Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Syrian city bans croissants - Sharia law

The Sharia law committee in Aleppo, Syria issued a fatwa to ban croissants. Because they have a connotation of colonialism.

Jerusalem Post

And breaking the Ramadan fast will get you a year in jail.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Climbers film eruption of Popocatapetl volcano in Mexico

The current eruption of Popocatapetl volcano in Mexico. The volcanic action is red hot, but distant in the video. Unfortunately the setting might not be understood. The camera and the climber shown have climbed Popocat├ępetl and are looking down into the crater while at 17,802 feet! They are atop a spectacular volcanic cone that stands more than 10,000 feet above its surroundings. Sorry, it's in Spanish.

YouTube

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Korea - the forgotten war

Today is the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War. There is no treaty. North Korea has prevented serious peace talks. It was and still is a Communist state that has huge prison camps for its own people. Google Earth shows them [add link].

See Seattle Times

[I am posting over very low bandwidth = AT&T. More later today.]

Friday, July 26, 2013

Turkey finds bird innocent of spying

In SE Turkey a bird was detained, accused of spying for Israel. Villagers saw the bird, a kestrel, which is the smallest hawk, had been tagged with a label that included "Israel," so they turned it in to authorities. At trial... No. They didn't give the bird a trial. On inspection it didn't appear to be carrying spy tools. !? And it was released. Paranoid?

Photo: American Kestrel. From Friends of Sherwood Island. Click to enlarge.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

UofW research to market success

Successful technology implementations have climbed the past two years at University of Washington's technology incubator, Center for Commercialization (C4C). UofW has climbed into the highest groups of universities converting its research to commercial ventures.

Drew Atkins at Crosscut

This year the University of Washington catapulted into the top five universities in the country for commercialization efforts, up from 15th place only two years ago. This puts the university on par with such colleges as MIT, UCLA and Columbia University in using research acumen to incubate new businesses within the school.

At a press conference attended by Congressional delegations, tech industry leaders and local luminaries like Bill Gates Sr., UW President Michael Young announced that this was the most productive year in UW’s history for forming new companies. Seventeen new companies were unveiled, more than double the average number created over the past five years. According to Fred B. Holt, director of strategic initiatives at the C4C, that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

“In previous years, the survival rates of these UW start-ups was roughly 50-50,” Holt said. “Now it’s closer to 80 percent surviving. Not only are we getting more start-ups going now, but we’re launching ones that will last, and have a greater chance of success.”

Holt attributes the dramatic jump in both start-up quantity and quality to the C4C bringing more outside, non-academic voices into the fray. The C4C is designed to help UW researchers commercialize their work, and recently the center has prioritized exposing researchers to entrepreneurs-in-residence and angel investor groups. Holt said these provide “tough but friendly voices” to push along the business pitches and prospects of worthy projects.

While he believes some of these start-ups have the potential to make their creators rich, Holt said that’s less of a priority for the university. Instead, he believes the achievement will help position the university to attract top talent, and to justify its status as the top federally funded public research university.

Commercialization sometimes makes its creators rich, but the opportunity for iit also helps to attract top faculty.

“When the world’s best researchers are looking into where they want to continue their career, they often ask what does a university’s incubator program look like, and how is it nurturing success?” said Holt. “The success of the C4C makes us competitive with colleges like Stanford, MIT and Carnegie Melon. Further, with increased federal focus on innovation research, the question is always 'Where are the results? How does this fit into real life?' These startups demonstrate and can deliver real-world impact.”

For example, Nortis in biotech, SecondWind in building energy conservation and Stella Therapeutics fighting brain cancer.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

IRS chief counsel involved in targeting conservative groups

A 48-year employee of the IRS in DC, Carter Hull, testified to Congress Friday that the IRS chief counsel was involved in targeting tea party groups. Th chief counsel is a political appointee of President Obama.

From the beginning low-level workers in the Cincinatti office have been blames. No more. Orders came from the top.

Peggy Noonan in Wall Street Journal

Now comes Mr. Hull's testimony. And like Ms. Hofacre, he pointed his finger upward. Mr. Hull—a 48-year IRS veteran and an expert on tax exemption law—told investigators that tea-party applications under his review were sent upstairs within the Washington office, at the direction of Lois Lerner.

In April 2010, Hull was assigned to scrutinize certain tea-party applications. He requested more information from the groups. After he received responses, he felt he knew enough to determine whether the applications should be approved or denied.

But his recommendations were not carried out.

Michael Seto, head of Mr. Hull's unit, also spoke to investigators. He told them Lois Lerner made an unusual decision: Tea-party applications would undergo additional scrutiny—a multilayered review.

Mr. Hull told House investigators that at some point in the winter of 2010-11, Ms. Lerner's senior adviser, whose name is withheld in the publicly released partial interview transcript, told him the applications would require further review:

Q: "Did [the senior adviser to Ms. Lerner] indicate to you whether she agreed with your recommendations?"

A: "She did not say whether she agreed or not. She said it should go to chief counsel."

Q: "The IRS chief counsel?"

A: "The IRS chief counsel."

The IRS has a lot of data on you. What if Obama doesn't like your politics? What if he likes them today but changes his mind tomorrow?

This is very bad.

Obama supporters trying to escape ObamaCare

Three large unions have gone public in their terror about ObamaCare. The Teamsters, UFCW and Unite-Here wrote an open letter to Honorable Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi saying that ObamaCase will destroy the 40-hour work week.

Ed Rogers says the plane wreck of ObamaCare has been underreported. Washington Post

The fact is that the crater of Obamacare is getting deeper, with sharper edges. The unions are first-tier political allies of President Obama and the Democratic Party, and it was surely their last resort to put their grievances with Obamacare in writing in the public sphere. A lot must have happened behind the scenes before they felt sufficiently frustrated with the Obama administration to take this step.

In a joint letter, James P. Hoffa of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Joseph Hansen of the UFCW and D. Taylor of UNITE-HERE state that Obamacare will “destroy the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class” and “destroy the very health and wellbeing of our members along with millions of other hardworking Americans.” And they highlight their buyer’s remorse:

"We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. We have also been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure this vision. Now this vision has come back to haunt us."

You can feel their anxiety and boiling frustration coming through.

What does falling apart look like for Obamacare, if not this?

Remember when Obama repeatedly promised "If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor"?

One of the frequently asked questions on the HHS Web site is, “Can I keep my own doctor?” The HHS answer to this question has evolved; currently, the answer is, “Depending on the plan you choose in the Marketplace, you may be able to keep your current doctor.” (Emphasis is mine.) In other words, the HHS language are weasel words that can be interpreted as “No, you cannot keep your own doctor.” Obamacare makes sure that it’s impractical or just plain impossible to do so.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Militant wine makers bomb Carcasonne building

Militant wine makers? Yes. In France they are hideously trying to prevent imports. By bombing a local political office and breaking out windows of a school across the street. Boycotts are seldom effective. But why would I buy the wine of domestic terrorists?

The Drinks Business

Via Tim Blair

Carcasonne is one of my favorite places. It is in southern France north of the Pyrenees Mountains and about 50 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. It has a walled medieval city that was restored a hundred or so years ago. Choice.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fact check: Not the healthcare rebates Obama claimed

President Obama paraded people who got rebate checks from their health insurance yesterday. But the problem is in most cases the rebate goes to the employer, not the employee. The employer pays for the insurance and gets the rebate.

You can read his specious claims at Associated Press.

But read the reality also:

THE FACTS: Just as he did a year ago, Obama made a splashy announcement about rebates that incorporates misleading advertising.

The health care law requires insurance companies that spend too much on administrative expenses to issue rebates to customers. But those customers are often employers that in turn offer insurance to workers and bear the bulk of the costs. In workplace plans, the rebate goes to the employer, which must use it for the company health plan but does not have to pass all or part of it on to the worker. People who buy their own insurance and qualify for a rebate get it directly.

Obama was on solid ground in saying "millions of Americans" got rebate checks last year, but the number was not close to 13 million as he implied.

Of the 12.8 million rebates announced last year, health policy experts estimated 3 million would go directly to the insured. The government didn't know how many.

Nearly two-thirds of the 12.8 million were only entitled to pro-rated and decidedly modest rebates, because they were covered by employers that pay most of their premiums. Workers typically pay about 20 percent of the premium for single coverage, 30 percent for a family plan. Employers pay the rest.

And employers can use all the rebate money, including the workers' share, to benefit the company health plan …

There are two more sets of Obama exaggerations/misstatements at Associated Press.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Shoreline/Lake Forest Park concerts in the parks

Concerts and Shakespeare plays in our parks. Every Wednesday from July 17 to August 31.

Too bad I am out of town and have to miss The Tempest by Shakespeare on Wednesday. A few years ago I saw the same company perform The Taming of the Shrew at the park at Richmond Beach Library and it was enjoyable and memorable.

Shoreline/LFP Arts Council

Illegal immigrant can go to medical school in Caribbean

The U of W does not admit illegals. That's the right policy. Even though he is a very nice young man.

I went to a doctor who went to school on some Caribbean island. He can go there also.

Seattle Times

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Major Hasan is trying to convince judge that he is Muslim terrorist

Major Nadal Hasan is trying to convince the judge that he is Muslim terrorist. We have all seen the evidence, but the judge just can't see/hear it.

Major Hasan gunned down 13 soldiers at Ft. Hood, Texas in November 2009. During the shooting he repeatedly shouted "Allahu Akbar!" That is a sure sign he was motivated by Islam. There were prior signs, as well.

Global News Canada reports:

Hasan told one colonel that Abdulhakim Muhammad, sentenced to life in prison for the June 2009 fatal shooting of a soldier outside a Little Rock, Arkansas, military recruiting station, was his “brother and friend.” Muhammad, who converted to Islam in college, has told The Associated Press that the shootings were an act of war on the U.S.

Now during his trial Hasan is really trying to establish that his motivation was the jihad of Islam. But the judge doesn't want to hear it; he keeps telling him to rephrase - you know - don't sound so extreme. Who chose that judge? Must have had to look hard to find one so hard of hearing.

Via FrontPage Magazine

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Living Standard - who is ahead; who is behind

UN produced a rare honest report with no Israel bashing. This is rare because the UN is overwhelmed by the large number of un-free countries; most ruled by a person or family. But the economists in the UN Development Program got their statistical report released without being rewritten by the PC police.

No surprise: Oil rich, monocultural and supremely developed Norway was first. It is followed by developed countries: Australia, US, Netherlands and Germany. The second five: .New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and Japan. Ireland? They are still suffering from the post-crash meltdown.

Bete noir Israel with few natural resources is No. 15 between Denmark and Belgium. Its immediate neighbors are in the bottom half of the 186 UN members and pretenders: Jordan 100th, Egypt 112th, and Syria 116th. Non-member "Palestinian, State of" is No. 110. We keep hearing about how oppressed the "West Bank"/Gaza is, but it is above Egypt and close to peaceful Jordan.

Where are the oil-rich Muslim countries? Brunei 30th, Qatar No. 36, United Arab Emirates in 41st, Bahrain in 48th, and Kuwait in 54th and Saudi Arabia in 57th.

Watch out for China; it is buried in the bottom half at No. 101 and not rising.

The measures in this report are simple: Gross national product per person plus life expectancy plus education level. The report shows that the free countries that encourage commerce and develop their people do the best for their people.

See the overview of UN Human Development Index (HDI)

Summary report is 800 KB download - choose your language. Ranking is on page 16. Country list with position is on page 15.

Via American Thinker

Friday, July 12, 2013

Where are the 787 Dreamliners?

Curious about Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner? Who is flying them? Where?

Boeing has the real-time data - that's right now - of every 787 in operation. And they put the data in Google Earth for you to see. It has several beautiful views. - The globe showing every one now in flight

- A view of each one in flight above Earth with a beautiful graphs of the aircraft. But this was not updating when I was checking it out.

- A view of each from high overhead for a better idea of where it is.

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner Flight Tracker

Via Google Earth Blog.

(Note: Boeing uses the Google Earth plug-in which works in a browser; more convenient for most people.)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Student loan debacle in Senate

I favor basing student loan rates on something real, like the T-bill rate. Not on the daily politics of the US Senate.

Serious senators say Stafford student loans should have a market-based rate of 10-year T-bill plus 1.85 per cent. This would now be 3.66 per cent. Senators Manchen, Carper of Delaware and King of Maine. It looks like some Republicans favor this, but they don't count.

The hyper liberals can't see straight over this. They say that the rate could be 7.1 per cent - in 2019!! Harkin of Iowa and Native American Elizabeth Warren of MA. They want runaway rates?? Guess so.

The two groups got almost to name calling and even had conflicting press conferences. Guess where soft-spoken Dinghy Harry Reid was? He is holding for 6.8 per cent…. oh, slightly lower is OK.

And the "kick it down the road" crowd is active. Didn't do anything before July 1. And now… Don't do anything. Delay it a year… Then… Do it again. Casey of PA and Reed of RI.

The reporter says Obama agrees with me!!

The Hill

x

Puget Sound travel blogs

New discoveries -

Kayak/Travel Blog at Everyone's Travel Club. Excellent reports from… everywhere in Puget Sound and the watery points north, especially San Juan Islands. Most are by kayak.

S/V Kingsley Sailing Blog at (same place). They live aboard and travel on it. Not so much about travel on this one.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Porpoises come back in Puget Sound

Good news. They were common, but declined due to being caught in gill nets, pollution and noise. But they have recovered in the past ten years.

I saw a pair of harbor porpoises off Seattle while boating near West Point in February, 2008. I assumed they were dolphins, but did research and discovered that here we have mostly porpoises and few dolphins. I probably saw harbor porpoises; my view was close, but brief.

Lynda Mapes covers it will with ink drawings of the three types (two porpoises; one dolphin) found here. Seattle Times

Photo: Two harbor porpoises. Found at Island Paddlers. Click to enlarge.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Obama would be fired if he were ...

President Obama would be fired if he were an IRS employee.

At the commencement of Arizona State University in mid-May he threatened ASU President Michael Crowe and the Board of Regents of ASU that he was going to have the IRS audit them. Ha ha ha. If he were an IRS employee that is grounds for firing.

Our income tax system depends on willing compliance of every tax payer. (Some call it voluntary compliance, buy it's not. The threat is substantial.) If everyone cheated the system would fall apart. We don't cheat because we see the IRS as being fair. If someone get hit by an income tax penalty it is because he violated some provision.

But Obama is saying the IRS punishes his enemies. Ha ha ha. He is putting cracks in the trust Americans have in the IRS. If he continues and breaks it he and his liberal big-spending friends will have big, big problems with revenue.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds at WSJ.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Peak oil blog shuts down

Peak oil? You know… we are running out of fossil fuels. The peak production is past and (for some obscure reason) the descent will be as steep as the climb.

The Oil Drum is shutting down. It has been a focal point for information and discussion on Peak Oil. It is shutting due to lack of content. Good bye.

Active NW blogs

Actively Northwest shows links to fifteen sites showing activities. The list is family oriented, but not just for going with kids. Lots of ideas.

Highlights from their list:

  • Adventure Awaits - Washington State Parks posts an active idea - highlights a park - every day.

  • NW Trip Finder - Camping and non camping ideas from BC to Oregon. Small Towns - Lots on camping - Oregon Coast and Wine tasting.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Computing visionary Doug Englebart

Doug Englebart started visioning interactive visual computing, networking and more in the early 1950s. He died yesterday.

He stunned the world of computing in 1968 with a demonstration at the Fall Joint Computer Conference.

For the event, he sat on stage in front of a mouse, a keyboard and other controls and projected the computer display on a 22-foot-high video screen behind him. In little more than an hour he showed how a networked, interactive computing system would allow information to be shared rapidly among collaborating scientists. He demonstrated how a mouse, which he had invented just four years earlier, could be used to control a computer. He demonstrated text editing, video conferencing, hypertext and windowing.

In contrast to the mainframes then in use, Mr. Engelbart had created a computerized system he called the “oNLine System” or NLS, which allowed researchers to share information seamlessly and to create and retrieve documents in the form of a structured electronic library.
Seattle Times


Photo: Claims to be of Englebart's famous 1968 demo. I can't tell if it is. Found at In a Strange Land. Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Kenya: Obama, ho hum

Ahmednasir Abdullahi in Kenya is not impressed by The One.

Sunday Nation Kenya

President Obama is not Candidate Obama of five years ago. He is a pale shadow of the man who mesmerised the world with his oratorical skills, inspirational speeches and wide smiles. He is a limping version of the giant of a man who swept the world with his moving speeches, deep thinking and a great promise of a better tomorrow.

He is not the man who promised so much good to the entire world that mankind, in a moment of universal seduction, thought that Obama was a global messiah in Uncle Sam’s guise to deliver the globe to a long and sustained period of peace, love, unity and universal prosperity.

President Obama is not the man the American people gambled their fate with. Five years after his first election, Obama has shrunk so much in stature that he is barely recognisable in the global stage were it not for his black skin.

So how does one explain the dramatic metamorphosis of the giant into a dwarf in such a short time?

The simple answer is that apart from the symbolism of his persona, Obama has failed to show substance especially on the global stage.

Obama has been a monumental disappointment both in America and on the global stage. He is no Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton, two politicians on either side of the political spectrum who achieved so much both inside America and globally.

Both at home and globally, Obama has been defined by total lack of any conviction...

Monday, July 01, 2013

Cultural imperialism is now OK

Oh, we oppose imposing our culture on others. Except. Except for same-sex everything. We gladly impose it on others. This week Obama is busy instructing Africa.

Thomas Llifson at American Thinker

But Obama in Africa is meeting pushback. Kenya's Deputy 'President William Ruto told Obama to mind his own business: "Respect our culture." Daily Nation - Kenya

Added: In the Caribbean also. President Obama chose an open gay James Brewster for ambassador to Dominican Republic. Church leaders in the conservative country are shocked. Washington Times

Stafford student loan rate doubles despite House action

The interest rate for US Stafford student loans doubled Monday. The US House of Representatives passed a bill last week that would reduce the increase. The Senate did nothing.

Monday, July 1, Stafford loans go from 3.4% to 6.8%, set by a bill when the Democrats controlled Congress in 2007. The change was supposed to take effect last year, but was delayed one year.

The House passed H.R. 1911 that would set the rate at the 10-year US Treasury bill rate plus 2.5%. It's a good idea to base the rate on a real-world, market interest rate. And they capped the interest rate at 8.5%. Today the 10-year T-bill is 2.33%, so the Stafford loan rate would be 5.83%.

Is 5.83% too high? Ask your powerful Senators why they did nothing. Oh, they started talking Monday when it was too late. Seattle Times. But why did they sit on their hands last week?

BTW Obama threatened to veto the house bill because...

USA Today