Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pirates, Produce, Politics, Planets, Protection, Propulsion. Pekingese, and Pickers.

Pirate Town

Toy pirates
Eyl has become a town tailor-made for pirates - and their hostages.
Special restaurants have even been set up to prepare food for the crews of the hijacked ships.
As the pirates want ransom payments, they try to look after their hostages.
The coastal region of Puntland is booming.
Fancy houses are being built, expensive cars are being bought - all of this in a country that has not had a functioning central government for nearly 20 years.
Observers say pirates made about $30m from ransom payments last year - far more than the annual budget of Puntland, which is about $20m.

Yo Ho Ho

Somali pirate

The Somali pirates who hijacked a Ukrainian freighter loaded with tanks, artillery, grenade launchers and ammunition said in an interview Tuesday that they had no idea the ship was carrying arms when they seized it on the high seas.

“We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits,” he said. “We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard.”

Seed Storage Vault

With global warming looming, Mother Nature could sure use a backup plan—a secure place to store copies of her crops and other plants. Now, thanks to the government of Norway, she has one. Dug into a permafrost mountain, the massive Svalbard Global Seed Vault began collecting seeds in February. So far it has 268,000 unique samples, with a capacity for 4.3 million more.

The future of food deep inside Norwegian island
Although about 1,400 seed banks exist worldwide, this one, in Norway’s Svalbard islands, dwarfs them all and aims to safeguard duplicates of the seeds. Stored seeds are frequently lost because of natural disasters, war and warm temperatures, so Svalbard was built to withstand these challenges. The facility is remote, located 1,000 kilometers beyond mainland Norway’s northernmost tip.

Svalbard wasn’t built because the end is nigh but to enhance the earth’s sustainability. “We’re scientists,” says Fowler, an American. “We’ve really just had it up to here with losing crop diversity.”

The 700 Billion dollar flim flam

(This letter was sent to Congress on Wed Sept 24 2008 regarding the Treasury plan.)
To the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate:

As economists, we want to express to Congress our great concern for the plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson to deal with the financial crisis. We are well aware of the difficulty of the current financial situation and we agree with the need for bold action to ensure that the financial system continues to function. We see three fatal pitfalls in the currently proposed plan:

1) Its fairness. The plan is a subsidy to investors at taxpayers' expense. Investors who took risks to earn profits must also bear the losses. Not every business failure carries systemic risk. The government can ensure a well-functioning financial industry, able to make new loans to creditworthy borrowers, without bailing out particular investors and institutions whose choices proved unwise.

2) Its ambiguity. Neither the mission of the new agency nor its oversight are clear. If taxpayers are to buy illiquid and opaque assets from troubled sellers, the terms, occasions, and methods of such purchases must be crystal clear ahead of time and carefully monitored afterwards.

3) Its long-term effects. If the plan is enacted, its effects will be with us for a generation. For all their recent troubles, America's dynamic and innovative private capital markets have brought the nation unparalleled prosperity. Fundamentally weakening those markets in order to calm short-run disruptions is desperately short-sighted.

For these reasons we ask Congress not to rush, to hold appropriate hearings, and to carefully consider the right course of action, and to wisely determine the future of the financial industry and the U.S. economy for years to come.
The letter was signed by 100 credited economists.

Remember when the republicans laughed at Obama for suggesting we check our tire pressure to save on oil?

Proper pressure can save billions of gallons.
Studies show that the majority of drivers rarely if ever check to see if their tires are properly inflated and usually only add air when a tire is visibly low or beginning to go flat. A recent study by the European division of tire maker Bridgestone found that 93.5 percent of cars in Europe have under-inflated tires, wasting some 2.14 billion gallons of high-priced, polluting fuel every year. Analysts believe that a similar percentage of North Americans are driving around on under-inflated tires as well.

"Don't atheists need a God to not believe in?"
Happy Phil

Happy Phil in research and read it mode.

On September 19, 2008, the McCain campaign released an ad critical of Obama which attempted to link him to Fannie Mae. My research shows this to be untrue.

I would think that the McCain campaign wouldn't want people to be reminded that he, McCain, was one of the Keating 5. (Senators that were investigated as part of the Enron debacle.) But with this fraudulent attack on Obama, it is sure to surface.

Hunters Moon this Month

Oct. 14, 4:02 p.m. EDT — Full Hunters' Moon.

With the leaves falling and the deer fattened, it is time to hunt.

The harvested fields are the perfect place to hunt up a main course for
a fall banquet. As the animals come out to glean, they are easy to see.

One of my favorite constellations is visible from now until next summer,
Orion, the hunter. Orion appears to travel across the night sky
from east to west. Things are looking up when you see Orion.

When Planets Collide

Dr. George Rieke says our moon is unique -- formed by a massive collision in space. "There was another planet about the size of Mars that was on a disastrous orbit across the Earth's orbit and so the Earth and this other planet ran into each other," he says.

It happened 30 to 50 million years after the formation of the sun. "It was a huge collision that threw dust and debris out into space and some of that material somehow reassembled and orbited around the Earth and eventually built up a moon," Dr. Rieke explained.

Windows Users Beware


Many of my friends have windows on their computer. It's bad enough having such a clunky, buggy operating system, but users are under constant attack from malware.

One of the latest is a pop up warning about a security problem. Do Not Click On It! Don't click on any close buttons you see in the window.

Even the red X to close could start the malware download! Malware includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, most rootkits, spyware, dishonest adware, crimeware and other malicious and unwanted software.(Wikipedia)

The simple and safest thing to do is press control/alt/delete. This will give you a list of programs to close. Close the one you are in and move on.

Human Powered Car

Row-row-row your car, "Yabba Dabba Doo".

When powered by four people rowing, the car will go about as fast as the 'drivers' would on bicycles, on average.

For hillier locales or higher speeds, there's electric assist motors and regenerative brakes.

I can see the headlines now...

Carjackers Exhausted After Half Mile low Speed Chase.

Hitch hiker Sues Car Owner for Making Him Row.

The Adventures of Bat Girl

"Stopped into a church, I passed along the way."

Bat meets 4 pound Imperial Pekingese

"Stay tuned for my next exciting installment."

Today's Relatively Appropriate Song;
Chet Atkins, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Mark O'Connor, and Rob Wasserman
The Birth of The Blues

Smiling Is Contagious

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