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2009 History

December 30, 2009



From my analog days (from ~1974/5). That's the bottom of a storm drain, and that's me taking the picture.

(Also, this is another test of real-time RSS, Thanks, Dave!)

Wed, 30 Dec 2009 15:47:52 PST - Link

December 28, 2009


Bike in the Fog

I took this photo about 35 years ago on a foggy morning. Thanks to the wonders of Google Maps street view, I now know that most of those trees are gone.

It's like parts of my past have been written over.

Mon, 28 Dec 2009 13:14:40 PST - Link

December 26, 2009

Cat Boxing Day Blogging

Da Boys

Boxing? No thanks. We'll be sleeping here.

Sat, 26 Dec 2009 11:15:50 PST - Link

December 20, 2009


Statue in Beijing

Statue in Beijing Park

I love this playful juxtaposition of old and new, it works on so many levels.

Sun, 20 Dec 2009 12:12:36 PST - Link

December 18, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

Sleep Time

T-Chan and Miko

Fri, 18 Dec 2009 10:34:15 PST - Link

Blog Suckage

So here are some selected tweets from this week...

The GOP is in favor of free national health care for Big Corporations. Not the people in them, just the corporations themselves.

My cow is 99% ready, but my Bull is 12% ready. The Farmville designers clearly did not anticipate people who think the way I do.

Don't lie to me. You were thinking it too. I checked. You can't buy Viagra in Farmville.

The Senate is already flawed by unequal representation, I'm thinking the filibuster makes it even more unequal.

The Worst Part of Censorship is [***********] [************]

Dude, Your motorcycle called "Ninja"?, I heard it two blocks away. FAIL.

Lieberman: Troubled by the overly enthusiastic reaction to the proposal (By Liberals) http://tr.im/HJz3 'cause we're so wrong on everything

The 787 is probably Boeing's last kerosene/jet powered new design.

I still prefer "Rebooting the News" as a podcast, listening live on computer has too many easy distractions for me. http://r2.ly/r6xj

Muzachan: 7 Reasons Why Japanese Trains are Different http://bit.ly/5ZXZFu

Dear Joe Lieberman: A public option was not added to "Appease Liberals" it was added to improve health care.

Dear Joe Lieberman: Whatever the insurance companies gave you - we'll double it.

How to make a genuine Osaka Okonomiyaki. http://markun.cs.shinshu-u.ac.jp/hobby/okonomi/index-e.html

There were only two satellites orbiting Earth on the day I was born. One contained dead batteries, and the other a dead dog.

"There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable." — Sam Harris

dsearls: From Fake Steve: http://bit.ly/4tjFxp Totally nails how utterly f'd up AT&T's complaints about its best customers are. #att #iphone

34% of conservatives believed Bush's lies about WMDs in Iraq. After seeing evidence that they were lies... 64% http://tr.im/Hr2I

In Russia, spirals make YOU.

@jayrosen_nyu Climate skeptics can not be moved by any argument or data. Refutation only makes misinformation worse. See: http://tr.im/Hr2I

Looks like the best option in Afghanistan requires that we travel backwards in time. (Unfortunately that may also be the easiest path out.)

Forecast for tomorrow - 100% chance of rain in San Jose. I don't remember seeing 100% forecasts before this year.

Fri, 18 Dec 2009 10:34:15 PST - Link

December 11, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

T-chan and Tory

From earlier this week - T-chan and Tory.

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 10:24:19 PST - Link

December 10, 2009

Thursday Squirrel Blogging


No reason, really. This is the squirrel show on Cat TV™

Thu, 10 Dec 2009 12:50:58 PST - Link

December 8, 2009

Umm, That's Not CO2


Sorry Channel 5, but maybe you should have someone who's taken grade school chemistry do your Google Image Search.

That's Co2(CO)8 (Molecule of the Month for March 1998)!

Just so you know, there is no Cobalt in CO2, just carbon (one) and Oxygen (two).

Tue, 08 Dec 2009 20:56:38 PST - Link

December 4, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

Tory James

Tory found my pullover fleece and turned it into a comfy nest.

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 10:16:53 PST - Link

Lousy Blogging Week?

Hrrmm. This is perplexing. I posted nothing here, but I posted a bunch of updates on twitter. Just to move the cat bloggings apart, here are some highlights from last week's twitters:

It's not capitalism when companies are too big to fail, it's not civilization when they get too big to tax.

Dear Web Designers. I'm at your page for the contents, not to play a game of pointer chicken with your damn pop-ups.

"Palin event requests 'English-only' reporters" // Has she no sense of irony?

@techweenie True? The emissions promised will be hard to meet, we will not have enough oil (peak was 2005) to produce even that much CO2 6:43 PM Dec 2nd from web in reply to techweenie

Sigh. TV Tropes: Looks like I'm no longer a washed-up has-been hack. I'm now a washed-up has-been FORGOTTEN hack.

@dsearls Necessity is the mother of strange bedfellows — Lazarus Long (as channeled by R. Heinlein

A look at the world in 2050: Be Afraid. Be Inspired. http://www.intelligencesquared.com/iq2-video/2009/the-world-in-2050

@markmorford: "Campbell, CA suddenly struck by locusts, hellfire, apocalypse." No, It's worse - Farmer's Markets!

@Adenovir What? Glen Beck has internet cramps? [cleans glasses] Oh... Internment camps. Never-mind.

@chrisdesalvo - Synth Britannia - Woah, I grew up on that stuff, and still have some of the records. 10:29 PM

More training? It's been 8 years, we could have build a West Point in Kabul, and trained up an entire officer corps from raw recruits by now

It was always all about energy. That this baffles economists only makes it more plausible http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6006#comment-565385

Dear Rick Warren, If you're not against raw evil in Uganda, just what are you for? Shouldn't religion be leading the fight here?

[Drudge] MURDOCH: News business based on advertising is dead // Maybe he should try news based on facts for a change.

Dear Dick Cheney. Just go away. The adults are busy cleaning up YOUR mess.

RT @c4chaos video is now up ~ Intelligence Squared - Atheism is the new fundamentalism #debates #atheism #religion

Firefox just gave me an error message that began: "Well, this is embarrassing." I liked that.

If the Three Mile Island accident happened in today's 24/7 news cycle every US nuclear power plant would be shut down. (Bad Thing) 9:09 PM Nov 29th from web

I think I just saw the future of Twitter. I was reading @GregMitch 's updates in real time during the HBO R&R show.

HBO: Dear Billy Joel. I love you man, but sorry, you must take a 5 yard penalty for "It's still Rock and Roll to me"

@GregMitch Thanks for the HBO commentary tonight — it makes it a better show.

HBO: Billy Gibbons!

George Will is dangerously misinformed on Global Warming. The data doesn't fit his world view.

Multi-Year Arctic Ice disintegrating: permanent-arctic-ice-vanishing

Zakaria/GPS: Eric Schmidt CEO Google: "It's possible to literally know everything." That's crazy - there's too much money in keeping secrets

This time of year, I can't listen to Joni Mitchell's "River" without getting all choked up. The best Christmas songs do that.

@kdawson Just saw your energy/economy article on slashdot. (I've been busy trimming the tree...) That's SO cool!

kdawson saw my twitter on 9.7 milliwatts of primary energy consumption, and submitted it to slashdot, and it was greenlighted.

W00T! First Christmas tree in the new house! 2:04 PM Nov 28th from web

@kdawson Slow news day? - but... but... Tiger Woods! </sarcasm>

"each inflation-adjusted 1990 dollar would be supported by 9.7 milliwatts of primary energy consumption," Is Global Warming Unstoppable?

Charles Tatum: You know what's wrong with New Mexico, Mr. Wendel? Too much outdoors.

This is a random quote from Ace In The Hole, A rather tense film that used to show on TV when I was much younger. It took me quite some time to Google this one up from vague 40 year old memories.

RT @buzzflash: Glenn Beck Wants To Abolish Separation Of Church And State http://tinyurl.com/yhfmxjz I want Separation of Church and Senate!

Fri, 04 Dec 2009 10:16:53 PST - Link

November 27, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

Stack o' Catz

Miko is thankful for warm brothers.

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 12:29:12 PST - Link

November 23, 2009

US Economic Recovery in the Era of Inelastic Oil:

I think what you'd have to conclude is that, for whatever reason, we are in an era when oil supply is not very responsive to price. Both axes are zero-scaled, and the most noticeable thing on that scale is that price has fluctuated enormously while the amount of oil supplied and consumed has fluctuated very little. Huge price increases from 2005 - 2008 produced only a few percent increase in the quantity supplied. Similarly, huge price decreases from the beginning of 2008 to the end of that year produced only tiny decreases in oil supply.


Stuart Staniford was a major early contributor to The Oil Drum but has been away the web for a couple of years. Welcome back, Stewart!

I think this is today's money quote:

For what it's worth, the ratio of the two scales in the graph above is 25$/mbd (dollars per million barrels per day), and an actual regression gives the coefficient as $24.70 - implying a relationship in which we, the world's oil consumers, need to pay oil producers an extra $25/barrel or so in order for them to collectively kick in an extra million barrels per day. [Emphasis added - J.]

Think about that next time the experts on CNBC predict more oil at lower prices.

Mon, 23 Nov 2009 10:48:51 PST - Link

Great Wall

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China, 2008.11.21

Mon, 23 Nov 2009 09:27:54 PST - Link

November 22, 2009

The Bird Is The Word


- Link

November 20, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging


Miko: Cat TV™ is better in the rain.

Fri, 20 Nov 2009 14:25:38 PST - Link

Picked up both "The Melancholy of Suzumia Haruhi 4" and "god is not Great" at the bookstore. I feel a certain discord in that...

Fri, 20 Nov 2009 14:25:38 PST - Link

November 18, 2009

I've Seen This Movie Before

(Written in response to this article in bnet)

Wasn't it just early last year that we were in a similar point in the plot?

Except in the early months of last year the experts were telling us that all was well - the economy is robust - full speed ahead. There were a few shrill voices on the sidelines who'd checked their sums and were predicting just what would happen when the train ran into the chasm, but they were marginalized - no one wanted to hear the bridge was out when the pots were growing and the cards were flying in back in the club car.

So here it's late 2009, and once again the experts (generally economists) are telling us there's no peak in oil production - all is well - business as usual. Those guys in the engine, with a clear view of the tracks ahead, and all their calculators and computers and data? What do they know - feh! - they are only the oil field geologists who spent their lives studying the resource, and they can see that the energy bridge is out.

We do know that these stories have different endings - when the banks froze up, we printed money.

Funny thing about oil, (and energy in general) you can't print it.

Wed, 18 Nov 2009 09:30:01 PST - Link

November 13, 2009

Friday The 13th Cat Blogging

Slumber Party!

Miko: It's Friday the 13th, dad. It's be bad luck to get up. Besides, I'm feel warm and protected here.

Fri, 13 Nov 2009 16:02:40 PST - Link

Fri, 13 Nov 2009 16:02:40 PST - Link

November 9, 2009

The Intelligence Squared Debate

Outstanding Video: Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry vs. The Catholics

(Part 1/5) (Part 2/5) (Part 3/5) (Part 4/5) (Part 5/5)

Mon, 09 Nov 2009 11:01:27 PST - Link

November 6, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging


Miko: Why haven't you blogged even once this week?

Joe: I've been busy. Have you seen the kitchen lately?

Miko: Just the fridge and my food bowl, why do you ask?

Joe: Oh, Nevermind.

Miko: Fine, then. Make a lap, I'm coming up. You may bring me chicken. Or Tuna. Tuna's okay as well.

Fri, 06 Nov 2009 10:44:51 PST - Link

October 30, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

Pile o' Cats

It's getting on that time of year when the boys become seekers of lap.

Fri, 30 Oct 2009 10:24:52 PDT - Link

October 24, 2009

AMERICA 2.0: Declining Net Energy = Decades of Declining Economic Activity.

The "bad news" is that "peak oil" marks the beginning of the end of capitalism and market politics because many decades of declining "net energy" [1] will result in many decades of declining economic activity. And since capitalism can't run backwards, a new method of distributing goods and services must be found. The "good news" is that our "market system" is fantastically inefficient! Americans could be wasting something like two billion tonnes of oil equivalent per year!!

Jay Hanson

Sat, 24 Oct 2009 12:39:02 PDT - Link

Today's Dominant Economic Thinking Violates The Laws of Physics

The financial crisis and subsequent global recession have led to much soul-searching among economists, the vast majority of whom never saw it coming. But were their assumptions and models wrong only because of minor errors or because today's dominant economic thinking violates the laws of physics?

New York Times

Yes, well, there's your problem.

Sat, 24 Oct 2009 10:22:46 PDT - Link

October 23, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

Window Sleeping

Miko and T-Chan catching a few rays.

Fri, 23 Oct 2009 09:14:18 PDT - Link

October 21, 2009

The Mother Of All Funk Chords

Thru-you.com is genius. It even has theremin!

Wed, 21 Oct 2009 11:47:05 PDT - Link

October 20, 2009

And the chances of finding 6 new Saudi Arabias is the same as finding 6 new Irelands.

The IEA expects production from existing oilfields to fall by 50% between now and 2020 and warned the world needs to find an additional 64m barrels a day of capacity by 2030 - equivalent to six times current Saudi Arabian production.

Guardian [UK]

Tue, 20 Oct 2009 10:14:27 PDT - Link

Well, Well...

T-Mobile has just released a tool to export the Sidekick contacts. I don't think it's related to my missive of yesterday - I really don't have that kind of pull. In any case, T-Mobile has done the right thing here.

[HOW TO] Restore Your Sidekick Contacts

Tue, 20 Oct 2009 08:36:13 PDT - Link

October 19, 2009

An Open Letter To T-Mobile CEO Robert Dotson

Dear CEO Dotson,

I am a former Danger employee, in fact I'm the person who came up with the idea of the swivel hinge on the original Sidekick, and was an electrical designer on the first 5 generations of Sidekicks.

I left Danger when the hardware design went to Sharp, long before they were acquired by Microsoft, and in any case, this note is only tangentially related to the recent data outages.

I have an urgent request.

I would like to be able to do a 'one click' export backup of my Sidekick contacts.

While I did not lose my contact data during the recent outages, I realized that I was one accidental drop of my device, or one system crash (I'd had one the week before the outage) from losing my contact data.

Needless to say, as soon as I had network connectivity I emailed myself all of my contacts, one at a time, as forced by the user interface, (Via design decisions by T-Mobile, I know, I. was. there.) but this hardly seems like a good user experience. When the Desktop interface came back online, again I found that backing up MY personal data was going to be a slow, painful manual process.

There may have been a time when it was a viable customer retention policy to make exporting our contacts a long and difficult process, but the recent Sidekick data center outages, and the availability of this exact backup feature on Android phones makes this policy both obsolete and detrimental to the customer/carrier relationship.

I'm not asking for much, just an "export contacts" button on the web interface. That's a different group of engineers at Microsoft from the server group, so adding this feature should not interfere with their work. This does not require a new application on the device, nor does it use any air-time.

I am also saddened and disappointed to read that Microsoft has laid off the hardware development team from Danger, and that no new Sidekicks will be made available. If true, the 'one click' export of contacts becomes critical to T-Mobile as the Sidekick users migrate to other phones.

I will disinclined to stay with a carrier who has purposely made it hard to back up my own data, especially in light of the recent failure of that carrier's suppliers to make that data available for an extended period of time.

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, "Trust, but backup."

Needless to say, in the past month my trust has been shaken. You can help by undoing the policy of making Sidekick backups painful.

Yours Truly,

Joseph Palmer

Mon, 19 Oct 2009 16:00:14 PDT - Link

Monday Cat Blogging

Miko: Happiness is a warm brother.

Sorry about the delay, we were on a mini-break in San Francisco over the weekend.

Mon, 19 Oct 2009 10:15:53 PDT - Link

October 15, 2009

Oil is at $77.04, But $80 Could Double Dip This Recession.

"The US has experienced six recessions since 1972. At least five of these were associated with oil prices. In every case, when oil consumption in the US reached 4% percent of GDP, the U.S. went into recession. Right now, 4% of GDP is US$80 a barrel oil.

Financial Post

They don't talk about this on CNBC. They don't want to contemplate this negative feedback loop that will limit economic growth. This is economic lather, rinse, repeat - but every cycle there's less shampoo.

There is only one way out of this, and that is to re-build the civil infrastructure to run on renewable energy.

We've used half of the world's one-time endowment of fossil energy to create an infrastructure utterly dependent on fossil energy. So... pick one:

[ ] Business As Usual - Let's let the free market guide us to Burn Baby Burn the rest of the fossil energy strictly based on short term profits


[ ] Fix this now, while we still have the energy to do it.

Thu, 15 Oct 2009 10:29:49 PDT - Link

Intractability of Financial Derivatives

In principle, an alert buyer can detect tampering even if he doesn't know which asset classes are the lemons: he simply examines all 1000 CDOs and looks for a suspicious overrepresentation of some of the asset classes in some of the CDOs. What Arora et al. show is that is an NP-complete problem ("densest subgraph"). This problem is believed to be computationally intractable; thus, even the most alert buyer can't have enough computational power to do the analysis.

Ah, Wall Street! what cunning products you develop.

Thu, 15 Oct 2009 09:58:34 PDT - Link

October 14, 2009

Cloud Testing Again

Sorry for the spew, I just need to regenerate a ping for a friend who is doing some testing of a reader.

Wed, 14 Oct 2009 17:36:08 PDT - Link

This feed is now RSS Cloud ready! (I Think!)

I'll admit it. I was way behind the ball when it came to RSS. I was following the discussions about it on Scripting News but I just didn't get it. Then one day I asked a co-worker, and he mentioned that he pretty much only read RSS anymore, and being a software genius (and brilliant cartoonist, but that's unrelated) he'd written a bit of code to scrape websites (including mine) to make RSS for his reader.

A few weeks later I got around to re-writing my hand-rolled publishing back end to generate my own RSS 2.0 feed, and at the same time I began to use RSS myself.

So you can imagine when Dave Winer started to talk about RSS Cloud, This time I paid attention.

After spending an hour at rsscloud.org I'd figured out that adding the feature was trivial. All I had to do was to add the appropriate cloud tag tot he RSS feed, and add a button to my publishing system to send a Ping to the appropriate cloud server.

This left me with the problem of finding an appropriate cloud server. Since it was way outside my poor Perl HaX0r skillz to write my own server, I had to wait for someone else to supply the open server.

On September 19, draft Media came to my rescue with a public server. It took me until yesterday to get around to actually hacking it in. (I have a kitchen counter and back splash rebuild that takes higher priority - just ask my wife.) After solving my bone-headed Perl bugs and some tweeks on the draft Media side it looks like I'm on the air.

My expectation is that at some point I will need to move to another cloud server — draft Media can't and shouldn't provide this service for free forever — but hopefully by then there will be a number of commercial options. BTW, I'll pay $10/year for this low flow feed.

Next, of course was testing the cloud feed. AFAIK the only reader that supports it today is Dave Winer's River 2, and since it didn't need to deal with NAT tunneling at Dave's house, well... it doesn't, and since we dropped our fixed IP addresses when we moved to our new house, I can't test my own feed yet. 'Doh. So... when I say "This feed is now RSS Cloud ready!" I'm just pretty sure it is.

Still, I figure that other RSS Cloud readers that are aimed at the general public are just around the corner — I totally get how much work that is — and I'll just wait until then.

In the meantime, if any of you are using River 2 or are testing some new reader, I'd be honored if you'd check my feed. I can promise you Cat Pictures and snarky blog entries, sometimes in the same post.

Wed, 14 Oct 2009 13:20:56 PDT - Link

This is another test of the RSS cloud

This is new data

Wed, 14 Oct 2009 12:09:19 PDT - Link

Testing RSScloud 123

Wed, 14 Oct 2009 11:58:03 PDT - Link

October 9, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging


T-Chan: Shredded Toilet Paper? Nope. Wasn't me. I was sleeping, yeah, sleeping that's it. Go ask the seal points. (Photo by wife)

Fri, 09 Oct 2009 11:06:15 PDT - Link

October 2, 2009

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

a) 5 of the last 6 recessions were triggered when the price of energy got above 4% of GDP.

b) 4% of GDP is roughly $80/bl for oil.

c) Oil is selling at ~$70/bl today, in the midst of the worst recession since the great depression.

d) Any meaningful recovery will push oil over $80/bl, which will cause another recession.

Fri, 02 Oct 2009 11:21:50 PDT - Link

Friday Cat Blogging



Fri, 02 Oct 2009 10:17:27 PDT - Link

A Blast From The Past. A Tinny, Sizzly Blast.

To Prof. Berger's dismay new students increasingly prefer the tinny sounds given off by MP3s. But, how can this be? Anyone who has performed back-to-back comparisons between 128-bit MP3s and CD recordings on a hi-fi system can hear significant differences. You'd have to be practically hearing impaired to pick the MP3 over the higher quality recording.

Kids Prefer Poor Quality MP3

Here's another one of those blog posts about something where I read the article, then some months later wanted to reference it but I could not find it.

I listen to MP3 myself, but my CD collection was ripped at 192k VBR, and that sounds noticeably better than 128k. I don't really miss the pops and crackles of vinyl, but I do miss albums recorded as complete, coherent artworks.

Fri, 02 Oct 2009 09:05:01 PDT - Link

October 1, 2009

"Credit Default Dwaps" For Dummies

Think about that. You could buy a contract which said that if some other company had trouble then YOU would be paid lots of money. The temptation for corporate raiders to buy the "insurance" and then try to force the default or bankruptcy would be too great for some of them to resist.


Thu, 01 Oct 2009 17:26:40 PDT - Link

Five Things That Would Make Atheists Seem Nicer

The post itself is not worth the electrons, but the discussion in the comments is well worth the read, as is this response: Advice For Atheists?

Thu, 01 Oct 2009 17:26:40 PDT - Link

September 27, 2009

How NOT To Suck At Blogging

How NOT To Suck At Blogging

Many lessons for me to learn here. I'm planning to put more effort into josephpalmer.com while I'm between start-ups, and not sucking would be a good start.

Sun, 27 Sep 2009 12:30:47 PDT - Link

The Danelectro has landed

Danelectro 12 string

Yesterday I picked up a Danelectro model 1959 DC 12. It's probably the least expensive name brand 12 string electric guitar you can find, but in the store it played better than guitars that were 5x the price, and it hadn't even been properly set up.

I don't really understand why Danelectro doesn't spend the extra time in their factory (In China) to do a proper set up - the cost would be minimal and it would really show the instrument in the stores. Still - they only do these in small batches, and this one was the last that Guitar showcase was able to get in 2009 - maybe the fact that it needed an hour of love and tuning was why it was still there for me to find.

For some reason it seems to have come preloaded with a bunch of songs that haven't been written yet, every time I pick it up something new pops out.

I'm really digging the sound of the lipstick pickups - very organic and warm. It's also a really light instrument, it's a hollow-body with a tempered masonite(!) top and back. It's very loud without an amp, and even let out a bit of a howl when the salesman at the guitar store turned up the amp on me. For some reason I'm the guy who always tests gear to quietly for the sales team.

You'll be hearing from this little one soon.

Update: I got a tweet from the son of Nathan I. Daniel, the inventor of the Danelectro 12 string guitar, and many other innovations.

Daniel's place in music history must not be overlooked. His inexpensive, but very musical instruments were the beginner's guitars and amps of nearly two generations of musicians.

It's little wonder that the Danelectro instruments are making a resurgence. When you walk in a store, the popular price and retro looks make them irresistible to pick up, but then the sound makes them impossible to put down.

Sun, 27 Sep 2009 12:30:47 PDT - Link

September 26, 2009

Chart of the Day

Snarky Chart

Sat, 26 Sep 2009 11:07:50 PDT - Link

10 Useful Usability Findings and Guidelines

Everyone would agree that usability is an important aspect of Web design. Whether you’re working on a portfolio website, online store or Web app, making your pages easy and enjoyable for your visitors to use is key. Many studies have been done over the years on various aspects of Web and interface design, and the findings are valuable in helping us improve our work.

Smashing Magazine

I've been thinking about doing a design refresh on my site, this is a goldmine of information.

Sat, 26 Sep 2009 08:34:56 PDT - Link

September 25, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

Tory James

Tory in Basket. — Photo by wife.

Fri, 25 Sep 2009 11:34:23 PDT - Link

September 23, 2009

Vacation Photo: Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls (As Seen from Canada)

The view from our hotel window on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.

Wed, 23 Sep 2009 17:51:06 PDT - Link

Catching Up

Over vacation I made note of a few things I saw in the news, and since I don't have to go to work today, here they are:

"The US has experienced six recessions since 1972. At least five of these were associated with oil prices. In every case, when oil consumption in the US reached 4% percent of GDP, the U.S. went into recession. Right now, 4% of GDP is US$80 a barrel oil. So my current view is that if the oil price exceeds US$80, then expect the U.S. to fall back into recession," wrote Steven Kopits, managing director for U.K.-based energy-consulting and research firm Douglas-Westwood LLC in New York.

Oil prices mean perpetual recession

4% appears to be the limit - but that number is based on conditions of a consumer-lead, growth economy based on fossil fuels.

The problem is that we're been bouncing around $70/BL for a few months, and that's due mostly to a the recession, which has lead to a lowering of demand for oil.

One stark witness of this is the ghost fleet of ships anchored near Singapore.

But there has been another side-effect of this recession, it has disrupted the oil infrastructure in a profound way:

Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. reported Friday that 699 of the rigs were exploring for natural gas and 288 for oil. Twelve were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago this week, the rig count stood at 2,031.

Business week

It doesn't take a Nobel Prize winning economist to understand that when you've got half the rigs exploring this year, that's going to lead to fewer prospects that are proved next year, which inevitably leads to lower production the year after, which immediately leads to higher prices, which brings us back to the 4% ceiling on the economy. That's the loop we're in. That's the world we're leaving our children.

Something. Must. Change.

Wed, 23 Sep 2009 10:16:42 PDT - Link

September 22, 2009

More vacation pictures

Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal

Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal

Tue, 22 Sep 2009 07:17:22 PDT - Link

September 20, 2009

Vacation Over.

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac‎

Fairmont Le Château Frontenac - Quebec City

Details photos to follow.

Sun, 20 Sep 2009 13:39:33 PDT - Link

September 18, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging


Tory: I'm sleeping here...

Fri, 18 Sep 2009 10:05:21 PDT - Link

September 11, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging


T-Chan: Whatchoo want? I'm sleepin here.

Fri, 11 Sep 2009 07:05:44 PDT - Link

September 8, 2009

The Swiss Compromise

Switzerland is the other example of a developed country that came late to the universal health care game thus did it in a way that involves a lot of compromises with existing interest groups.


Tue, 08 Sep 2009 09:13:43 PDT - Link

September 6, 2009

Sunday Snail Blogging


No particular reason, it's just a fun picture.

Sun, 06 Sep 2009 10:34:08 PDT - Link

September 5, 2009

Matt Taibbi : Sick and Wrong

In the real world, nothing except a single-payer system makes any sense. There are currently more than 1,300 private insurers in this country, forcing doctors to fill out different forms and follow different reimbursement procedures for each and every one. This drowns medical facilities in idiotic paperwork and jacks up prices: Nearly a third of all health care costs in America are associated with wasteful administration. Fully $350 billion a year could be saved on paperwork alone if the U.S. went to a single-payer system - more than enough to pay for the whole goddamned thing, if anyone had the balls to stand up and say so.

Rolling Stone

As I was reading this the engineer in me was thinking, say - I bet we could come up with something like ANSI standard for health forms, so that every form used the same terms, and you didn't get asked for an 11 digit group number when your insurance card only had a 15 digit employer network code. The way things are in the insurance world it's like every maker of screws and nuts in the world had their own standard, and nothing was interchangeable.

But then I realized - the teabaggers would scream: "That's government interference in private enterprise!".

Sat, 05 Sep 2009 08:34:20 PDT - Link

September 4, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging



Fri, 04 Sep 2009 09:42:24 PDT - Link

August 31, 2009

You Are That Person

If you want to know how to deal with atheists, you need to understand what our viewpoint is of theists (I don't claim to speak for all atheists - after all we don't have dogma). Imagine an adult joins you at work and he/she is friendly, intelligent, warm, etc., and then one day you find out this person actually believes Santa Claus exists. To atheists, YOU are that person.

No Doubt at All In response to Re:Atheism at Internet Monk

I found the original article to be interesting, if unconvincing, but many of the comments are simply superb. For example, Jack:

Still trying to fathom how you figure that being out in the world, making your own decisions without guidance, without anyone to catch you when you fail, and with no expectation of an eternal reward is somehow easier than believing that a superpower is washing you of all your sins, guiding you, holding you and comforting you, and will have a halo and wings for you when you die. But yeah, atheism is easier. Keep telling yourself that.

Mon, 31 Aug 2009 12:05:24 PDT - Link

News Is A Problem

First, news operations, by definition, report news. And horserace stuff changes all the time. There's always something new to report.

But that's not so for the policy stuff. You can write a big piece comparing the various healthcare proposals out there, and once you've done it, you're done. You're not going to run another piece a week later covering the exact same ground. You need to find a new angle. But policy doesn't change all that much, and there are only just so many fresh angles on this stuff. So if you're dedicated to reporting on new stuff, you're going to have a tough time writing lots of policy primers.

Kevin Drum

Go read the rest. Oh, and make sure to read the Krugman blog entry that inspired it.

This totally explains why the media debate about health care reform has never really been about health care.

Mon, 31 Aug 2009 10:21:07 PDT - Link

August 30, 2009

Sunday Cat Blogging

Tory James

Tory James.

Sun, 30 Aug 2009 10:17:38 PDT - Link

August 28, 2009

Write For An Audience

The fact that students today almost always write for an audience (something virtually no one in my generation did) gives them a different sense of what constitutes good writing. In interviews, they defined good prose as something that had an effect on the world. For them, writing is about persuading and organizing and debating, even if it's over something as quotidian as what movie to go see. The Stanford students were almost always less enthusiastic about their in-class writing because it had no audience but the professor: It didn't serve any purpose other than to get them a grade. As for those texting short-forms and smileys defiling serious academic writing? Another myth. When Lunsford examined the work of first-year students, she didn't find a single example of texting speak in an academic paper.


I've often wondered if all those impassioned blog posts and fanfiction written by teens was having an effect.

Fri, 28 Aug 2009 10:06:05 PDT - Link

August 26, 2009

Tapping The Deep Well Of Stupid

On further reflection, what Lynch was doing was the exact opposite of crying "Fire!" in a crowded movie house. His article was blacking out the exit signs and welding the doors shut just at the moment that the flames are becoming too big to ignore.

He is providing a false set of ideologically based arguments, with the intention to plant doubt and conflate a geological inevitability with politics in in a certain sector of the public. It'll probably work. Last year a study found that:

34% of conservatives believed Bush's lies about WMDs in Iraq.

64% of conservatives believed Bush's lies about WMDs in Iraq after seeing evidence that they were lies.

Lynch's article was aimed directly at those 34%. He gave them such comforting talking points:

Peak oil is promoted by the elite (And you know who they are!)

I, however have the facts that prove they are wrong (And I'm one of you, so you don't needy to see them. Really, I have them.)

Each expert on this list are all wrong about something. (So clearly, all experts are wrong about everything.)

They don't even know industry terminology. (But I'm a consultant so I do.)

You can ignore their numbers. (I do, and so should you. Facts have a liberal bias.)

They are vague and irrelevant. (It's all so obvious I won't need to look at the numbers, and NEITHER SHOULD YOU.)

Don't worry. Technology can keep a field’s overall production from falling (Forever!)

I've exposed their shaky claims! (without once needing to resort to statistics, math, history or those pesky facts.)

President. Jimmy. Carter. ('Nuff said.)

I found a geologist who says there's plenty of oil. (Never mind that what the other geologists say, they have rocks in their heads. And never mind that burning that much more oil would raise the global temperature several degrees. Al Gore!)

Since we'll never run out, the price should be $30. (That sounds right to me, so go buy another Escalade.)

Chicken Littles are lining up to take away your Escalade. (Don't let them! Write your representatives and send them this op-ed.)

It's a false threat. (And as a conservative, you know what to do.)

So here we go again. A representative of vested interests has declared war on data, and his missive is written to raise an army of people uncomfortable with facts. Each of his false talking points fits snugly and comfortingly in the cuby holes of their pre-conceived notions, and the hammer of truth will only serve to drive them in deeper.

Wed, 26 Aug 2009 08:54:30 PDT - Link

August 25, 2009

Some Days The New York Times Will Print Anything.

This morning the The New York Times printed an Op-Ed by Michael Lynch entitled 'Peak Oil' Is a Waste of Energy. I can't imagine what possessed the NYT to publish this article. The reader comments on the NYT site make a good run at eviscerating his arguments, and the article at the Oil Drum field dress them and tie them to the fender, using something Mr. Lynch studiously avoided in his article, data.

I was particularly bemused by this passage:

A careful examination of the facts shows that most arguments about peak oil are based on anecdotal information, vague references and ignorance of how the oil industry goes about finding fields and extracting petroleum.

Now if he's talking about most arguments he might just be right — because just like the death panel arguments against health care reform, and the phony scientific arguments against global warming, most arguments about peak oil are published or broadcast by poorly informed people with scant care for the facts.

But the problem is not with most arguments it's that there are a few, well researched, well supported, well documented arguments that have not been refuted. Ignoring the noise, the facts are stacked against Mr. Lynch:

First, peak oil is now a historical event for 30 of the 54 oil producing countries. Production peaked in the USA in 1970, and the later additions of the Gulf of Mexico and the Alaska North Slope were not enough to make up for the depletion and subsequent drop in production of the rest of the US.

Second, the peak year has now been revised back to 2005, and the drop in investment due to the recession, coupled with observed field decline rates, a rusting infrastructure, and the graying of the oil experts simply leaves no hope that world production will ever recover. Lynch speaks of $30 oil, but that's a fantasy that could only be realized in tragedy. It would take a global depression to drop world demand to the point where it could be supplied by the few remaining fields that could produce at that price, and it would bankrupt the exploration and drilling industries. By the time we'd pull out of that there would be nothing left to explore again but rusting rigs and tired old men.

Third, discovery has not kept up with production since the 80's. Mr. Lynch's argument that those who study peak oil don't understand industry terminology would be laughable were it not given prominent space in the paper of record.* It would be closer to the truth to say that the prominent geologists and oilmen who first began to study peak oil were the ones who invented the industry terminology. The discoveries and reserve additions are fully integrated into the data set used to study peak oil. Predicting that an essential resource will stop growing, then begin to shrink is serious, civilization bending stuff. The sort of gross errors in that Mr. Lynch accuses would have generated an instant maelstrom of comment and correction within the peak oil research community. Mr Lynch, these aren't the talking hair types who ask you inane questions on cable news - these are engineers, geologists and scientists (and at least one actuary) - each with access to more computing power than NASA had when Armstrong landed on the moon. There are brighter minds than mine or yours looking at this.

I think it is at the end of the article that Mr. Lynch reveals his stripes:

This is not to say that we shouldn’t keep looking for other cost-effective, low-pollution energy sources — why not broaden our options? But we can’t let the false threat of disappearing oil lead the government to throw money away on harebrained renewable energy schemes or impose unnecessary and expensive conservation measures on a public already struggling through tough economic times.

This is right out of the conservative's hymnal. It's that setting on the right-wing decoder ring that says it's okay to believe this, I'm one of you. This is a calming reassurance to the 62% of Republicans who say the government should stay out of Medicare, which, as we know, is a government program.

The goal of Mr. Lynch seems to be to give uninformed people soothing disinformation in an effort to politically block us from doing what urgently needs to be done, so that the industry he consults for maintains its dominance.

It is a travesty that the New York Times saw fit to print it.

* Edited to fix Palinesque phrasing. I really must not proof my posts at 00:48.

Wed, 26 Aug 2009 00:48:46 PDT - Link

August 22, 2009

Quite Simply, Right.

It is a moral imperative. I cannot enjoy health coverage and turn to my neighbor and tell him he doesn't deserve it. A nation is a mutual undertaking. In a democracy, we set out together to do what we believe is good for the commonwealth. That means voluntarily subjecting ourselves to the rule of law, taxation, military service, the guaranteeing of rights to minorities, and so on. That is a cheap price to pay.

Roger Ebert

Sat, 22 Aug 2009 13:17:17 PDT - Link

Why did NBC change the question?

A new study by SurveyUSA puts support for a public option at a robust 77 percent, one percentage point higher than where it stood in June.

But the numbers tell another story, as well.

Earlier in the week, after pollsters for NBC dropped the word "choice" from their question on a public option, they found that only 43 percent of the public were in favor of "creating a public health care plan administered by the federal government that would compete directly with private health insurance companies."


In asking its question SurveyUSA used the same exact words that NBC/Wall Street Journal had used when conducting its June 2009 survey.

Huffington Post

Things happen for reasons. I'd like to know the reason that the poll question was changed. Overall, the support for a public option remains very strong. It should, since today the government pays substantially more medical bills (47% of the total) than the private insurance industry (35%). Krugman

The Nation’s Health Dollar, Calendar Year 2007: Where it Came From

Here's the chart from the HHS.

Sat, 22 Aug 2009 10:26:45 PDT - Link

August 21, 2009


But then these crazy assholes turned around and said to people like Armbinder, "these people are calling us crazy assholes. Isn't that rude?" And Armbinder by his own account nodded, and I dunno, rubbed his chin, chewed his cud, and decided that Civil Discourse requires that when one must consider the competing claims of those who dislike liars and say so, on the one hand, and on the other hand, liars, the only sensible way to come to a decision is to figure out who's nicer.

Thers at firedoglake

This is all about Tom Ridge all but admitting that the terror alerts leading up to the 2004 election (for the first time ) of George W. Bush.

It starts here: Don't Cry For Tom Ridge and continues here: Atlantic Monthly Crashed-and-Burned-and-Smoking Watch (Marc Ambinder) and here: Everything that's Wrong with the Media: Marc Ambinder on Why Progressives Are Always Wrong

(We) Progressives were right about Bush all alo, and we're right about health care reform, and the sooner the Main Stream Media gets that the sooner we can get on with solving the real threats to civilization.

Fri, 21 Aug 2009 09:36:14 PDT - Link

Friday Cat Blogging T-chan

T-Chan. Yes, he's even cuter in person.

- Link

August 16, 2009

Photos From Our Calendar

Donghuamen Night Market

Donghuamen Night Market — 2008.11.21

Every year my wife makes a shutterfly calender using pictures from out most recent trip. This is the August image.

Sun, 16 Aug 2009 11:28:44 PDT - Link

August 14, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

The boys at rest.

Sleeping in.

Fri, 14 Aug 2009 09:12:57 PDT - Link

#blogpostfriday The Arrow Duck Economy

Back in 1993, there was a duck found in in a park in Japan, with an arrow shot all the way though it. The duck was still alive. In fact it was doing quite well, thank you. It could still swim. It could still fly. It could still waddle around. It could still sell supplemental insurance, but — it was still a duck with an arrow right though it. The Japanese press even had a name for it: yagamo which means "Arrow Duck", which makes sense because it was a duck with an arrow right through it.

We're living in the arrow duck economy. In this case the part of the duck is being played by the economy, and the arrow in our case is the banking mess. The problem we have is that we still have this arrow right through the economy. Now, next time CNBC et.al. breathlessly talks about the recovery or green shoots you need to remind yourself that we are like that duck with an arrow through it. We're stable (for now) and even able to most of the things that economies do, but we still have a very fundamental problem.

Fortunately for yagamo his arrow was successfully removed.

Unfortunately for us, the banks would take a hella loss, and most would be insolvent if the arrow was suddenly removed - and it wouldn't do the duck any good either.

Fri, 14 Aug 2009 09:12:57 PDT - Link

August 7, 2009

Sharp. Distance. How Can The Sun With Its Arms All Around Me

When I was trying out basses at the local Guitar Center it was a riff from Yes's Heart of the Sunrise from the Fragile album that fell out my fingers and convinced me to buy one. I'm just listening to it again, I have a lot of practice to do. (I'd remembered the main theme but not the variations.)

Oh yeah, and where are the bands like Yes these days?

Fri, 07 Aug 2009 17:13:12 PDT - Link

Friday Cat Blogging


Another new program on Cat TV™, Miko found it irresistible.

Fri, 07 Aug 2009 08:57:30 PDT - Link

August 6, 2009

Quality Expert Electronics

Quality Expert Electronics A.K.A. QEE has been my favorite proto assembly house for years. I'm just now getting around to bragging on them, and adding them to my public web memory.

Thu, 06 Aug 2009 10:55:28 PDT - Link

July 31, 2009

Who Is This?

Unidentified Anime Character

About 10 years ago some BeOS developers from Beatcraft Japan visited me at Danger, and left this model behind. Her pose and modest clothing made her right at home on top of my work monitors ever since then. The only problem is I have no idea who she is. Anyone?


My Google incantations have come through - Her name is Four Murasame from Zeta Gundam, which ran from March 2, 1985 - February 22, 1986.

"She was very unstable and has fits of insanity that drives her to kill everyone with the Psyco Gundam."

No wonder she makes such a great guardian from my monitor.

Fri, 31 Jul 2009 10:38:44 PDT - Link

Friday Cat Blogging

T-Chan and Miko

T-chan & Miko Watching Cat TV™

Fri, 31 Jul 2009 08:47:33 PDT - Link

July 29, 2009

Hammer. Nail. Head. Krugman.

They complain a lot about rising public spending, but confronted with any actual proposal to control spending, they reject it - unless it has one crucial attribute: it must weaken the social safety net. Unless you end up slashing benefits, or denying health care to more people, it's not what they're looking for.


I think Krugman hit it on the head here. The conservative position is that the table must always tilt in favor the rich and powerful, and any change in policy must tilt it further away from We The People.

Wed, 29 Jul 2009 08:44:06 PDT - Link

July 27, 2009

The Idiot Wind - in Category 5

Video: Sen. Inhofe Claims Oil & Gas Don't Cause Pollution

Mon, 27 Jul 2009 22:47:09 PDT - Link

Hot. Water.

The world's ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for June, breaking the previous high mark set in 2005, according to a preliminary analysis by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Additionally, the combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for June was second-warmest on record. The global records began in 1880.


Mon, 27 Jul 2009 22:43:09 PDT - Link

July 25, 2009

Caterday Cat Blogging

Miko an Tory

What is this "make the bed" of which you speak? — Photo by wife

Sat, 25 Jul 2009 15:18:07 PDT - Link

Saturday Bird Blogging


"I wants to thank you for coming to my, ah, little meeting here. Hey! Roscoe, pay attention, I'm talkin' now."

Sat, 25 Jul 2009 14:59:40 PDT - Link

July 17, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging



Fri, 17 Jul 2009 08:03:28 PDT - Link

July 10, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging


Tory James: Sleeping, Dad. No pictures.

Fri, 10 Jul 2009 08:47:33 PDT - Link

July 4, 2009

Watching the Tape After. Also.

You know if 'yer ever goin' to give a speech that someone might use that old "looks like a duck — swims like a duck — quacks like a duck" saying about sometime in the future, you might want to give that speech somewhere where there are no actual ducks also.

Sat, 04 Jul 2009 11:16:47 PDT - Link

Caterday Cat Blogging


T-chan: I was scratching, but that got pretty tiring.

Sat, 04 Jul 2009 09:47:25 PDT - Link

July 3, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging


Fri, 03 Jul 2009 09:48:37 PDT - Link

July 1, 2009

http://www.micromark.com/ is a great source for modeling supplies.

Wed, 01 Jul 2009 10:11:40 PDT - Link

June 30, 2009

...unless you actually served time in the Yardbirds in the 1960s, a little unaccompanied lead guitar playing goes a long way...

The .sig of Dr. Vintage on the Les Paul forums.

Tue, 30 Jun 2009 07:52:13 PDT - Link

June 29, 2009

Placing Profits Ahead of Civilization

Indeed, if there was a defining moment in Friday’s debate, it was the declaration by Representative Paul Broun of Georgia that climate change is nothing but a "hoax" that has been "perpetrated out of the scientific community." I'd call this a crazy conspiracy theory, but doing so would actually be unfair to crazy conspiracy theorists. After all, to believe that global warming is a hoax you have to believe in a vast cabal consisting of thousands of scientists — a cabal so powerful that it has managed to create false records on everything from global temperatures to Arctic sea ice.

Yet Mr. Broun’s declaration was met with applause.


This is nothing less that placing profits ahead of civilization.

Mon, 29 Jun 2009 08:55:31 PDT - Link

June 26, 2009

Fox News: Licensed to Lie.

On February 14, a Florida Appeals court ruled there is absolutely nothing illegal about lying, concealing or distorting information by a major press organization. The court reversed the $425,000 jury verdict in favor of journalist Jane Akre who charged she was pressured by Fox Television management and lawyers to air what she knew and documented to be false information. The ruling basically declares it is technically not against any law, rule, or regulation to deliberately lie or distort the news on a television broadcast.


Fri, 26 Jun 2009 10:03:03 PDT - Link

Friday Cat Blogging


Diving cat is diving. (Tory James)

Fri, 26 Jun 2009 08:38:35 PDT - Link

June 25, 2009

Thursday Bee Blogging


These bees found themselves a nice place under a sprinkler valve cover near where I work. They probably gave the gardener a real scare when he flipped the cover, but they were quite docile by the time I came by, and were were happy to mug for the camera.

Thu, 25 Jun 2009 12:43:14 PDT - Link

June 23, 2009

BTW, If I'm not blogging, I'm out "Hiking the Appalachian Trail", if you know what I mean...

Tue, 23 Jun 2009 15:33:37 PDT - Link

Dear Politicians: No Public Option = No donations, no vote from me. (Pass it on)

Tue, 23 Jun 2009 15:10:41 PDT - Link

10 Busted Myths About The Canadian Healthcare System

2008 is shaping up to be the election year that we finally get to have the Great American Healthcare Debate again. Harry and Louise are back with a vengeance. Conservatives are rumbling around the talk show circuit bellowing about the socialist threat to the (literal) American body politic. And, as usual, Canada is once again getting dragged into the fracas, shoved around by both sides as either an exemplar or a warning — and, along the way, getting coated with the obfuscating dust of so many willful misconceptions that the actual facts about How Canada Does It are completely lost in the melee.

Physicians for a National Health Program 29 E Madison Suite 602, Chicago, IL 60602

Here's part 2 of the article.

Tue, 23 Jun 2009 08:22:58 PDT - Link

June 22, 2009

Monday Cat Blogging


T-Chan, Lost in thougt.

Mon, 22 Jun 2009 07:31:30 PDT - Link

June 19, 2009

EROEI tells you when the crude oil will no longer be used for energy. — xeroid

Fri, 19 Jun 2009 12:44:46 PDT - Link

June 18, 2009

Want. But Can't have.

Thu, 18 Jun 2009 16:33:01 PDT - Link

We've used up all the cheap, abundant oil building an economy that needs a continued and growing supply of supply of cheap, abundant oil.

Thu, 18 Jun 2009 13:37:09 PDT - Link

Petition: Ask the National Academy of Sciences to Study Peak Oil

Thu, 18 Jun 2009 13:37:09 PDT - Link

June 16, 2009

Oh man. Another Zing old-timer took the door today. It's getting lonely around here.

Last week it was Danger folks calling it quits.

Tue, 16 Jun 2009 10:30:54 PDT - Link

Last Sunday, Twitter offered manure mixed with ponies, CNN only had the manure. (The other networks went golfing.)

Tue, 16 Jun 2009 08:08:29 PDT - Link

June 15, 2009


Yesterday was one of those days when I felt I was being let down by CNN.

Yes, it was Sunday, and the middle of the night in Tehran, but I still felt that it was disrespectful of the very notion of news for CNN to run so much of their regular programming rather than news and background of the Iranian election.

I tried for a time to follow #iranelection on Twitter, just to get my news fix, but the hundreds of updates were mostly redundant, or spam, or stuff that just didn't sound right.

Maybe CNN didn't want want to go wall to wall because they were afraid of being kicked out of the country, but there were a few things they could have done:

1) World Clock: It would be helpful to know what time it was in Tehran.

2) Time stamp the images and film: It would be great to know if the film being shown was from an hour ago or 2 days ago. The producers at CNN have a bad habit of showing random stuff while people are talking, this would be a way to de-randomize it.

3) Give the crawl the wall-to-wall: If you're going to go to old tape of Wolfe talking to the Governor of Alaska (the point where I gave up and turned off) could you at least run the Iran story in the text crawl?

Mon, 15 Jun 2009 13:21:17 PDT - Link

June 14, 2009

The revolution is being digitized.

Not sure that I can unthread reality from the flood of twitters about the events in Iran, but one thing is for sure, there will be thousands of gigabytes of photos and video leaking out over the next few months.

Sun, 14 Jun 2009 14:08:41 PDT - Link



Bamboo Leaves, 2008.01.06 Nikon D70 — this was an experiment with an electronic flash offset from the camera.

Sun, 14 Jun 2009 10:33:29 PDT - Link

June 13, 2009

An Old Story

...on days when he was in a bad mood he'd wear his hat in the house, and she'd know know to keep clear. When she was mad at him she'd pin up the corner of her apron, and bake cookies. The bigger the anger, the bigger the cookies...

— From a story about an old couple living on a farm, as related to me by a friends parents thirty plus years ago.

Sat, 13 Jun 2009 16:29:34 PDT - Link

That's Strange...

I slept though the great Facebook land grab, and when I finally tried my name, I found it was taken. No problem, You snooze (literally!) you lose, but when I type my name into Facebook it's an empty page. What's that about?

No matter, I still have josephpalmer.com (created 2000-10-06) and I'm not that thrilled with Facebook, (founded 2004-02-04) - it's full of old fogies like me, and I just don't have that many friends.

Sat, 13 Jun 2009 15:54:00 PDT - Link

Peas in a Pod


These just looked so good I had to take a picture. I'm really loving the late afternoon sun in our new house.

Sat, 13 Jun 2009 10:17:27 PDT - Link

June 12, 2009

I reset my AD30VT, and the manual mode is usable again. It's just weird to have to reset a Guitar Amplifier.

Fri, 12 Jun 2009 07:59:35 PDT - Link

Friday Cat Blogging


"Chalance? Nope. Fresh out. Zero. Zip. Never had it, never will.

Fri, 12 Jun 2009 07:07:00 PDT - Link

June 11, 2009

Actually, the Earth is pretty much a mature and declining province...

Chief executive Tony Hayward said output will fall by at least 5% a year in the coming years, and if investment is not stepped up the declines could be even steeper.

'The North Sea is a mature and declining province,' said Hayward. 'It will decline for sure at 5% per year, and if the investment doesn't go in - and this year it is not going in - it will probably decline at a faster rate.'

This Is Money

Thu, 11 Jun 2009 08:19:48 PDT - Link

June 10, 2009

There's Gotta Be A Way...

I have 4 3/4 inches of Perl books on my desk. (I stacked them and measured.) I typed 3 words into Google and found what I was looking for faster than I could open a book and find the index, let alone solve my problem.

There's gotta be a way for me to drop a dime on that page. It's not much, and maybe Google gets their $.02 along the way, but I'm game. Google, find me away to do microtips, please.

Wed, 10 Jun 2009 18:39:54 PDT - Link

That Explains A Lot

EVER wondered why the pundits who failed to predict the current economic crisis are still being paid for their opinions? It's a consequence of the way human psychology works in a free market, according to a study of how people's self-confidence affects the way others respond to their advice.

New Scientist

I guess this pretty much explains the entire conservative movement. If you're cocky enough, you don't need to be right. It also explains whey conservatives are so frustrated by Obama. He's Cocky and right.

Wed, 10 Jun 2009 14:04:05 PDT - Link

June 9, 2009

Hacking 5 year old Perl code is no way to fight off a fever.

Tue, 09 Jun 2009 22:31:16 PDT - Link

Testing 123

I've been doing some perl hacking on my backend to add the optional "link" element to my RSS feed to that twitterfeed will add a link back to my website for items that it scrapes.

This is a test of that code.

Tue, 09 Jun 2009 22:06:46 PDT - Link

This is even more of a test of that code, but this time to an item without a Title.

Tue, 09 Jun 2009 22:06:46 PDT - Link

Feedback Loops

Oil's back over $69/bl, I filled up yesterday at $2.91/gal, it's over $3.00 to fill your Escalade with its preferred poison.

No one is really sure what oil price will cause a new downturn in the economy, but we know it's between the $22-28 band of the 1990s at the low end, and the 2008 average of $100.

It took nine months for $100/bl to soak through a 'robust' economy, I'm concerned that with the economy still on its back, $70/bl will deliver a another crushing blow, in a shorter period of time.

Tue, 09 Jun 2009 22:03:05 PDT - Link

June 8, 2009

This is a Test

I'm trying to get twitterfeed to automagically link back to my page, so I'm doing two similar posts to see what happens.  

Mon, 08 Jun 2009 07:55:18 PDT - Link

This is a Test

I'm trying to get twitterfeed to automagically link back to my page, so I'm doing two similar posts to see what happens.

Mon, 08 Jun 2009 07:55:18 PDT - Link

June 7, 2009

I Told You 'Tinkerbell' Was Not A Strong Password

Early reports indicate that hackers have penetrated the T-Mobile U.S. network and stolen proprietary operating data, customer databases and financial records. According to a post on insecure.org, the hackers have claimed to be auctioning the pilfered data to the highest bidder. T-Mobile competitors, they say, turned them down.

Secure Channel

Looks like I'll be getting free credit monitoring from T-Mobile.

Sun, 07 Jun 2009 15:21:26 PDT - Link

Newt Gingrich is a Human Fire Hose of FAIL.

Your 15 minutes are overdrawn. Go away.

If you think the government can't run General Motors, why would you think they can run health care? - Newt, earlier today on Face the Nation

Newt, In case you've forgotten, it was GM that couldn't run GM. A good old fashioned free market failure, that. Besides we havn't really found out if government can run GM, since the bankruptcy was just a few days ago. It takes longer than that to get a expense report approved.

I get it that you don't think government can do anything right, we've had a president who believed that, and came close to proving it. We're not going to let you take a whack at it. It's like you have a little iPod implanted in you skull, and for every question you have a little sound bite cued up and ready to go, even if it doesn't quite address the issue, or even particularly make sense. I can tell because your eyes go out of focus when you're browsing the play list, and you keep leaving yourself on 'shuffle'.

Sun, 07 Jun 2009 15:05:19 PDT - Link

Yellow Hits

Yellow Hits Graph

Not good — not bad. Some of those hits on Tuesday were HTML checkers and such that I triggered, and on the average day there are three or four spider hits anyway. I did drop the story into a mailing list in a rather ugly .txt format, so hopefully there were a few reads there as well.

13 or so years ago, this would have been a really disappointing hit report, but in the grand scheme of things, I'm pretty much off the readership radar these days, and the average attendee of an anime convention in 2009 wasn't even born when Ranma started. Still, this response, and the handful of emails, is enough to keep me going to the end — and I have another plot brewing.

I've found that I still like moving the words around, chopping here, stretching there, digging for minutes to find the perfect verb, and I've missed it.

Over the last few years I've been consumed with the real world, and have given myself little time to take refuge in comfort fiction, aside from the lost weekends when the new Harry Potters came out. Last week I had to force myself to spend a few hours in front of the computer with the browser off, but in time I found that I still enjoy writing fiction. I've also discovered that a few hours in Nerima is a great counter balance to real life. It's like it's easier to jump into the icy waters of the world having spent some quality time in the sauna of writing.

If I drop off the web from time to time, you know where to find me.

Sun, 07 Jun 2009 09:31:52 PDT - Link

June 6, 2009

New Toy

Ibanez Bass

I've picked up my new (used) bass last night, it's an Ibanez GSR-200

I purchased it At Guitar Center May 21, when it still had a couple weeks left on the 30 day 'pawnbrokers hold' that GC enforced on it. Of course I saw a few of the same model go by in the meantime on Craigslist for as low as $100, but fortunately for me, only in blue — and I prefer the black.

It wasn't until I got it home and could listen critically in a quiet room that I noticed a buzz when I played the E string, so I pulled out the tools and started to tweak it up. I managed to improve the action and intonation significantly, but the buzz would not go away. BTW, one of the reasons I buy used instruments is so that I don't even hesitate to attack them with the screwdrivers and Allen wrenches when I feel the urge.

Later that evening I replaced that E string with one from a set I bought a few years back in preparation for designing and building a bass, and the Buzz was gone! I replaced the rest of the strings, and did a full truss rod and bridge set up, and now I've got an instrument that I'm really happy with, at a real bargain price.

I'm not exactly sure now if I had a failed string, or if the bobbin at the end was just rattling, it was the only one in the set where the bobbin was loose, and the core of the string is thick enough that the bobbin might not have been in good contact with the bridge. If you have a buzz on your Bass, make sure to check that before swapping strings ^_^;.

I'm having fun with it now, it plays pretty well now. I now have all the stuff to do some recording, except ideas and talent.

Sat, 06 Jun 2009 14:13:37 PDT - Link

June 5, 2009

Matias Gets A little Love From Forbes.com

How Palm Designed The Pre

It's a small valley. I worked with Matias at Danger on the first Five Sidekicks, and Mike Bell at Apple on the 660AV.

Next Stop, cover of the Rolling Stone! Ganbatte Matias!

Fri, 05 Jun 2009 10:19:03 PDT - Link

Friday Cat Blogging

T-chan in closet

T-chan in the closet

Fri, 05 Jun 2009 09:10:45 PDT - Link

Planning The Unthinkable

First, there is a deep theorem in mathematics that says when something grows it gets bigger! So, when the economy grows it too gets bigger. How big can the economy be, Professor? How big is it now? How big should it be? Have economists ever considered these questions? And most pointedly, what makes them think that growth (i.e., physical expansion of the economic subsystem into the finite containing biosphere), is not already increasing environmental and social costs faster than production benefits, thereby becoming uneconomic growth, making us poorer, not richer? After all, real GDP, the measure of "economic" growth so-called, does not separate costs from benefits, but conflates them as "economic" activity. How would we know when growth became uneconomic? Remedial and defensive activity becomes ever greater as we grow from an "empty-world" to a "full-world" economy, characterized by congestion, interference, displacement, depletion and pollution. The defensive expenditures induced by these negatives are all added to GDP, not subtracted. Be prepared, students, for some hand waving, throat clearing, and subject changing. But don't be bluffed.

Herman E. Daly from a USSEE lecture, June 1, 2009 published at The Oil Drum

My head is still spinning from reading this. It's one thing to know intellectually that growth cannot go on forever, it's quite another to face the reality what that means, and to face that resource depletion is taking us on the first steps of a long march, blindfolded.

His 10 points can not be viewed as a kind of Seldon Plan to get us from a non-sustainable path to a sustainable future, they are just an outline of a first draft, a 23,000 mile view that recognizes that the new economic map must be of the Earth, the Whole Earth, and nothing but the Earth.

Fri, 05 Jun 2009 09:10:45 PDT - Link

June 2, 2009

Yellow is in Chapter 13.

Once upon a time, I used to write a fair load of anime fanfiction, some of which occasionally got some notice.

About 8 years ago I kind of drifted away from it, partly because the events following the 2000 election gave me much to blog about, (Soaking up all my muse had to offer) and partly there came a time when it was really hard for me to find my way back to Nerima again.

This chapter may not be much, but it's a start on getting it finished. It's a real "Stone Wall" Chapter, I spent many hours swapping things around changing a word here, a word there, until everything worked, and each scene fit the rhythm of the time line.

You can read Yellow from the beginning, or if you remember the the last update from just over 4 years ago, you can start on the new chapter

If you like what you see please let me know. Comments (good or bad) are my only reward...

Tue, 02 Jun 2009 12:56:24 PDT - Link

May 31, 2009

Bloomberg News reports that a high-level commission may be appointed to explore the roots of the present economic crisis. Bloomberg quotes Charles Geisst, a professor of finance at Manhattan College, who says that the commission would have to "dig way below the surface and get to the bottom of what caused all of the problems." It seems blatantly obvious that the crisis was caused by the end of growth in the world oil supply. Suggested people for the panel are Sandra Day O'Connor, Paul Volker, and Arthur Levitt. None of them could find peak oil using both hands and a flashlight. — Kenneth S. Deffeyes

Sun, 31 May 2009 09:43:30 PDT - Link

An 18-member panel led by MIT prepared the 400-plus page study, titled "The Future of Geothermal Energy" (PDF, 14.1 MB). Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, it is the first study in some 30 years to take a new look at geothermal, an energy resource that has been largely ignored.

Maybe it's time to take another look.

Sun, 31 May 2009 09:35:26 PDT - Link

May 29, 2009

Remind me to read this when I get home: The Moral Instinct

Fri, 29 May 2009 13:42:27 PDT - Link

Twitter Be Gone

I've removed the Twitter updates from my website, here's why:

1) Items posted by anyone to #Joseph_Palmer on Twitter appeared on my page - I hadn't realized it worked that way. This left my page open to defacement of all sorts.

2) It was ugly, and broke up the look of my page. (Not that I couldn't use a design refresh, but still.)

3) It used Javascript, and although I was willing to get over that — it is 2009, after all — I'd still rather not.

4) Since I accidentally discovered that my weblog software supports empty titles on items, I'm blogging more informal and twittery things here. (It's optional in RSS, Thanks, Dave!)

5) I really hate having to use a URL shortener. I can link quicker and better here. (But I do need to improve the code that always inserts the date so that it only does when it's needed)

6) I really like being able to use text for links, rather than seeing something like http://tr.im/mJZA

7) I prefer to be able to see the link URL when I roll over it. I don't like hidden links, so I won't hide them from you. Except for that one just then, which resolves to my page.

9) The Twitter 140 character limit SUCKS. I was finding that I wouldn't blog a thought because it just wouldn't fit. That limit is like UPS limiting package size to smaller than of a can of soup.

10) I'll still use Twitter but not as a blogging tool or open silicon memory. Everything I think is important or that I ever want to re-visit will be here and on the RSS feed. Some stuff from here may show up there, but there will be updates (e.g. Sitting in line at Stevens Creek Toyota (40K service) that will only be on twitter.

Fri, 29 May 2009 13:34:51 PDT - Link

At the atomic level, Dollars are made of time, ideas, earth and energy. When Oil reaches $100, it changes the molecular formula of money.

Fri, 29 May 2009 09:12:01 PDT - Link

Oil's at $66 today. The 2008 average was $100, which was enough to topple the banking and housing industries.

Fri, 29 May 2009 09:12:01 PDT - Link

Friday Cat Blogging

Miko & T-chan

T-chan, used his ninja cat skilz to camouflage himself as a pillow. Miko fell for it.

Fri, 29 May 2009 09:12:01 PDT - Link

May 28, 2009

More on Proposition 8

Here is the actual Proposition, as put to the voters.

Shall the California Constitution be changed to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry providing that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California? [Source]

To me (and apparently to many other folks) the clear intent was to eliminate the right(s) of same sex couples. It's been some months since I've read the voter pamphlet, so I was a bit surprised today when I re-read the voter guide:

Proposition 8 is about preserving marriage; it's not an attack on the gay lifestyle. Proposition 8 doesn't take away any rights or benefits of gay or lesbian domestic partnerships. Under California law, "domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits" as married spouses. (Family Code § 297.5.) There are NO exceptions. Proposition 8 WILL NOT change this. [Source]

I suppose I discounted that statement when I first read it, since it seems to be at odds with the language of the proposition, and indeed the construct "preserving marriage" still does not seem to equate to codifying the 'California law dictionary definition' of the word 'marriage'. Maybe I'm just reading it wrong. Still, I don't recall any Proposition 8 proponents making a big deal about the meaning of the word marriage, the arguments were always about the institution of marriage, which they wanted to keep away from Teh Gay.

Of course, the basic problem is that to actually eliminate rights would have required revising the California Constitution, which cannot be done by ballot initiative (We can only add amendments to the Constitution that do not substantively change the meaning of other parts of the Constitution). It was almost logical of the Court to recognize that since the key didn't fit the lock the only thing to do was to find a lock that fit the key.

The court found that by narrowly reading the proposition on one hand, and finding a very narrow right they could leave Proposition 8 attached to the Constitution, but with a net effect of "eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry" meaning only that the State would not use that word. (Except, of course, for those same-sex couples who were married before Prop 8 passed.) For me, I still will call same-sex couples married if they want me to.

This ruling reminds me of a teenage boy trying to get to second base by arguing the meaning of "When we know each other better."

Proposition 8, as seen by the court could be re-written as:

Shall the California Constitution be changed to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to be called 'married' providing that the word marriage may only be applied if the couple is a woman and a man, excepting for those same-sex couples who were legally married between June 16, 2008 and November 5, 2008, who's marriages are valid and recognized, and may use the word 'married' to describe their relationship, so there.

Yeah. This makes no sense.

Thu, 28 May 2009 17:05:21 PDT - Link

May 27, 2009

"Eliminating only the right of same-sex couples to equal access to the designation of marriage"

Proposition 8 reasonably must be interpreted in a limited fashion as eliminating only the right of same-sex couples to equal access to the designation of marriage, and as not otherwise affecting the constitutional right of those couples to establish an officially recognized family relationship.

Read page 36. They just cut Prop 8 to the bone. — Seneca Doane in Daily Kos

Interesting analysis. I wonder how long it is till someone goes crawling through the California constitution to see if marriage licenses must be called "marriage licenses". I'll bet some jurisdiction stops issuing them my that name soon.

Wed, 27 May 2009 08:45:12 PDT - Link

"So, everyone was happy believing in the spiral of infinite growth. However, if money is to represent an equivalence to physical reality, we have been lying to ourselves for quite a number of years." — Gail the Actuary

Wed, 27 May 2009 07:54:28 PDT - Link

Solar panels drop to $3.23 / Watt (Kyocera KD205GX-LP) Quantity 20

Wed, 27 May 2009 06:56:57 PDT - Link

May 26, 2009

In an example of pretzel logic, the California Supreme Court has overturned Prop 8, but has left 18,000 couples married.

What about commited couples who would have been concidered common-law mariages in the period between their original ruling and Prop 8?

There will be a new proposition to overturn prop 8 in 2010.

Tue, 26 May 2009 11:14:58 PDT - Link

May 25, 2009

Why do I get the feeling that if Obama nominated Bork for the Supreme Court the Republicans would try to block him as too liberal?

Mon, 25 May 2009 18:49:09 PDT - Link


"Oil producers may have cancelled or delayed $170 billion worth of investment in recent months."

Mon, 25 May 2009 17:31:55 PDT - Link


"The stage is currently being set for oil prices to skyrocket," says U.S. energy analyst David Fessler in the online investment newsletter Investment U. Fessler cites the decline of such super fields as the North Sea, Alaska's North Slope, Mexico's Cantrell Field and Saudi Arabia's Ghawar Field - largest in the world - along with the extraordinary cost of producing crude from the few remaining newer crude sources such as Alberta's Athabasca tarsands and reserves six or seven kilometres below sea level off the coast of Brazil. The Star

Mon, 25 May 2009 17:31:55 PDT - Link

The Front Fell Off. (Very, very, funny)

Oh yeah, the front really did fall off.

Mon, 25 May 2009 15:05:23 PDT - Link

AMZ is a resource with information about guitar effects pedals, stompboxes, audio circuits and tips on how to build them. There are fuzzbox schematics, signal booster projects, audio mixers and much more available free. Take some time to browse the site and discover information that can help you with your next DIY effects pedal project. You might decide to build your own clone of a classic!

Mon, 25 May 2009 15:03:01 PDT - Link

Batch PCB We accept 2 and 4 layer designs with unlimited vias, pads and components. Minimum size is 0.5x0.5 inches and Maximum is 10x15 inches. Our prices are $2.50/sq. inch for 2 layer boards and $8.00/sq. inch for 4 layer boards. Please see the FAQ for more details.

Mon, 25 May 2009 15:03:01 PDT - Link

Home Grown Audio Audio cables and connectors

Mon, 25 May 2009 15:03:01 PDT - Link

We've just spent the 20th century configuring the whole world for cheap, abundant energy, a market condition that is literally changing under our feet. — jpalmer

Mon, 25 May 2009 15:03:01 PDT - Link

PDF Redirect "Create industry standard PDF files from any Windows application."

Mon, 25 May 2009 15:03:01 PDT - Link

Free VST Plugins

Sonic Maximizer "The BBE Sonic Maximizer plug-in will add brilliance, depth, detail, and definition to your music"

Kore Player "KORE PLAYER is a free software instrument with a production-ready 300 MB sound library."

Mon, 25 May 2009 15:03:01 PDT - Link

G&H Plugs Pro Audio Connectors

Mon, 25 May 2009 15:03:01 PDT - Link

Huh. It turns out that due to a quirk of coding my website can handle posts without titles, and turn them into valid HTML and RSS. This matters to me because sometimes there are thoughts and links that I'd like to drop into my public silicon memory that just don't match the formal "Title:Post" format.

Mon, 25 May 2009 14:48:29 PDT - Link

Jimmy Page: The Gear I was shocked to hear that Page, who could afford any pickup on earth, replaced a failed PAF on his #1 with a plain stock T-top.

Mon, 25 May 2009 14:48:29 PDT - Link

Ever wonder how audio equipment makers got their names?

Mon, 25 May 2009 14:48:29 PDT - Link

$5 Microphone Preamp That tests well against $1500 units.

Mon, 25 May 2009 14:48:29 PDT - Link

Video: Capitalism Hits the Fan Oh yeah, we're screwed.

Mon, 25 May 2009 14:48:29 PDT - Link

chordbook.com is a very nice guitar chord site.

Mon, 25 May 2009 14:48:29 PDT - Link

Memorial Day Bumble Bee Blogging


This is Clem. He's been buzzing around the passion flowers all afternoon.

Mon, 25 May 2009 14:19:23 PDT - Link

May 22, 2009


Miko enjoying the morning sun.

Fri, 22 May 2009 08:38:13 PDT - Link

May 19, 2009

Any Twitter's Out There?

Just calling out to the RSS feed readers, do any of you have twitter feeds I should follow? Message me on Twitter

Tue, 19 May 2009 14:34:31 PDT - Link

May 15, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging


Tchan in the dohyou. All that fur — there's more than you can see in the photo — is the result of a nocturnal cat sumo basho.

Fri, 15 May 2009 08:16:52 PDT - Link

May 9, 2009

Occasional Twitter Dump

According to my web stats, there's more people following my site on RSS than there are hitting the home page, so every once in a while I'm going to collect the tweets and post them here where they will be part of my site, and show up on the RSS feed.

I'm also going to resolve the shortened URLs, so you can see where I'm sending you.

Still trying to figure out if I get the point of twitter — 10:49 AM Apr 21st from web

Twitter on the Sidekick 3 is teh suck. — 11:34 AM Apr 21st from web

I've managed to get my most recent 5 tweets to show up nicely on my home page, which is sad because most of my readers use RSS — 8:09 PM Apr 21st from web

BRB Must photograph sunset. — 8:09 PM Apr 21st from web

Sunset up: http://www.josephpalmer.com/ — 8:39 PM Apr 21st from web

Hmm. http://m.twitter.com is working better on the Sidekick, I wonder why it didn't load when I clicked on the link earlier. — 8:41 PM Apr 21st from web

(Bad joke about John McCain using morse code on twitter dropped because of technical issues — my blogging software automagicaly turns two dashes into an em dash, and that blows the joke.

http://www.onlineconversion.com might help with that last joke... — 10:48 PM Apr 21st from web

(Joseph_Palmer) Is wondering how truly important issues might find traction in twitterspace. — 8:10 AM Apr 22nd from web

San Jose Giants are up 4-1 at the top of the fifth! — 2:01 PM Apr 22nd from mobile web (I was at the game, the first baseball game I've been to in decades)

On my way to see the Aptera Electric car at Stanford Shopping Center — 5:19 PM Apr 22nd from mobile web

Electric version of the Aptera shipping in Q4 — 5:51 PM Apr 22nd from mobile web

@davewiner re:@guykawasaki top 40. It looks like one of the top reasons to be on twitter is to tweet about twitter. — 8:43 AM Apr 23rd from web in reply to davewiner

Oh great. Gingrich is spreading misinformation in the hearings on c-span. — 10:37 AM Apr 24th from web

http://www.1000bulbs.com/ has an amazing selection. I'm looking hard at the LED Ceiling Lights — 8:56 AM Apr 25th from web

New Post: Newt and the Word Salad — http://www.josephpalmer.com — 10:52 AM Apr 25th from web

Just splashed water all over myself ~~~ I fought the sink ~~~ and the sink won ~~~ — 3:14 PM Apr 29th from web (You know, if i changed my site to utf-8 I could use real music notes for this.)

I remember this idea from the late 60's: "A potential breakthrough in harnessing the sun's energy" www.guardian.co.uk — 9:29 AM Apr 30th from tr.im

350PPM may still lead to +2 degrees of warming Nature.com 9:35 AM Apr 30th from tr.im

The world was just 6 degrees colder during the last ice age. — 9:36 AM Apr 30th from web

Video Presentation: Global Energy Resources: The Peak Oil View University Of Aberdeen — 4:48 PM Apr 30th from web

Christianity: you're doing it wrong: CNN 11:28 AM May 1st from web

Raymond James: "Represents a paradigm shift of historic proportions" Wall Street Journal — 1:05 PM May 4th from tr.im

By downloading coupon, you agree that KFC is not responsible for any technical problems or malfunctions of computer systems, servers or... — 1:37 PM May 5th from web

I went to a 3D move, and accidentally put on two pairs of 3D glasses. I saw the end of the movie before it even started. — 5:49 PM May 5th from web

World Oil Production has peaked, so CNN is talking about Elizabeth Edwards.— 5:55 PM May 5th from web

@davewiner http://100TWT.com makes my brain hurt. — 7:26 PM May 5th from web

@ceejbot "The Day The Earth Caught Fire" (Not sure where to find it...) — 8:11 PM May 5th from web in reply to ceejbot (Movie Recommendation)

@DorianDavis I've had Starbucks in Akihabura Japan, and Beijing China. — 7:34 AM May 6th from web in reply to DorianDavis (Yes, there are Starbucks in other countries

Oooh Bouy. West Texas Intermediate (Crude Oil) just went through $55. — 7:36 AM May 6th from web

Anime DVD stagnation bubble collapse: Asahi.com Guys, It's 2009, I'm kind of thinking Blu-Ray if you want me to buy a new series. — 8:58 AM May 6th from tr.im

@scottknaster Don't tell me - they were also in the majority!?!? — 11:41 AM May 6th from web in reply to scottknaster (This was one of those things that would be a lot funnier if said out loud.)

Did Obama just have a press conference with the ambassador from Hogwarts? (Photo from Huffiington Post) — PM May 6th from tr.im

If travel is broadening, is time travel lengthening? — 8:24 AM May 7th from web

"We can afford to burn only 61% of known fossil fuel reserves between now and eternity." Guardian [UK] — AM May 7th from web

Just realized, one of the amazing characteristics of Twitter is that Very Famous People can be on it without interacting with the rif-raff. — 2:24 PM May 7th from web

Revisiting The Limits to Growth: Could The Club of Rome Have Been Correct, After All? (Umm... yes) greatchange.org AM May 8th from tr.im

Sat, 09 May 2009 09:18:31 PDT - Link

May 8, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

Miko uses Tory as a pillow

Miko uses Tory as a pillow

Fri, 08 May 2009 08:22:54 PDT - Link

May 4, 2009


Wife says they're talking about adding sound to hybrids so you can't sneak up on people. I've decided to use a recording of the Flight of the Valkyries, (AKA "Kill the Wabbit" as performed by by Elmer Fud.) I'm changing the lyrics a bit...

Wook owut fo' da Pweeeus

Here come da Pweeeus

I'm dwivin da Pweeus

I'm savin' fuwel

Mon, 04 May 2009 11:55:09 PDT - Link

May 2, 2009


Tchan and Tory Sleeping InTchan and Tory catching 40,000 winks.

Sat, 02 May 2009 09:55:58 PDT - Link

April 25, 2009

Newt And The Word Salad

Yesterday Newt Gingrich gave testimony (C-span) before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. At 17:35 he made reference to Peak Oil...

Third, I think that enhanced oil recovery, as a component of carbon sequestration, could lead to up to 100 billion barrels of additional oil coming out of existing fields which is a key answer to the peak oil question, which creates jobs in the US, keeps money in the US, helps our foreign exchange rate, solves an environmental challenge while also solving an economic challenge.

While it is encouraging that he even mentioned peak oil, I've got some issues.

First, enhanced oil recovery has nothing whatever to do with carbon sequestration. Sequestration requires the capture and storage of combustion exhaust. The vast majority of oil is refined into motor fuels, for use in transportation. So unless Newt has a plan to put a sequestration plant into some large percentage of the US vehicle fleet there will be no sequestration happening.

Second, the USA reserve data as of 2008 is 21 billion barrels, and that already includes enhanced oil recovery. I don't have any clue where Newt thinks we're going to find another 100 billion. (And I don't expect he does either).

Third, even if this imaginary 100 billion barrels were there the very fact that enhanced oil recovery is required to get to them means that the flow rate would necessarily be low. In other words, enhanced oil recovery is not "a key answer to the "peak oil question" — it's the very question that peak oil answers.

Peak oil is all about flow. It's an observation, proven in field after field, region after region, that the peak flow rate happens at about the halfway point — that the first half of the resource is easy to get, and the second half is harder, and more costly, and marked by decreasing flow rates.

This is Gingrich at his most dangerous. He claims, out of the blue, a resource that simply does not exist, and calls it a "key answer" when even if it did exist it would not come close to solving the problem.

Oh, one more thing. The US produces about 5 million barrels a day, and imports 10 more. [DOE] enhanced oil recovery is not going to triple our production.

There's another part of his testimony that I'd like to address. (at 6:13)

The second is that on page 362 if this bill, you in effect mandate an 83 percent reduction in carbon by 2050.

He went on to claim this was an impossibility. He's wrong. It's closer to an inevitability. The statement in the bill is can also be recognized to say that in 2050 — 41 years from now — the US will be releasing 17% of the carbon it releases today. If you take into account the Export Land Model, (which predicts that population and economic growth within exporting nations causes a reduction in exports, e.g. Indonesia, a former member of OPEC who now is a net oil importer.) and the fact that the US only produces about 30% of the oil it uses today, it's quote likely that we'll be down to 17%. Simply put, in 41 years there will be very little, if any oil available for import, and we'll be depleting our own resources all the while.

In a way, Newt's right. 17% is a nearly impossible goal. It will be nearly impossible to find enough fossil fuels in 2050 to get there.

Gingrich is an unserious man, who should not be taken seriously. His nostrums for energy and the environment are consistent with those he prescribed for the economy — deregulation and free market. If you want to know how that worked out, I refer you to your most recent 401[k] statement.

I expect I would find a whole year's worth of posts in just yesterday's testimony, but I will resist. It's simply more important to civilization to ignore as best we can people who view the world though a prism of political ideology, and seek out those who are looking beyond the next election.

Sat, 25 Apr 2009 10:50:06 PDT - Link

April 24, 2009

Is Monty Python Running the RNC?

RESOLVED, that we the members of the Republican National Committee call on the Democratic Party to be truthful and honest with the American people by acknowledging that they have evolved from a party of tax and spend to a party of tax and nationalize and, therefore, should agree to rename themselves the Democrat Socialist Party.

Interviewer: Good evening. I have with me in the studio tonight one of Britain's leading skin specialists - Raymond Luxury-Yacht.
Raymond Luxury-Yacht: That's not my name.
Interviewer: I'm sorry, Raymond Luxury Yach-t.
Raymond Luxury-Yacht: No, no, no. It's spelled Raymond Luxury-Yach-t, but it's pronounced 'Throat-Warbler Mangrove'.
Interviewer: You're a very silly man, and I'm not going to interview you.


Republicans, you've become a very silly party.

Fri, 24 Apr 2009 12:31:58 PDT - Link

Friday Cat Blogging

Miko on Pillow

Miko — Not bad, but I think still feel it. Maybe we should try stacking three or four pillows...

Fri, 24 Apr 2009 09:02:44 PDT - Link

April 23, 2009

Thursday Aptera Blogging


Here is one of the three aptera prototypes that were shown at the event last night.


It seemed like many in the local crowd had already placed deposits on the cars. I'm guessing that the first Aptera dealership will not be more than a mile from the Stanford shopping center, where the event was held.

I didn't wait in line to sit in one, theres only 40K miles on my Prius so It'll be some time before I'm looking to buy a new car.

Still, this (or something very similar) is likely to be my next car.

Thu, 23 Apr 2009 12:31:05 PDT - Link

April 21, 2009

Sunset and Twitter

Sunset (Some power lines removed in Photoshop)

Here's that sunset that I just tweeted about.

Also, if you note, I've added a feed of my tweets from my twitter account to the top of the home page.

I'm not really sure about twitter yet, but all the cool kids are doing it.

The trouble with twitter is that it doesn't stick around the way my blog does. Once the number of tweets hits 6, the first will fall off my site, and they don't show up on on my RSS feed at all.

The nice thing about twitter is that it's a better place for small random thoughts, and of late that's mostly what I've had in my head.

Tue, 21 Apr 2009 20:37:47 PDT - Link

April 15, 2009

The World Is Flat, And Polluted

Confidential data from maritime industry insiders based on engine size and the quality of fuel typically used by ships and cars shows that just 15 of the world's biggest ships may now emit as much pollution as all the world's 760m cars. Low-grade ship bunker fuel (or fuel oil) has up to 2,000 times the sulphur content of diesel fuel used in US and European automobiles.

The Guardian [UK]

That's just the largest 15 of the world's 90,000 cargo ships that pollutes more than all of the cars on earth.

Wed, 15 Apr 2009 08:26:23 PDT - Link

April 12, 2009

And On The Third Day, The DNS TTL Expired, and The Site Was Awakened.

Miko and Tory

Me: Com'on boys, I gotta make the bed.
Miko: With a small wave of his paw You don't need to make the bed.
Me: I don't need to make the bed.
Miko: This isn't the bed you're looking to make.
Me: This isn't the bed I'm looking to make.
Miko: He can go back to sleep.
Me: You can go back to sleep.
Miko: Move along.
Me: Move along... Move along.

Sun, 12 Apr 2009 09:58:27 PDT - Link

April 11, 2009

Still. No. Joy.

I am displeased with the handling of my DNS transfer. Blogage when the site re-appears and I calm down a bit.

Sat, 11 Apr 2009 17:40:49 PDT - Link

April 10, 2009

Wait For It

My hosting account move, which has so far been pretty seamless, has been messed up somewhere in the DNS transfer. All should be back in 24 hours.

Fri, 10 Apr 2009 08:14:18 PDT - Link

April 9, 2009

New Toy


I finally picked up a decent audio interface off Craig's List last Sunday. I'd hoped that the Alesis USB mixer would do the trick, but I was unable to get sound on sound working without some annoying buzzing in the background.

This E-Mu 1820M is nice and quiet, and since it's connected to a dedicated PCI card in the computer the latency is very, very low.

Next up on the list is to get my arms around enough of Sonar 7 to do some actual composing and recording. I've used a lot of software in my day, including a 4-5 different schematic capture packages, 3 different PCB layout tools, and no less than 5 mechanical cad packages, and Sonar 7 has more options, bells and whistles than anything I've ever used. This is going to take some time.

Thu, 09 Apr 2009 12:46:00 PDT - Link

Ten Principles for a Black Swan-Proof World

1. What is fragile should break early while it is still small. Nothing should ever become too big to fail. Evolution in economic life helps those with the maximum amount of hidden risks - and hence the most fragile - become the biggest.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb in the Financial Times

Brilliant! Now go read the rest, or no cats this week. Yes, that means you.

Thu, 09 Apr 2009 09:04:16 PDT - Link

April 3, 2009

Friday Cat Birthday Edition


T-Chan - who turns 13 today. Here he's practicing his emo look. It's not working.

Fri, 03 Apr 2009 09:08:20 PDT - Link

April 2, 2009


ThinkGeek has a problem with their April Fools Joke. A very cute problem. ^_^ (Read the notice in Yellow on the right)

Thu, 02 Apr 2009 23:21:49 PDT - Link

Great Quote...

— There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

Kung Fu Monkey Hat Tip to Benton / Hilzoy

Thu, 02 Apr 2009 08:54:30 PDT - Link

April 1, 2009

Not sure eBay Approves...


Yup. They are up for auction, and the proceeds will be going to Creative Commons.

Lot number 1, three shards of my very own, home grown kidney stone, marinated in 18 year old scotch, broken up by fricken laser beams.

Sorry about the low quality image, my macro camera is at work.

Please see my eBay Auction Last I checked, the bidding was at $4.01. ('Comon guys. It's for a good cause!) Please note, because of the biological nature of the item, an adult must sign for the package, so no P.O. boxes. Paypal required. Sorry, no overseas bidders, the customs decorations on this are just simply not worth the trouble.

Wed, 01 Apr 2009 07:07:24 PDT - Link

March 31, 2009

Deep thoughts...

It's a good thing that the Republicans left us with a record budget surplus, a thriving economy, a strong and safe financial system, and a head start on renewable energy, isn't it...

Tue, 31 Mar 2009 14:31:05 PDT - Link

Lions and Tigers and Stones (Oh My!)

Lion, Forbidden City, Beijing China

Lion, Forbidden City, Beijing China 2008.11.22

It turns out I had two kidney stones, one on each side. One was lodged in the lower ureter, so it was treaded ureteroscopicically (a fricken laser beam) and the other got Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (a fricken sonar beam).

Post-op pain is not bad, in fact it's way less than the onset had been on Friday, and the meds are keeping it under control. The big problem now is urgency and frequency. (Very, and often.) I should be back to my normal lackadaisical blogging soon.

Sorry, no tigers.

Tue, 31 Mar 2009 10:12:26 PDT - Link

March 27, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

Miko has something in common with Cheech and Chong...

Miko found the cat grass a little early.

As for me, I was off at the Doctors dealing with a kidney stone today.

Fri, 27 Mar 2009 16:07:19 PDT - Link

March 24, 2009

Ooops I forgot to set the clock

I was getting UTC time before, quite perplexing. The solution was to add "SetEnv TZ America/Los_Angeles" to my .htaccess file.

Boring, I know, but maybe it will help someone else along the line.

Tue, 24 Mar 2009 19:28:31 PDT - Link

March 24, 2009


Permalinks fixed. I just needed to muck with a single line in the code, and all is well. Joe is a happy camper.

Random BirdHere's a random bird to celebrate.

Tue, 24 Mar 2009 12:18:31 PST - Link

Welcome to the New Site.

It's just like the old site, except that the permalinks are now all broken.

This might have been a deal breaker for the new (lower cost) hosting, but the Google tells me that there are less than two dozen current links to my old permalinks.

I'll be redesigning the permalinks over the next few weeks.

Tue, 24 Mar 2009 11:57:20 PST - Link

March 21, 2009

Moving Day for JosephPalmer.com

I'm moving to a different server, over the next couple of days the DNS will catch up. My home-brew CGI content system is still not enabled on the new server, expect light blogging for a while.

Chester A. Squirrel III

I've got nothing, so here's a squirrel from our new back yard.

Tue, 24 Mar 2009 11:57:20 PST - Link

March 20, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

Furry. Chin. Rest.

Miko finds a comfy spot to rest. — Photo by wife.

Fri, 20 Mar 2009 08:45:47 PDT - Link

March 17, 2009

World Oil Production Peaked in 2008

World oil production peaked in 2008 at 81.73 million barrels/day (mbd) shown in the chart below. This oil definition includes crude oil, lease condensate, oil sands and natural gas plant liquids. If natural gas plant liquids are excluded, then the production peak remains in 2008 but at 73.79 mbd. However, if oil sands are also excluded then crude oil and lease condensate production peaked in 2005 at 72.75 mbd.

World Oil Production Peaked in 2008

Tony Eriksen makes the case at The Oil Drum.

Of course as I post this, the chief chucklehead on CNBC (AKA Larry Kudlow) is talking about oil at $25. They're going to look even more stupid having missed the second world economy shaking story in less than 12 months.

Overall, Ace has done a great job on this, it's full of superb links. He's reviewed the complex issues of investment and development of new fields balanced against the depletion of aging fields to support his position that the peak in now past.

Tue, 17 Mar 2009 09:30:51 PDT - Link

March 13, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

Pile 'o Catz

Tory (foreground) and Miko

Fri, 13 Mar 2009 08:18:10 PDT - Link

March 9, 2009

Even a Blind Squirrel Finds a Stopped Watch...

Let's today step out of the normal boundaries of analysis of our economic crisis and ask a radical question: What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it's telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable economically and ecologically and that 2008 was when we hit the wall — when Mother Nature and the market both said: "No more."

The Inflection Is Near? Thomas L. Friedman in the New York Times

That's is not radical question, Tom, that's a statement of fact.

Mon, 09 Mar 2009 13:14:14 PDT - Link

March 8, 2009

Locks of Love

Locks of Love

Locks of love at Seoul Tower - November 30, 2008

Sun, 08 Mar 2009 12:37:02 PDT - Link

What Cooked the World's Economy?

What did cause the crisis was the writing of credit derivatives. In theory, they were insurance policies for investors; in practice, they became a guarantee of global financial collapse.

The Village Voice

A must-read insightful and frightening look at the $596 trillion credit derivatives mess.

FYI: World GDP was $54.62 trillion in 2007.

Sun, 08 Mar 2009 12:04:31 PDT - Link

March 7, 2009

Full Moon (Photoshop)

Full Moon

From two images taken February 10, 2009 at 20:06 from the roof of our house in San Jose

Sat, 07 Mar 2009 10:24:49 PST - Link

Cheerleader Carrot

Cheerleader Carrot

Is cheering

Sat, 07 Mar 2009 10:07:07 PST - Link


Crowd'o catz

Sat, 07 Mar 2009 10:01:03 PST - Link

March 2, 2009

Quote Of The Day

For capitalism to work ALL business must be small enough to fail or capitalism falls. — James Duncan

I think that's a very profound statement.

Mon, 02 Mar 2009 22:49:23 PST - Link

February 28, 2009

Catterday Cat Blogging


Miko "Did I leave the iron on?"

Sat, 28 Feb 2009 09:35:19 PST - Link

February 24, 2009

In. That. Order.

Tonight I counted four places in Obama's address to Congress where he placed his priorities as Energy, Health Care and Education, in that order.

I think that's a message. I think he's planning ahead, planting meme of energy priority in the American psyche.

It's a very good thing™.

Tue, 24 Feb 2009 23:31:23 PST - Link

February 23, 2009

Rainy Monday Cat Blogging


T-chan: Ro————xanne!

Ah, the best laid plans.

Saturday started as a rainy lazy day, but soon turned into one of those once a year deep dives to find every scrap of paper related to doing taxes. It's really not something I enjoy doing, but it feels nice to have it all sorted out.

Sunday started as a rainy lazy day, but soon turned into moving day, with my wife and I swapping home offices. She got a nicer window and more privacy, and I got more space. I guess I'll be making another trip into the crawlspace to re-jigger the network cables.

Mon, 23 Feb 2009 08:17:34 PST - Link

February 20, 2009

The Last Wave Of The Brakeman's Hand On The Last Train out Of Town

We went down to Wells Fargo this morning to pay down the loan we'd taken for the new house. It's kind of sad that the largest check I've ever personally held in my hands was written by me, to the bank. (update - corrected bank name. Yes, the money went to the right place.)

If our luck holds, the funds will transfer before Bank of America gets nationalized. We'll know in a few hours...

Cat picture later or maybe catterday. I plan to sample the Scotch I got for valentines day tonight, and sleep in tomorrow.

Fri, 20 Feb 2009 13:06:15 PST - Link

February 19, 2009


Our old house officially closed escrow today. We no longer own two houses.

It's both a happy occasion (In this market, any sale is great news) and a little sad. We'd been in that house 21 years, and have many great memories there.

I hope the new owners have as much happiness and joy as we did there.

Thu, 19 Feb 2009 18:15:23 PST - Link

February 18, 2009

Turnabout Is Fair Play

If you want to impose religious dogma on science, then we must equally impose scientific knowledge and opinion on religion. No sermon, no priest, no pastor, should be allowed to operate without presenting the views of Darwin and others on Natural Selection and Evolution. And while we're at it, the Pope should have Darwin's Origin of the Species on his required reading list. Not only that, they have to give prime-time lectures on the subject - equal time for "equal" views. And, to be even more "fair", we should give equal time to the theory that "the sun revolves around the earth on the ether, or firmament", not to mention the notion that the earth is carried on the back of a giant turtle. Whenever priests read sacred texts, they should supplement those texts with "balancing" readings from scientific literature. If religion is "relevant" to science, then science is equally "relevant" to religion.

The Existentialist Cowboy

Sounds like a plan to me...

Wed, 18 Feb 2009 08:49:45 PST - Link

Quote OF The Day:

"It may be necessary to temporarily nationalise some banks in order to facilitate a swift and orderly restructuring," he said. "I understand that once in a hundred years this is what you do." - Alan Greenspan

It says so right here in the owners manual — every 100 years or 100 billion dollars in fraud, whichever comes first.

Wed, 18 Feb 2009 08:19:20 PST - Link

February 13, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging

Yeah, More Cats

Miko and Tchan share the corner window. — Photo by Wife

Fri, 13 Feb 2009 08:32:17 PST - Link

February 10, 2009


During the Bush years, the Republicans practiced voodoo economics and ignored science.

Now that Obama is president, it's just the opposite.

Tue, 10 Feb 2009 13:14:36 PST - Link

February 7, 2009

Snark Of The Day

Apparently George Bush has been offered a new job in his new home town of Dallas, as greeter at Elliott's Hardware

Let's just see how that goes...

SCENE: Front door at Elliott's Hardware, 10:36 on a Thursday Morning.

CUSTOMER: Walks up to the front door, which is opened by BUSH.

BUSH: Good Mornin'. Welcome to Elliott's Hardware.

CUSTOMER: (Reaches out his hand) Wow, Mr. President, It's an honor to meet you.

BUSH: (Shakes CUSTOMER's hand) Sure thing. Can I help ya find anythn?

CUSTOMER: Yeah, I'm lookin' for something I can use as coupla' chrome 12 inch 3/8 Escutcheon nipples...

BUSH: A whatzit?

CUSTOMER: The problem is, I need something that looks nice to go from the shut offs to the valves...

BUSH: Oh! You got a problem. You need tax cuts. Isle 12, in the back.

CUSTOMER: (double-takes) You carry tax cuts Here?

BUSH: It's one of our biggest items. What size do you need?

CUSTOMER: (Bashfull) It's been kind of a rough year, ah, I'm lookin' at about $44,000.

BUSH: Aw heck. (kicks at the floor) Sorry, We're out of stock on those.

CUSTOMER: But you said they were a big deal here.

BUSH: They are. Bunch of them went out the door yesterday, six more this mornin', dang, we got like 10 pallets in the back — but (heh-heh) not in that size.

CUSTOMER: That size?

BUSH: Yeah well, see, we only stock $250,000 and above.

CUSTOMER: Oh. Well, can you... special order one for me?

BUSH: Ah, well. (Heh-heh.) See the manufacturer, he don't make 'em in small sizes no more.

CUSTOMER: Why not?

BUSH: Well, you gotta understand. It's just a business decision. There ain't been no call for 'em in that size in near eight years. So they shut down that line. Anything else I can help you with?

CUSTOMER: Thanks, no. (Walks off toward a large PLUMBING sign.)

BUSH: Have a nice day shopping at Elliott's.

Sat, 07 Feb 2009 09:57:59 PST - Link

February 6, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging


Miko stakes out a new spot in the laundry room. - Photo by Wife.

Fri, 06 Feb 2009 08:40:43 PST - Link

February 5, 2009

News from Kentucky

I got an update from sources in Western Kentucky.

So, on day 9 of the saga, power was restored. And all the people said.....

"mmmm.... that's a lot better."

Who ever thought I would own a backup generator. Of course those of you who knew I bought a shotgun a few years ago might not be so surprised I guess.

Sobering thought for the day.

Within 50 miles of here, there are whole counties where NO ONE has power. It seems that rural power systems are very vulnerable to the weather extremes associated with our new unusual climate patterns. Here in KY we have had a Hurricane (yes, it reformed in the Ohio Valley this summer with 70+ mph winds) and this storm. Last winter, Southern Illinois had 2 storms like this that weren't quite as massive, but in the region near Cobden, were worse.

Those of you who have a background in statistics should consider this...

The probability that one day during a year would have a 1/100 year event would be something like.

P = 365 days/(100yr*365days) = 0.01 or 1 percent. Or, more simply, 1yr/100yr.=0.01

If both the hurricane and the massive ice storm are 100 year events, then the probability that this would happen two times in one year would be

P[Hurricane reforms in Ohio Valley] and P[Massive ice storm in Ohio Valley that no one's great grandma can remember] = 0.01 * 0.01 = 0.0001 or 1 in 10,000. Now keep in mind that the Hurricane reformation might be 1/1000, thereby giving a probability of 0.00001 or 1 in 100,000.

Now, these are not "win the Powerball" type of odds, but would suggest that both events would not likely occur in the same year from a "statistically" stable system.

Now, couple this with multiple 100 year events in one year all over the planet and that suggest three things.

*First *of all, that statistically unlikely multiple weather events are happening all over the world.

For example, I received this in an email from a friend who's parents live in Thailand this week:

"The weather is crazy right now. The last time I talked to my mom and dad, they said that it was a lot cold than usual in Thailand, and the cold weather stays longer than before. They did not prepare for that cold weather. As you know that we don't use heater in Thailand, so they have to be under a 3-4 blanket at night."

*Second*, that since multiple 100 year events are happening randomly around the planet, this also further reinforces the unlikeliness the events could happen without an unusual cause, ie a new system taking the place of an older system.

*Third, *also due to the global nature of these events, the cause is likely global in scope.

But then, what do I know.

Sobering stuff. The stories of entire counties without power is reminiscent of Katrina, but with frozen water.

Thu, 05 Feb 2009 16:14:25 PST - Link

February 5, 2009

Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot or, The Nuclear Option is really not so optional.

You know, if the Republicans are seriously going to propose anti-stimulus for the economy, it's time to use the Nuclear Option.

Cutting energy efficiency and renewables? Are you kidding me? WTF?

Do they not grasp that the end of this recession will come when we can build enough renewable energy resources to make up for the declines in fossil fuels?

Thu, 05 Feb 2009 12:49:30 PST - Link

January 31, 2009

RE: Roads, Ruin and Reader Comments; An Open Letter To "PS"...

On Tuesday, without further comment, I linked to an article by Bob Herbert in the New York Times. That article artfully placed blame for the current economic mess firmly on the heads of the Republican party. It's just the sort of thing I'd like to think I'd write if I were as thoughtful and capable of evocative prose as Mr. Herbert.

In response, I got an email from a reader, who I'll be calling PS (his real initials). I read it a couple of times, then re-checked my comments of late, and Mr. Herbert's article, I decided a response to his letter would make a good blog post. I asked PS for permission to re-print and respond to his comments here, and he gave it with such grace and comity that some of the more artful approaches I'd been contemplating seemed out of place. Instead, I'll simply try to make make clear my thinking on the subjects he broached, and how I came to think that way.

Here is his initial letter:

So, let me get this straight. It's perfectly all right to have a trillion dollar budget deficit if it is accomplished by the government borrowing money, and throwing it in buckets full all over the country with no rhyme, reason, or accountability, but it's wrong to run up a deficit by letting people keep more of their earnings.

In other words, deficits are OK if it's for the right reason.

Dear PS

In normal times I'd be here railing against a trillion dollar deficit accomplished by government borrowing. In fact, I hold the position that the near trillion dollars borrowed, and spent, on a war against a country that did not attack us on 9/11 was wrong. In fact I'm pretty sure I've blogged just that, It's probably in the archives (linked over there, on the left). Please note: That particular borrowing coincided with massive tax cuts for the wealthy. We'll be getting back to that later. For now let me explore the issues brought up in your letter.

Are these normal times?

Every morning brings news of failed banks, or the economy shrinking at a rate not seen in a generation, or the markets tumbling. I see evidence of it with my own eyes every day. Businesses are closing. Homes are offered as short sales. Services are being cut. (I was going to find links for each of those, but I was getting too depressed looking at the search results. Anyway...)

I've been through recessions before. There have been nine since I was born. I was too young to remember the first two, but this one feels different.

What can be done about it.

While the symptoms of the troubled economy are evident to the untrained eye, I recognize that I do not personally have the training or education to suggest remedies of my own, so I've decided to listen to the economists on this. But which economists can we trust? I simply cannot trust the ones who a) got us into this mess, and b) did not notice that we were in a mess, and c) are offering the same policies that got us into this mess as the way to get us out.

This pretty much leaves me with economists who've been proven right over the years, Nouriel Roubini , Brad DeLong and Paul Krugman. This is no where near a complete list of course, they are just the ones who over the last few years have caught my attention and ended up in my bookmarks. I read Krugman most often because of his ability to explain complexities in a way that non-economists can understand.

He is suggesting that Obama will need to plan bigger. He opposes the business tax cuts put in to appease the Republicans. I've recently heard him in radio and TV interviews saying the same things; Lowering interest rates—the time proven way out of a normal recession—will not work this time because they are already effectively at zero, (Or as I would put it, the Feds have their foot fully and firmly off the brakes) and that the only effective stimulus left is massive public spending, preferably on infrastructure. I highly recommend reading the last 6 months or so of his Columns (See the Columns list at the bottom left of the page) and his blog where he can let his wonkish hair down and go into the math. I suppose that over the years Krugman has earned my trust by a) being right, b) saying things I wish I'd said, and c) Showing his work. It also doesn't hurt that he's a Nobel Prize winner.

At this point I think I have addressed my thinking on the issue you brought up:

It's perfectly all right to have a trillion dollar budget deficit if it is accomplished by the government borrowing money, and throwing it in buckets full all over the country

Yes, PS You have it straight. In these times, I think it is an economic necessity to do just that.

Where to pour those buckets.

Let me now address your concerns about:

...with no rhyme, reason, or accountability,...

Here you've misunderstood me. I do, in fact want rhyme, and ironically, the rhyme I want is with pains.

It is my preference that much of the infrastructure spending be on trains. I've spent enough time in Europe and East Asia to come to appreciate the great passenger rail systems that they have built and maintained, while the rails in the US were left to rust, and stations turned into boutiques and the right-of-ways to bike paths. Spend a little time at The Oil Drum and you'll learn the practical side of my love for trains. They are an old, proven technology, and we can run them on renewable electricity.

I do in fact want reason. I want reality-based projects to get the funding. I don't think we should use the stimulus to build bridges to nowhere, or roads to canceled bridges to nowhere. I want the projects we fund to make sense. I want the infrastructure we build to be forward looking. We've spent half the oil energy we'll ever have building a public infrastructure that depends on cheap oil. There could be no greater waste of money or resources than to continue on that path.

I do in fact want accountability. Here you wound me, PS. Perhaps you only came across my site that one time on Tuesday, but I have over the years been steadfast in my support of accountability, especially where it comes to government.

Of course I want accountants to audit where the money goes, and how it was spent. If we've learned anything in the past year it is that we need better oversight of Wall Street, main street and our city, county, state, and federal governments.

Still, I feel I owe you a explanation for how I came to think this way. I often ponder it myself. Where did I acquire the moral compass that leads me to believe so strongly in rhyme, reason and accountability? Some of it may have come from my Catholic upbringing, but even as a youngster I felt that there had to me more to the stories that they told us in Catechism class. I have a distinct memory of thinking that after fourth grade they would sit us down and tell us that the superstition and tall tales—Noah in the whale, walls falling from trumpets, giants and slingshots—were for little children, and here now is what adults believe... I know much of it comes from my parents, My father was a Republican, my mother a Democrat. Part of it probably came from being in the dynamics of large family. It's a life lesson in fairness to find that family rules trump size or age.

While the beginning of my journey to where I am is lost in the haze of childhood memories, the paths more recently taken are still clear. I am at my soul a creature of reason. I live my life knowing that something I have come to believe may be proven incorrect, and that when that happens I must discard that belief. This leads me to be open to opinions of others when they say things that match the set of facts that I've assembled on a subject, and open to those who can show that my facts are incorrect. As a result, I must discount the opinions of others when they do not correlate with facts that I've collected, corroborated and tested again and again for truth.

I have simply come over the years to believe that accountability is essential, and I've found no facts to dissuade me.

So now we come to the next section;

...but it's wrong to run up a deficit by letting people keep more of their earnings.

There's nothing sure in life but debt and taxes...

Yes, I've come to think that it's wrong to run up a deficit by letting people keep more of their earnings, and think that's true in any state of the economy, good or bad.

It's not that I think government must never run a deficit, there are good reasons to go into debt, and bad reasons.

The good reasons are when the debt will be used to make something that will benefit those who will pay off the debt. Building essential long lasting infrastructure is a good use of debt. Every day part of my taxes go to pay off the roads that I use, the water system that serves my home and job, the electrical system, and so fourth.

Conversely, it's wrong to go into debt for activities that run counter to the best interests of those who must pay those debts. Cutting taxes while starting two wars is one such example of bad debt. (I have yet to hear of a single example of this happening before in all if human civilization—but I'm open to new facts.) Cutting taxes to place pressure on the government to discontinue social services is an even worse reason to go into debt—future taxpayers are forced to pay to harm themselves.

But that's not the point. The goal here is not to raise the deficit, the goal is to revive the failing economy.

The evidence (see Krugman's blog) is that spending on infrastructure will provide a far more effective stimulus to the economy than would cutting taxes. It's important to me, personally, that we do the right thing for the economy, so I do listen for better ideas, and I read opinions contrary to mine. To date, I have simply seen no credible evidence that cutting taxes would be a better stimulus. (But again, my mind is always open...)

Let us now to your conclusion.

In other words, deficits are OK if it's for the right reason.

Yes. I think that's true. I think it's especially true when the reason is to revive the most vital public resource, the economy itself.

Ever watch ER?

So the way I look at it today is that the economy has been dragged into the ER unconscious, with a sucking chest wound. The conservative economy doctors, seeing that the patient's vital signs are failing, prescribe the exact same treatment they did when the patient came in presenting a minor case of surplus and irrational exuberance in 2001: a tax holiday, with the richest jetting off to the Saint Tropez, and the middle class netting enough for a nice evening at the Olive Garden.

This is simply not a credible plan to save the economy.

Mind you, as I've written lately, I believe the patient must be re-built into a sustainable form, but in order to get there the economy we have must be kept alive.

In Conclusion

To paraphrase Mark Twian, "Sorry for the long blog post. I don't have the talent to write a short one."

As you can see, I've used the points in your email to once again examine my own beliefs. Thank you. I am not asking for any kind of response, but should you feel the urge, my mind is always open to listen. Take care, and thanks again.


Sat, 31 Jan 2009 19:15:33 PST - Link

January 30, 2009

Friday Cat Blogging


T-Chan: No, I would not like to get up, dad.

Fri, 30 Jan 2009 08:24:57 PST - Link

January 27, 2009

The Road To Ruin Is Paved With Tax Cuts.

When the G.O.P. talks, nobody should listen. Republicans have argued, with the collaboration of much of the media, that they could radically cut taxes while simultaneously balancing the federal budget, when, in fact, big income-tax cuts inevitably lead to big budget deficits. We listened to the G.O.P. and what do we have now? A trillion-dollar-plus deficit and an economy in shambles.

Bob Herbert, New York Times

Tue, 27 Jan 2009 08:51:39 PST - Link

How We Got In This Mess

And it all seemed to be going so well, just as it did in the early 1920s when a series of three consecutive Republican presidents cut income taxes on the uber-rich from over 70 percent to under 30 percent. In 1929, pretty much everybody realized that instead of building factories with all that extra money, the rich had been pouring it into the stock market, inflating a bubble that - like an inexorable law of nature - would have to burst.

Two Santa Clauses or How The Republican Party Has Conned America for Thirty Years

Tue, 27 Jan 2009 08:51:39 PST - Link

January 26, 2009

Bad Reactors

But as Finland’s experience shows, the reality may be far messier than the industry lets on: a growing body of evidence suggests that new nuclear construction projects are prone to the same setbacks as those undertaken a generation ago, when lengthy delays and multibillion-dollar cost overruns were commonplace. This raises serious questions about the potential of nuclear power as a front-line solution in the battle against climate change.

Washington Monthly

My primary concern with Nuclear of late has been fuel supply - nearly half the fuel used on a yearly basis is from decommissioned warheads and other government stockpiles. The economics outlined in this paper make nuclear even less attractive.

Mon, 26 Jan 2009 08:35:52 PST - Link

January 25, 2009

The Bonfire Of The Economy, In Which I Disagree With A Nobel Prize Winning Economist.

Thus spake Krugman:

Thus, in his speech Mr. Obama attributed the economic crisis in part to "our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age" — but I have no idea what he meant. This is, first and foremost, a crisis brought on by a runaway financial industry. And if we failed to rein in that industry, it wasn't because Americans 'collectively' refused to make hard choices; the American public had no idea what was going on, and the people who did know what was going on mostly thought deregulation was a great idea.

I'm not an economist, but I'm convinced Krugman's recent writings about the size and makeup of the stimulus package are correct. Krugman has a plan for getting the economy out of the ditch and going again, and the numbers to back it up. (Yes, now that there's a Democrat in the White House, policy will actually be based on numbers instead of dogma.)

Now Mr Krugman can bonk me on the head with his Nobel medal, but "our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age" was to me one of the most important statements in the address, and I'm sure future generations will recognize it as such.

Maybe it's because I've spent altogether too much time over at The Oil Drum, but several of the hard choices are abundantly clear to me...

First, very hard choices will need to be made to transform the economy to one that can provide for the common good using renewable energy sources. Krugman's economic nostrums may be able to pull the economy out of the ditch, but the road we were on was a dead end. Our old economy was based on the perpetual availability of easily available fossil fuels—and never more so than in the last eight years of SUVs and McMansions—and the easy to get oil is gone. But maybe I should assign Krugman a point on this, after all, at the heart of this issue, we don't have a choice, unless freezing in the dark is on the table. Because we are depleting about fossil fuels so quickly, we will get one shot at this.

The hard choices are how we get from a consumer economy (oh—how I hate that expression) to a sustainable economy, an what does that even look like? The easy choice is sit back and let the free market solve this riddle, but how can we depend on a system developed to exploit resources — in any profitable way — to suddenly solve for long term sustainability?

Second, we will need to make hard choices about the environment. Global Climate Change is real, it's here, and I even fear that it's now too late to stop it. Unfortunately, our insults to the environment are far from over. Renewable energy will be better for the environment, but will still come at an environmental cost. We must build wind mills in our landscapes and seascapes. We must to give over parts of deserts to solar farms. We must trade some scenic mountain valleys for pumped water energy storage. We must give up the 1000 mile salad, and imported beer, and drinking water shipped from Fiji. We may even need to re-build our nuclear industry—with all of its risks and unsolved waste issues (but not until we've sure we've found enough uranium to fuel the new reactors). All of these hard decisions will be forced upon us, yet none will be popular, and none without consequences, and all will be hard.

Third, we must recognize that we live in a finite world, and that the old economy we had was like a bonfire, with each of us nursing and tending the conflagration. It's not stretching the metaphor to say that reaching to the arctic and deep oceans for energy is evidence that we have burned everything in sight. Our tribe, now numbering 6.7 BILLION cannot pick up our belongings and seek a new place to settle. This is it. We live at the bottom of a gravity well with our measure of the elements that were formed with the universe, plus a gentle drizzle of stardust, light and heat from the stars, and the tug of the moon. That's all we'll ever have.

We grew from 1 billion to 6.7 billion people in but two long lifetimes — my own grandfather could have touched the hand of that one billionth man. We added these 5.7 billion with the aid of finite fossil fuels - coal, oil, uranium. We can foresee that the fossil fuels will be all but gone in two long lifetimes hence, but what then of the billions of people?

The hardest, and least popular choices we must make are to address the problem of population growth. If you thought Social Security was the third rail of politics, ending tax deductions for having more than two children is kissing the generator at the power station.

Maybe Obama had none of these three great issues in mind when he wrote; "our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age", but his words resonated in me. Maybe I just kind of treated them like a Rorschach Test - and I'm finding in those words a call to reflect on our mistakes and failures and to seek solutions for the new age, but that's just me.

Sun, 25 Jan 2009 13:54:53 PST - Link

January 23, 2009

Permalinks and Blog Fixed

I think I've got the year-end rollover complete, if you find any problems let me know.

Now all I need is some content.

Fri, 23 Jan 2009 13:06:19 PST - Link

Friday Cat Blogging

Cats. In Sinks

Large cat in even larger sink. Tory: This isn't much of a challenge, Dad.

Fri, 23 Jan 2009 08:03:32 PST - Link

January 20, 2009

Oh Noes. Looks like my Permalinks are busted.

That's the good news. The bad news is that nobody has complained. Well, what can I expect from the poor quality of the blog of late...

New president or not, some things don't change quickly, and my yearly website rollover duties are one of them. (Blame it on the new house.)

I really must automate this one of these days.

Another thing that's been on my mind is to add a comments feature to my website but after reading some of the anti-Obama screeds posted by wingnuts in the comments of other sites today, I'm pulling that from my to-do list.

I think Obama says it best:

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.

Tue, 20 Jan 2009 13:45:40 PST - Link

Ferget About Smaller Government, We Need Smaller Businesses.

After hearing so much lately about banks that have become too big to fail, maybe that's a clue that the economy would be more robust if we didn't let these companies get to big (or powerful). That way if a few of them did fail due to incompetence, greed, illegal activities or other symptoms of bad management, the whole sector wouldn't be at risk.

-Just Sayin...

Tue, 20 Jan 2009 13:45:40 PST - Link

January 20, 2009

My flag, this morning.

I put my flag out before dawn (With a light, of course) and this was the view just moments after Obama's historic inaugural speech. It's perhaps symbolic that the flag is only partly in the light, the sun has far to travel today, and as a nation we have far to travel, but for the first time in eight years I feel like we are traveling in the right direction.

Tue, 20 Jan 2009 10:16:55 PST - Link

January 19, 2009

Monday Cat Blogging

The Boys

T-Chan: You never let me have the window seat!

Mon, 19 Jan 2009 14:33:10 PST - Link

Busy times - and I'm still not done.

I spent Friday working on the garage roof of the old house - replacing a piece of plywood that had water damage from years ago. Many trips up and down the ladder favoring an elbow injury.

Saturday started okay, but then my desktop machine started to act up, and it was soon apparent that a nasty virus (or two) had gotten through. I yanked its connection to the net, pulled the suspect drive and did my part for the economy and Maxtor to the tune of $99.99 for a new one terabyte drive. That's 1,000,000,000,000 bytes, or 5000 times the size of my very first (20 MB) hard drive, which cost me over $400 at the time.

I installed Windows, and was pretty far along retoring a working app set before I discovered that for some reason it had decided to call the drive "F:", which of course screwed up the installation of the Adobe Flash player. Figuring that not having a C: drive would likely cause me pain long into the future I blew away the partition and started over. Things went much smother on the second install, and I've got my C: drive back.

That evening we stopped by Lowes to look at dishwashers. The one that came with our new house had suffered damage from a water softener failure and was pretty much unusable. Lowes had the Bosh we wanted in stock, and would we like it delivered tomorrow? Oooh Bouy. Back home I discovered that the water shut off valve under the sink had frozen up, so it took an hour to replace that before I could begin to yank the old dishwasher, which then took about a half hour.

Yesterday the new dishwasher arrived on a huge truck. Amazingly, it was packaged in shrink wrap, on a Styrofoam pallet with Styrofoam corners and a cardboard top. It was so light that the delivery person just lifted it out of the truck and put it gently on the ground. Installation was very simple, but in the end it took a couple of hours to get it all right.

That afternoon I picked up an external drive box, Installed BitDefender (recommended) on the new install of Windows XP and was safely able to recover my critical files without resorting to backups. BitDefender found six infected files in the Windows directory >_<, three it could fix, and three that had to be deleted.

I figure it'll be another 4 hours to install Photoshop, my music editing apps and my CAD software. I'm hating on the guy who released that malware into the wild, I'm lovin on my gianormous hard drive, and while I prefer to be the one to chose the time for a Windows re-install, it's really nice to have a very clean system again. I'm so far lovin' on BitDefender, It seems to be a very light touch on system resources - as opposed to Symantec, which seemed to take so long to do anything it was like having an active virus on the machine.

The moral of the story is apparently to make sure to install virus protection software on your new dishwasher - or at least that's what I remember of last weekend.

Mon, 19 Jan 2009 14:33:10 PST - Link

January 9, 2009


The iconic red, white and blue portrait of US President-elect Barack Obama will become part of the permanent collection at the US National Portrait Gallery.

The Washington DC gallery has acquired the stencilled image by Los Angeles-based street artist Shepard Fairey.

Curators at the Smithsonian Institution museum plan to hang it by Inauguration Day on 20 January.


Hat tip JS (Via Email)

Fri, 09 Jan 2009 10:19:14 PST - Link

Friday Cat Blogging

T-Chan, Tory, Miko

This is a rare image - not that it's rare that all three share the blanket, that happens all the time., The rare bit is Tory sleeping next to T-Chan. It's almost always Miko in the middle.

Fri, 09 Jan 2009 08:42:35 PST - Link

Ronald Reagan Would Be Proud

George W. Bush is the ultimate realization of Reagan's Government Is The Problem. Reagan was right. A government which willfully turns each and every dial of policy away from he greater good really is a problem. We're seeing it this morning in the unemployment numbers — the worst since WWII. Thanks Bush.

So what are the Republicans worried about today? The Fairness Doctrine. They're worried that any semblance of balance of airtime in political discourse would be bad (for them.) Fairness would be so unfair, they say, so they want to introduce legislation banning it. Great. With all the problems of the world, this is what they're worried about.

The Republicans also want their voices heard on any stimulus package. My money says they will propose exactly the same policies they've been pushing since Reagan — the precise policies that have decimated the middle class, gutted the manufacturing sector, and given us the highest unemployment in half a century. Right. More of that is Just what we need.

Fri, 09 Jan 2009 08:42:35 PST - Link

January 2, 2009

First Friday Cat Blogging of 2009

Troy James of The Jungle

Tory James of the Jungle

The boys are settling in well at the new house. They've found the nice sunny spots and are experimenting with the friction coefficients of the wood floors. Skitter - skitter - skitter — thump.

Miko has picked out his favorite spot - the carpet in front of the heating register. (Pictures to follow.)

The new house seems quieter even though its on a much busier street. Our old house was on a court, so every vehicle was either stopping or starting, which makes more noise than if they are just passing by.

Off to Home Depot for some last minute plumbing condiments...

Fri, 02 Jan 2009 09:56:18 PST - Link

January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

I fell asleep last night before midnight, blame it on the Grand Old Parr. My plan was to be lazy all day - watch TV, play guitar, putter on the computer, but I ended up out in the garage cutting up boxes for recycle and going though some of the accumulation of 20 years in our old house. Ever since we got back from China I just haven't been able to get up a good steam of lethargy.

I started thinking about new years resolutions - the usual ones come to mind, but there's a new one this year - keeping off the twelve pounds I've lost since November. I expect most of it went on vacation - we walked everywhere all day, and we ate mostly light meals. Since then it's been moving into the new house and getting the old one ready to sell. I just can't keep still for very long.

It's a little sad to see the old house now, we'd been there 20 years, but now with our furniture gone and new carpet and new paint and new light fixtures, it's like the evidence of our stay there is slowly being erased. We even fixed a bunch of little things that just never seemed to be important when we were there. I replaced a lot of the electrical outlet covers, and I put new registers on all of the heating vets. The kitchen, bathrooms and garage all got GFI outlets. all that's left to do is to replace the kitchen faucet, remove the last of the stuff from the garage and install the new front gate I built. That can wait 'till tomorrow.

One of those resolutions is to blog more. Wife suggested I let the blog go in a more personal direction. It makes sense. They say write what you know and I do know myself (or someone very like me). We'll see how this goes.

Thu, 01 Jan 2009 19:01:56 PST - Link