wikipedia page about German heavy metal band Scorpions due to an album cover that features a nude prepubescent girl, news agency AP reported on Monday.

The site was placed on the Internet Watch Foundation’s list of forbidden websites last week, spokesperson Sarah Robertson told AP. Many of the country’s internet service providers use the foundation’s list to guide them in choosing which sites to block, she said. Internet users first tipped the Internet Watch Foundation off to the image, and the organization concluded that it could possibly be considered child pornography.

The 32-year-old cover of the “Virgin Killer” cover features a naked pre-teen girl, and was met with so much criticism when it was released in 1976 that the band re-released the album with a different cover in several countries. The new cover featured the five band members.
Here's the Wikipedia entry in question.

Now, if references to "nude", "naked", "pre-teen", "prepubescent" and "freaky gay sex" don't drive up my Google hit count, I give up.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Chris Dodd: Ready, fire, aim

Chris Dodd said on "Face The Nation" today that General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner should resign in exchange for federal bailout money.
Dodd said General Motors' chief executive officer Rick Wagoner -- who has been with GM since 1977 -- should be replaced if the faltering auto company is to receive any money from the government.

"I think he has to move on," the Democratic senator said of Wagoner during an interview Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."
Why target just Wagoner when Chrysler and Ford are also looking for bailout money? Is Dodd just making shit up as he goes along?

Hey, I've got a random idea, too. How about we fire the Chairman of the Senate Banking committee in exchange for a $700 billion bailout of the banking system?

NATO logistics depot hit in Pakistan

Some 160 trucks and other vehicles at a logistics depot in Pakistan were destroyed in an attack by "militants".
Militants blasted their way into two transport terminals in Pakistan on Sunday and torched more than 160 vehicles destined for U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan, in the biggest assault yet on a vital military supply line, officials said.

[ ... ]

The attackers fled after a brief exchange of fire with police, who arrived about 40 minutes later, Khan said.

The nine other guards who were on duty but stood helplessly aside put the number of assailants at 300, Khan said, though police official Kashif Alam said there were only 30.
Why do I get the feeling that Pakistan's being less than helpful?

Report shows US military doesn't 'embrace' global warming

A report issued by the US Joint Forces Command is under fire by global warming theocrats for not "embracing" anthropogenic global warming dogma.
The report, titled Joint Operating Environment 2008, states that “the impact of global warming and its potential to cause natural disasters and other harmful phenomena such as rising sea levels has become a prominent - and controversial - national and international concern. Some argue that there will be more and greater storms and natural disasters, others that there will be fewer.”

It adds: “In many respects, scientific conclusions about the causes and potential effects of global warming are contradictory.”
Heresy!, cried the high priests:
Sharon Burke, a former Pentagon and State Department official who is now a specialist at the Center for a New American Security, said the report was factually “wrong” and “out of line,” saying that there is a wide consensus that human activity, namely the production of greenhouse gases, is responsible for global warming.
See, here's the deal. The military community couldn't give a rat's ass why things get hotter or colder, or why the mean sea level might rise or fall, they only care about what they have to plan for in such an eventuality, and Rear Admiral John Richardson of the command says as much in the article:
“We are focused on the implications of climate change. We see what is happening. What is causing it is not in our purview. The commanders have to deal with the effects.”
But that's not good enough for the warmies. The military must embrace the putative cause of climate change, no matter how contentious it is.

It's that very defensiveness of the climate change crowd that makes them suspect.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Gadget review: Harmony 520 Universal Remote

I recently upgraded my TV from an older Hitachi rear-projection HiDef TV to a brand-new Samsung 46" LCD model. Circuit City gave me a pretty sweet deal by buying a Samsung Blu-Ray player to go with it. Of course, now that I had all this new gear, I felt compelled to replace my old Sony AV receiver with one with HDMI ports. So back to Circuit City for a Sony STR-DG720 AV receiver.

But this isn't about all the new AV's about the damnable pile of remote controls I had to run everything. Four in all, to be exact: one each for the TV, Blu-Ray player, AV receiver and cable TV/DVR box. It was driving me crazy (and Ms. Pool Bar crazier) having the remotes lined up like A-10s on the flight line awaiting the next mission. Not to mention having to juggle a minimum of two remotes to do any TV or disc viewing.

So I went and got a basic universal remote, which would have been just fine, oh, 10 years ago or so. Not one of the new devices would work with it. I'd come across Logitech's Harmony series of "Advanced Universal Remotes" when I was shopping for a cheapo one, but paying upwards of a hundred bucks for something so simple seemed silly. But after having no luck with anything else, I picked up a Harmony 520 and figured I'd give it a shot. (The link is actually for a Harmony 510, but it seems to be pretty much the same thing...there's no 520 model on Logitech's site.)

While other universal remotes require you to punch in a three or four digit code to tell it what kind of TV or disc player you have, the Harmony demands much, MUCH more info. But it's well worth it. First, you have to install the Harmony's software on a computer, after which it immediately downloads updates so it "knows" about all the latest AV devices on the market. Then, you connect the Harmony remote to your computer via the supplied USB cable and get down to business.

First, the Harmony setup wizard asks you what devices comprise your AV system...TV manufacturer and model, cable box manufacturer and model, and so on. Because the Harmony configuration software knows what inputs each of your devices has, it learns how you've got your AV components configured. Then, it configures "activities" for your remote, like "Watch TV" or "Watch a DVD". For those activities it knows which devices must be turned on and what input sources must be selected for that activity. From there on out, you're good to go.

I thought for sure that the remote wouldn't be smart enough to handle DVR viewing, though. I was sure I'd have to keep the cable/DVR remote around because of those stupid "List" and "A", "B" and "C" buttons necessary for watching shows we've recorded. Nope. When the remote is in "Watch TV" mode, it simply has those four buttons presented in its LCD display for selection. Sweet!

Logitech also makes a Harmony 1000 which retails for $500, but unless you're running a multi-media teleconferencing center, it's probably overkill. The 520, though, is a must-have item. It retails for $100, but I got it for $70 at BJ's. Amazon has them for even less.

Update: After using this remote for a few weeks, the only complaints I've got are related to the action of the buttons. First, you'll develop biceps in your fingers pressing the rubberized buttons for the DVR (play, fast-forward, reverse) controls. They take a bit of mashing, and there seems to be more "travel" on the buttons than other remotes I've used. Second, the other rubberized buttons that are long and narrow are so narrow that I have to use a thumbnail to press them, due to the excessive downward travel required. That might result in early wear on those buttons. Even knowing these deficiencies ahead of time, I'd still have bought it.

Not where, but why?

I've been seeing news items online here and there for the past few days about what city in the Muslim world Barack Obama should choose to deliver an address. It seems Obama has decided - for some reason - that within his first hundred days in office he will deliver a foreign policy speech in an "Islamic capital". In James Taranto's WSJ column linked above, Taranto suggests Mecca.
But there is a city that, although not a national capital, is for all intents and purposes the capital of all Islam--a place where Obama could credibly speak to all Muslims, Sunni and Shiite, from Morocco to Malaysia to Michigan.

Not only that, but Obama's very presence--along with that of his secretary of state, chief of staff, the rest of his entourage and the traveling press from all over the world--would demonstrate that Islam is a more tolerant faith than many Westerners, including this columnist, have thought.

Is it really that simple? Can we be serious? Yes, we can.

All the new president has to do is give a speech in Mecca.
There is, of course, just one problem with that:

To me, the real question isn't where Obama should deliver such a speech, but why he should in the first place. Presumably such a speech would be intended to "mend rifts" between the US and the Muslim world. As I understand it, about the only things he could say that would accomplish that would be an announcement that he is withdrawing all American forces from "Muslim lands", ending US support for Israel, and signing legislation making the US a Muslim country.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Imperfect unions

Actually, "imperfect" is being kind. Unions basically suck. Sure, I think they can still serve a purpose to protect workers from outright abuse, but by and large, their time has passed. The state in which the Big Three automakers in the US find themselves is due in large part to the unions, and their avarice has already killed off other heavy industries here.

Story time...

In a previous professional life, I worked for a small IT systems integrator and somehow wound up as designated trade show boy whenever we had a presence at any of the two or three industry events we participated in each year. This meant figuring out what we'd exhibit, getting expo floor space, all the logistics, etc. My first experience with this was at a show in Chicago in 1995. Having arranged for shipment of all our gear, I arrived in Chicago a couple days before the show was to open.

First thing Sunday morning after arriving Saturday night, I headed to the expo hall to see if everything arrived intact. I'd brought with me a small power screwdriver so I could open the crates, and went to our designated spot and was grateful to see that all my crates were there. I took out my Black & Decker and started unscrewing the first crate when I heard a voice bellowing "Stop! Stop!".

I looked up and some dude was nearly jogging towards me with his hands up, and the ensuing conversation went something like this:
Me: Yeah?
Dude: You can't do that.
Me: Do what?
Dude: Open those crates.
Me: They're my crates.
Dude: I'm the steward for the local carpenter's union...these crates have to be opened up by a union carpenter.
Me: Oh, don't worry...I think I can handle it.
Dude: This is a union're not allowed to do that.
Me: ---
Dude: ---
Me: You're kidding, right?
Dude: No, I'm not. You'll have to complete a purchase order and drop it off at that desk over there and we'll send a union carpenter over to open them.
Me: And what if I choose not to hire you guys and just do it myself?
Dude: Work stoppage.
Me: Work stoppage?
Dude: Work stoppage. All these guys you see here? They all walk out. (There were at least 100 carpenters, electricians and other assorted unionistas setting up).
Me: (sighing) Fine.
Obviously, I wasn't about to be the one asshole who caused this rather large industry trade show to grind to a halt, and I had paranoid visions of ending up in the Chicago River. So I paid eighty bucks to have my fucking crates opened. When I bitched about the extortion racket to the lady running my credit card, she politely informed me that I wasn't done bleeding yet. I would have to pay two members of the stagehands union some $300 to assemble my booth, another thing I'd planned on doing myself. Oh, and that delivery I was expecting the next day at the loading dock? Twenty bucks for a teamster to put on a hand truck and deliver to our booth. I shit you not.

So, sorry if I don't cry too much over the union's woes.

Merrill Lynch: Oil could drop to $25 per barrel

Just a few days after Iran's president said Iran's budget would have to be reworked on the assumption of an oil price of $30 per barrel, Merrill Lynch says oil could drop to as low as $25 per barrel.
Oil prices are likely to keep falling until well into next year and could reach $25 a barrel before recovering, U.S. bank Merrill Lynch has said.

In a research report published on Thursday, it said oil prices should begin to rally in the second half of 2009.

Merrill Lynch recently cut its forecast for the average price of U.S. crude oil futures and North Sea Brent crude oil to $50 a barrel from a previous estimate for both crudes of $90.

"With demand vanishing across all key oil consuming regions, benchmark crude oil prices continue to plummet," it said. "In the short-run, market participants will focus on both OPEC and perhaps even non-OPEC producer responses to balance the market."

"A temporary drop below $25 is possible if the global recession extends to China and significant non-OPEC production cuts are required," it said.
The article goes on to forecast an increase in demand and market prices in the second quarter of 2009.

Since the market price of oil represents a fixed percentage of the price of gasoline, I guess we can expect a diminishing effect on the price we pay at the pump, but on that front it's still good news.

One negative aspect of this is that these low oil prices inhibit the drive toward increased domestic production of oil; it simply costs more to drill here in the US than it does in many other parts of the world. Another possibility is that states and the federal government might see this as an opening to increase taxes on gasoline.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

A good tune from The Clarks

I was in Atlanta a few years back and it just happened that Fighting Gravity, my favorite Richmond, VA band (actually, one of my favorite bands, period), was playing at a place there called Smith's Old Bar. These guys from Pittsburgh, PA opened up for them, and they blew me away.

The song here is Born Too Late. A really good tune, but I was hoping to find a clip of I'm A Fool, which is probably my favorite by these guys.

The Clarks tour constantly, mostly in the northeast lately, so check their tour dates.

Alas, Fighting Gravity isn't currently touring. If anyone knows what's up with them, please leave a comment.

A news parody comes to life

Via Hot Air.

Muslim students in Islamabad, Pakistan turned out in droves for a street protest over the Mumbai terror attacks. Er, to clarify, the protests were over India's reaction to the Mumbai terror attacks, not the attacks themselves. India's reaction, I hasten to add, has been limited to (accurately) naming Pakistan as the country of origin of the murderers.

Exit question (to once again pilfer a certain Hot Air blogger's shtick): If the "tiny minority" of Muslims who are bloodthirsty extremists is "only" around 8%, what percentage of Muslims are avid spectators?

I ask you, could The Onion have done any better than this?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Oil to drop to $30 a barrel?

It's unfortunate that things will get tougher for the average Iranian - a large number of whom despise the mullahs - but it's impossible to read something like this and not smile a bit.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is acknowledging publicly for the first time that tumbling oil prices are gouging the country's fragile economy.

[ ... ]

Wednesday's report quoted Ahmadinejad as saying the government budget would have to be readjusted to base it on an oil price of around $30 a barrel.
Damn those evil market speculators!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Uh, gonna smoke that, or what?

Who says you can't take it with you?
An ancient Caucasian people, probably the Indo-European-speaking Yuezhi whose fair-haired mummies keep turning up in Xinjiang province, seem to have buried one of their shamans with a whopping 789 grams of high-potency pot 2,700 years ago.

That's about 28 ounces of killer green bud, worth perhaps $8,000 at today's street prices, and enough to keep Harold and Kumar happy for a couple of days.
No word on whether the tomb reeked of patchouli.

Global swindle watch

At a Global Warming Swindle...whoops...Climate Change conference in Poland, the US was castigated for failing to agree to emissions reductions that would effectively return us to the stone age, while Brazil was hailed for announcing plans "to significantly slow the destruction of the Amazon rain forest by 2017. Scientists say that would reduce global warming by slashing the amount of carbon dioxide emitted when trees are burned."

So, let me get this straight. While the rest of the world wants us to cut our carbon emissions to levels roughly equivalent to those of a hunter-gatherer society, Brazil says that in around 8 or 9 years they'll get around to slowing the destruction of the "lungs of the planet". And yet we're the bad guys and they're the good guys. Alrighty, then.

And let's not forget how well the last international accord worked out:
The Kyoto treaty was agreed upon in late 1997 and countries started signing and ratifying it in 1998. A list of countries and their carbon dioxide emissions due to consumption of fossil fuels is available from the U.S. government. If we look at that data and compare 2004 (latest year for which data is available) to 1997 (last year before the Kyoto treaty was signed), we find the following.
  • Emissions worldwide increased 18.0%.
  • Emissions from countries that signed the treaty increased 21.1%.
  • Emissions from non-signers increased 10.0%.
  • Emissions from the U.S. increased 6.6%.
Let's also not forget that a growing body of evidence indicates that the anthropogenic global warming/climate change theory is a crock of shit.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The supersonic hurricane neutralizer

Could stopping a hurricane before it hits landfall be this simple?
In a patent application, Leonov and colleagues say that they can put a spanner in the atmospheric works by flying supersonic jet aircraft in concentric circles around a hurricane's eye, the calm area around which the storm rotates.

The idea is that the sonic-boom shockwave would dramatically raise air pressure in the eye, disrupting the upward flow of warm air that drives the hurricane.

But how many planes would you need? Sonic booms spread out as they travel away from an aircraft, so even a small number of relatively small aircraft could do the job, say Leonov and colleagues.

"Two F-4 jet fighters flying at approximately Mach 1.5 are sufficient to suppress, mitigate and/or destroy a typical sized hurricane/typhoon," they claim in their application.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But hey, who knows. It's not like the technology doesn't exist today to try it out, so it'd be interesting to see if this actually works.