"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Right On!

Show me an empty desktop, I'll show you an empty mind...

Saying Yes to Mess

IT is a truism of American life that we’re too darn messy, or we think we are, and we feel really bad about it. Our desks and dining room tables are awash with paper; our closets are bursting with clothes and sports equipment and old files; our laundry areas boil; our basements and garages seethe. And so do our partners — or our parents, if we happen to be teenagers.

This is why sales of home-organizing products, like accordion files and labelmakers and plastic tubs, keep going up and up, from $5.9 billion last year to a projected $7.6 billion by 2009, as do the revenues of companies that make closet organizing systems, an industry that is pulling in $3 billion a year, according to Closets magazine.

This is why January is now Get Organized Month, thanks also to the efforts of the National Association of Professional Organizers, whose 4,000 clutter-busting members will be poised, clipboards and trash bags at the ready, to minister to the 10,000 clutter victims the association estimates will be calling for its members’ services just after the new year.

But contrarian voices can be heard in the wilderness. An anti-anticlutter movement is afoot, one that says yes to mess and urges you to embrace your disorder. Studies are piling up that show that messy desks are the vivid signatures of people with creative, limber minds (who reap higher salaries than those with neat “office landscapes”) and that messy closet owners are probably better parents and nicer and cooler than their tidier counterparts. It’s a movement that confirms what you have known, deep down, all along: really neat people are not avatars of the good life; they are humorless and inflexible prigs, and have way too much time on their hands.

In the semiotics of mess, desks may be the richest texts. Messy-desk research borrows from cognitive ergonomics, a field of study dealing with how a work environment supports productivity. Consider that desks, our work landscapes, are stand-ins for our brains, and so the piles we array on them are “cognitive artifacts,” or data cues, of our thoughts as we work.

To a professional organizer brandishing colored files and stackable trays, cluttered horizontal surfaces are a horror; to cognitive psychologists like Jay Brand, who works in the Ideation Group of Haworth Inc., the huge office furniture company, their peaks and valleys glow with intellectual intent and showcase a mind whirring away: sorting, linking, producing. (By extension, a clean desk can be seen as a dormant area, an indication that no thought or work is being undertaken.)

His studies and others, like a survey conducted last year by Ajilon Professional Staffing, in Saddle Brook, N.J., which linked messy desks to higher salaries (and neat ones to salaries under $35,000), answer Einstein’s oft-quoted remark, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk?”

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Not the PC view of warming

Love Global Warming - Forbes.com: "What's wrong with mild winters, anyway?"

Blizzards vs Hurricanes?
Deaths from cold vs heat?

Is there a "upside" to climate change?

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Ah Ha

He Thought, She Thought - New York Times:

"Q: As a professor of neuropsychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, you’ve drawn some strange conclusions about “The Female Brain,” to borrow the title of your debut book, which argues that a woman’s brain structure explains a good deal of her behavior, including a penchant for gossiping and talking on the phone.

The hormone of intimacy is oxytocin, and when women talk to each other, they get a rush of it"


Your book cites a study claiming that women use about 20,000 words a day, while men use about 7,000.

The real phraseology of that should have been that a woman has many more communication events a day — gestures, words, raising of your eyebrows."

More on Freeman Dyson

Interview posted Feb '98 but still timely.
A good read

6.02: features: "Freeman Dyson's Brain
By Stewart Brand

Stewart Brand talks to the deepest futurist alive - and the most trustworthy."


By 2040, Greenhouse Gases Could Lead to an Open Arctic Sea in Summers - New York Times:
"New studies project that the Arctic Ocean could be mostly open water in summer by 2040 — several decades earlier than previously expected — partly as a result of global warming caused by emissions of greenhouse gases."

The Cost of an Overheated Planet - New York Times

"“Setting a real price on carbon emissions is the single most important policy step to take,” said Robert N. Stavins, director of the environmental economics program at Harvard University. “Pricing is the way you get both the short-term gains through efficiency and the longer-term gains from investments in research and switching to cleaner fuels.”

Some academics see an analogy between a global warming policy and the pursuit of national security in the cold war. In the late 1950s, American military spending reached as high as 10 percent of the gross domestic product and averaged about 4 percent, far higher than in any previous peacetime era. A Soviet nuclear attack was a danger but hardly a certainty, just as the predicted catastrophes from global warming are threats but not certainties."

Nukes...now that could be real "Warming"!
Likely followed by cooling..."Nuclear Winter"

An alternative view from a major thinker:
Freeman Dyson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

"The good news is that we are at last putting serious effort and money into local observations. Local observations are laborious and slow, but they are essential if we are ever to have an accurate picture of climate. The bad news is that the climate models on which so much effort is expended are unreliable because they still use fudge-factors rather than physics to represent important things like evaporation and convection, clouds and rainfall. Besides the general prevalence of fudge-factors, the latest and biggest climate models have other defects that make them unreliable. With one exception, they do not predict the existence of El Ni�o. Since El Ni�o is a major feature of the observed climate, any model that fails to predict it is clearly deficient. The bad news does not mean that climate models are worthless. They are, as Manabe said thirty years ago, essential tools for understanding climate. They are not yet adequate tools for predicting climate"


"As a result of the burning of coal and oil, the driving of cars, and other human activities, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing at a rate of about half a percent per year. [...] The physical effects of carbon dioxide are seen in changes of rainfall, cloudiness, wind strength, and temperature, which are customarily lumped together in the misleading phrase "global warming." This phrase is misleading because the warming caused by the greenhouse effect of increased carbon dioxide is not evenly distributed. In humid air, the effect of carbon dioxide on the transport of heat by radiation is less important, because it is outweighed by the much larger greenhouse effect of water vapor. The effect of carbon dioxide is more important where the air is dry, and air is usually dry only where it is cold. The warming mainly occurs where air is cold and dry, mainly in the arctic rather than in the tropics, mainly in winter rather than in summer, and mainly at night rather than in daytime. The warming is real, but it is mostly making cold places warmer rather than making hot places hotter. To represent this local warming by a global average is misleading, because the global average is only a fraction of a degree while the local warming at high latitudes is much larger.

Regarding political efforts to reduce the causes of climate change, Dyson argues that other global problems should take priority.

"I'm not saying the warming doesn't cause problems, obviously it does. Obviously we should be trying to understand it. I'm saying that the problems are being grossly exaggerated. They take away money and attention from other problems that are much more urgent and important. Poverty, infectious diseases, public education and public health. Not to mention the preservation of living creatures on land and in the oceans."

Looking much further back (likely not caused by CO2):
Black Sea deluge theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In 1998, William Ryan and Walter Pitman, geologists from Columbia University, published evidence that a massive flood through the Bosporus occurred about 5600 BCE. Glacial meltwater had turned the Black and Caspian Seas into vast freshwater lakes, while sea levels remained lower worldwide. The fresh water lakes were emptying their waters into the Aegean Sea. As the glaciers retreated, rivers emptying into the Black Sea reduced their volume and found new outlets in the North Sea, and the water levels lowered through evaporation. Then, about 5600 BC, as sea levels rose, Ryan and Pitman suggest, the rising Mediterranean finally spilled over a rocky sill at the Bosporus. The event flooded 60,000 mile² (155,000 km²) of land and significantly expanded the Black Sea shoreline to the north and west. Ryan and Pitman wrote:

Black Sea today (light blue) and in 5600 BCE (dark blue) according to Ryan's and Pitman's theories
Black Sea today (light blue) and in 5600 BCE (dark blue) according to Ryan's and Pitman's theories
"Ten cubic miles [42 km³] of water poured through each day, two hundred times what flows over Niagara Falls. …The Bosporus flume roared and surged at full spate for at least three hundred days."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tough kid

Mind the Gap
hayden's surgery reveals serious damage--from 04!
by dean adams
Friday, December 01, 2006

Reigning MotoGP world champion Nick Hayden underwent surgery on his injured shoulder yesterday at Dr. Art Ting's Northern California clinic. Ostensibly, Hayden's surgery was to repair the damage done in his Estoril MotoGP crash—where he was taken out by his teammate, Dani Pedrosa—but the prep for the surgery revealed even more damage than that caused by the Estoril spill.

"I guess what I'd like to say is that Americans should really be proud of Nicky for the performance he put in at Valencia, because, my God, I was just stunned to see how badly his shoulder was damaged and realize that he raced on this and won the world championship," said Ting's Rehab Specialist, Tuan Nguyen today. "We looked at it and thought, my God, look at that gap!"

Ting's clinic services virtually a who's who in the racing world, and has done so for over 15 years. Previous racing clients include Eddie Lawson, Michael Doohan, Miguel DuHamel and many, many others.

"What we found was that Nicky's broken collarbone from 2004 actually never healed," continued Nguyen. "We did an MRI and then looked at it and there was a gap in the old break in his clavicle. The plate was holding it together, but there was a gap between the bones. We also found rotator cuff damage, a labrum tear, and a bone spur on his clavicle."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Hybrid Marketing

Eyes on the Road - WSJ.com:
GM, Toyota Bet Hybrid Green. Even as Sales Cool, Auto Makers Hope They Will Help Branding, Bottom Line
December 11, 2006

"Is the hybrid car moment over in America?

Not if Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Corp. can help it. The warring giants of the auto industry are determined to keep gas-electric hybrid vehicle technology in the forefront of their product programs, as well as their corporate advertising and image-building efforts."

and ...
"GM isn't about to do a wholesale conversion to battery-driven vehicles. But Mr. Lutz says that he thinks it's possible that within three years, the lithium-ion battery technology that could make a plug-in hybrid viable just might become available. So if GM wants to take advantage of that, it has to start working today on such a vehicle.

Mr. Lutz says that current gas-electric hybrid technology still doesn't make economic sense, given the high costs of the hardware and the relatively low cost of gasoline. "But it doesn't matter," he says. The image boost Toyota received from promoting its leadership on hybrids is priceless."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Unclear concept... cont.

Yes, You Can Surf in Cleveland - New York Times: "

“Surfing Lake Erie is basically disgusting,” said Bill Weeber, known as Mongo, 44. “But then I catch that wave and I forget about it, and I feel high all day.”


"The strongest winds and waves come in winter, just before Lake Erie freezes. Waves up to 10 feet have been surfed, but the largest swells are usually chest-high. Instead of curling into a vertical wall, the waves are round like haystacks, and they collapse onto the shore like soggy paper."


Charlie Trotters

Wonderful dining experience. Patty at Earthy Delights got us reservations, and "over the top" service. Comped a generous white truffle shaving on one of the dishes. Shirley went with the Veggie tasting menu, Grand Menu along with the wine pairings. Waiting for our taxi, we got a tour of the kitchens.

Charlie Trotter's is regarded as one of the finest restaurants in the world. For over 18 years, the restaurant has dedicated itself to excellence in the culinary arts. Not willing to ride on its laurels, Charlie Trotter's is continuously forging new directions and has been instrumental in establishing new standards for fine dining worldwide.

The restaurant is recognized by a variety of prestigious national and international institutions. In 1995 Charlie Trotter's was inducted into the esteemed Relais & Chateaux and in 1998 was accepted as a member by Traditions & Qualit� . It has also received Five Stars from the Mobil Travel Guide (one of only two Five Star restaurants in Chicago ), Five Diamonds by AAA and seven James Beard Foundation awards, including 'Outstanding Restaurant' (2000) and 'Outstanding Chef' (1999). Wine Spectator named the restaurant 'The Best Restaurant in the World for Wine & Food' (1998) and ' America 's Best Restaurant' (2000). Chef Trotter is the author of 11 cookbooks, subject of two management books, and is the host of the nationally aired, award winning PBS cooking series, The Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter .

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Lucky Number Slevin (2006)

That time of year ... Winter came yesterday
Woke up with clouds and brisk, by late morning it started snowing, by evening, 6-8inches.

Time for NetFlix
Great movie, needs re-watching
Josh Hartnett, Ben Kingsley,Morgan Freeman,Stanley Tucci,Bruce Willis

Twists to the story
This AM, it's time for the actor's/writer's commentary

Friday, December 01, 2006

Antikythera Mechanism - most interesting

Early Astronomical ‘Computer’ Found to Be Technically Complex - New York Times:

Article Tools Sponsored By
Published: November 30, 2006

A computer in antiquity would seem to be an anachronism, like Athena ordering takeout on her cellphone.

Decoding the Ancient Greek Astronomical Calculator Known as the Antikythera Mechanism (Nature)

But a century ago, pieces of a strange mechanism with bronze gears and dials were recovered from an ancient shipwreck off the coast of Greece. Historians of science concluded that this was an instrument that calculated and illustrated astronomical information, particularly phases of the Moon and planetary motions, in the second century B.C.

The instrument, the Antikythera Mechanism, sometimes called the world’s first computer, has now been examined with the latest in high-resolution imaging systems and three-dimensional X-ray tomography. A team of British, Greek and American researchers deciphered inscriptions and reconstructed the gear functions, revealing “an unexpected degree of technical sophistication for the period,” it said."

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

H2 Developments

An alternative to IC power, but a long way from production, much less mass-production

Copyrighted material: WSJournal

GM Hopes Engine of Future Sells Cars Now

November 29, 2006; Page B1

HONEOYE FALLS, N.Y. -- General Motors Corp. Chief Executive Rick Wagoner will go before an audience at the Los Angeles auto show today and outline a future powered by hybrid engines, batteries and other advanced fuel-saving technologies.

About 3,000 miles away, in this little village 40 miles south of Rochester, GM engineers are working to perfect the hardware that could transform Mr. Wagoner's vision into reality. In the process, they hope the troubled auto giant not only gets ahead of the next big thing in cars but also sells a few more of its current models, too.

In a pair of blue-and-gray buildings behind a tall security fence, GM scientists have quietly started building working fuel-cell engines that run on hydrogen and produce no exhaust other than pure water. The facility looks more like a computer-chip factory than an engine plant -- the most critical component is a clear liquid that technicians mix in a glass-walled, dust-free laboratory.

[General Motors is developing its fuel-cell technology at a plant in Honeoye Falls, N.Y.]
General Motors is developing its fuel-cell technology at a plant in Honeoye Falls, N.Y.

Until recently, GM kept quiet about its most advanced research. Honeoye Falls has rarely opened its doors to outsiders. But the company recently brought a small group of reporters here as part of a strategy to demonstrate that GM can compete technologically with Toyota Motor Corp. GM hopes it can beat Toyota to market, grabbing an early lead with this technology that will change how consumers think of the company and boost the image of its conventional vehicles.

Mr. Wagoner and other top GM executives believe Toyota has gained an edge by jumping ahead of other car makers on gas-electric hybrids. Toyota is now often viewed as the industry's innovation leader, while many consumers see the Big Three Detroit auto makers as laggards that only excel at making gas-guzzling trucks -- and at losing money in the U.S. market.

Fuel cells won't be a real mass market item for years. GM aims to sell just a few thousand fuel-cell cars in 2011, and tens of thousands a year by 2013.

The company faces fierce competition, though. Other auto makers are also developing fuel cells, and some, like Toyota and Honda Motor Co., have deep pockets to fund their work. GM, by contrast, is burdened with a junk debt rating and is spending more money than it's making in its auto business.

Honda has recently sought to stake out a position as a fuel-cell leader, saying its newest systems are small and light enough to fit in conventional sedans. Honda says limited leasing programs with the redesigned FCX fuel cell car are scheduled to begin in the U.S. and Japan in 2008.

A bigger question hanging over the fuel-cell debate is where drivers would be able to fill up with hydrogen. GM hopes to test a fleet of fuel-cell vehicles soon on the East Coast, but there are no places for consumers to refuel except for one hydrogen station near Washington, D.C.

Nevertheless, GM engineers here are optimistic they will have the hardware to bring fuel-cell vehicles to market fairly soon. The performance of GM current fuel-cell engine "is pretty good," said Matt Fronk, chief engineer for fuel-cell systems. "Now we want to cut cost while maintaining good durability."

The heart of the system is a stack of fuel cells that feature translucent polymer sheets coated with a thin layer of platinum and carbon particles. In the presence of these catalysts, hydrogen atoms pass through the sheets to bond with oxygen, creating an electric charge on one side. Three or four hundred of these cells stacked together generate enough electricity to power a motor for a car.

In Room 304 in the research building in Honeoye Falls, engineers are working to wring extra amps and volts out of each cell. There they are testing different types of sheets, each about half the width of a hair, and different catalyst combinations.

At one test station, a computer screen shows a test cell generating about a half a volt. "That's not bad, but we want the volts higher than that," says Mark Mathias, a research manager. Ideally, auto makers would like each cell to produce a tenth or two tenths more of a volt.

Across the way in the production building are more tangible signs of progress in a clean room fed with dust-free air. Here technicians are mixing a clear platinum-carbon solution that will be applied to membranes GM will use in working fuel-cell engines.

The technicians wear plastic booties over their shoes to keep from tracking in contaminants. Getting the balance of the two elements is critical; platinum is expensive, but using too little reduces the electricity the stack can generate.

Nearby in Room 174, another clean environment, engineers are tinkering with machines that compress the delicate membranes into stacks. "They're working on the tooling for a future GM engine factory," Mr. Fronk says. "We're trying to figure out how we'll assemble on a mass scale."

Outside Room 174 finished stacks are lined up on the floor. Each is a metal box measuring about one foot by two feet by nine inches, and has a tangle of cable sprouting from the top. Two stacks together put out about 90 kilowatts of power, about the same as a 120-horsepower engine, Mr. Fronk says. The stacks are tested and then mated to an electric motor and a gearbox.

The final product is about the size of a washing machine. On this day, three were lined up, ready to be shipped to a Canadian plant that will put them into Chevrolet Equinox test vehicles. Next to them was a mock up of a new version that is smaller, about the size of a window air conditioner. Although smaller, this version is as powerful as the larger fuel-cell engine. GM officials say this next-generation engine represents a real breakthrough because it is just about the size they would need to commercialize the technology.

"With this one," Mr. Fronk says, patting the mock-up with his hand, "we're almost where we want to be."

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Took the evening off
Our first at the "cabin"

Fire in the fireplace, candles and some soft music, some nice wine ...

Living Room

Curled up with one of my favorite writers :
True North: A Novel (Harrison, Jim): Books: Jim Harrison

No TV, no internet, no phone

Friday, November 24, 2006

Hissie Fit

Posting this to get some things off my chest.
As Tip O'Neil was famous for ... "All Politics are Local"

For me, they sure are, and I'm damn fed up.
While I normally keep my politics to myself, I can't help it when it comes to our local county Board of Commissioners. I held my tongue when they decided on a recycling measure that those townships that did not approve of the millage would be denied recycling stations, having the bins removed the next day. Then they came to the voters bemoaning that they would not have enough funds for operations. Seems that they had been counting on the interest being earned on funds held for the new Courthouse.
Rough figures, $10,000,000 for the Courthouse, which had been earning about $500,000
Well … Duh!
How could they not foresee this situation.
Note that an “operating millage” passed by a mere 90 votes or .76%

This is a County Board that oversaw the construction of a new Jail, far larger than needed with the idea that they would make money by renting out beds … trouble is, others were building new jails as well.

But what really pisses me off is the issue of Farmland Preservation.
Farmland Preservation program

The board established this program but refused to find means to fund it, and were reluctant to put a millage on the ballot.
Local funding would have opened the door to Federal, State and Private Foundation matching grants.

When they finally did put a millage proposal up for a vote, there was vocal opposition.
Plenty of FUD thrown around, and a good bit of mis-information to scare the taxpayers.

The proposal was soundly defeated, and I accept that.
But then the bozo’s on the board decided that, despite no evidence to support their position, that the vote was a referendum on the program, not a millage.

Language on the ballot:
Farmland Preservation Millage

Official Language:

Proposal to Preserve Leelanau County Farmland

For the purpose of funding a voluntary program to permanently purchase development rights on working farms, orchards and vineyards in Leelanau County and to enhance access to matching grants, shall the tax limitation of general ad valorem taxes within Leelanau County be increased under Article 9, Section 6 of the michigan Constitution by one-half (.5) mill, or 50 cents per $1,000 of taxable value beginning December 1, 2006 for fifteen (15) years (2006-2020, inclusive), thereby supporting the Leelanau County Purchase of Development Rights Ordinance and operation of the Farmland Preservation Board? If approved and levied in full, this Millage will raise an estimated additional $998,300.80 for farmland preservation in the first calendar year of the levy based on state taxable valuation.



NO was interpreted as "scrap the whole damn thing" ... which I fail to be able to find, even between the lines.
And here's "promotional material" from the County Board:


One (1.0) Mill for two years to fund 9-1-1/ Emergency Management Services, Public Safety and General Operations on November 7, 2006 ballot.

A $1.986 million deficit is projected for 2007 and a similar deficit for 2008. State law requires counties to have balanced budgets.

• The County’s population continues to grow (28%) along with expectations for services
• The costs for basic services and operations continue to rise, often exceeding the cost of living
• State and Federal funds for county services have declined
• Increased costs to provide online services for access to county information
• The 9-1-1 telephone surcharge expires this December
• Lost interest from accumulated savings for new Government Center
• The Headlee Amendment has reduced the 1969 approved 6.2 mill allocation to 3.7635 mills
• Increased operational costs with the opening of the new Government Center in 2008


WHAT WILL THE ONE (1) MILL COST? 50% of the residential parcels will pay less than $59/parcel per year and 50% will pay more than $59/parcel per year. To calculate what a 1 mill increase would cost for your parcel(s), you can go to www.leelanau.cc, click on the link, then enter your name or parcel number, then click on your parcel number. Citizens with a land line phone will save $25.44/year/line due to the telephone surcharge ending on December 31, 2006.


• 9-1-1/Emergency Management Services (EMS) staff
• Public Safety – Marine Safety Unit, Narcotics Deputy (TNT), Animal Control Officer,
Community Work Program
• Human Services- MSU Extension/4H/ Master Gardener, Budgets for Parks & Recreation Board, Farmland Preservation Board, EDC Board, Planning Commission, Solid Waste Council
• Law Enforcement deputies
• Family Court direct service staff
• Prosecutor’s support staff
• Staff for the Clerk, Treasurer, Register of Deeds, Equalization, Planning, and Administration.

These cutbacks include a total of 29 full time and 9 part time employees out of 122 total employees or about a third of the workforce.
IMPACT: limited service or no service from the above departments.

If you have any questions or concerns, please go to the website: www.leelanau.cc for more information or contact the County Administrator (256-9711) or any member of the Board of Commissioners.

Provided by the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners


Devious wiggle room and close to dis-information : Maintain services "as you know them"

Sampling of reports and editorials:

Farmland Leelanau news Blot

Record-Eagle Editorial

Record-Eagle "Forum"


Leelanau Enterprise column

Remember – when politicians run un-opposed, do NOT vote for them… no sense in encouraging them.

From the Record-Eagle:

All candidates are running unopposed for two-year terms on the Leelanau County board of commissioners. They are Jean Watkoski in District 1, Mark Walter in District 2, William Bunek in District 3, Mary Tonneberger in District 4, David Shiflett in District 5, Robert Hawley in District 6 and Melinda Lautner in District 7. All are Republicans.

Republican Glen Noonan is the only candidate for a six-year term on the county road commission.

Joseph Deegan is running unopposed for a six-year term as county probate judge.

In the name of God/Allah/etc..

On the need for rational thought

A Free-for-All on Science and Religion - New York Times:
...a forum this month at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif"

Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City and an adviser to the Bush administration on space exploration: “Science is a philosophy of discovery; intelligent design is a philosophy of ignorance,” he said. “Something fundamental is going on in people’s minds when they confront things they don’t understand.”

He told of a time, more than a millennium ago, when Baghdad reigned as the intellectual center of the world, a history fossilized in the night sky. The names of the constellations are Greek and Roman, Dr. Tyson said, but two-thirds of the stars have Arabic names. The words “algebra” and “algorithm” are Arabic.

But sometime around 1100, a dark age descended. Mathematics became seen as the work of the devil, as Dr. Tyson put it. “Revelation replaced investigation,” he said, and the intellectual foundation collapsed.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

File under ... Duh

News Corp. Cancels Simpson Book
News Corp. canceled publication of the O.J. Simpson book and television special "If I Did It." Rupert Murdoch apologized for the project, saying it was "ill-considered."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Blow Shit Up

Ya don't have to be pre-teen to enjoy it...

Is Mythbusters the Best Science Show on Television? - New York Times:

"Mr. Hyneman and his colleague, Adam Savage, are the hosts of “Mythbusters” on the Discovery Channel. It may be the best science program on television, in no small part because it does not purport to be a science program at all. What “Mythbusters” is best known for, to paraphrase Mr. Hyneman, is blowing stuff up. And banging stuff together. And setting stuff on fire. The two men do it for fun and ratings, of course. But in a subtle and goofily educational way, they commit mayhem for science’s sake. "

I really liked the one about a prop tearing up a parked small plane.

Get-Away aka Dear Camp

Closed this AM on our "new" get-away
Sits adjacent to our woodlot, shares a couple of lot lines.

Few steps away from what will be Shirley's studio...

Shirley came up with the name...

She says the rule will be to always answer
"yes dear"

Blackstone Acquiring Trust in Richest Buyout - New York Times

Quickie reaction:
Sam Zell selling ... top for commercial RE?
Further move to Private Equity, away from public markets.

Blackstone Acquiring Trust in Richest Buyout - New York Times:

"The Blackstone Group, a private investment firm, said yesterday that it had agreed to acquire Equity Office Properties Trust, the nation’s largest office-building owner and manager, for about $36 billion."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Virtual worlds get more "real"

'Second Life' faces threat to its virtual economy | CNET News.com:

"Groups of Second Life content creators were gathering digitally Tuesday to protest the dissemination of a program they worry could badly damage the virtual world's nascent economy.

The controversy gathered steam Monday when Linden Lab, which publishes Second Life, posted a blog alerting residents of the virtual world to the existence of a program or bot called CopyBot, which allows someone to copy any object in Second Life. That includes goods such as clothing that people purchase for their in-world avatars, and even the virtual PCs that computer giant Dell announced Tuesday it is going to sell in the digital world."

Comments on Global Warming and Common Sense

Samuelson: The Dilemma of Global Warming vs. Economic Growth - Newsweek Robert Samuelson - MSNBC.com:

The Worst of Both Worlds?
Scare stories about global warming may end up justifying policies that hurt the economy without much curbing of greenhouse gases.

"Let me throw some messy realities onto Stern's tidy picture. In the global-warming debate, there's a big gap between public rhetoric (which verges on hysteria) and public behavior (which indicates indifference). People say they're worried but don't act that way. Greenhouse emissions continue to rise despite many earnest pledges to control them. Just last week, the United Nations reported that of the 41 countries it monitors (not including most developing nations), 34 had increased greenhouse emissions from 2000 to 2004. These include most countries committed to reducing emissions under the Kyoto Protocol."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Dickin around

Dick Morris on the election results ...

Will Newt run in '08?

Note that Dick, despite working for Clinton, is basically conservative.
That said - he is astute reader of Washington tea leaves


House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has been a disaster and the rest of the House and Senate leadership has not been any better.

The lean, ascetic, ideological purity of the Gingrich Republicans of 1994 had yielded to the corrupt, feather-your-own-nest psychology of the current Republican congressional leadership. They assumed that the partisan gerrymandering of 2000 left them invulnerable and they dipped into the till to get earmarks for their favorite lobbyists in return for contributions and free vacations. It’s time to get rid of this kind of leadership and to bring in people with a fine, tough partisan and ideological edge."

Followed by:

Oust Boehner and Blunt:

Did the Republican leadership learn anything on Election Day? Did they finally get it that voters are fed up with politicians who use their office to raise money and get perks? Will the GOP return to the lean, ascetic, committed politics that animated its 1994 surge to power or will it resist change and choose leaders who skate on the edge of corruption in their bid for privilege? And, in the Senate, will the Republicans realize that they need a mechanic who can make the trains run on time to tie the Democrats in knots?

And do the Democrats realize that their surge to the top was not due to the outpouring of true leftist believers but because centrist, moderate candidates won swing states and districts, just as Clinton did in 1996?

The answer to these questions will be apparent in the leadership elections coming soon in both houses of Congress.

In the House, Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) will try to take Dennis Hastert’s place at the head of the diminished ranks of Republicans. This is the same John Boehner who took to the House floor a few years back and distributed checks from tobacco PACs to those congressmen who put their desire for cigarette money ahead of the health of their constituents and voted against government regulation of this hideous industry. This kind of self-serving, money-focused politics is just what landed the GOP in sufficient trouble to lose the House in the first place. Letting the escalator move up one notch and inviting Boehner to head the party’s House delegation will send a clear signal that House Republicans have, like the Bourbon kings of France, in Talleyrand’s words, “learned nothing and forgotten nothing.”

Of course ... The Republicans went ahead with Boehner ...

Dick is no kinder on the Dems:

Ultra-liberals rise on moderate wings:

"All that has happened is that the ranking members have become the chairmen, regardless of their views or qualifications. It is a gesture of homage to seniority that would have the approval of the segregationists that used to run Congress by applying the same ground rules. Back then, no matter how loudly voters demanded integration and an end to racism, the Democratic majority kept apartheid firmly in place. The distortion of the electorate’s will taking place now on Capitol Hill is no more extreme."

So there's our results.
Republicans forgetting to put their hands back in their pockets, rather than out for "lobby bucks" and Dems mistaking the vote as mandate for left rather than middle of the road.

Then there's Newsweek :

"Hastert was never able to exercise the same iron control as DeLay. Nor was DeLay's successor as majority leader, John Boehner, able to bring real discipline to fractious House members who looked out primarily for their own political interests. The religious evangelicals became more demanding of the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill, leading to the deeply unpopular spectacle of the Terri Schiavo case. Last year Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, eager to court religious conservatives for a possible presidential run, and the House leadership, sensitive to the religious right, intervened to try to keep the patient alive on a feeding tube, a questionable use of federal power, especially for a party that once stood for less government interference.

The GOP's evangelical base was shocked and demoralized this fall when Rep. Mark Foley of Florida was exposed for having sent salacious messages to congressional pages. House leaders blamed each other for not responding to warnings that Foley was a possible sexual predator. In early October, when Hastert was compelled to hold a press conference to announce that he would not step down as Speaker, it was clear that the GOP revolution was in its late Jacobin phase."


Congrats to all at JPL and NASA

In Orbit

Spirit Surpasses 1,000 Martian Days In Service
Aviation Week & Space Technology
11/06/2006, page 19

Edited by Frank Morring, Jr.

Printed headline: Spiritual Journey

Spirit, the Mars Exploration Rover designed to last only 90 sols--Martian days--has surpassed 1,000 sols in service. Each sol is about 40 min. longer than an Earth day, meaning Spirit has been functioning on Mars more than 1,026 Earth days. During this period, the plucky robot has transmitted more than 87,100 images to Earth. Opportunity, its sister rover that landed on the opposite side of the planet a little later in January 2004, has surpassed 980 sols and returned more than 79,000 images. Sprit is resting on a north-facing slope near the base of Husband Hill, which is named after USAF Col. Rick Husband, the last commander of the shuttle Columbia. From this location, the rover has been able to keep its solar array pointed at the Sun for maximum electrical and heater capability during the southern-hemisphere Martian winter, when temperatures can drop below -50F. Although stationary for the past several weeks, Spirit has been collecting science data while parked. With Sun angles improving in the coming weeks, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory controllers will move Spirit a few hundred feet back to an unusual circular volcanic feature dubbed Home Plate. Opportunity, meanwhile, is on the edge of Victoria Crater, where it, too, has paused temporarily to allow Mars to emerge from behind the Sun for better radio communications. Both orbiters are using the Mars Odyssey orbiter as a radio relay, while Spirit this week will also test a relay through the new Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Crying Uncle ...

New DNA Test Is Yielding Clues to Neanderthals - New York Times:

"The archaic human species that dominated Europe until 30,000 years ago is about to emerge from the shadows. With the help of a new DNA sequencing machine that operates with firefly light, the bones of the Neanderthals have begun to tell their story to geneticists."

Catch a wave and you'r sittin on top of the world...

(humin Beach Boys tune)

Did an Asteroid Impact Cause an Ancient Tsunami? - New York Times

Ancient Crash, Epic Wave

Dallas Abbott

The Fenambosy chevron, one of four near the tip of Madagascar, is 600 feet high and three miles from the ocean.


Maybe myths carry some truth.

An alternative to the Black Sea flooding as flood stories (Noah), or multiple myth sources.

Note further that more recent studies have found flooded settlements on ancient shorelines of the Black sea.

Black Sea deluge theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"In a series of expeditions, a team of marine archeologists led by Robert Ballard identified what appeared to be ancient shorelines, freshwater snail shells, drowned river valleys, tool-worked timbers, and man-made structures in roughly 300 feet (100 m) of water off the Black Sea coast of modern Turkey. Radiocarbon dating of freshwater mollusk remains indicated an age of about 7,000 years."


Amazon.com: Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About The Event That Changed History: Books: William Ryan,Walter Pitman:
From Publishers Weekly:

"Archeologists have long sought to prove that the great flood described in Genesis and in the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh was a historic event. Columbia University geologists Ryan and Pitman weigh in with a highly conjectural theory that seems as good as any other, if no better. Around 5600 B.C., they maintain, Noah's flood occurred when rising Mediterranean waters roared through the narrow Bosporus Strait, transforming the Black Sea, then a freshwater lake, into a bloated saltwater body. Taking a cue from Australian prehistorian Gordon Childe, who posited that Europe's first farmers came from Asia, the authors contend that the Black Sea at the time of the alleged flood was a fertile oasis, a cultural magnet where diverse peoples: farmers, animal breeders, artisans, exchanged techniques and possibly genes. They point to the sudden appearance in Europe, shortly after 5600 B.C., of 'outsider' tribes, advanced farmers who, the theory goes, were fleeing the flooded Black Sea region. Other flood refugees, in this scenario, migrated to Russia's steppes, Anatolia, Mesopotamia and the Middle East, preserving memory of the catastrophe in mythic and oral traditions later enshrined on clay tablets and ultimately in the Bible. Ryan and Pitman base their theory partly on radiocarbon dating of marine sediments that they collected in 1993 during a Black Sea expedition and partly on Ice Age climatic patterns, modern linguists' quest for a proto-Indo-European mother tongue and genetic studies of population migrations over the millennia. Their complicated detective tale is intriguing, but much more solid evidence would be required to convince skeptics. Illustrated with drawings by Anastasia Sotiropoulos and maps by William Haxby. Agent, Roger Jellinek. "

From NYTimes piece:

"The explanation is obvious to some scientists. A large asteroid or comet, the kind that could kill a quarter of the world’s population, smashed into the Indian Ocean 4,800 years ago, producing a tsunami at least 600 feet high, about 13 times as big as the one that inundated Indonesia nearly two years ago. The wave carried the huge deposits of sediment to land.

Most astronomers doubt that any large comets or asteroids have crashed into the Earth in the last 10,000 years. But the self-described “band of misfits” that make up the two-year-old Holocene Impact Working Group say that astronomers simply have not known how or where to look for evidence of such impacts along the world’s shorelines and in the deep ocean."


"It would be a great help to the cause if the National Science Foundation sent a ship equipped with modern acoustic equipment to take a closer look at Burckle, Dr. Ryan said. “If it had clear impact features, the nonbelievers would believe,” he said.

But they might have more trouble believing one of the scientists, Bruce Masse, an environmental archaeologist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. He thinks he can say precisely when the comet fell: on the morning of May 10, 2807 B.C.

Dr. Masse analyzed 175 flood myths from around the world, and tried to relate them to known and accurately dated natural events like solar eclipses and volcanic eruptions. Among other evidence, he said, 14 flood myths specifically mention a full solar eclipse, which could have been the one that occurred in May 2807 B.C.

Half the myths talk of a torrential downpour, Dr. Masse said. A third talk of a tsunami. Worldwide they describe hurricane force winds and darkness during the storm. All of these could come from a mega-tsunami.

Of course, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, Dr. Masse said, “and we’re not there yet.”


Back from Fla (slow slow slow dial-up), catching up.
Not so final thought on Elections (National)...
Says it better than I could, and captures a good viewpoint.

Personally, not sure it was a mandate for the Democrats, as much as disgust for the Republicans.

The Doc Searls Weblog : Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bonus advice for Republicans, from Richard Bennett:
If Republicans want to win national elections they should drop the Southern Strategy that emphasizes guns, Bibles, and big spending, and adopt a Western Strategy that emphasizes small government, personal freedom, property rights, and the things that can only be done for us by government such as infrastructure, environmental protection, and (competent) national defense. This would be a return to Goldwater¹s ideals, and a rejection of the Religious Right¹s desire to use government to force a narrow set of social values on people. It¹s perfectly OK for the religious people to be grossed out by gays and abortion, but it¹s not OK to require everybody else to be grossed-out too.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Open Letter to the Voters of Leelanau County

Buck Fever?
The Buck stops … there… not here
Well neighbors, the majority of you seemed to have decided to pass the buck.
You had that big old multi point in your cross-hairs, but missed, maybe you shot yourself in the foot, and now need 9-11 and North Flight.
Buck fever?
By about By 6 to 4 you decided to raise your property taxes and send your income taxes elsewhere.

By voting down Farmland Preservation, you have voted for development, sprawl (some have a better term: splatter), traffic and taxes.

Make no mistake, development will raise your taxes.
Cows don’t call 9-11, people do.

Furthermore, by turning down the chance to get State and Federal matching funds (not to mention private foundation funds), you should remember that each year, when you write that check to State of Michigan and the one to the US Treasury, that you are saying “go ahead, send my money downstate, or send my money to California, I don’t really want any of it to come back to my backyard”.

Am I mad?
Yup, you betcha…

The opponents of this measure stooped to deceit and misinformation, but then again, it’s just an election, why be truthful?
Guess they scared you right out of your pocketbook.

Let’s go for the gusto, build public palaces and pave the countryside, we can afford it. Good guess is $475+ per head for the Courthouse.
When was the last time you went to the Courthouse?
Was it worth it?
When was the last time you enjoyed a bit of open space here in our County?
Was it worth … something?

Just don’t complain about future property tax hikes, you asked for them…

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Reactions on Tues

Short blogging.
Yesterday was day of travel, mostly got to skip all the post mortoms of the election, till I got today's papers (hardcopy- see below)

Slow slow dial up
Got here (Fla) and landline was down. But fixed.
Established wifi for the week. Also looking to set up DSL for the complex (condo's) then wifi the whole place. We'll see.

Some analysis:
Austin Bay Blog : Rumsfeld resigns– with analysis

Rummy was geared up to transform the Pentagon, not fight a war. Ready to fight Congress and entrenched interests, not terrorists...

and :
Austin Bay Blog : Tet 2006

Challenge to the Dems is to do something about Iraq.

Then there was this, wouldn't have seen it except for picking up hardcopy (I tend to not look at Journal's OpEd page.

Dick Armey
End of the Revolution - WSJ.com:
"How did we get here? The war in Iraq and historical voting patterns that favor the opposition party in off-year elections are factors suggested by many post-election pundits. Certainly, the mounting problems in Iraq were on voters' minds, but responsibility for the conduct of the war lies with the executive branch, and President Bush was not on the ballot.

That said, this was a national election, driven by national issues. One big issue in exit polls suggests widespread voter backlash against the 'culture of corruption.' There is something to this, I think. Over time, too many Republicans in the governing majority forgot or abandoned their national vision, letting parochial interests dominate the decision-making process."

In short, the Republicans got what they deserved - a kick in the butt for falling into the Washington trap of greed.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ciao! Bella!

Just How Good Can Italy Get? - New York Times

In brief : REAL Good!
Emilia-Romagna and the Piedmont

BTW : Plug : Earthy.com for great Italian Goods

Stop the Presses ... questions about Global Warming!

Now that the election is "in the bag" NYTimes questions Global Warming/CO2 connection.
Could it be?
Are there other factors?

In Ancient Fossils, Seeds of a New Debate on Warming - New York Times:

"For the first time, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that analyzes global warming, plans to include a chapter on the reconstructions in its latest report, due early next year.

The discoveries have stirred a little-known dispute that, if resolved, could have major implications. At issue is whether the findings back or undermine the prevailing view on global warming. One side foresees a looming crisis of planetary heating; the other, temperature increases that would be more nuisance than catastrophe."

Read it...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Not just Utilities ...

Under Maintenance

Times File is undergoing maintenance right now.
We will return to full functionality shortly.


This is the service when you pay subscription ... something like 100 clippings per month.
Still trying to train myself to use it.

Ah well ...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Networks ...

What A Beautiful Blue Planet!

The Opte Project

CableCo Continued

The Saga continues
Trying to get to the bottom of double billing.

Site doesn't allow me to see activity on my account, Visa indicates double billing.
Comcast does show a credit, but I'm afraid it's short.

I always manage to get the following message...

The area of the site you are attempting to access is temporarily unavailable due to system maintenance. Please try again later.

Always end up here.
Seems that they may have some MAJOR system maintenance issues.

Emails get bot reply followed by what appears to be a real person.
First suggested that I reset my password - nope, same end point.

More strongly worded email this AM, with offer to take issue to Public Utilities Commission ... brought this:

Thank you for your message. My name is Kathryn and I appreciate you taking the time to contact us.

Offering our customers the most effective possible support is a priority at Comcast. We appreciate that you have given us this opportunity to communicate with you and we want to address your concerns as quickly as possible. Although most issues can be addressed from within the email forum, in some cases "Live Interaction" is necessary for account verification. In order to assist you, we ask that you use the link below to open a "Chat session" with a representative or call us using the information provided.

Chat Assistance is available from your home at:


If you require assistance and prefer to speak to a representative:

Please call us at 1-800-COMCAST (266-2278) - Customer Care Support 24/7

We value your business.

Thank you for choosing Comcast.


Comcast Online Customer Support


Not politically correct ...

The Price of Climate Change - New York Times:

"Even economists are getting into the weather business. Olivier Deschnes of the University of California at Santa Barbara and Michael Greenstone of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have written a pair of papers that assess some effects of climate change. In the first, they use long-run climatological models — year-by-year temperature and precipitation predictions from 2070 to 2099 — to examine the future of agriculture in the United States. Their findings? The expected rises in temperature and precipitation would actually increase annual agricultural production, and therefore agricultural profits, by about 4 percent, or $1.3 billion. This hardly fulfills the doomsday fears conjured by most conversations about global warming."

Friday, November 03, 2006


Well, it's that time again

Hold your nose and mark the box, touch the screen or hang the chad.

Some points to ponder.

From Readback - WSJ.com

Is Political Judgment Innate?
Walter Lippmann Wasn't So Sure

Maybe democracy isn't such a great idea after all.

"Every other year, a fraction of America's eligible voters go to the polls. Some of them haven't paid much attention to current events and cast their ballots based on prejudice, stereotypes or narrow self-interest. Even voters who genuinely try to study the issues usually have access to only a small part of the information they need to make a reasoned choice.

Is political judgment really innate? Should the votes of the apathetic and the well-informed count the same in managing the "illimitable complexity of society"? "You cannot take more political wisdom out of human beings than there is in them," argued Walter Lippmann in his provocative and challenging 1922 essay, "Public Opinion."

Mr. Lippmann raised the politically incorrect possibility that universal suffrage, regardless of a voter's knowledge or willingness to entertain opposing arguments, may not be the best way to run a government. Even Thomas Jefferson, that most egalitarian of the founding fathers, had "all sorts of private reservations" about everyone being "equally fitted to govern." The democratic ideologues were adamant: "The free man was a legislator and administrator by nature," Mr. Lippmann wrote. "[The founding fathers] could not stop to explain that a human soul might not yet have, or indeed might never have, this technical equipment. …They insisted that a reasoned righteousness welled up spontaneously out of the mass of men."

When Mr. Lippmann wrote "Public Opinion" shortly after World War I, rapid advances in communication and transportation were remaking America from a nation of isolated and largely self-sufficient small towns to a complex grid of economic and social interconnections.


"Our access to information is obstructed and uncertain, and our apprehension is deeply controlled by stereotypes," Mr. Lippmann said. "We are concerned in public affairs, but immersed in our private ones. The time and attention are limited that we can spare for the labor of not taking opinions for granted, and we are subject to constant interruption."

As determined as some voters might be to learn the facts and open their minds, larger forces conspire to keep them blinkered. The media can try to keep the public informed but not at the risk of boring them -- newspapers have to resell themselves everyday. "The press is like the beam of a searchlight that moves restlessly about, bringing one episode and then another out of the darkness into vision. Men cannot do the work of the world by this light alone."

Political leaders -- some? many? most? -- also prefer to keep issues simple, black and white. It is hard to mobilize millions of people to support abstract goals thousands of miles away. To get anything accomplished, leaders have to manufacture consent by controlling and massaging the information they pass along to their constituents. "Every official is in some degree a censor," Mr. Lippmann wrote. "And since no one can suppress information … without some notion of what he wishes the public to know, every leader is in some degree a propagandist."

So what are we to do?

For at least a day, I "sorta" wish I was a Texan - I'd have Kinky as a choice:
Austin Bay Blog � She could go Kinky:

"...bumper sticker caught my eye: “Under Republicans, man exploits man. Under Democrats, it’s just the opposite.”"

When I go to vote Tuesday, I know some local issues that I'm passionate about, some that I'm indifferent about. As for candidates, one of my hard rules is that if they are unopposed, they don't get my vote ... why encourage them?

I wasn't at the time but could well be today :
The Doc Searls Weblog : Friday, November 3, 2006:

"If you're an old-style Goldwater conservative, I think you'll have little choice but to kick the current GOP in the posterior next Tuesday."

Out of my pocket and out of my bedroom ...

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bad news for Sushi

Report Warns of ‘Global Collapse’ of Fishing - New York Times:

"If fishing around the world continues at its present pace, more and more species will vanish, marine ecosystems will unravel and there will be “global collapse” of all species currently fished, possibly as soon as midcentury, fisheries experts and ecologists are predicting. The scientists, who report their findings today in the journal Science, say it is not too late to turn the situation around. As long as marine ecosystems are still biologically diverse, they can recover quickly once overfishing and other threats are reduced, the researchers say."

Related Web Link:
Impacts of Biodiversity Loss on Ocean Ecosystem Services -- Worm et al. 314 (5800): 787 -- Science)

Then there is the "Steve Jobber" point of view :

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs: Fish are friends, not food

"We were working late and watching dailies, and Nemo just came alive for me. And then afterward we went out for sushi. No big deal. This was our usual routine. We always went to the same place, this fantastic restaurant in Sausalito. (I can't tell you the name because if you don't know about it, all the better for the rest of us, and my friends would kill me anyway. It's the best sushi in the Bay Area, and that's saying something.) So we sit down and order up a huge plank of sushi and we're talking about the movie and suddenly I just look down and I'm thinking of my little pal Nemo and it just hits me -- and I go, Ya know what? I can't do this. I can't. I'm sorry."

Dealing with Telco/Cablecos...

Doc picked up the idea:
The Doc Searls Weblog : Thursday, November 2, 2006

As he has a much bigger ... soapbox, I hope it gets some attention. Maybe, if enough "customers" get the same attitude, we'll get some changes.

Ongoing saga.
Got a call Tues from Charter - from a real live person! who sought to troubleshoot our internet connection problem!!!

Seems that when I returned the modem (having purchased my own) the clerk seemed to have failed to enter the modem's ID (although I'd swear that it looked like she did so).
Result - Charter couldn't recognize my node.

Anyway, truck roll was needed to test lines.
I've refined my position with regards to feedback.

I'll work with the tech, a real person attempting to sort out the problems. Just not with bots either robo-voices or un-empowered flesh-bots with a headset but no authority to solve issues or issue solutions (credit).

Lunch today with some old friends and discussing similar telco tales of woe.
Took me back to the AT&T breakup.

First bill I got after the breakup inventoried the equipment that was suppose to be on my site (home/office) turns out that I was being billed for equipment that wasn't there.
Ameritech (the MichBell) end was able to credit me very quickly.
AT&T was different.
After several hours on a Friday Afternoon, with a number of calls, and having worked up to a supervisor, we finally got the situation "resolved".
Maybe an $80 credit.
Then the woman got chatty, it was about 5PM on a Friday, and she said that I'd just done the impossible ... I'd beaten City Hall and that within AT&T the policy was that the customer never wins.
Lesson learned.

Ethanol-Maybe the Farmers know something

As Investors Covet Ethanol, Farmers Resist

Ed Zurga for The New York Times

Mid-Missouri Energy, an ethanol plant in Malta Bend, Mo., is owned by farmers who are debating whether to accept buyout offers. A recent drop in ethanol prices is complicating their decision.

Published: November 2, 2006

MALTA BEND, Mo. — Farmers do not see fast money very often. But with big profits gushing forth from ethanol plants, dozens of Wall Street bankers, in loafers and suits, have been descending on the cornfields of the Midwest promising to make thousands of farmers rich overnight.

Ryland Utlaut, president of the Mid-Missouri board, said members are attached to the plant. But, he said, “pride can make you poor.”

Most of them, though, are proving surprisingly reluctant to cash in.

And ...

Ethanol Could Corrode Pumps, Testers Say - New York Times:
Article Tools Sponsored By
Published: October 27, 2006

CHICAGO, Oct. 26 — The farm-produced fuel that is supposed to help wean America from its oil addiction is under scrutiny for its potentially corrosive qualities.

E85, a blend of 85 percent corn-based ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, could be eating away at metal and plastic parts in pumps being used to dispense the fuel at gasoline stations, Underwriters Laboratories, the private product-safety testing group, said this month."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All Right ! I'll take a case ...

I'm partial to a nice Cabernet or Chianti ...

Substance in Red Wine Extends Life of Mice
Doug Hansen/National Institute on Aging
Substance in Red Wine Extends Life of Mice

A new report found that resveratrol offsets the bad effects of a high-calorie diet in mice and significantly extends their lifespan.

Published: November 1, 2006

Can you have your cake and eat it? Is there a free lunch after all, red wine included? Researchers at the Harvard Medical School and the National Institute of Aging report that a natural substance found in red wine, known as resveratrol, offsets the bad effects of a high-calorie diet in mice and significantly extends their lifespan.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Solar influence on Climate ?

Could it be?
The sun influences our Climate?
Maybe so ...

Climate change | Bubbling up | Economist.com:

Oct 26th 2006
From The Economist print edition
A new experiment to test the role of cosmic rays in global warming

SIR WILLIAM HERSCHEL, an 18th-century astronomer, is credited with being the first person to notice the effect of variations in the sun's activity on the Earth. In 1801 he observed that when the sun had many spots on its surface, the price of wheat fell—a connection he attributed to the weather being more temperate. Over the next 200 years scientists tried, without much success, to understand exactly how these transient sunspots might affect the climate. Now an experiment has begun that could explain what is going on.

Vendor Relationship Management

Doc on his utility woes
Customer Deflation Mismanagement | Doc Searls' IT Garage

I like the idea of VRM vs CRM:

"I bring all this up because I want to imagine out the DIY-IT successor to the silo'd systems we're still suffering with here. As always, I can imagine lots of reasons to build out VRM (vendor relationship mangement) systems where customers can keep their own records of their ends of relationships with companies of all kinds. That way we can come to the likes of Dish and DirecTV and anybody else with our own data intact, and in some cases much more richly furnished than providers' own CRM (customer relationship management) systems allow."

Monday, October 30, 2006


Composite Night View of Earth :

earthlights02_dmsp_big.jpg (JPEG Image, 2400x1200 pixels) - Scaled (39%)

One interpretation being "Civilized" World Illuminated

More on the new American World Champ

From :
Soup :: Ryder Notes: Nicky Hayden, 2006 MotoGP World Champion :: 10-29-2006

From Valentino Rossi, who many consider to be the world's greatest competing rider: "Nicky is my personal favorite (if I don't win!); he's a great guy as well as a great rider. This is not easy in this paddock. I like him, I like his family. His father came to my motorhome after Portugal to congratulate me—after Portugal....! Fack! 'He deserves to be World Champion."

Awesome Surf

We cruised by last March after the late/great PCForum.
Little did we know ...

(shot is nearby)

Caught "Riding Giants" on Starz this weekend.

And then found incredible shots here : Big Wave Surfing Mavericks 2006 - 2007 nice slideshow.

A Winner

The image “http://www.laguna-seca.com/UserFiles/Image/Nicky-Hayden.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Shots are from last July when Nicky won at Laguna Seca (US MotoGP venue)

Finished 3rd yesterday at Valencia to score enough points for the World Championship.
Nice deal for a nice kid from Kentucky.

Honda Press Release :
Honda On Hayden

Nicky Hayden MotoGP World Champion:

The 'Kentucky Kid' is now the 2006 MotoGP World Champion. Nicky Hayden has taken on the best riders in the world and triumphed in what has been a gruelling 17-race season spanning the globe - the toughest task in motorcycle racing.

But here at Valencia, Spain the 26-year-old has achieved his life ambition and taken the greatest prize in two-wheel racing.

At the end of an emotional day Nicky said. "When you dedicate your life to something and the dream comes true it feels so good. This is a proud day for me, the team and my family. I want to thank everybody back home and I hope they're partying back there in Owensboro. When I went down at the beginning of the Estoril race I thought the dream was over but I just didn't give up. Anything can happen in racing and you just keep fighting until the end. I just believe good things happen to good people and this is a great day for me. I swear on the warm-up lap this morning I was riding round in front of a full house here and I had tears in my eyes because I knew this was the chance of a lifetime and I had to go for it. I've felt all year that this was my year - even at Estoril when Elias beat Rossi I believed it. I knew that, win or lose, I was going to sleep well tonight because I was gonna give it my all today.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Looks like maybe the North Koreans don't have the same utility company issues that I/we do...

Daily Mail/London paper:
North Korea might now have The Bomb, but it doesn't have much electricity Last updated at 10:46am on 13th October 2006

Blackout: While South Korea is a blaze of light, there's barely a glimmer in North Korea

As the world grapples with how to rein in the "axis of evil" state which this week conducted a nuclear test, this spectacular satellite photo unveiled yesterday by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld shows in stark detail the haves and have-nots of the Korean peninsula.

The regime in the north is so short of electricity that the whole country is switched off at 9 p.m. - apart from the capital of Pyongyang where dictator Kim Jong-il and his cohorts live in relative luxury. But even there, lighting is drastically reduced.

The result, as shown in this picture taken one night earlier this week, is a startling contrast between the blacked-out north and the south, which is ablaze with light, particularly around major cities and the capital, Seoul, in the north-west of the country.

Mr Rumsfeld showed the picture to illustrate how backward the northern regime really is - and how oppressed its people are. Without electricity there can be none of the appliances that make life easy and that we take for granted, he said.

"Except for my wife and family, that is my favourite photo," said Mr Rumsfeld.

"It says it all. There's the south, the same people as the north, the same resources north and south, and the big difference is in the south it's a free political system and a free economic system.

"The people in the north are starving, their growth is stunted. It's a shame, a tragedy."

An aide added: "This oppressive regime is too busy trying to make war to make life comfortable for its people."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Numb Utility Saga continues


We settle things with Charter Communications this morning.
Bill paid, AutoPay re-established, service back .

About 1:30 in the afternoon, a phone call from Charter
"we wanted to let you know that your bill was paid" (Duh ... site and email says so)
"would you like to establish autopay?" (reply - I already HAVE!)

So I try to go online to check the account ... and nope, have get into the whole reboot routine. No different than before, despite new cable modem.

So let's call Charter to reset that service call where the tech came while were at the Charter office yesterday.

We get into the Robo-voice routine for 15 min.
All because we can't seem to find the right path directly to a person to reschedule the service call. And by the way, I restablished the connection and was online while listening/trying to respond to Ms. RoboVoice... who could sense the modem (after a while) and traffic, but still thought there was a problem.

Now we have billing screw up (fixed I think), sales (who can't seem to see my account status, so want to sell me what I have) and tech support who doesn't.

New Rule: Troubles not to be taken care of by customer, but look for the "truck roll"...

Non responsive phone staff and robo-voices are ultimately NOT cost savings...

Other : Sprint has the goofiest phone bill pay system.
After you key in the payment and get the "robo-voice" (older and less pleasant than Charter) reading back your Visa information and the question "is this correct?"
Respond in positively and the same voice gives you a "confirm" number and asks "is this correct?"

Huh? You just gave me the number "robo-bitch"

Do executives of these companies ever try to use their own systems?

Feedback is no longer free

Morning Rant:

Just spent over 45 min with Charter Communications trying to sort out service, billing and credit(s).

Backgrounder :
Cable Modem had been failing, going from a reset every few weeks to several times a day.
Had service a few weeks ago, tested the line, good signal, but maybe some flucations.

Returned the modem to their offices yesterday afternoon... account called up and credit going forward (I had been "leasing" the box). Note that there was no mention of any problems with the account.
Purchased a modem, installed and it seems to work fine.

Watched Tigers loose last night, ah well
This AM, digital signal had a message to the effect that there's a problem with the account.

Long story short, spent far too much time (up to 1/2 hr) with the automated "bot" troubleshooting. Finally got through to a representative, who informed me that the autopay on the account was no longer in effect, and as a matter of fact, the last payment was returned.
Note that our Visa had been updated, new expiration date - this triggers the problem.
Representative offered to take my payment over the phone... for a fee!

Needless to say - screw that!
Fixed via company website.

Now to the point, besides being pissed at situation which was not of my making, there is a flaw in the "bot" for Charter Troubleshooting.

One of the steps in the decision tree is not compatible with the messages, and therefore essentially "hangs".

Having had a run-around from at Telco earlier this year, offering to show them an error on their website in return for service credit, I've taken the position that I will not give positive feedback or help with providers system errors without a payment/service credit.

Service providers can "beta test" their systems on paying clients, but not for free.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programing

Friday, October 27, 2006

On Skilling's Enron Sentence

Floyd Norris - The Worthless $70 Million Defense - Business - TimesSelect - New York Times:

"One reason to take classics in college is to learn the meaning of hubris. Better to absorb its meaning from the Greek playwrights than hearing it read out from a federal judge at sentencing."

Who wins?
The lawyer's

"Jeffrey Skilling’s $70 million defense got him 24 years in prison and an order to forfeit $45 million.

What would he have gotten with a public defender?

Mr. Skilling, we are told, owes $30 million to his lawyers, having already spent $40 million of his own and Enron’s insurance money on a ludicrous “nothing happened” defense. Other chief executives, at WorldCom, HealthSouth and CUC International, admitted there was a scandal, but insisted they were victims of crooked subordinates. Sometimes the defense worked, soemtimes it did not. But at least it was better than insulting the intelligence of the jury by saying Enron turned out to be worthless because the press reported its problems and traders got scared.

Since Mr. Skilling is said to not have enough money left to pay both his legal fees and what he was ordered to pay on Monday, it will be interesting to see who gets the money, particularly given that he will run up more fees on appeals."

Firefox Updated

Firefox Updated

We'll see how well it works
So far, seems nice and slick

This little blog-this pop-up popped under, but suppose I can learn to live with that

Already like the interface, a bit cleaner, sharper
Looks like new "side scrolling" tabs, could be handy.

Prior version was slowing down, maybe time for "history clean"

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


After what's seemed like weeks of rain, with some flurries, it's cleared up a bit
Nice evening.

Ran full mechanical inspection of the Cabin/Studio and big thumbs up, but I knew we'd get that.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Hybrids fiction or fact?

Perceptions matter, fact's less so.
Lutz's comments on the Prius as a marketing coup and hybrid prospects.

Kevin A. Wilson
Hummer H2, Meet Molecule H2


AutoWeek | Published 10/11/06, 2:20 pm et
“You approach this business rationally at your peril,” says General Motors vice chairman Bob Lutz. Not a surprising declaration from a proponent of such products as the Dodge Viper or Pontiac GTO, but he wasn’t talking about the irrational passion you and I have for such cars. He was talking fuel cells.


Fuel cells are moving out of the realm of the research department and into the product-development side, out of Burns’ purview and into Lutz’s.

Apart from the considerable progress on the technology front, Lutz was clearly persuaded by the success of the Toyota Prius, not so much as a machine or even a profit center, but in giving its maker a public image of technological and corporate leadership. GM could have built hybrid cars at the same time Toyota did, but opted not to when it didn’t pencil out as a profitable venture. But what Prius did for Toyota wasn’t just measured on the bottom line.

“The public image of GM is [Hummer] H2; for Toyota it’s Prius,” said Lutz. “It’s ridiculous—the Chevy Aveo was the best-selling small car in the country last year, and Toyota makes the Sequoia, which doesn’t match our trucks on fuel economy—but it is what it is. We need to reestablish our position.”

Review of the Sequel is here: Chevrolet Sequel - AutoWeek: "Chevrolet Sequel
Can it become the real answer?"
Worth reading.