Thursday, March 31, 2011

Take This Award And

The Humane Society of the United States tried to give Alaskan Congressman Don Young an award. He basically told them what they could do with it.
HSUS are hypocrites, plain and simple, and I will not join them by accepting this award. Local animal shelters and humane societies do excellent work by caring for neglected and homeless animals, and through their spaying and neutering programs. This organization, however, has absolutely nothing to do with animal welfare. Instead they prey on the emotions of big-hearted Americans. They flash images of abused animals on our television screens to raise money that will eventually go to pay their salaries and pensions, not to helping better the lives of these animals.
To accept this award would be supporting their manipulative ways and misguided agenda, and I want no part of that.
David Hardy saw it first.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Monkey Battery

100% clean power — and renewable!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Earthquake Mapping

android_the_earthquake_app.pngI'm working through the app dev book I mentioned a week or two ago. One of the examples I'm coding up grabs real-time earthquake data from the USGS and plots it on Google maps.

I tweaked the overlay code to show the quakes with disks proportional in area to the magnitude of the quake (r = sqrt(10^mag/pi)).

Well, I think it's pretty cool.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Quote of the Day

As of this writing, there appears to be no credible evidence that Barack Obama was actually born anywhere, but his existence makes me suspicious of that claim.
Lawrence Sellin. Spotted by Max.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

25 Terawatt-Hours of Death

For every 25 TW-h of power produced by nuclear
one person died.

For every 25 TW-h of power produced by oil
nine hundred people died.

For every 25 TW-h of power produced by coal
four thousand people died.

So tell me again why you oppose nuclear power...
Are you stupid or do you just hate people?

(Numbers at Next Big Future, link via Instapundit.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Dark Mouser

Timmy the Cat as photographed by Marielle.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Already Out Of Ramen

Sendai, Japan.
A noodle shop here, named Gengotsuya, reopened for business Sunday and quickly filled up after putting out a big red ramen-noodle flag signaling it at last had noodles in stock. While much of the city was spared damage from the tsunami, few restaurants have reopened because the natural disasters knocked out power and water supplies, as well as easy access to ingredients.

"Once we put the flag out, people just started pouring in," said shop manager Rie Endo, as more than 30 customers slurped noodles nearby. "We are already out of ramen."
"It was delicious. I really miss hot meals," said Fukuichi Saito after finishing a miso ramen and gyoza. "It's been a long time."
Ramen is serious food.

(Via Instapundit; at least the serious food part.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

In the mail today.

janine_jansen_beethoven_britten_thumb.jpgHot. Hot. Hot.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What’s this “communism” stuff about, Dad?

Between_Shades_of_Gray.jpgEvery now and then I mention the Soviet Union, or nuclear war, or communism in general, and my kids — all born after the fall of the wall — always ask me what I'm talking about. What wall? Where?

It's hard to explain.

Now Meghan Cox Gurdon in the WSJ Weekend has provided us with a very good start on a summer reading list.
Until recently, virtually the only accounts for English-speaking children were Anne Holm's 1965 novel, North to Freedom (also published under the title I Am David), about a Bulgarian boy who escapes from a Soviet concentration camp, and Esther Hautzig's slim but excellent memoir of her Polish family's exile to Siberia, The Endless Steppe, which was first printed in 1970.

But perhaps now the subject is beginning to get its due. The past few years have seen the arrival of several books for young readers depicting harsh communist realities. These include The Wall, Peter Sis's 2007 picture-book memoir of his youth in Cold War Prague; Anne Fine's 2008 young-adult novel, The Road of Bones, set in a vaguely Stalinist era; and Haya Leah Molnar's 2010 chronicle of her girlhood in communist Romania, Under a Red Sky.

Now comes Ruta Sepetys's Between Shades of Gray, a superb though grueling novel for readers over the age of 13. ...
Read the whole review if you like, and then order the books.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What's a milliSievert?

Would you risk this?
Six workers at the Fukushima nuclear power plant have been exposed to radiation levels beyond the usual legal limit while carrying out emergency operations to make the complex safe....

The Kyodo news agency reported that Tepco said six staff members had been exposed to more than 100 milliSieverts of radiation, but had been assigned to other tasks and were continuing to work because they had not shown any abnormal signs since being exposed.

The government earlier increased to 250 mSv the limit for those working in the emergency operation.
Well, first I'd want to know What's a milliSievert?

(Prof. Reynolds got there first, but still.)

Friday, March 18, 2011


I would like to say that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's "update" of Molière's Imaginary Invalid rose to the level of bathroom humor, but it didn't. It barely made it to the level of outhouse humor. This was the sort of entertainment that the hillbilly clan from Deliverance might enjoy — if they'd had enough to drink.

Don't waste your money. Buy methyl alcohol instead.

We left during the intermission.

Friday, March 18, 2011

President “Present”

Kimberly Strassel on ducking tough issues.
It took until yesterday for Mr. Obama to address Japan's nuclear problem, and only then to clarify that Americans should and should not be worried about radiation, while also knowing that U.S. power plants are and aren't safe. The president had been touting a new love for nuclear energy (to coax Republicans into a "clean-energy" deal), but the White House is now worried Japan is the hydrogen version of the BP oil spill, and thinking the safest short-term policy is incoherence.
He's good at that.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Investing in the Apocalypse

tkecf_bought.pngFear of Japan's nuclear crisis far exceeds actual risks, say scientists

Update: doubling down.

tkecf_double_down.pngThis will either be one of the stupidest things I've ever done, or one of the most brilliant.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

After the Quake

chart-of-the-day-nikkei-after-kobe-sendai-earthquake-march-2011.jpgThe Japanese stock market in 1995 and 2011. It's not over yet.

Remember that earthquakes, both physical and financial, are measured on a logarithmic scale.

Meanwhile, this might be a good time to re-read After the Quake by Haruki Murakami.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fukushima Is Not Chernobyl

A little straight talk to counter the nuttiness in the headlines.
The core of a nuclear reactor operates at about 550 degrees Fahrenheit, well below the temperature of a coal furnace and only slightly hotter than a kitchen oven. If anything unusual occurs, the control rods immediately drop, shutting off the nuclear reaction. You can't have a "runaway reactor," nor can a reactor explode like a nuclear bomb. A commercial reactor is to a bomb what Vaseline is to napalm. Although both are made from petroleum jelly, only one of them has potentially explosive material.

Once the reactor has shut down, there remains "decay heat" from traces of other radioactive isotopes. This can take more than a week to cool down, and the rods must be continually bathed in cooling waters to keep them from overheating.

On all Generation II reactors — the ones currently in operation — the cooling water is circulated by electric pumps. The new Generation III reactors such as the AP1000 have a simplified "passive" cooling system where the water circulates by natural convection with no pumping required.

If the pumps are knocked out in a Generation II reactor — as they were at Fukushima Daiichi by the tsunami — the water in the cooling system can overheat and evaporate. The resulting steam increases internal pressure that must be vented. There was a small release of radioactive steam at Three Mile Island in 1979, and there have also been a few releases at Fukushima Daiichi. These produce radiation at about the level of one dental X-ray in the immediate vicinity and quickly dissipate.
William Tucker, author of Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Energy Will Lead the Green Revolution, in The Wall Street Journal.

Read it all. It's short, and you really ought to know.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Power Out

Power has gone out in Albany, Roseburg, Coos Bay, Cave Junction, and right here in Gold Hill.

Oregon Outage Information

My DSL router's on battery backup, my notebook has a full charge, and I just lit the lantern. We have a camp stove in the basement and a gas grill outside. Not that I'm hungry just yet.

Update: It's spreading. The list now includes Medford, Albany, Lebanon, Cave Junction, Kerby, Roseburg, North Bend, Coos Bay, Powers Myrtle Point,Rogue River, Cottage Grove, Sweet Home, and Talent.

Update: We have power, as of about 8:50 PM.

Update: Yeah, I know, big whoop compared to Japan. Still, we had some excitement.
PORTLAND, Ore. - A strong late winter storm has caused power outages for about 50,000 Pacific Power customers in the Northwest, stretching from the northern Willamette Valley to Crescent City, Calif.

Crews are at work assessing and repairing damage in more than a dozen communities. At peak, after the storm as many as 74,000 customers were without power due to more than 2,000 individual outages.
We learned a couple things, too. Two lanterns would be better than one. The UPS is good for maybe half an hour. To save batteries, unplug everything from your notebook. And finally, there's no substitute for a portable generator.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

What, no ChemFET?

I was just reading the Android developer docs. They're just trying to stay one step ahead of developments. It seems that, in addition to touchscreens, cameras, speakers, and microphones, smart phones might also have GPS, accelerometers, barometers, magnetometers, gyroscopes, light meters, and proximity sensors.

But that only gives them three of the five senses.

What if you could dip one corner of your smart phone in a glass of wine and it would tell you if it was worth drinking? Or what you should have paid for it? Or if it's really a Condrieu Viognier?

Of course you'd have to dip it in a glass of water afterward to cleanse its palette. Else it might start to slur your words.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Earthquake Tsunami Inferno

While we were sleeping all hell broke loose in Japan.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Testing... One. Two. Three. Is this thing on?

lt3119u.jpgIf you can read this, I have successfully moved the code for my custom written BlogWare™ to my new notebook, and set up my development environment, built the project, and I'm running it. About half my time was spent installing and configuring tools (Java, Ant, JUnit, WinEdit, Jindent, and so on) and the other half was spent fussing with Windows 7 trying to get it to behave itself.

Here's a product well worth using: PC Decrapifier. It was recommended in the second of three articles by Rick Broida on

Make Your New PC Hassle-Free, Part 1: Make a System-Repair Disc
Make Your New PC Hassle-Free, Part 2: Remove the Crapware
Make Your New PC Hassle-Free, Part 3: Keep It Secure

All worth reading. Thank you, Mr. Broida!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

In The Mail Today

ProfessionalAndroid2ApplicationDevelopment.pngSorry about the almost non-existent blogging, but I've been very busy learning to write apps for my new phone. This is a Wrox Programmer to Programmer™ book. I've bought Wrox books before, and pound for pound, you won't find more good, usable information in printed form.

Professional Android 2 Application Development by Reto Meier. Highly recommended.

For geeks only, of course.

Monday, March 7, 2011


uninsalling_dictators_thumb.jpgHat tip to Finding Ponies.... Ultimate source

Monday, March 7, 2011

Feeling Chilly?

Two weeks ago, NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory spacecraft filmed this. Watch it until your toes thaw out. (Today's APOD.)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Calling Obama's Bluff

The Wall Street Journal explains.
When Roger Vinson struck down ObamaCare as unconstitutional in January, Justice Department lawyers filed an unusual "motion of clarification," essentially claiming they were confused by the Florida federal judge's plain language. Judge Vinson replied last week, and the government lawyers are probably wishing they hadn't pretended they couldn't read.
Normally, when courts void an entire statute, it is considered a de facto injunction and the government files a motion for an immediate stay. The Obama Administration decided to ignore the order for nearly a month and continued with implementation as if nothing had happened, and then played dumb in Judge Vinson's courtroom.
Therefore, Judge Vinson decided to treat the dilatory tactics as a motion for a stay, and granted it. But he also gave the Justice Department a mere seven days—that is, this Thursday—to file an appeal and required that it seek an expedited appellate review.
Time to show your cards, boys.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Of The Former Governor

She's got courage. That's very important in politics. You can have all the right ideas and the ability to express them. But if you haven't got guts, if you haven't got courage the way Margaret Thatcher had courage—and [Ronald] Reagan, come to think of it. Your last president had courage too—if you haven't got courage, all the other virtues are no good at all. It's the central virtue.
Paul Johnson, speaking in the Weekend Interview.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Public Broadcasting Should Go

Jim DeMint says it's time to privatize public broadcasting. They're lobbying against it, of course.
PBS President Paula Kerger even recorded a personal television appeal that told viewers exactly how to contact members of Congress in order to "let your representative know how you feel about the elimination of funding for public broadcasting." But if PBS can pay Ms. Kerger $632,233 in annual compensation—as reported on the 990 tax forms all nonprofits are required to file—surely it can operate without tax dollars.
I agree.

I fit the demographic. I'm affluent, college educated, interested in current events and public affairs, and I listen to classical music. And yet I haven't watched PBS or listened to NPR in over a decade. Partly because I believe it is treasonous to give aid and comfort to the enemy, but mostly because I don't need them.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Jonathan Conducts the Fifth

Three years old. On YouTube. Go watch. Then, if you don't already have it, buy the boxed set and try it yourself.

Via Michael Johnson on The American Spectator.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Doing the Math

Please pardon this brief departure from my normal folderol, but every so often a member of the chattering class issues a nugget of stupidity so egregious that no amount of mockery will suffice.
Not the usual snark, but he has a way with numbers. Read it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Geek Nightmare