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Friday, May 11, 2012

Pусская посетителей

Привет всем тем из вас приехали из России. Я надеюсь, что вы получаете мира, процветания и свободы в соответствии с правительством переходного периода.


Я хочу, чтобы мой народ мог быть лучший пример для вас, чтобы следовать вваших поисках, чтобы стать по-настоящему свободных людей.


Вы можете найти более подробную информацию о системе в моей новой сайте или на сайте моего друга, смарт избирателей.

Testing

This post is to test some tracking functionality I've enabled at another site.

I want to apologize to those of you who were reading my series on the Constitution and the other posts I’ve put up, especially those who were actually waiting around/checking in to see if I had posted another update. I appreciate your support, sharing, retweeting, etc. I tried to keep up my content production throughout the outage I’m working, but I haven’t been able to manage it. For the six days a week I’m working, I have about an hour and a half between when I get home and when I go to bed. On my day off, it is more important for me to be a dad to my 3 awesome kids and a moderately useful husband to my even more awesome wife. All of them have been troopers through this whole thing and they have to come first.

Read more:http://dillonallen.com/blog/#ixzz1uaiwwDCn


My first hugelkultur bed has been filled with soil and planted. My wife loved it, thekidswere excited about it, and now we are seeing the beginnings of what will be a summer full of work to keep up with all of the veggies that are sprouting out now. Below is the play-by-play update.

Read more:http://dillonallen.com/blog/hugelkultur-bed-i-part-ii/#ixzz1uaj5Ye6s


The functionality, for those who might run across it, is from tynt.com and may be worth checking out for improved pingback/SEO.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

New Old Kid on the Block - Article from Patriot Ex Machina

I've been curious about what would happen with the takeover of the old Bushmaster factory by the former private owner. Below is a great write-up from Patriot Ex Machina of the transition and a brief product review about one of the 5.56 options available from Windham Weaponry

Windham Weaponry is the "New Old Kid on the Block"

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Publicly Scolded... At least I was Anonymous

It is a strange feeling to hear yourself being talked about in a public forum. You know what I mean... you're in a meeting and the boss talks about an error and you know it's you but he doesn't mention you. You can feel your face turning red with embarrassment wondering if everyone else knows it's you that is the target of a well-deserved scolding. Well, I got a scolding yesterday in front of an audience of a few thousand people though I didn't here it until my commute this morning. Jack Spirko has a business podcast, "5 Minutes with Jack", in which he offers tons of awesome advice with a catch. You have to do something with it. In an email to Jack recently, I filled it full of excuses on why I haven't taken some steps forward with my ideas:

I know if I had spent some $$ to get dillonallen.com, was hosting on Hostgator, and had installed Wordpress that SEO Smart Links would handle this for me. That is my plan, just can't justify the $$ since I don't even have a detailed plan for a business yet.

I'm still sitting on Blogger and planning a move to actual hosting/domain following the outage I'm working right now and better formulation of my plan

In yesterday's Episode 91, He basically ranted on the subject of excuses and not having an "I can do it, so I AM doing it NOW" attitude and it seemed he was reading directly from my email. If not, some other dude wrote in with the exact same words, since Jack read off the excuses listed above - in that order - with a few generalizations. ACK! The point is, there will always be a reason or potential issue to stop you from moving forward if you don't step up and attack the future. I deserved my scolding and I acted... http://www.dillonallen.com is now in existence (though it won't show up until tomorrow some time) and I will be posting there in the future. I will run my main blog at dillonallen.com/blog as well as my photography page, Ka-Click, within the dillonallen.com domain. I also have a few ideas for both product and ebooks that I want to market. They will be available there by summer and I can remove myself - if only for a while - as a source of self-inflicted ridicule. Jack, thanks for the push.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Great Podcast for Small Business Owners

If you own a small business, you should be constantly pursuing improvement in your methods to increase the margin on the hard work you put into the thing. I have become a fan of Jack Spirko both from a preparedness standpoint and as someone who would like to eventually own a small business. I also want to help my family's small business - Art Supply grow in the same spirit of "word of mouth advertising" that has put the business where it is today. To that end, I have been listening to Jack's business podcast "5 Minutes with Jack". At FMWJ, you can get tons of information and drill instructor-like encouragement to get in gear and make your business more of what it COULD be regardless whether you're selling soft product, hard product, or even if you're still in the Brick & Mortar Age. He will tell you what he has done that works and also what he has done that just doesn't. He will also tell you that if you continue to do the things that don't work that you are a dumby. Some people can't handle being told that what they're doing is dumb. If that's you, you will not enjoy FMWJ. You might try to push through the pain and improve yourself, though. I know I still can.

PS - As direct evidence of the fact that I have room to grow and quite a few "don't be a dumby"s in my future, I still haven't bitten the bullet and spent some cash to register an actual domain name for Art Supply or bought web hosting for it. So I'm still using the free Wordpress site I created. I feel like Spirko would tell me I'm dumb for that, but I don't get the write off. I can only lead the horse to water on this one. The response would probably be, "Well why isn't there a dillonallen.com yet? You should be blogging and establishing your personal brand." Touche, sir.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Nike Galaxy - Riots? Really?

Nike just released a new, even more hideous pair of shoes to the public with a price tag of $220, the Nike Galaxy Foamposite.

Chris Richardson at Webpronews.com has posted 2 videos and some enlightening twitter comments on the "Nike Foamposite riots". Check out those videos in a bit. But the bottom line is 100s (perhaps 1000s) of people went out to buy a $220 pair of shoes that look like something I'd get for the kids at Stride Rite. Now I cannot really comment on the fashion of these shoes. After all, my brother and I had matching Converse X-High tops that were two-tone flourescent - mine orange and his turquoise both with yellow insides - and we wore them folded down like this (you gotta love the 80's):

So let the kids wear what they want to wear from a fashion perspective. They will, like me, look back on it fondly but laughingly regret it when they are in their 30s. But if we have overall unemployment at near 10% and youth unemployment significantly higher - near record levels - in the younger demographics, I have a few questions.
  1. First, where are they getting the money to blow on these shoes?
  2. Second, why would you want to get involved in civil unrest over these shoes (or any shoes so long as you have a pair on)?
  3. Finally, is it just me or has our country gone completely and utterly insane?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Update on the Constitution series

I have recently shifted to a strange shift 23:00-11:00 6 days a week. I have been unable to keep up the pace of a daily post on the Constitution. I am slowly but surely working on the next post but I only have about 15 minutes per day of time online when I'm not sleeping or spending time with the kids. I hope to have the post out by this weekend, as I plan to work on this type of thing during my night off when everyone else is sleeping.

Thanks for bearing with me. Here is a link to each of the previous posts:
Basics
Preamble
Article I, Section 1-3
Article I, Section 4-6
Article I, Section 7

Monday, February 20, 2012

US Constitution: Article 1, Section 7

Revenues, Vetos, & Overrides, Oh My!
"Section 7. All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.


Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.


Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill."


Section 7 starts out with an interesting tidbit of our nation's fiscal trivia. Namely, only the House of Representatives creates bills for raising revenue, aka taxes or other cash flow generating entities. So your tax bill is all the House's fault - but wait - a tax bill is still a law and must be passed by the Senate. The constitution explicitly provides an allowance for the Senate to come up with and/or agree with amendments to these bills (so, duh... it's a bill just like any other). And the Senators don't pass up an opportunity to amend the bills to better fit the desires of their constituents lobbyists. If the Senate tries to initiate a revenue bill (and it has, proving in a small way that sometimes these guys just ignore the Constitution!) the House sends them a "blue slip" - basically reminding the Senate that this is the House's job, thank you very much. Too bad we can't give the entire Congress a blue slip for the way they are running this country to remind them of their responsibilities.


After the founders cleared up who controls the money bills, they continued laying out the process for lawmaking. The second clause of Section 7 simply explains that for a bill to become a law it must be signed by the President. So if the President doesn't agree with the law and he doesn't want it to become law he has 10 days to return it to Congress and explain why he doesn't agree. If Congress can muster a 2/3 (66.7%) majority, they can override the veto. If he doesn't send the bill back in 10 days, poof! It becomes law without his signature (see below for a request for action). The exception to this is when Congress is about to adjourn. If they send the President a bill within 10 days of adjourning, the President can just sit on it until they leave and the bill dies. This second presidential maneuver is called a pocket veto - as in the President just puts the bill in his pocket and waits. In every case I can remember, the President telegraphs that he is going to veto a bill like a high school freshman quarterback aiming at his best friend in the receiving corp. So I have never really understood why Congress would send one of these bills up within 10 days of the end of their session. Really folks? I know there are some smart people up there, but this seems fairly elementary. If you have sufficient margins to pass a controversial bill in both houses, get it done 11 days before the session is over. Then the President has to at least put his objections on paper. That said, the pocket veto has been used multiple times by various Presidents. Congress never ceases to amaze.


The final clause of Section 7 basically rehashes the second clause but is applicable to the things that must be concurred on - presidential appointments, treaties, "National Pink & Purple Flowers Day" resolutions, etc. This is the last section in Article 1 that can be discussed with any brevity. If you thought the meat on this section's bones was a T-bone, Sections 8-10 are a whole side of beef.


REQUEST FOR ACTION: The Constitution is explicitly clear that Congress can pass a law without the President's signature in a few ways - 1) override a veto or 2) pass the bill and give the President 10 days to disagree. However, I can't find an example in which this has occurred. I'm not a legal scholar and I do not have the time to chase down all of the "slip laws" on all of the laws that have ever been passed. Slip laws are the step-by-step story of a bill as it becomes law including all of the committees through which it passed, votes, and it's signature - produced by the Archivist of the United State. I would really like to find an example or two out there of laws that were passed by Congress and ignored by the President for 10 days, therefore becoming law. If you find it, I will post a link to it here and credit you. You (for your effort) and I (for my blog) will become instantly famous as the only known source on "the internets" for this information. (The last sentence was a joke for those of you without a sense of humor.)


Updated with links to the other posts:
Constitution Basics
Preamble
Article 1, Sections 1-3
Article 1, Sections 4-6

Saturday, February 18, 2012

US Constitution: Article I, Section 4-6

I was going to address a little bit more "meat", but if I went to Section 7 I would get into some pretty heavy stuff so I popped the chalk line for this post after Section 6.
"Article I, Section 4. The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

Section 5. Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.
Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.
Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.
Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Section 6. The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office."

Section 4 was changed by the 20th Amendment to require Congress to convene in January vice December. But I will go into that in more detail in my discussion of that Amendment. Other than that, there isn't a ton in this section. In the scheme of things, the when and where of Congress is a lot less important than the what, why, and how.

Section 5 is where the meat (if there is any in this grouping) begins. I think the most apropos part is that they shall keep a journal of their proceedings, but they get an out for secrecy. Having worked with a significant amount of classified information, I know that there is way more information that is classified or treated as secret by the Government than there needs to be. Once you are qualified to classify something and do so, there isn't really much of a check on whether or not it actually should be. With our incessant need for security seemingly at any cost, I truly worry that this Article I Section 5 power might be abused. The real kicker... we won't know until it's already done and in this case it's by the book. I mean, do we really trust "Ancient DC" Barbie & Ken (Nancy Pelosi & John Boehner) to do something in our interests and not in the interests of their beloved parties and major funding sources? I mean, who's going to pay for the tons of makeup they use each year if they are just doing things for the people?

Section 6 is pretty vanilla, though the occasional wedge issue will be brought up on laws based on this portion of the document. For instance, there used to be a regular debate about congressional salaries. But they aren't really paid all that much (<$200,000) compared to their corporate counterparts. These guys are basically the equivalent of corporate directors/vice presidents. They have quite a bit of power collectively, but they still have a relatively large power structure above them (party leaders, major constituents, and most importantly major donors/lobbies). The most interesting part of these sections (though not that important in practice) is the protection afforded members of Congress when they are attending a session. They aren't allowed to commit a felony or treason, but they are otherwise allowed to do just about anything they want. This includes outright slander or even a good brawl, which has happened more than a few times in the past. The wikipedia article only lists some of the accounts. There have been more and everyone is covered once the smoke clears by Section 6. It's like high-class WWE.

On that note, I'll leave this section. More to come...

Updated with links to the other posts:
Constitution Basics
Preamble
Article 1, Sections 4-6
Article 1, Section 7

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Write your Congressman - Laugh & Be Frustrated

You often hear from activists that you should write/call your Congressman. I write when there is a topic on which I would like to express my position or if I would simply like to get the position of my representation. The response has never - not ONCE - lived up to my expectations. I will say up front that I understand interns and the underpaid staff are tasked with writing these responses. But the same folks are the people who are supposed to help the member form their policy position on issues and legislation.
In the latest round I asked my Congressman & both Senators what their position was on SOPA/PIPA and explained that I understood the bills had already been tabled and would not be voted on right now. I specifically requested a discussion about their position on the legislation with respect to the rights granted under the applicable portions of the constitution. I used the online form submission method, saving 3 stamps, weeks of time, and the cost incurred due to marking the replies to me. Below are some examples of what I received. My congressman appears to have at least sent me a well-written form letter. My junior Senator pasted in the paragraph in italics onto the body of a form letter. So at least I got a human response of a single paragraph. I've seen nothing from my senior Senator. Awesome... glad to see they're earning their $1/4-million salary and perks. Names omitted to protect the useless.

Congressman's Response
Dear Dillon:

Thank you for contacting my office regarding H.R. 3261, the “Stop Online Piracy Act.”

I appreciate you sharing how this change will have a direct impact on you. Hearing from constituents like you helps to shape the future direction of our nation.

This legislation has been introduced by U.S. Representative Lamar Smith of Texas and referred to the House Judiciary Committee. This committee recently held a markup to vote on this proposal and adjourned after considering 25 amendments. Because of recent concerns expressed by internet users and websites, Rep. Lamar Smith has expressed interest in revising H.R. 3261 in such a way to alleviate those concerns. It is uncertain when or if this legislation will make it to the House floor for a vote.

As I continue to learn how this legislation would impact the Third Congressional District and Mississippi, I will take your thoughts and concerns into consideration. Again, I appreciate you sharing your views with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can ever be of assistance.

Sincerely,
Gregg H.
Member of Congress
Junior Senator's Response
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act. I am glad to have the benefit of your views on this issue.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced S. 968 in the Senate on May 12, 2011. This bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice to seek a preliminary court order against web sites that it determines are peddling copyrighted material and counterfeit goods.

The intellectual property rights of Americans should be protected online, and I believe we can find a way to do that without hindering the public's free access to the internet. I am glad Senate Leadership has decided to delay a vote on this legislation so we can find a balanced approach on this important issue.

Be assured I will keep your views in mind as Congress considers legislation affecting online copyright infringement and the protection of intellectual property. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can ever assist you.

With best wishes, I am Sincerely yours,
Roger W.
U.S. Senate

Senior Senator's Response
crickets... I think may get a "written"/sealed/marked response
I'm fired up about not getting a response from one of my members. But I am steamed that the ones who did respond sent me such blatantly robo-generated drivel with a little "real" sprinkled in.

US Constitution: Article 1 Sections 1-3

"Article I. Section 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States... Section 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State..." Full Text
Article 1 describes the legislative branch - Congress. Section 1 is pretty obvious from above, but just lays out that we have a bicameral legislature - not a new idea and extremely similar in concept to the British House of Lords (Senate) and House of Commons (Representatives). Section 2 describes the House and the qualifications to be part of it. Section 3 describes the Senate, making explicit that each state will have 2 votes. It is the equivalent of the "upper" house in which the elite make decisions without as much care for the fickle whims of the common man. The 6-year term in the Senate helps insulate these more powerful positions from that fickle public. Conversely, the House more closely reflects the will of the people and has always been viewed as the "lower" house. Congressmen serve only 2 years and a smaller number of people (with exceptions in VERY small states). This makes them (in theory) a bit more pliable to the direct will of their constituents, but also a bit more irrelevant and impotent to directly affect the path of the federal government. The high-falootin Senate augustly equalizes the playing field, making Senators from basically irrelevant states in the scheme of people-power (Bernie Sanders, VT; Harry Reid, NV; Thad Cochran, MS) into significantly more powerful individuals than their state "deserves" (based on size). I don't really have a beef with the first couple of sections of Article I and how we are implementing it. After all, this part is just the "what it is" part and not the "what it is allowed to do" part. I will go into a bit deeper discussion on the balance of Article I - some might even consider it a rant - to explain my expectations of Congress for the people to maintain our willful consent to be governed.

Check out TheSmartVoter.com to read more about government. Craig is starting up the site and needs participation. Take it as an opportunity to make your voice heard.

US Constitution: Preamble

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Umm... wow. So where to start with this one? How about WE THE PEOPLE for a lot of good reasons ordain and establish this Constitution. When written, the new country was operating under the Articles of Confederation which had some problems addressing commerce and basically how the states would act as one. I think of it like trying to decide where the family (republic) will eat while on a road trip with everyone in the car (the states) getting an equal vote and the ability to just go do their own thing in the food court if they disagree with what I (dad, or the federal government) say. Basically, the original Articles left much of the sovereignty at the state level and the nation couldn't stand as a cohesive unit. The people of the various states wanted to make it better - a more perfect union - so they determined it was in their best interest to cede more sovereignty to the federal government. This subject will be broached multiple times in the course of a constitutional discussion. But the founders believed in individual sovereignty (expressed by exercising our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness). Just try googling "Benjamin Franklin individual". As soon as you pass the "d" and Google recognizes you aren't going for "inventions", all of the auto-complete suggestions are references to Franklin's strong individualism. That individual sovereignty was ceded at some level to a local government which coalesced into a state government. The preamble to the constitution lays out why the people (at the state level) are ceding their sovereignty to this three-headed dragon that is the federal government. The articles that follow it expressly describe the limits to which that cession of sovereignty was to reach in each branch.

The preamble, often recited by kids in grade school, sets the stage for a whole lot of heavy duty limits that the people place on the government. We'll see that the limits provided seem to be breached on a regular basis in today's world. But we'll save that discussion for another day.

Links to the other Constitution Posts:
Constitution Basics
Article 1, Sections 1-3
Article 1, Sections 4-6
Article 1, Section 7

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

US Constitution: Basics

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time...
This is not a history lesson. It is a civics lesson from my perspective. Many people I meet who span the entire age spectrum have not ever read the US Constitution, or at least not since they were in grade school. I personally keep a copy in my car and my briefcase just in case someone in either the government or a fellow citizen needs to know what the document we say we revere actually says. So I will start out with the basics and then move into each article/amendment, probably a section or two at a time. But here is an overview of the whole thing boiled down into a single paragraph.

The US Constitution is broken into 7 articles, with articles 1-3 describing the powers granted to the various branches of government. Granted will come in as an important point as we discuss how we implement the Constitution today. Articles 4-7 lay down the rules for how the government is to be viewed by the various states as well as the rules for changing the document itself. There are also 27 amendments, the first 10 of which are the Bill of Rights (think an addendum to your homework that you turn in a day late). Amendments 11-27 handle issues that the country faced over time including slavery, suffrage of various groups, term limits, et al (we'll get to it all soon enough). I look forward to breaking down this elephant of a document, the oldest constitution currently enforced in any nation, into bite size pieces that we can all understand and discuss. Perhaps a constitutional scholar with some direct article 2 experience will weigh in... nah. Those article 2 guys seem to be summarily ignoring the rest of the document these days - regardless of party. Speaking of parties... let's get this one started.

Updated with links to the other posts:
Constitution Basics
Preamble
Article 1, Sections 1-3
Article 1, Sections 4-6
Article 1, Section 7

Projects - Guide to Astronomy or Constitution?

I have 2 projects in mind to post here as a series. I can't decide which one to do first or whether to alternate and do both at the same time. The two subjects are the US Constitution and backyard astronomy.

I would like to take the constitution article by article and amendment by amendment and dissect it a bit, give a little history behind the article, enlighten those who just don't know what the various parts say, and discuss how we are or are not using it today. For example, the 4th amendment discussion will be a VERY long post given all of the things our government has done to weaken it over the last couple of decades.

I would also like to do a quick & dirty guide to the night sky. Put astronomy in terms that anyone can understand and provide a little of the side story behind the planets, stars, and constellations we all but ignore these days. A starry sky - even a light polluted one - holds many interesting features that, if nothing else, help you realize how small we are on Earth.

I don't receive comments on this blog often, but please leave one if you feel one way or the other and let me know in which topic you would be more interested.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Contagion? NZ Flu was a good fire drill

This weekend while perusing my twitter feed, I ran across stories of a strange flu-outbreak on a flight to New Zealand. I immediately found it strange that a bunch of people on the same plane broke out with symptoms and was, to be honest, a bit concerned that some new strain of flu could potentially be breaking free from SE Asia. Probably didn't help that I recently watched Contagion. But the NZ authorities took measures immediately to quarantine the flight. I still thought about the upstream issues (the departure airport, local area there, flights elsewhere from there, etc). But if all of these sypmtomatic folks broke out over the course of a flight, people would know quickly if they had the disease and be more easily quarantined. So news was slim and time was ticking...
Whew! Concerns Overblown! Now the kiwis say they went overboard but to err on the side of caution. This bothers me a bit and here's why. They did what they SHOULD HAVE DONE! You don't decide that you're overreacting to an event that has explosive potential during the event. You knock the everliving bejesus out of it (Mississippi for attack it really hard) and then address that in the after action report. Some worry that the public will be desensitized to the reaction by this overreaction. I say keep it coming, we need all the practice (with little impact) that we can get when something that ends up being relatively harmless happens.

You play like you practice and I'm proud of NZ for playing pretty well (even though they didn't know it was a scrimmage). I'm glad everyone is OK but this really drives home that we should all be ready to take action in the event that something like a pandemic breaks on our shores.

Here's another article from The Sydney Morning Herald

Thursday, February 09, 2012

AP1000s at VOGTLE APPROVED!

Vogtle will soon be a 4-unit site!
As a young guy in the nuclear industry who has repeatedly been told by the older generation that this nuclear renaissance thing is not gonna happen, I fight an uphill battle convincing folks that I think it will. I've already been involved with the commissioning of 8 reactor plant in my career and want to make that number a lot higher before I'm done. Based on the news today, I have one word... NYAHHH!! I know they haven't completed the site yet, but they have done a ton of non-safety work on the twin-units 3 & 4, which are AP1000 pressurized water reactors built by a consortium of Shaw/Westinghouse, and they can now pour the basemat and begin welding major structures, systems, & components. So those of us who will still be around in this industry in 20-30 years can have some hope that we can put some more on the ground, too.

UPDATE: I was pretty excited when this new came out. I was able to keep a handle on my engineering skils but lost the bubble on my English. So I had to make a few fixes to the sentence structure. My apologies.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

I Won a Soil Cube!

The Soil Cube is a small tool used to start seeds. More specifically, it is a mold that you stuff full of your soil and press into a small cube. You then press a small hole into the top with a threaded press. I've been wanting one, but it was way down the list of things I planned to buy as I have a few hundred dollars of other items to get to put the new L-shaped, Eliz-approved raised bed in the backyard. After all, my Pop never used a soil cube. Nonetheless I really wanted to add one to my toolbox for use starting seeds... meaning I wanted it now because IT'S TIME!

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I have become an avid listener of The Survival Podcast by Jack Spirko. Jack occasionally has listener appreciate contests in which you send the appropriate key words in the subject and a sponsor will send the winner their product. AWESOME! But there are more than 25,000 listeners and I listen to the podcast at least 5 hours after the podcast posts, so snagging a win out of one or two potential prizes before the other listeners get to them is like catching a t-shirt out of a t-shirt gun while sitting in the middle deck at an ACC football game. NOTE: I was gonna say football game generically, but I'm from the SEC. We have 25,000 at our spring scrimmage games.
But lo and behold, this morning after the dust cleared from a couple of busy meetings, 6 missed calls from my boss, a contractor, and my wife, I got an email saying I'd WON the soil cube. I never win anything in random drawings... I mean like NEVER. So this really brightened my day. I will do a review of the soil cube once I get it and have some free time to start my seeds. It's the least I can do for Clayton and Jack. THANKS Y'ALL!

PS - I'm jumping the gun a hair since Jack hasn't announced the winners as of this writing (he had to unexpectedly can his episode today), but he says getting content out there is the most important thing and write about what makes you tick... this is it today. So I hope I didn't ruin the suspense for any of the 50-100 people per day that read this if you are also a TSP listener.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Syria: Prayers & Source for Info

My prayers include a special mention and meditation for the people of Syria. They are going through a situation that is unimaginable to the latte-drinking crowd to which most of us belong. I'm trying to wrap my head around it. The mainstream media is barely talking about Syria, with an occasional mention on "the bottom line". However, Andy Carvin of NPR is on the ground and tweeting up a storm. He is sending out some pretty wild original stuff. But he is retweeting things for which you should take a moment to prepare yourself. But this stuff is happening... so we should ALL look. Don't ignore what's going on and then take some action based on what you see and hear. I leave it up to you to decide what to do and even how to feel about what you see. But take some time to find out about some of the horrible things going on in our world right now. It will put in perspective the "bad day" you think you had today. Here is a link to Andy's twitter profile @acarvin.

Whatever your beliefs, keep these people in your prayers. Or keep the people in Egypt, Sudan, or anywhere else where atrocities are happening in them.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Smart Voter Are you one? Find others.


Check out TheSmartVoter.com to help form the basis for your votes on election day. A guy I went to high school with has taken the last year to develop a site that encourages discussion about the people who will end up in office before they get there, as well as discourse between people who care about the issues that are confronting our country. Here are links to the various ways to engage in the site:
Here's why I'm there. I hope you will find your reason and join me. This country needs all of the SMART voters we can get. I have been interested in politics since I was in high school. To my stepmom's chagrin during a fund raiser in 1995, I told Trent Lott that I was going to take his [US Senate] seat one day. I spent election night '95 watching the results roll in while hanging out with the MS Speaker of the House followed by the parties. I loved the idea of being able to effect change on my state, my country, and our world. The years have added a bit of salt to my taste for politics, but as a voter I still stay on top of the issues that I think both matter and can be affected by a given position (i.e., the immigration position of a Secretary of State in MS is irrelevant, but not for a Presidential candidate). I believe that, unfortunately, the masses in our country vote based on the sophomoric ads put forth by the monied politicians who keep aerosol hair spray producers in business. Those guys will say just about anything to get in the game and then say AND do anything to stay in it. It makes me sick, so I really try hard to know who I'm voting for or whether I need to simply abstain totally because I can't vote for either clown on a ballot.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Project: Build rifles for the boys with granddaddy

Now that I've been back home in Mississippi for a few years, I am getting back to my roots a bit with respect to gardening, hunting, and other skills that I let founder over the course of my college and Navy career. When I was 8 I started with a single shot .410 shotgun from Harrington & Richardson. From there, I moved up to a rimfire rifle with my Marlin 75C .22 caliber rifle (the old carbine version of the Model 60, which now IS the model 60). Both of these were squirrel terminators. Neither kicked to speak of and were easy weapons on which to learn marksmanship and firearm safety. I later moved up to a 12 gauge identical to my 410. There is a great set of videos from Dave Canterbury (of Dual Survival) about the H&R 12 gauge and its versatility. My sons are old enough that they & their friends are starting to get BB guns and at an age close to where I got my 410. But now I look back and think of how I would have made different purchases if I was doing it now to end up with weapons that are more versatile long term but just as simple to learn and use as a kid. My dad always wants gifts to be meaningful. Between his desire to be meaningful and our shared goal to teach the boys lots of skills that everyone used to know, I think the next couple of birthdays/Christmases are going to focus on building up the boys sets of long-term tools like firearms and knives.

That leads me to starting them out on a 22 and letting them use my 410 until they can handle a 12 gauge and centerfire rifles. I've looked around at 22s and I certainly considered buying a couple of Marlins. After all, 2 is 1 and 1 is none. So 3 Marlins is like having 1.5 or something like that. However, that means I would spend somewhere north of $100 per rifle and be limited to 14-shot 22s. A little more digging and review reading led me to drop in conversions of AR-15s chambered in .223/5.56NATO to allow shooting 22s (25-round magazine). It provides an affordable alternative to shooting .223 or just a reliable platform from which to shoot 22s that can grow up to a 223 as the boys grow. To end up with a working AR-15, you need either 1 -OR- 2 AND 3 (more customizeable and cheaper) below. I threw in 4 below just for fun. It's a good little gun, best pump 12-gauge for the money, though admittedly is basically a copy of the Remington 870. To get the working AR-15 to become a 22, you also need 5 (or something similar from their comptetitors).

1. Whole Rifle: $650 & up You can literally spend as much as you want on these things. But if you spend $1000 or more, you're paying for the label. Mil-spec is mil-spec. Almost all of these rifles will be better than the marksman pulling the trigger.
Olympic Arms "Plinker Plus" flat top ("A4") with collapsible stock and railed gas block. This is kinda the bottom end of what I'd want to get for them. It has no customization and would require optics/backup iron sights to function.

2. Complete AR-15 Kit EXCEPT Stripped Lower Receiver $400 & up. This is all of the parts necessary to build a rifle except the lower reciever, which is the part of the rifle that is actually classified as the firearm by the feds. Similar to the entire rifle, you can go anywhere on the price spectrum from Yugo to MacLaren with these parts. The kit linked below gets you into a functional rifle with an adjustable length of pull (so the kids can use it) as well as a flash hider to which a suppressor that my family is considering can be mounted. J&T Distributing
- LW (lightweight) Barrel
- 6-Position DS-4 adjustable stock
- Picatinnny Rail Gas Block
- CAR Handguards
- Standard carrier, charging handle, trigger, trigger guard
- Hogue grip +20
- Phantom A-2 flash hider +$25

3. Stripped Lower Receiver: This is the only part of the rifle that has to be bought/picked up from a firearms dealer locally. Can't ship to your house, etc. But there are multiple options here and if it's mil spec it truly doesn't matter that much which you go with. Just find one you like, click, buy, pick up at local federal firearms licensee.
Mega Arms "Gator" with atom logo $109 (What nuke shouldn't have an atom logo reciever?)
Spikes Tactical SP-15 with spider logo $99 (The spider is just bad news)
Aero Precision $79
CMMG $79 (If sold out, there are others like DPMS for +$10-20)


4. 12-gauge Pump Shotgun for Home Defense/Hunting
New England Firearms "Pardner Pump" NP1-P18 (18.5" barrel, black synthetic stock, 5+1)

5. Drop in 22LR Conversion Kit from CMMG. You literally open up the rifle, remove the bolt carrier group, insert the kit and insert the 22 magazine... poof! You have a 22 on the AR platform.

Once you have 2 and 3 in your possession, it's a relatively simple matter to put all of the parts together assuming you have a couple of tools around like a strap wrench, vice, and some punches. Assembling your own rifle allows you to be familiar with its inner workings and I think letting my sons help assemble their rifles would be both a great learning experience and a fantastic memory with their dad and grandfather.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Poppycakes - Fancy cakes that are actually good


My sister-in-law Jen has started a company called Poppycakes, which makes high-end cakes, cupcakes, & other baked goods. She is based out of DC, but we occasionally get her to make a freebie batch here in Mississippi or at the in-laws in North Carolina. She has always been great with the tail end of a meal. But since 2004 when my first son was born, she has really focused on her craft and built up a set of tools & techniques that would make a mechanic proud. When she began branching out from family birthdays to showers and other larger events with cakes that knock the socks off of anything we can find here in Mississippi, the word started spreading.

If you're in the DC area and have a thousand calories to spare, get in touch with Jen (Poppycakes on Facebook) and let her bake your party into a creative realm that you won't find anywhere else with her quality and prices. Poppycakes makes me kick paleo to the curb quickly, only regaining control once icing and crumbs are all over my face.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hard-to-kill Greens: Chickweed & Malabar Spinach

Yesterday I heard about 2 separate plants that are both edible and grow easily in my regional climate - Chickweed & Malabar Spinach. You don't need a green thumb to get these plants going or keep them producing. Having no doubt I could grow these weeds - I have extensive experience with successful weeds growing in my yard :) - I was curious about how to use these plants before trying out some as ground cover in an empty bed on the side of my house. So in a quick search, here's what I found that makes me want this stuff tonight:

Malabar Spinach - Here's a video (makes me H-U-N-G-R-Y) about malabar followed by a couple of recipes.

Chickweed - I was going to post a cool video of this stuff being used, but the really interesting videos were all hosted by folks who appeared to have accidentally used a different, less legal weed and I couldn't put them up here without laughing (nor could they stop laughing). Just do a google or youtube video search for chickweed recipes. But here is the PBS-style public service announcement version, which actually shows you what it looks like on the ground and explains how to use it. The last one makes my eat crazy stuff bell ring. I LOVE poke. When my little brother was stationed in Hawaii and I stayed with him during my two week Naval Reserve duty at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, we ate almost nothing else. Adding something local, prevalent, and free to something that is a lot more pricey in Mississippi (due to the large amount of saltwater fish) is a great idea to stretch it. Anyway, I'm stoked to try out the malabar this year.

Downward Class Migration: Not Falling Alone, Sliding Together

Jack Spirko has been talking about "Downward Class Migration" for quite a while on The Survival Podcast. I am hearing more and more media reports about people falling in the class structure, but that isn't what Jack has been talking about. His point is that what it means to BE middle class (or any given class) is sliding downward while the actual class structure remains relatively stable. I think of it like an avalanche or landslide in which a shelf of ice (the class structure) slides down a mountain so that everyone remains about the same relative to each other but everyone is actually lower on the mountain. The kicker is that this shift combined with all of the individual cases of falling down to a lower class (due to unemployment, etc) compound each other for those to whom it happens. Below is a video that Jack put together to better explain this concept:

WARNING: This isn't a graduate thesis. It's a discussion from a normal guy to his community. There is some PG-13 language, but nothing rated R.

Here is Jack's blog post at The Survival Podcast, with a growing comment thread.

The bottom line of Jack's entire focus at TSP is that if you become more self sufficient in providing your needs (and wants), you can combat the downward migration of the entire class structure while nothing else is going wrong on a personal, local, regional, or global scale (storms, medical emergencies, financial difficulties, civil unrest). Thus his slogan "Helping you live the life you want if times get tough, or even if they don't." - Jack Spirko

UPDATE - Here is a link to a story from the Wall Street Journal on cultural inequality. Many similar themes, but from a mainstream polished source.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

OH NO! BVO?

I love Mountain Dew, well Diet Mountain Dew (DMD) to be more precise. I drink enough of it that I keep about 2 gallons (8 liters) in my pantry rotation to make sure that critical resource never runs dry and as an accumulator tank so I can catch sales on it. On top of that, I drink a knock off of DMD from Kroger - "Big K Diet Citrus Drop Soda" out of cans. I drink 1/day as part of my lunch at work. Here is an article comparing the Citrus Drop to Mountain Dew. The prices aren't up to date, but the relative comparison between the 2 options is still accurate, thus my choice. But I stick with the original for the 2 liters.

I heard a short discussion as part of The Survival Podcast feedback show yesterday regarding the use of a chemical called brominated vegetable oil in MD, DMD, and other citrus sodas. This chemical is pretty much like it sounds, vegetable oil bound with bromine/bromide salts. What is this chemical used as outside my DMD... a fire retardant. That is not enough in and of itself to make me shy away. After all, I regularly intake chemicals that are standard fire retardants/extinguishers (water, carbon dioxide). But a quick google search for "BVO" or "brominated vegetable oil" leads you to sites like:
Not a single one of these sources, or any other source I could find, has anything positive to say about BVO and everything I read says this stuff could be pretty nasty. In fact, it is banned for use in sodas in many countries (~100). Now I recognize that many of these sites are a bit on the alternative side of the media spectrum. But Scientific American is certainly mainstream scientific media. I have to do some digging into the actual impact and the data behind it and I think I may have to go to offshore data for impacts specifically in food/soda. But I sense that for my DMD habit there may be a quiet death knell looming in the distance.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Extreme Races: Warrior Dash & GORUCK Challenge

UPDATE: Run For Your Lives is another extreme race... basically a 5k with obstacles and, more importantly, zombies!!! This looks like a fun, less serious alternative to the GORUCK challenge and perhaps a little less physically challenging than the Warrior Dash. If anyone has participated in any of these and would like to leave a comment with some more info, please do.

Two different extreme races have come to my attention via completely separate ways in the last 4 days:

  • The GORUCK Challenge - This weekend while researching a discount on a highly recommended pack (GORUCK) I ran across the GORUCK Challenge put on by a high-speed cadre of former operators from the special operations world. I was immediately intrigued by the challenge and started thinking of who I could recruit as the core of a team to do a custom event later this year or, more likely, next year since their schedule is pretty chockablock until then. The list of people who would think it is cool is relatively long. The list of people on my short list who would actually commit to do something that won't be fun but will be extremely rewarding... let's just say I didn't need my toes. I am scared of this thing and exhilarated at the same time. Can't wait to get down to brass tacks on this one.

  • The Warrior Dash - A colleague is participating in Warrior Dash Mississippi which will raise funds for St Jude Children's Hospital. I can't think of a better reason to run myself into the ground regardless of how crazy or painful it might appear. The kids for whom the funds are being raised run headlong into the unknown every day and don't have a choice. But they keep fighting until they can't. If that isn't a warrior spirit, what is? I'll be working shift work, so can't participate this year. But the event organizers tell me they often do repeats as their events are very successful. I'm IN for 2012.
I can run a few miles without "having to" and I can push myself through some pretty hard work. I'm no hard core terminator cyborg like my little brother, but I think either of these two events would be awesome to participate in.

New toy for my 22? Elftmann Tactical


I have been looking for a solution to make my "old faithful" Marlin Model 75C (which is really the old version of the current Model 60) into a rifle with a shorter length of pull and generally much smaller. Mount a holographic red dot on top (very inexpensive alternatives are available that can handle the non-existent recoil of a 22) and you have a very capable little rifle to plink or hunt small game. I love the idea of a 22 that can be carried with negligible impact to your weight and could even be strapped onto the side of a 3-day pack.

The guys at Elftmann Tactical have put together the product pictured above, which appears to be of significantly higher quality than the bolt-together plastic alternatives previously available. They offer it for both the Marlin and the Ruger 10/22, which covers an a amazing amount of the 22 market share. If I can get my hands on one, I will follow up with a review. Here is a link to the Elftmann site.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Interesting Fruit Resource from Whole Foods

Via Twitter: @Cooking_Light: Great resource! RT @wholefoods From apples to strawberries, find out how to select, store and prepare favorite fruits: http://cot.ag/xP4d2p

A feature that would be a great add is how to propagate the fruits from store-bought product. I suppose that's a bit much to ask from a retailer who would lose sales for every fruit tree grown.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Financial Bogeyman

I am starting to get nervous about markets like I was in 2008. I held on a little too long then and wish I had moved to cash a month earlier than I did... it would have saved me almost 10% of my investments. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I feel like one of many financial bogeymen are hiding in the closets just waiting for us to open a door.
The major things going on out there that worry me are: Everybody knows there is a crisis here and lots of nations are doing things in the background and more overtly to fend this one off for a while, but it still makes the market do stupid stuff. I think the impact of this one could potentially be smaller on me us if we are smart about how we react. I also think that there may be some long-term good investments to be had as European companies that are solid get hit at the ticker but less elsewhere. (See also the US market in late 2008) The Brits are saying we might be in trouble, while CNBC is trying to maintain that there's nothing to see, move along. If you sign up with your brokerage to be on the "New Offerings" list, your email will be pelted with multiple listings every day for things like $134M from the NY Dormitory Authority or $282M from the Omaha Public Power District, etc. I could see how you spend almost $300M in a power district. They could be building a new power station and/or upgrading their infrastructure - I know they're dabbling in wind generation, too. But a dormitory project >$100M is ASTOUNDING. You can build a WHOLE LOT of dormitories for that kind of money. Cities around the country are having to cut services to meet their debt obligations, moreso where they are prevented by state law from filing for bankruptcy (see Harrisburg, PA). Yet they continue to drink the spiked kool-aid out of the cooler and party like it's 1999. Eventually, these cities are going to need a bailout from the state or their (formerly apparently rock solid) munis will tank. The states don't have the dough (try figuring out the California budget) and will have to borrow it or be bailed out by Uncle Sam. Now Uncle Sam can do a few things to fix the problem... raise revenue, cut expenses (they don't have the fortitude to do that) borrow more or just have the Fed print more money to give to the states to funnel to the cities. Borrowing more is just kicking the can again. I don't have full faith that our credit can hasn't been kicked all it can stand. Printing more is gradually devaluing the dollars (so they don't have to do it all at once Zimbabwe style). Both of those options pretty much just suck. I don't have a more cogent, mixed company appropriate, professional term.

So what do we do about it? I'm still working that out myself. But I am certainly looking for opportunities to move things to cash where it makes sense and the risk probably isn't worth the reward (European sovereign debt off the top of my head). I'm also trying to position myself to make the really good buys that I believe will be there when things eventually do get bad. I think the market could experience one more super jubilant rally over the next few years, but protecting capital is my primary goal right now and I am beginning to feel like one of the sober people standing around the frat party at 3 in the morning. It's been fun, but there are going to be some serious hangovers.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gulf Coast Tourism - Driven by Staycations?

Not sure about the national market, but here in Mississippi I see a "Come Visit the Gulf Coast" commercial like this one a couple of times a night.

According to this BP-funded piece, 2011 was a heckuva year across the Gulf region of TX, LA, MS, AL, and FL. I'm curious how much of that improved tourism was due to an increase in "staycations" and how much was caused because of BP's "everything is OK" marketing campaign. You can be on the Coast from St. Louis in an easy day of driving and from Chicago in a closer to miserable but not too much worse than dealing with the airlines daylong kinda drive. The number of people within an easy/doable drive coupled with the depressed economy seems to point to more people showing up on the Coast. Don't get me wrong, there are some beautiful sites to be seen down here, like these shots from the Emerald Coast of Florida along 30A near one of my preferred destinations.
But it doesn't have the wow factor of Nevis & St Kitts or the Montserrat mystique (here's to Brian Wilson). I'm hoping for the sake of the folks who depend on the influx of cash into the region that whatever the reason, the tourism spike in the Gulf region levels out higher than in the past and has a moderate long-term growth rate instead of creating a big boom-bust cycle.
PS - I wonder how much BP paid to have that cheeseball sandcastle constructed for their spot.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chef Georgia Pellegrini

I'm completely intrigued by Georgia Pellegrini. She's gone way beyond where I would expect most girls to go in terms of "back to nature", hunting, gathering, etc. But she seems to have proven that you can do that stuff and still stay what would be conventionally described as "girly". Not to mention having some ideas that the guys can learn from. Here's a link to Chef Pellegrini's recipes. You can navigate to the rest of her site from there. Some of the recipes are pretty adventurous - but I will try just about anything once and have found many interesting foods that way over the course of my life and travels. I certainly want to do a couple of the weirder ones on my own before I try to convince my kids that it's even in the realm of possibility to try.

The Girl Hunter - Facebook Fan Page

Finally, here's a link to her book. It looks pretty interesting, but I haven't read it yet and therefore can't endorse it. But I have added it to my wishlist.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Dr. Hansen Eats Cocoa Puffs


The video in this post over at Watts Up With That demonstrates once again that Dr. James Hansen with Nasa clearly eats Cocoa Puffs. He's said that "the ocean's will begin to boil..." Under any reasonable scenario that I'm aware of, predicted temperatures (EVEN IF YOU BELIEVE THAT WE'RE DOING IT) change only a couple of degrees. So either Columbia University teaches a different kind of thermodynamics than I learned, or he is pretty much cuckoo...



I would LOVE to see the energy balance calculations showing how the oceans boil.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Opportunity for Hypocricy: Winegate

On the following issue, I intend to be almost 100% hypocritical. Dr. Dipak Das, a UCONN researcher apparently falsified data that showed health benefits of red wine. In discussions on scientific endeavors, I insist that the data be legitimate and the conclusions made from them are based on reasonable assumptions. Aside from no obvious physical evidence confronting me each day, that is the primary reason that I don't buy into all of the global warming (aka global climate change, global weirding, other aliases that fit this year's data). The basic underlying data isn't even easily available and we depend on a couple of clearly motivated (regardless of HOW/WHY they are motivated) nerds that think they are too smart to need to explain themselves to the rest of the world. When their methods of hiding things and making adjustments to UNDERLYING DATA to make it "fit" were exposed, that did it for me. Those guys were doing something for which a 6th grade science teacher would flunk a kid.

Back to the point... Dr. Das MAY, ALLEGEDLY, POTENTIALLY have messed with the data. However, as a true believer and practician of the "Glass of Red Wine a Day" religion (when I can), I refuse to believe that one of he apostles hadn't been preaching the truth. Unfortunately, there appear to be sufficient sources to prove the legitimacy of this damaging peice of information that I will now resume ignoring. Wine-gate Information Sources:
Cheers!

Dinner with my wife

I think everyone who has been married more than a couple of years has had a dinner like the one Marshall Ramsey relays on his blog today:

The Entree - Marshall Ramsey

It's the things rolling around in your head that don't break the silence that are really interesting. If the marbles rolling around my wife's head are anywhere near in line with the marbles that I haven't lost yet, we'll be OK for a long, long time.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Climategate 2.0 - The Crooks Skated Again

{EAV:86cf06edf9ab240e}
How is it that anyone who may have valid questions about scientific data has a tough time getting more than a couple of words in edgewise in a discussion about global warming/climate change/weirding/whatever's next with some political science/history major flunkie who speaks the party line and thinks they understand statistics, but many thousands of emails between the guys who started this whole mess doesn't fully discredit them? Maybe we should have gotten some of the AGW proponents like Michael Mann or Phil Jones to comment on some of their employees height in relation to the height of their wife. Apparently that's all it takes to discredit you from a more important goal of something like running the country (see Herman Cain hackjob at Politico).

Regardless of whether their wives are a similar height to any of their coworkers, it drives be absolutely batty that we let people get away with bunk like the original climategate emails, which at least put a moment of hesitation into major policy makers and the public. But the wonks on the left who are using this as a wedge issue can't let go EVEN WHEN THE PERPS DO IT AGAIN, as evidenced by the utter lack of stories on this in the media and the continued mention of global warming (or appropriate, up-to-the-minute-fits-the-data-now alias):
I believe, based on some data I have seen, that there are in fact strange things happening in the climate. However I don't believe that there are that many catastrophic changes going on at this point. Based on the climate's behavior in the past when concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) & hydrocarbons like methane (CH4) were higher, I do not believe that the carbon dioxide that has been put into the atmosphere by burning fuel over the last couple of hundred years has had any statistically significant measurable affect on the climate (Univ of East Anglia, Penn State, & the IPCC statistics show you can prove anything). That does not mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that I don't think we should do everything we can to smartly decrease the amount of pollution we spread around the world as well as limit the amount of damage to natural resources. Sustainability is an entirely different focus than climate science, though the two often get commingled. For resources that are finite, we should decrease their usage to extend the quality of life that we have attained. As the lifeblood of all the plant life on the planet, I do not think that CO2 qualifies as pollution. Whatever EPA wonk came up with that one... I can definitively say that they are an idiot. Updated to correct torrent link for Climategate 2.0 as well as add the original emails so they are all in one place.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Measuring Social Media

I am trying to learn about different ways to measure effectiveness in "getting out there" in the world of social media. I am spending a bit of time exploring things like:
  • Empire Avenue, an investment/community game that allows you to monitor statistics of your media
  • Klout, descriptions and metrics of your influence and who you influence
There are some efforts I begin in which I feel WAY over my head. This is one of those efforts. I hope I can change that soon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Kiwanis Nuclear Power Speech

I had the opportunity to speak to the Kiwanis International, Vicksburg Chapter today about nuclear power. I am always amazed at the level of interest from folks who don't have a background in the same admittedly nerdy subjects I've studied. I managed to explain that once you get outside the "hot rock box", a nuke isn't really much different than any other power plant.

If anybody out there would like to hear nuclear power explained in terms normal folks can understand, I would be happy to share what I have learned over the years about the technology.

UPDATE: A friend with whom I served in the Navy recommends the children's book Nuclear Power - by Amelia Frahm - to get the basics of nuclear power across to kids without imparting irrational fear. I haven't read it yet, but I trust Chris's judgement so here is a link to it from Amazon: