Jul 24, 2009

Mathematicians don’t think outside the box

Mathematicians think outside the quadrilateral parallelogram.

Hailstone size compared to chicken eggs

The caption of this photo in Time Magazine says: “A child holds hailstones the size of chicken eggs in Les Eserts, Switzerland.”

No mention if the hailstones were egg-shaped.

When a US President accuses police of acting stupidly...

A Reuters article at the link below reports that:

Barack Obama plunged his presidency into a charged racial debate and set off a firestorm in one of America's most liberal bastions by siding with a black Harvard scholar who accuses police of racism.

Saying he was unaware of "all the facts" but that police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, "acted stupidly" in their arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Obama whipped up emotions on both sides of an issue that threatens to open old wounds in America.

Boston University professor of politics Thomas Whalen defended Obama’s “stupid police” accusation by saying:

I think he was trying to let the majority of non-minority Americans have a sense of what it is like to a black or Latino.

Others are also making “what he meant was...” comments trying to put words in Obama’s mouth.

Many in Massachusetts, however, are saying he crossed a line by passing judgment on police while acknowledging he did not have all the facts.

Online polls in Massachusetts show strong support for the white arresting officer. A police union and his department's chief also came out strongly in his defense.

"Based on what I have seen and heard from the other officers, he maintained a professional decorum during the course of the entire situation and conducted himself in a professional manner," Cambridge Police Department Commissioner Robert Haas told a news conference.

Obama's comment stunned the city's policemen.

Others questioned whether Obama should have so strongly backed Gates, a friend, over the police without knowing fully what took place.

It appears that Mr. Obama was acting more like a community organizer from South Chicago that the President of the United States.

This racially charged diversion is good news to opponents of Obama’s health-care proposal. Almost everyone is talking about his racially charged accusation rather than what he said about health-care.


It was the teleprompter operator’s fault

Where is that teleprompter operator anyway?

He should have given a better answer to the stupid question about racist police acting stupidly.

Jul 23, 2009

Last night: was it ObamaCare or racism?

A report from the Time Magazine Tuned in blog is titled The Morning After: Opening the Gates Flood.

Last night, Obama gave a press conference aimed at helping to sell his ObamaCare plan.

This morning the TV news was all over his conference - but not about ObamaCare. It was about race.

One of the questions at the news conference was about the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates in his Cambridge home, raising the question of whether the African American scholar was being racially profiled.

Mr. Gates (pictured below during his arrest) was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge after police said he “exhibited loud and tumultuous behavior.”

From the report at the link below:

Obama gave a direct, sometimes wisecracking answer, saying that he wasn't there and didn't know if race was a factor, but that the police were "acting stupidly" to cuff the prof after he'd identified himself.

This morning, the Today show, Good Morning America and cable news led with the Gates remarks.

Health-care? Not now, racism is more important right now.

The long-standing safe route for Presidents asked to weigh in on open legal cases (or potential ones) is to say that they don't know all the facts, they want to let the justice system work.

The arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, a black man, obviously incensed Obama to the point that he turned the press conference from health-care into a racism issue into saying the police acted stupidly.

When was the last time we heard a president of the United States accuse police of acting stupidly? The answer is - never.

Anyway, Obama helped guarantee news focus on the black professor because his comments about the Gates issue were so much stronger, more animated and less vague than what he said about health care.


ObamaCare coming to a clinic near you

Huge blob of goo floating near Alaska

Something big and strange is floating through the Chukchi Sea between Wainwright and Barrow.

It’s not oil but no one knows just what it is and no one in the area can recall seeing anything like it before.

Hunters from Wainwright first started noticing the stuff sometime probably early last week. It's thick and dark and "gooey" and is drifting for miles in the cold Arctic waters.

The stuff is "gooey" and looks dark against the bright white ice floating in the Arctic Ocean.

The gunk reminds one of a novelty song from 1950 called The Thing. Phil Harris recorded the most popular version of the song. The lyrics of the tune is at the second link below.

The funny thing about the tune is the object was never called the Thing in the song. The lyrics can be found at the second link below.

Could the Thing from that 60-year-old tune have morphed into the blob floating off Alaska? Well no, probably not.

More on the arctic glob here. Click here for the lyrics to The Thing.

Obama ratings skidding down on key issues

It didn’t take long after Mr. Obama (pictured) moved into the White House. The euphoria of hope and change that seemed to sweep the country last winter has been turning into harsh realities.

An Associated Press-GfK Poll shows that a majority of Americans are back to thinking that the country is headed in the wrong direction after a fleeting period in which more thought it was on the right track.

If a poll by the Obama friendly Associated Press shows poll results unfavorable to Barack Obama, that’s change you can believe in.

Obama still has a solid 55 percent approval rating -- better than Bill Clinton and about even with George W. Bush six months into their presidencies -- but there are growing doubts about whether he can succeed at some of the biggest items on his to-do list. And there is a growing sense that he is trying to tackle too much too soon.

The number of people who think Obama can improve the economy is down a sobering 19 percentage points from the euphoric days just before his inauguration.

The same thing with Obama’s promise to create jobs. The unemployment rates continue to climb.

Also down significantly: the share of people who think he can reduce the deficit, remove troops from Iraq and improve respect for the U.S. around the world, all slipping 15 points.

Has buyers remorse - or in this case - voters remorse set in?

Link here and here.

Jul 22, 2009

Obama’s live TV commercial for ObamaCare

Will history repeat itself tonight at the presser (press conference) following the free, live TV commercial for ObamaCare?

Obama usually gets three of four ‘friendly’ questions that he responds to with lengthy verbiage skirting around the subject.

By then the presser is over and the media begins writing their glowing reports about the president they helped elect.

(click on cartoon to enlarge)

Swiss make low-cal no-melt chocolate

Wunderbar! Or, as the late Lawrence Welk would say, Wunnerful-a, wunnerful-a.

Swiss chocolatier Barry Callebaut has announced a new low-calorie no-melt chocolate.

Sweet! A chocolate bar that won't melt in your hands or pack on the pounds!

The Zurich-based manufacturer, one of the world's leading producers of industrial chocolate and cocoa, which it distributes to global giants such as NestlĂ© and Cadbury, claims its new product, called Vulcano, is the world's first — and so far only — melt-resistant, low-calorie chocolate.

Instead of melting from the heat of the tongue, it melts from the enzymes present in the saliva. No more stains or sticky fingers.

Regular chocolate starts to soften at 30°C (85°F), but Barry Callebaut says Vulcano can withstand temperatures of up to 55°C (130°F). The manufacturer also claims that its new creation has 90% fewer calories than standard chocolate because it contains less of the treat's fatty ingredients like cocoa butter.

Barry Callebaut hopes his new chocolate will melt in the hearts of chocoholics around the world.

Since Barry Callebaut has only recently started presenting his invention to chocolate manufacturers, food companies, bakeries and pastry chefs, it will likely be two years before it hits the mass market.


Eleven ways Obama could make news at his presser today

Mark Halperin has a somewhat tongue-in-cheek list of ways Obama (pictured) could make news at his Wednesday press conference in today’s “Halperin’s Take” in Time Magazine.

He lists “10 (Plus 1) ways that Obama can make news at his Wednesday press conference.”

Evidently Halperin is getting as bored with the overexposure of Barack Obama as the rest of us.

1. He could explicitly relax or tweak his deadline for congressional action.

2. He could explicitly reaffirm his deadline.

3. He could come out in favor of taxing Cadillac benefit plans with some specificity.

4. He could take a very specific position on his preference for an overall revenue package.

5. He could draw a line in the sand on overall cost.

6. He could issue a veto threat.

7. He could throw a major bone to the House Blue Dog Democrats on cost control.

8. He could lose his temper.

9. He could try to make congressional Republicans scapegoats using Gibbsian rhetoric.

10. He could take a series of positions that showed he was more in line with the Senate direction than the House.

11. He could say nothing new -- and make the news that he didn't make news.

Actually, Halperin left out the most important one, which would be number twelve on my list:

12. He could not turn on his teleprompter and say nothing at all.

Personally, I am hoping for number 12.



In the Bulgarian town of Burgas, east of the capital city of Sofia, this sand sculpture is on display as one of many created during the international sand sculptures festival.

This year marks the town's second year hosting the special event.

Social Security number code cracked

An AP story at the link below reports that:

For all the concern about identity theft, researchers say there's a surprisingly easy way for the technology-savvy to figure out the precious nine digits of Americans' Social Security numbers.

Illustration from ABC News

"It's good that we found it before the bad guys," Alessandro Acquisti of Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh said of the method for predicting the numbers.

The researchers were able to make the predictions using data available in public records as well as information such as birthdates cheerfully provided on social networks such as Facebook.

For people born after 1988 — when the government began issuing numbers at birth — the researchers were able to identify, in a single attempt, the first five Social Security digits for 44 percent of individuals. And they got all nine digits for 8.5 percent of those people in fewer than 1,000 attempts.

For smaller states their accuracy was considerably higher than in larger ones.

More of the story here.

Obama advisor: advocate of forced abortions and mass sterilization!

Even the most ardent backers of Barack Hussein Obama should step back and take a good long look at John Holdren (pictured), a recently appointed White House advisor.

From the article:

Forced abortions. Mass sterilization. A "Planetary Regime" with the power of life and death over American citizens

The tyrannical fantasies of a madman? Or merely the opinions of the person now in control of science policy in the United States? Or both?

These ideas (among many other equally horrifying recommendations) were put forth by John Holdren, whom Barack Obama has recently appointed Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and Co-Chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology -- informally known as the United States' Science Czar.

In a book Holdren co-authored in 1977, the man now firmly in control of science policy in this country wrote that:

Women could be forced to abort their pregnancies, whether they wanted to or not.

• The population at large could be sterilized by infertility drugs intentionally put into the nation's drinking water or in food.

• Single mothers and teen mothers should have their babies seized from them against their will and given away to other couples to raise.

• People who "contribute to social deterioration" (i.e. undesirables) "can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility" -- in other words, be compelled to have abortions or be sterilized.

• A transnational "Planetary Regime" should assume control of the global economy and also dictate the most intimate details of Americans' lives -- using an armed international police force.

Impossible, you say? That must be an exaggeration or a hoax. No one in their right mind would say such things.

The article goes on:

Well, I hate to break the news to you, but it is no hoax, no exaggeration. John Holdren really did say those things, and this report contains the proof. You will find photographs, scans, and transcriptions of pages in the book Ecoscience, co-authored in 1977 by John Holdren and his close colleagues Paul Ehrlich and Anne Ehrlich. The scans and photos are provided (in the article) to supply conclusive evidence that the words attributed to Holdren are unaltered and accurately transcribed.

Was Mr. Obama aware of Holdren’s radical views? Did Obama select Holdren because of his radical views?


Jul 21, 2009

Will summer vacation turn into summer school?

One of the joys of summer for kids is re-packing the backpack. Out with schoolbooks and supplies and in with swimsuits, water wings and roller blades.

Well, maybe not.

Illustration from Time Magazine

There is a Time Magazine report that says:

Sorry, kids. A vacation-crushing theory on how to improve student performance is gaining traction: more time in class. Longer days, longer year. Goodbye, summer.

This strategy supported by Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan with cities and states experimenting with various approaches.

Cincinnati, Ohio, for example, in June started giving students in the city's 13 most persistently failing public schools the option of an extra month (a "fifth quarter") of classes. And Ohio Governor Ted Strickland hopes to phase in a similar 20-day extension at all schools statewide.

More of the story here.

Wienermobile crashes into Wisconsin home

An Oscar Meyer Wienermobile crashed into the home and outdoor deck of a house near Racine, Wisconsin on Friday.

The 22-year-old driver thought she was moving in reverse, but actually went forward and crashed into the home. No one was home and neither the driver nor a passenger was injured.

Both the home and vehicle suffered moderate damage and no citations were immediately issued.

Oscar Mayer spokeswoman Sydney Lindner apologized for any inconvenience to the homeowner and said insurance would cover the damage. The company has six Wienermobiles nationwide, she said.

"We expect to be back on the hot dog highways spreading miles of smiles in no time," she said.


Hershel McGriff back to racing at age 81

Hershel McGriff drove the Oldsmobile 88 ‘City of Portland’ (shown above) to victory at the inaugural 2,178 mile Mexican Road Race from Ciudad Juarez to El Ocotal.

I was a teenager living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota at that time. Since I was an ardent auto-racing fan and McGriff had grown up in Sioux Falls he was my favorite racecar driver.

McGriff (shown at right and below) also participated in NASCAR races in the southeast including Daytona when they raced on the sandy beach. The old Daytona Beach race was a hit with fans but was hard on drivers and cars.

In McGriff’s early years of racing he often drove his racecar on regular roads from race to race. Sometimes race drivers would haul their racecars on flatbed trucks in those early years of stock car racing.

McGriff is a member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame. His racing career has spanned six decades. He won four NASCAR Cup races, and 37 races on the West series.

The first link below shows a delightful video of a Hershel McGriff interview.

Link here and here.

White House advisor cites Google search as progress

Top White House economic adviser Larry Summers (pictured) gave a less than brilliant reason for his prediction that the economic free-fall has ended.

The number of people searching for the term “economic depression” on Google is down to normal levels, Summers said.

Searches for the term were up four-fold when the recession deepened in the earlier part of the year, and the recent shift goes to show consumer confidence is higher, Summers told the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Actually, the main reason hits for "economic depression" are down is because people have found out what they needed to know. No need to go back and do another search once they get the info they need.

The Summers statement is so shallow -- well, OK -- moronic, that even the least informed citizen would have to shake their head and say, “duh?”


Results of AOL News visitor invitation poll

Interim results of an AOL News visitor invitation poll:

Do you approve or disapprove of Obama's handling of health care?
Strongly disapprove 74%
Strongly approve 12%
Somewhat approve 7%
Somewhat disapprove 7%
Total Votes: 158,963

Do you approve or disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy?
Strongly disapprove 75%
Strongly approve 10%
Somewhat disapprove 8%
Somewhat approve 7%
Total Votes: 143,205

Do you approve or disapprove of Obama's handling of unemployment?
Strongly disapprove 74%
Somewhat disapprove 11%
Strongly approve 8%
Somewhat approve 7%
Total Votes: 122,591

Do you approve or disapprove of Obama's handling of the federal budget deficit?
Strongly disapprove 84%
Strongly approve 7%
Somewhat approve 5%
Somewhat disapprove 4%
Total Votes: 121,604

Which of these issues do you consider most important?
The economy 56%
Federal budget deficit 23%
Unemployment 13%
Health care 8%
Total Votes: 122,360

Do you approve or disapprove of Obama's overall handling of his job as president?
Strongly disapprove 71%
Strongly approve 12%
Somewhat disapprove 11%
Somewhat approve 6%
Total Votes: 138,647

Jul 20, 2009

White House delays budget and unemployment update

The White House has delayed the budget update. The administration is reluctant to show the bad news on budget deficits and unemployment.

The White House is being forced to acknowledge the wide gap between its once-upbeat predictions about the economy and today's bleak landscape.

The administration's annual midsummer budget update is sure to show higher deficits and unemployment and slower growth than projected in President Barack Obama's budget in February and update in May, and that could complicate his efforts to get his signature health care and global-warming proposals through.


Spending like here is no tomorrow

Listed below are just two small examples of why the federal budget is in a shambles:

Paid AFCO Technologies $1,444,100 to repair a door in building 5112 at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas. Link

Paid C & C Electrical Contractor, Inc. $541,119 to install a traffic signal at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii. Link

Housewife smuggles contraband into Spokane

The Los Angeles Times reports the story of a contraband smuggling housewife.

By day, Patti Marcotte is a working mom -- dealing with the balancing act created by a 5-year-old daughter, a demanding job, a split-level house and a willful boxer puppy.

Come the post-dinner hour, however, Marcotte begins operating in the shadowy world of smuggled soap.

It’s Spokane County Washington’s dirty little secret -- contraband smuggling housewives.

Spokane County adopted a near total ban on sales of water-softening phosphates in dishwasher detergent -- the first in the nation -- in an attempt to slow the flood of pollutants that is sucking oxygen out of the endangered Spokane River, smothering its fish.

The problem, Marcotte and many of her neighbors say, is that most low-phosphate detergents are wimps when it comes to fighting greasy pots and spaghetti-crusted plates.

This has turned Marcotte and some of her neighbors into detergent outlaws, driving 45 minutes across the Idaho state line to pick up secret stashes of the old, bad dish cleanser: the brutish, outlawed Cascade.

Surely they have changed this law in Spokane County Washington by now. If not, County residents are probably breaking the law if the dishwashing soap they use actually gets their dishes clean.

It’s just a matter of time before pictures of Cascade boxes covered with big red X’s show up on TreeHugger’s website.


Larry King: still blathering about Michael Jackson

A Chicago Tribune article at the link below is titled, Larry King’s addiction: Michael Jackson.

Three weeks after the King of Pop's death, other media outlets have largely moved on, while the CNN host has devoted much of his programming to Jackson. Even guest Mark Geragos seems exasperated.

The King of Talk can't stop blathering about the King of Pop. It's been building for three weeks now, getting more and more absurd.

Night after night, the CNN host tosses out sentence-fragment questions ("Brain not returned to the family . . . right, Carlos?") that seem like they should have been written for Jimmy Kimmel.

Night after night, the "experts" lob back speculation, piled on theory, heaped on postulation.

It has been three weeks since Michael Jackson’s death and the media has mostly gone silent on the subject - with two notable exceptions: the checkout counter gossip pulps such as National Enquirer and Larry King (pictured) on CNN.

From the article:

The gravel-voiced, ever-game host acknowledged in one of his occasional moments of clarity this week: "We don't know any facts yet. . . . All of these are assumptions."

That was just before King's panel of judges and lawyers launched into yet another round of speculation, King urging: "What do we know? What do we know now?"

Is King that desperate for material? Is King’s Jackson adulation that strong? Is Larry King getting a bit senile? Maybe the answer is all of the above.


Jul 19, 2009

World War II bombers returned to northern Colorado for July 4 weekend

The 67-year-old War Birds returned to the Loveland - Fort Collins Municipal Airport during the July 4 weekend.

For $12 enthusiasts were allowed to take self guided tours of the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-25 Liberator.

Click on any of the pictures below for a larger view:

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

B-17 waist gunners position showing a 50 caliber machine gun on each side

Consolidated B-24 Liberator

Consolidated B-24 Liberator

Looking forward from the B-24 flight-engineer compartment into the cockpit

Inside the cockpit of the B-17

The B-24 pilot exiting the cockpit after a test run-up of the number 4 engine

One B-24 Liberator crew member said the noise level inside the plane during takeoff was so high “you couldn’t hear someone yelling even if he was right next to you!”

I took the cockpit photos this year. The other photos were taken when these planes were here two years ago. We hope they return again year.

9 month wait for arthritis treatment in UK

This is just one example of socialized medicine at work and a prelude to ObamaCare in America.

The report at the first link below says that thousands of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers in Britain face a lifetime of agony because they are not being treated quickly enough.

Guidelines state that patients should receive treatment within three months of the first symptoms appearing.

But the average wait is nine months - and GPs are not trained well enough to know what help to offer.

It will be no different in the United States with ObamaCare.

We will have fewer young people entering medical school after ObamaCare has been fully implemented. Few will be inclined to incur several hundred thousand dollars in student loans only to have the federal government look over their shoulder telling them what they can and can’t do for ailing patients.

The GPs (general medical practitioners) are not trained well enough to know what help to offer - mentioned in the DailyMail article above - will be commonplace.

If we follow the British socialized medicine example, there will be a few expertly staffed private medical clinics but only the rich will be able to afford them.

It’s not only arthritis sufferers who wait for months for treatment in the UK.

Cancer survival rates in Britain are among the lowest (worst) in Europe because of delayed medical care and the general inefficiency of NHS (National Health Services) as reported at the second link below.

Link here and here.

Polar ice global warming scare report - revisited

A scientist who tracks levels of ice and snow in the Arctic Ocean told CNSNews.com Monday that there is a “correlation” between the receding ice in the Arctic Sea and man-made global warming caused by the greenhouse effect. However his group’s own research shows otherwise.

Dr. Walter Meier, a cryosphere scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colo., admits he can’t prove that the link is cause-and-effect.

He is like so many other scientists who expect us to believe their global warming claims when they can’t back up the science.

It’s a lot like the Dan Rather logic: fake but accurate.