Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Stop Torture
Lets hold the Bush administration responsible for their actions. The Obama team is taking questions again lets get this one to the top.

Will you appoint a Special Prosecutor (ideally Patrick Fitzgerald) to independently investigate the gravest crimes of the Bush Administration, including torture and warrantless wiretapping?

That question ranked sixth in voting last time -- out of over 10,000 submissions -- but the transition team only answered the top five questions. Now that Vice President Cheney confessed his support for waterboarding on national television, flouting the rule of law, the issue is even more urgent. Activist Bob Fertik, who has submitted the question twice, explains how you can vote to press this issue on the transition team:

Sign in at

Search for "Fitzgerald" [...and] find our question

Look right for the checkbox, mouseover it so it goes from white to dark, then click to cast your vote

While the press has fixated on the criminal allegations against Gov. Blagojevich, for some reason, the (even more serious) allegations of torture by officials in the current administration receive scant attention. I have not heard one question about this during Obama's transition press conferences, and the traveling press corps almost never pressed Obama on the issue during the general election campaign.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Quake Lake

Quake Lake, originally uploaded by ML Dollan Art & Photography.

A swarm of over 250 earthquakes hit Yellowstone National Park this weekend. Is this a precursor to a super volcano caldera eruption? Who knows?

The earthquakes have occurred in an area of the park where the temblors are common, scientists at the University of Utah say.

However, that number of earthquakes in such a short space of time is unusual, officials say.

According to the University of Utah Seismograph Stations, the quakes have been centered beneath Yellowstone Lake some five to nine miles south-southeast of Fishing Bridge. They are shallow temblors, anywhere from less than 2 miles below the earth's surface to near it, according to reports.

The earthquakes started on Friday and continued over the weekend, growing in strength. The strongest quake was 3.8 magnitude.

The picture above is of Earthquake Lake. The lake was formed when a August 17, 1959 earthquake caused part of the mountain to slide into the Madison River forming this lake, also called Quake Lake. 28 people were killed in the slide caused by the earthquake.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Great Artesian Basin
Australia's Great Artesian Basin has enough water for Australians for the next 1,500 years but it wont be easy to get it all.

YDNEY (Reuters) - An ancient underground water basin the size of Libya holds the key to Australia avoiding a water crisis as climate change bites the drought-hit nation.

Australia's Great Artesian Basin is one of the largest artesian groundwater basins in the world, covering 1.7 million sq kms (656,370 sq miles) and lying beneath one-fifth of Australia.

The basin holds 65 million gigaliters of water, about 820 times the amount of surface water in Australia, and enough to cover the Earth's land mass under half a meter of water, says the Great Artesian Basin Coordinating Committee.

And it is slowly topped up with 1 million megaliters a year as rain filters through porous sandstone rock, becoming trapped in the underground basin.

Mining interests have already tapped into it throw its natural artesian well off balance.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

So Sad
A mother was killed and her son injured while hiking along railroad tracks near Soda Springs, California.
Upon arrival, deputies and paramedics found two victims on the north side of the tracks. Sydney Parks, 59, of Petaluma, was pronounced dead at the scene. Her 22-year-old son, Alan Young, of Davis, was severely injured and transported to Truckee Forest Hospital, authorities said.

Parks and Young were hiking on what they believed was a trail when a Union Pacific Railroad train approached, police said.

The train sounded its whistle and initiated an emergency stop. With the whiteout conditions and poor visibility, the victims mistakenly moved into the train's path in an attempt to get out of the way, Kropp added.

My condolences to their friends and family.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sad To Hear
A hiker died in California's Topanga State Park.

My condolences to his friends and family.
Update: The hiker has been identified.

Israel J Franco Bernabel, 67, of Northridge, died at the scene, said coroner's spokeswoman Kelly Yagerlenen.

An autopsy was pending to determine the cause of death, Yagerlenen said.

The Dark Side of the Moon

The dark side of the moon, originally uploaded by Maarts.

Christmas eve was the fortieth anniversary of man seeing the dark side of the moon.

Humans have been going into space ever since the Russian Aviation and Space Agency launched Yuri Gagarin into a single orbit about Earth on April 21, 1961 aboard Vostok 1. In the intervening 47 years, there have been 292 manned space flights; 182 by NASA, 105 by Russia, two by China, and three by private company Scaled Composites. Out of all of those missions, the majority—in fact a full 283—never really did anything more than go around the block, so to speak. Only nine manned missions have ever truly left Earth and entered the gravitational influence of any other celestial body.

The first time this happened was the Apollo 8 mission, during which Jim Lovell, Frank Borman, and William Anders put their Apollo command module into lunar orbit 40 years ago today, December 24th, 1968. 1968 is considered one of America's most tumultuous years in the 20th century. Beginning with the Tet offensive in Vietnam, which saw heavy American casualties, it was followed up by Rev. Martin Luther King's assassination in Memphis and ensuing riots across the nation, then saw Robert Kennedy get assassinated two months later. Finally, the battle between police and protesters in the streets of Chicago at the Democratic National Convention left a black mark on 1968. However, on December 21st, Apollo 8 launched three humans on the first-ever voyage to the moon.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Santa And His Old Lady

Cheech explains Santa to Chong.
The Christians and The Pagans

Dar Williams.
From Susie who has the best music at her place.
Happy Christmas

John Lennon.
Christmas Wrapping

What you forgot cranberry too.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

12 Days of Christmas

The Indian version or somebody's version of an Indian version.

When Chico Marx was told to sign a clause that would prove he was sane, he rightly said: "You don't fool me: there is no Sanity Clause"
Ezra Says
it's "illegal in California to use human medical waste to power vehicles."
Yellow Legged Frog

The Pacific Crest Trail is going to be re routed to protect the yellow legged frog.

Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts will still have to stay clear of a 1,000 acre area in the Angeles National Forest for another year, but for a good reason. The relatively small closure in the 655,000 acre forest is to protect a critical habitat for the endangered mountain yellow-legged frog.

"This once-abundant amphibian is disappearing," said Dr. Roland Knapp who runs a website and blog dedicated to the animal. "Many of the lakes and ponds in which I observed mountain yellow-legged frogs just a few years ago no longer contain them, leaving behind an eerie silence.

Frogs are a bell weather species. If the frogs are doing well the ecosystem is well.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gloom And Doom
Sharon Astyk of Casaubon's Book makes her 2009 predictions she was amazingly good in 2008. Lets hope she is wrong about 2009.
Not So Bad
Do not listen to the nay sayers. We can beat global warming without too much trouble.

OSLO (Reuters) - Tough targets for avoiding dangerous global warming may be easier to achieve than widely believed, according to a study that could ease fears of a prohibitive long-term surge in costs.

The report, by scientists in the Netherlands and Germany, indicated that initial investments needed to be high to have any impact in slowing temperature rises. Beyond a certain threshold, however, extra spending would have clear returns on warming.

Until now, most governments have worried that costs may start low and then soar -- suggesting that ambitious targets will become too expensive for tackling threats such as extinctions, droughts, floods and rising seas.

When Florida sinks under the ocean the political will will be there but it will be to late. It will become easier through economies of scale, conservation(aka efficiency), education, and new technology.

Monday, December 22, 2008

White Christmases Are Doomed!
Global warming is making it less likely there will be a white Christmas.
ERLIN (Reuters) - The odds of a "white Christmas" in temperate parts of the northern hemisphere have diminished in the last century due to climate change and will likely decline further by 2100, climate and meteorology experts said.

Even though heavy snow this year will guarantee a white Christmas in many parts of Asia, Europe and North America, an 0.7-degree Celsius (1.3 Fahrenheit) rise in world temperatures since 1900 and projected bigger rises by 2100 suggest an inexorable trend.

"The probability of snow on the ground at Christmas is already lower than it was even 50 years ago but it will become an even greater rarity many places by the latter half of the century," said Friedrich-Wilhelm Gerstengarber, climate researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. In the northern German city of Berlin, for instance, the chances of snow on the ground on December 24, 25 and 26 have fallen from 20 percent a century ago to approximately 15 percent in 2008, he said. By 2100 the odds will be less than 5 percent.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice!

Winter solstice, originally uploaded by bryanilona.

Happy winter solstice!

How Bizarre
Not that he returned the money, just that it happened twice in the same spot.
AUBURN - Tuesday morning, walking the aisles of The Home Depot looking for a trailer part, a man's wallet caught Gil Steward's eye. It was on the floor, stuffed with almost $1,000 in $100s and $50s.

Thursday morning, Steward was back, shopping at Home Depot to replace a blown-out Christmas light when his eyes fell on a green money bag. It was also on the floor, also stuffed with money.

Same store, same time of day. Both returned to men who didn't know they'd dropped the money.

Some Christmases will be better for the kindness of strangers this year. He is going to play yhr lottery. Who knows maybe the third time is the charm.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Battery Power
A government lab has teamed up with corporations to create a new generation of lithium ion batteries. It just goes to show you how inefficient corporations are. They can not get get anything accomplished without the government holding their little hands.
HICAGO (Reuters) - Aiming to mass-produce a lithium battery for vehicles, 14 U.S. companies with expertise in batteries and advanced materials have formed an alliance with a government laboratory, the lab said on Thursday.

The alliance, which includes battery industry giants such as 3M Co and Johnson Controls-Saft, intends to secure $1 billion to $2 billion in U.S. government funding over the next five years to build a manufacturing facility with an "open foundry" for the participants to pursue the goal of perfecting lithium-ion batteries for cars.

"It's a huge deal for the nation, and for the lab," said Mark Peters, who is in charge of transportation and battery research at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago, which will advise the group.

OK, I exaggerate about the companies but just wait in the looming health care battle. The health insurance companies will demand their be no government not for profit insurance. The for profit corporations are inefficient and do not really have an incentive to bring all prices down. Would you rather add profit to a drug that costs $100 or $1,000. The VA has administration costs of 7%. The average health insurance company has administration costs of 30 plus percent and of course profit. Which would you rather pay for?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Garlic salted roads.
f you live in the Des Moines suburb Ankeny you may have noticed a slightly more aromatic salt concoction being deposited.

When local spice manufacturer Tones tried to think of ways to help the local community, they decided to donate 9 tons of garlic salt to the road works department.

The funniest quote comes from one of the plow drivers, who says his dog starts licking his pants when he comes home at night, and that he's constantly in the mood for a steak and baked potato.

The most important meal of the day, unless it is a donut.

What's "unique" about the current study is that it suggests that breakfast foods low in "energy density" -- low in calories for a given amount of food -- "appear to predict better food choices for the rest of the day and may help with better management of body weight," Dr. James Rippe, one of the researchers on the work, said in a written statement.

Fruits, vegetables and high-fiber whole grains, for example, are low in energy density, while confections like Danish pastries and doughnuts have a high energy density.

Essentially, if you make healthy choices at breakfast, you will make healthy choices during the rest of the day. Truly revolutionary.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Flying Spaghetti Monster Ballot

The Flying Spaghetti Monster got a vote in Minnesota. So did Brett Favre and lizard people.
Via Matt Stoller.

Do the southern senators really want NASCAR to fail?
"We're fucked."An employee for a NASCAR race team, on his sport's future. Twelve of 42 cars lack a sponsor for the Daytona 500.

I suppose the UAW is not going to sponsor the Dodge they had been sponsoring. One car last year did not have a sponsor for about half the races. It did have a sponsor for the Daytona 500 however. Can NASCAR survive without the big 3?
Coal Is Bad
Liquefied coal is worse than gas.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Researchers and officials concerned about global warming have focused on oil usage, but scientists on Wednesday said liquefied coal could have a greater affect on global climate change.

Global warming scenarios are based on oil reserves, but those reserves will have less impact on global climate than the extent to which liquefied coal replaces oil and gas, scientists said at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

"Oil and gas by themselves don't have enough carbon to keep us in the dangerous zone for very long by themselves, but that's assuming we do something about coal," Pushker Kharecha, a researcher for the U.S. space agency NASA and Columbia University in New York.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Low Volume
It might be the coolest year of the century but the volume of ice in the arctic is the lowest ever.

GENEVA (Reuters) - Ice volume around the Arctic region hit the lowest level ever recorded this year as climate extremes brought death and devastation to many parts of the world, the U.N. weather agency WMO said on Tuesday.

Although the world's average temperature in 2008 was, at 14.3 degrees Celsius (57.7 degrees Fahrenheit), by a fraction of a degree the coolest so far this century, the direction toward a warmer climate remained steady, it reported.

"What is happening in the Arctic is one of the key indicators of global warming," Michel Jarraud, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said. "The overall trend is still upwards."

A report presented by Jarraud at a news conference showed Arctic ice cover dropping to its second lowest extent during this year's melt season since satellite measuring began in 1979.

However, the Geneva-based agency said, "because ice was thinner in 2008, overall ice volume was less than in any other year." It added: "The season strongly reinforced the 30-year downward trend in the extent of Arctic Sea ice."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

2008 will be the coolest year on record since 1997. Of course it is also the hottest year before 1997. This year had the second lowest amount of arctic ice on record, so do not think global warming is over.

LONDON (Reuters) - This year will be the coolest since 1997 but still the tenth hottest in a temperature record dating back 150 years, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Tuesday.

The global mean temperature for 2008 was 14.3 degrees Celsius (57.7 degrees Fahrenheit), climate scientists at the UK's Met Office Hadley Center and Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, who compiled data for the WMO, said.

"Human influence, particularly emission of greenhouse gases, has greatly increased the chance of having such warm years," the Met Office's Peter Stott said in a statement.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Food Timeline
An interesting list of when foods became available or were invented. I like the fact that beer and agriculture were invented at the same time. People wanted a steady supply of beer(12,000 years before present) so they started farming the ingredients. It took quite some time after that to figure out the yeast component.

Also Coca Cola was invented in 1886 but was not deep fried until the 2006 Texas State Fair. It is as if we did not have enough things from Texas to be great full for lately.

Moon pies were invented in 1917 but it left out RC Cola(1905). But every one knows An RC Cola And a Moon Pie is alright!

It is a fun list.

Europe's Continental Divide
A map of the divide between the Mediterranean Sea and The Atlantic/Arctic. No trail yet but one can hope.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Throwing Shoes At Bush

It would be funny, if it was not so sad. Does Bush think people in Iraq like him. Is the bubble that complete? The shame that man has brought to this great country. For the cultural signifigance of throwing a shoe at someone i the Middle East here is Blue Girl.
That said, there is some cultural relevance to the act of throwing a shoe at someone in the Arab world. It carries an added meaning in Baghdad that it doesn't have in KC. Indeed, it is the gravest of insults in Iraqi culture. I have heard it said that an Iraqi would rather be hit by gunfire than a shoe. The attached symbolism can't - or at least shouldn't - be discounted. Even atheists in the Arab world remove their shoes when they enter their own homes, because someone may visit who wants to pray on their carpets. Carpets in the Arab world are more than an accessory to tie a room together - they are sacred objects, replete with meaning and symbolism, and not to be trampled across wearing shoes. With even modest cultural awareness, and I only have enough Anthropology in my background to make me dangerous - the significance of hurling a shoe at a head of state visiting Iraq is obvious. And I don't know whether to be amused and mirthful, or horrified that this man has so humiliated our country. To the point that shoes are thrown at him during his final press conference in the country that defines his "presidency."
Here Are The Shoes Flying

This is the end, kiss of death you dog. Yelled the shoe thrower.
What Do You Need
In your Kitchen? Not much according to Mark Bittman, a New York Times food columnist and cookbook writer. His kitchen in New York City is six feet by seven feet. Picture.
a young journalist called and asked what, after all, I considered essential in a modern kitchen?
“A stove, a sink, a refrigerator, some pots and pans, a knife and some serving spoons,” I answered. “All else is optional.”[...]
No calls came from chefs, either, or from fellow food writers. They, too, know that when it comes to kitchens, size and equipment don’t count nearly as much as devotion, passion, common sense and, of course, experience. To pretend otherwise — to spend tens of thousands of dollars or more on a kitchen before learning how to cook, as is sadly common — is to fall into the same kind of silly consumerism that leads people to believe that an expensive gym membership will get them into shape or the right bed will improve their sex life. As runners run and writers write, cooks cook, under pretty much any circumstance.

Big Eye Tuna

Ahi (big eye tuna), originally uploaded by rnbonning.

Pacific nations are going to reduce catch of the Big Eye Tuna.

SEOUL (Reuters) - Asia-Pacific nations have agreed to cut their catches of bigeye tuna by 30 percent by 2011 in order to help preserve the fish that is popular in the region served raw as sushi and sashimi.

The deal, announced late on Friday, calls on the 25 members of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission to implement cuts of 10 percent a year on bigeye tuna from 2009 to 2011. The group met this week in the South Korean city of Busan.

The group, which includes South Korea, Japan and the United States, also agreed to place limits on the fishing season and ban fishing of bigeye tuna in international waters, according to a summary of the meeting provided by South Korea's fisheries agency on Saturday.

Too little, too late?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Air Traffic

A simulation of all the fights in the world in 24 hours. Pretty cool. More video and an explanation.
Via Clusterflock.
Ship in a Bottle

GE has a new compact fluorescent lamp that has the same profile as an incandescent bulb. I do not really understand why they need to do this. Yes, I understand the republican/conservative noise machine bad mouthed the CFLs for years. It is not as if you stare at the bulbs. They are usually behind a lamp shade or some type of cover. Also, in double blind tests, people can not tell the difference between the incandescent bulb and a CFL.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Full Moon

My own full moon party at Koh Kut, originally uploaded by Bеn.

Full Moon

Republicans Determined To End American Auto Makers
The republicans hate the American worker. If GM and Chrysler die the economy is really going to tank. It is bad now, but end those companies and it is the great depression all over again.
We were distressed by reports late Thursday night that Senate Republicans were close to scuttling the deal. Despite all the flaws of the temporary fix, we don’t see a long-term solution without it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Echo Canyon

2073_24, originally uploaded by ChandlerPhotoDave.

Sad to hear, a hiker died near Camelback mountain.

Phoenix police and fire crews recovered the body of a 59-year-old man who collapsed and died while hiking on Camelback Mountain Thursday afternoon, police said.

The man who is from out of state, was hiking with his wife near the top of the Echo Canyon area on the northwest side of the mountain near the 5700 block of Lincoln Drive about 1:15 p.m. when he told his wife he felt feint and fell to the ground, said Phoenix police Officer John Howard.

My condolences to his friends and family.

Secretary of Food
Nicholas Kristof has a good column about the department of Agriculture, that should be renamed the Department of Food.

A Department of Agriculture made sense 100 years ago when 35 percent of Americans engaged in farming. But today, fewer than 2 percent are farmers. In contrast, 100 percent of Americans eat.

Renaming the department would signal that Mr. Obama seeks to move away from a bankrupt structure of factory farming that squanders energy, exacerbates climate change and makes Americans unhealthy — all while costing taxpayers billions of dollars.

“We’re subsidizing the least healthy calories in the supermarket — high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated soy oil, and we’re doing very little for farmers trying to grow real food,” notes Michael Pollan, author of such books as “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food.”

The problem is not American farmers. The problem is the farm lobby working on behalf of big agricultural firms. We subsidize CAFOs by not making them clean up their mess.

An industrial farm with 5,000 hogs produces as much waste as a town with 20,000 people. But while the town is required to have a sewage system, the industrial farm isn’t.

That is disgusting. It is really unbelievable. But if Obama wants to get his agenda through he needs to deal with agriculture in a fundamentally different way.

As Mr. Pollan told me: “Even if you don’t think agriculture is a high priority, given all the other problems we face, we’re not going to make progress on the issues Obama campaigned on — health care, climate change and energy independence — unless we reform agriculture.”

More Holiday Cheer!
Boston's harpoon brewery is expanding. Good news!
The Harpoon Brewery plans to install two new 500-barrel unitank fermenters at its South Boston facility tomorrow, weather permitting.

The tanks, which stand 38 feet high and weigh 28,000 pounds, are the largest tanks to be installed in the brewery’s history, twice the size of the largest tank at Harpoon now, the company said in a press release.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bowl Rankings

After determining the Big-12 championship game participants the BCS computers were put to work on other major contests and today the BCS declared Germany to be the winner of World War II.

“Germany put together an incredible number of victories beginning with the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland and continuing on into conference play with defeats of Poland, France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands. Their only losses came against the US and Russia; however considering their entire body of work—including an incredibly tough Strength of Schedule—our computers deemed them worthy of the #1 ranking.”

Think Pink

Pink Bedroom, originally uploaded by Lisa Funk.

Insulation is an important part of fighting global warming.

POZNAN, Poland (Reuters) - Building insulation firms are struggling to get across the message that the cheapest fight against global warming starts at home -- in the roof and walls.

"The benefits are obvious," Eelco van Heel, chief executive of Denmark's Rockwool told Reuters about better building insulation in a phone interview during December 1-12 U.N. climate talks in Poznan, Poland.

"But we are up against many parties who want a piece of the same cake," he said. "Windmills or solar voltaic power are more sexy than insulation that disappears behind the wall."[...]

Study after study has shown that insulation saves money. About 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are from buildings.

Consultants McKinsey and Sweden's state-owned power group Vattenfall, for instance, once ranked building insulation as the single most profitable measure to fight global warming.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Monarch Pass

monarch pass, originally uploaded by chris locke..

A hiker, John Koch, is missing near Monarch Pass in Colorado. The hiker 23 has been missing since Monday afternoon. Search parties have resumed the search today.

Update: John spent the night in campground out house. He walked to some houses and called authorities. Unfortunately his dog died of exposure.

Very Safe
How dangerous of a driver are you?

Created by The Car Connection

Quote of The Day
From Talking Points Memo we get this gem. CNN reporter discussing a poll in which Barack Obama has a 79/18 approve/disapprove rating.
"That's the sort of rating you see when the public rallies around a leader after a national disaster," said CNN's Bill Schneider. "To many Americans, the Bush Administration was a national disaster."

Solar Power Glut

Next year production of solar panels my exceed demand.

POZNAN, Poland (Reuters) - The solar power sector will produce an over supply of solar panels in 2009, said Zhengrong Shi, chief executive of the world's biggest module manufacturer Suntech.

"We expect definitely an over supply of modules next year," he told Reuters in an interview, adding Suntech expected its euro-denominated prices to fall by 10-15 percent next year, by 25-30 percent in dollars, compared to the third quarter of 2008.

"The financial crisis has accelerated that situation," Shi said. The entire sector could halve the cost of solar power before 2012, he added, assuming companies cooperated on cutting prices across the supply chain.

The price of solar coming down is great news. The cheaper the panels, the faster the payback.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Cops Bust Christmas Tree Grow In War On Christmas
OK, there is not really a war on Christmas but with losers like Bill O'reilly screaming about it I can not resist the headline.

Police in Odessa Texas, need to find something else to do. The busted a house with two small Christmas trees under grow lights.

KopBusters rented a house in Odessa, Texas and began growing two small Christmas trees under a grow light similar to those used for growing marijuana. When faced with a suspected marijuana grow, the police usually use illegal FLIR cameras and/or lie on the search warrant affidavit claiming they have probable cause to raid the house. Instead of conducting a proper investigation which usually leads to no probable cause, the Kops lie on the affidavit claiming a confidential informant saw the plants and/or the police could smell marijuana coming from the suspected house.

The trap was set and less than 24 hours later, the Odessa narcotics unit raided the house only to find KopBuster’s attorney waiting under a system of complex gadgetry and spy cameras that streamed online to the KopBuster’s secret mobile office nearby.

Now how do you get a search warrant if there is nothing illegal going on? It is illegal to use the FLIR imaging. No one saw marijuana being grown or smelled it as it was not there. Do you really want your tax dollars spent on this? Oh, and the local prosecutor is trying to find some law the group kopbusters broke. What an ass.
A local TV stations coverage.
Salmon Tracking
Scientists are now putting small transmitters in salmon and other fish.
Their remarkable three-month, 1,500-mile journey of survival to the Gulf of Alaska was tracked by an underwater acoustic listening network that has wired the West Coast from just north of San Francisco to southeastern Alaska . The tracking network could provide a model for a global system.

A salmon's life in the ocean has always been one of nature's best kept mysteries.

However, scientists using the Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking network have made some startling discoveries that challenge long-held beliefs about salmon survival and raise new cautions about how global warming may affect salmon and other marine species.[...]

Juvenile coho salmon, about five inches in length, can travel almost 20 miles a day in the ocean and nearly 40 miles in rivers, or about 200,000 body lengths a day, she said. An average-sized person swimming at the same rate would cover nearly 220 miles a day in the ocean and almost 435 miles in a river, Chittenden said.

Using the tracking system, Chittenden said, researchers also found that wild juvenile salmon take less time to enter the ocean than hatchery fish, perhaps because the hatchery fish tend to be heavier and slower. And wild fish adapt faster to saltwater than hatchery ones.

Maybe we can save the salmon from ourselves.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

End Prohibition
Friday marked the 75th anniversary of the end of the prohibition of alcohol. And with it the violence created by the gangs that sold the drug alcohol. A group called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is calling for legalization of illegal drugs.
Wouldn't legalizing drugs create new users? Not necessarily. LEAP wants drugs to be regulated like alcohol and cigarettes. Regulations are why it's harder to buy alcohol or cigarettes in many schoolyards than drugs. By regulating the purity and strength of drugs, they become less deadly.

Isn't drug addiction a scourge that tears families apart? Yes, it is, and so are arrests and incarceration and criminal records for kids caught smoking pot behind the bleachers. There are 2.1 million people in federal, state and local prisons, 1.7 million of them for non-violent drug offenses.

Removing the stigma of drug use lets addicts come out into the open for treatment. We have treatments for alcoholism, but we don't ban alcohol.

In addition to ending much of the violence it will create new jobs and tax revenue for the municipalities that decide to legalize.

Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron estimates that legalizing drugs would save federal, state and local governments $44 billion in enforcement costs. Governments could collect another $33 billion in revenues were they to tax drugs as heavily as alcohol and tobacco.

It is the only real way to deal with a policy that has not worked for the last 80 plus years.

Link via Avedon.

The Great Wall

Great Wall, originally uploaded by Carpe Feline.

I have always wanted to walk the length of the great wall of China. But after reading this article I am not sure it is possible.

Without academic affiliation or funding, Spindler has spent 14 years traveling across China and to Japan to review arcane centuries-old texts for firsthand accounts and details. And he has spent more than 830 days clambering over the wall's far-flung ramparts around Beijing, enough to wear through several pairs of hiking boots.[...]

"I've spent 5 percent of my life there," he says of the wall.

It is not what I thought.

He has learned, for example, that the Great Wall is not one continuous structure but a series of fortifications, built with various materials, including packed earth, bricks and mortar, field stones and quarried rock. In some places, it isn't a wall at all, but a string of unconnected signal towers. No one has determined exactly how long it runs, but estimates vary from thousands to tens of thousands of miles.

It will be hard to walk along the wall if it is not there!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

No Clean Coal

This a tour of the clean coal technology in action. There are no prototypes working. There is no actual technology. There is an idea that co2 emissions can be captured and stored. This is called carbon capture and storage. No one is currently doing this. The coal industry does have a large advertising campaign touting clean coal. If it is repeated often enough people will believe!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Schools Or Prisons?
The politicians chose for you. They chose prisons. Juan Cole has an excellent post on the subject.

A big drain on state budgets is the penitentiary system. In just the decade 1980 to 1990, the prison and jail population in the US doubled. Since 1980, the prison population has quadrupled. By the end of 2006, over 2 million persons were in prison and another 5 million were on probation or on parole.

I remember reading in the Ann Arbor News in 1988 about a big debate at the statehouse in Lansing over funding for prisons versus funding for universities. The prisons won.

In these same nearly four decades, there have been substantial declines in violent crimes and crimes against property in the US. The vastly increased prison population was produced by unreasonably long prison sentences for non-violent crime, by ridiculous 3-strikes-and-you-are-out life sentences and by the completely failed 'war on drugs' and by mandatory sentencing guidelines imposed by legislatures on judges in drug cases. Half of prisoners in state prisons did not commit a violent crime, and 20% are drug offenders.[...]
The states had to put their money into prosecuting, trying, imprisoning and then supporting to the tune of like $20,000 a year a bunch of . . . potheads.

The whole thing is worth a read. Some key points, alcohol causes more problems than marijuana yet nobody is talking about alcohol prohibition. Marijuana should be taxed and regulated. Some of the tax money for treatment programs for people that can not handle marijuana. I think the alcohol industry should have a similar tax for people that can not handle alcohol.

Maybe not enough people were indicted.

SPRINGFIELD - Pelham Police Chief Edward B. Fleury was indicted on an involuntary manslaughter charge on Thursday in the death of an 8-year-old Connecticut boy who shot himself accidentally at a Westfield gun show in October.

Also indicted on involuntary manslaughter charges were the Westfield Sportsman's Club, where the death occurred, and two other individuals, identified in court records as Carl Giuffre, of Hartford, and Domenico Spano, of New Milford, Conn.

Fleury and the sportsmen's club were each also indicted by a Hampden Superior Court grand jury on four counts of furnishing a machine gun to a person under 18.

Do not give machine guns to small children. This why we need gun laws. Yes, the majority of gun owners handle their guns responsibly but they are deadly weapons.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Good Idea
Susie says
Members of Congress should wear uniforms like NASCAR drivers, so we can identify their corporate sponsors.

Congressman hangs on president-elect Obama.

On Wednesday, the Republican congresswoman got a call from President-elect Barack Obama, didn't believe it was him, and hung up on him. Twice.

According to Ros-Lehtinen's flack Alex Cruz, the congresswoman received the call on her cell phone from a Chicago-based number and an aide informed her that Obama wanted to speak to her. When Obama introduced himself, Ros-Lehtinen cut him off and said, "I'm sorry but I think this is a joke from one of the South Florida radio stations known for these pranks." Then she hung up.

Moments later, Obama tried again, this time through his soon-to-be chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel.

"Ileana, I cannot believe you hung up on the President-Elect," Emanuel said. And then--yes, you know what's coming--she hung up on Emanuel saying she "didn't believe the call was legitimate."

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sad To Hear
Jeffry Frye ,who fell in the Smokies in November, died of his injuries.

Jeremy Frye, 25, of Knoxville fell approximately 25-30 feet from the top of Grotto Falls on Nov. 8, a popular hiking destination along Trillium Gap Trail a few miles south of Gatlinburg, Tenn.

He suffered apparent leg, back and head injuries in the mishap. Park rangers responded to the scene and transported the victim by wheeled litter about 1.5 miles to the Trillium Gap Trailhead. He was then transferred to Gatlinburg Ambulance and subsequently was flown by LIFESTAR to The University of Tennessee Hospital in Knoxville.

My condolences to his friends and family.

Michigan Legalizes Medical Marijuana
It should help the economy.

For the first time ever, the state Department of Community Health is working out a process to permit some seriously ill people and their caregivers to possess and grow marijuana. The move is required by the medical marijuana initiative that Michigan voters approved last month.

The law, which won a majority of voters in every county of the state, takes effect on Thursday. The state has until April 4 to establish the rules for the program. The Department of Community Health will issue draft rules this month, and a public hearing is expected in January.

Both the Department of Community Health and the newly formed nonprofit Michigan Medical Marijuana Association are planning education drives to help smooth the transition into state licensing of medicinal marijuana users.

In California medical marijuana is estimated to be a 100 million to 2 billion dollar industry. That number is for the legal marijuana that gets taxed. Imagine if California got just sales tax on the estimated 22 billion dollar illegal sales.

Island Nations Worried
About global warming.

POZNAN, Poland (Reuters) - A group of 43 small island states called on Wednesday for tougher goals for fighting global warming than those being considered at U.N. climate talks, saying that rising seas could wipe them off the map.

"We are not prepared to sign a suicide agreement that causes small island states to disappear," Selwin Hart of Barbados, a coordinator of the alliance of small island states, told Reuters at the 187-nation meeting.

It seems if you live at sea level you take the threat of global warming more seriously than a republican. Why?

It's still likely that the average sea level will rise less than 1 meter by 2100 but higher figure cannot be excluded," said Stefan Rahmstorf, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

He said that some studies indicated that seas could rise by up to about 1.55 meters by 2100 and 1.5-3.5 meters by 2300.

"If the Antarctic ice sheet melts down completely the global sea levels would rise by 57 meters (187 ft). For Greenland it's 7 meters," he said.

Just remember everything seems to be happening faster than the scientists are predicting.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Trevor Thomas
The blind hiker known as Zero/Zero finished the Appalachian Trail on October 7, with broken ribs after a fall on Maine's Saddleback Mountain. A truly amazing feat. The Charlotte Observer has the best of many articles I have seen about Zero/Zero.

On the day he was to start, his acquaintance that was going to hike with him did not show. Undeterred he asked passing hikers if he could walk behind them. The 24th said yes. You should really read it all. But My love of the Appalachian Trail is not so much about the trail but the people. Here is a quote from Z/Z

I put my life in the hands of complete strangers over and over again,” Thomas said. “And whenever it seemed the darkest, whenever it seemed the magic had run out, someone would be there.”

Things like that make me feel good about the American people. One on one with out politics or religion we do the right thing and help our fellow man.
TPM's Eric Kleefeld on Sarah Palin's groupies in GA. Some of whom came as far away as New Mexico to see her.
It's like the Grateful Dead, only more spaced out.

Venus, Jupiter, and Crescent Moon

Venus-Jupiter-Cresent Moon, originally uploaded by san_duch.

A rare occurrence.

Atheists Are Happier
And nicer and a whole lot lees mean.

It is at this point that the "We need God to be good" case falls apart. Countries worthy of consideration aren't those like North Korea and China, where religion is savagely repressed, but those in which people freely choose atheism. In his new book, Society Without God, Phil Zuckerman looks at the Danes and the Swedes—probably the most godless people on Earth. They don't go to church or pray in the privacy of their own homes; they don't believe in God or heaven or hell. But, by any reasonable standard, they're nice to one another. They have a famously expansive welfare and health care service. They have a strong commitment to social equality. And—even without belief in a God looming over them—they murder and rape one another significantly less frequently than Americans do.

Denmark and Sweden aren't exceptions. A 2005 study by Gregory Paul looking at 18 democracies found that the more atheist societies tended to have relatively low murder and suicide rates and relatively low incidence of abortion and teen pregnancy.

I think a lot of crime has to do with poverty. Get rid of poverty and a lot of social problems go away.


Fuel Vapor Three-Wheeler, originally uploaded by John Hay.

The Ale by Fuel Vapor Technology gets 97 mpg. I wonder how soon we are going to see the three wheel vehicles on the streets. The Aptera is also a three wheel vehicle. It is much closer to production than the Ale. It also has Google money behind it.

Some people are trying to get fuel efficient cars to market. Even if the big three do not believe.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Faster and Faster
Joseph Romm has a post up about the Himalayan Glaciers melting. If they disappeared it would affect the lives of billions of people in Asia. At the end of his post he puts up a list of things that are happening faster than scientists thought.
It is going to be an interesting couple of decades.

The acorns are gone.

The idea seemed too crazy to Rod Simmons, a measured, careful field botanist. Naturalists in Arlington County couldn't find any acorns. None. No hickory nuts, either. Then he went out to look for himself. He came up with nothing. Nothing crunched underfoot. Nothing hit him on the head.

Then calls started coming in about crazy squirrels. Starving, skinny squirrels eating garbage, inhaling bird feed, greedily demolishing pumpkins. Squirrels boldly scampering into the road. And a lot more calls about squirrel roadkill.

But Simmons really got spooked when he was teaching a class on identifying oak and hickory trees late last month. For 2 1/2 miles, Simmons and other naturalists hiked through Northern Virginia oak and hickory forests. They sifted through leaves on the ground, dug in the dirt and peered into the tree canopies. Nothing.

"I'm used to seeing so many acorns around and out in the field, it's something I just didn't believe," he said. "But this is not just not a good year for oaks. It's a zero year. There's zero production. I've never seen anything like this before."

The absence of acorns could have something to do with the weather, Simmons thought. But he hoped it wasn't a climatic event. "Let's hope it's not something ghastly going on with the natural world."

There are no acorns in Baltimore County, MD. Strange days.