July 30, 2010

What? Is the Catastophe in The Gulf Overblown?

The first inkling I heard of this possibility that the Gulf oil leak from Deepwater Horizon was that some oil spill cleanup workers would be laid off because there was no work for them. This Time story suggests that things are not nearly as bad as they have been made out to be by the catastrophe-driven TV talking heads and TeamObama.

They cite these reasons why things may not be as bad as we have been led to believe:

"...four basic reasons the initial eco-fears seem overblown.

First, the Deepwater oil, unlike the black glop from the Valdez, is unusually light and degradable, which is why the slick in the Gulf is dissolving surprisingly rapidly now that the gusher has been capped.

Second, the Gulf of Mexico, unlike Alaska's Prince William Sound, is very warm, which has helped bacteria break down the oil.

Third, heavy flows of Mississippi River water have helped keep the oil away from the coast, where it can do much more damage.

And finally, Mother Nature can be incredibly resilient."

July 29, 2010

Filippo at Smugglers Notch

We visited Stowe, Vermont yesterday with our Italian student guest, Filippo, including lunch at the Shed followed by ice cream at Ben & Jerry's in Waterbury.

Batteries, Flywheels and Compressed Air

Pushed Along by Wind, Power Storage Grows - NYTimes.com:

Storing energy from variable sources such as wind and solar and releasing it when demanded by the grid is a massive challenge. However, energy storage technologies to level variable and intermittent supply with predictable demand is essential.

Experiments are described in this NYTimes story, but for intermittent sources of energy to be converted into reliable electricity when and where needed, the transmission system needs a cost-effective storage capacity.

Unless these experiments show that practical solutions exist on a massive scale, reliance on wind and sun for more than a tiny amount of electricity may be an expensive boondoggle fueled by emotion and politics rather than science and economics.

The best 'source' of electrical energy for the near term is efficiency improvement.

"As the wind installations multiply, companies have found themselves dumping energy late at night, adjusting the blades so they do not catch the wind, because there is no demand for the power. And grid operators, accustomed to meeting demand by adjusting supplies, are now struggling to maintain stability as supplies fluctuate."

July 26, 2010

Verdict Due in the Trial of a Khmer Rouge Figure - NYTimes.com

Verdict Due in the Trial of a Khmer Rouge Figure - NYTimes.com:

This verdict is late, coming 35 years after the atrocities by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, but good news. But one wonders if justice is ever served or ever can be served adequately when vicious dictators and their henchmen wantonly kill millions for any reason.. .ideology, a quest for power, etc.

In my view, the world never did seem to be fully outraged over this terrible tragedy. But justice of a sort will be meted out.
"The defendant, Kaing Guek Eav, commonly known as Duch, had admitted in an eight-month trial to many of the accusations against him. He oversaw a system that came to symbolize a regime responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million people from 1975 to 1979..."
“...For 30 years, the victims of the Khmer Rouge waited while a civil war raged, international actors bickered and the leaders of the Khmer Rouge walked free,” said Alex Hinton, director of the Center for the Study of Genocide, Conflict Resolution and Human Rights at Rutgers University in New Jersey. “Now, for the first time, one of them has been held accountable. The importance of this moment can’t be underestimated...” 

July 23, 2010

White House Predicts Record $1.47 Trillion Deficit - NYTimes.com

White House Predicts Record $1.47 Trillion Deficit - NYTimes.com

TeamObama is taking the country toward insolvency. This is insane policy. Inevitably rates must rise thereby increasing the interest payments on the $13 trillion debt. Otherwise no one will buy it. I think America's glass is half empty. We must reign in federal and state spending.

"New estimates from the White House on Friday predict the budget deficit will reach a record $1.47 trillion this year. The government is borrowing 41 cents of every dollar it spends."
In this fiscal year through June 2010, interest costs are $354,861,738,070.57.
We are headed toward fiscal disaster without a recovery in the economy. We simply cannot continue to spend at this rate and remain solvent.

Vote for fiscal sanity in November.

July 20, 2010

Small leaks spring at BP oil well; cap to stay in place for now

Small leaks spring at BP oil well; cap to stay in place for now

This is good reporting about the present status of the Macondo well and the ongoing hearings into the events preceding the explosion.

The story contains some of the gory details from the hearings about conditions on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the hours before the explosion on April 20, 2010.

The well now seems to be leaking small amounts of oil and gas from the seabed near the well. The new cap in place for the past four days seems to have increased pressure in the well, as would be expected. The concern is that this pressure increase may be causing oil and gas to find cracks in the overbearing rock above the oil reservoir and leak into the sea water despite the enormous pressure of a mile high water column.

This whole business of capping the blown out well is a mind-boggling complicated affair. Let's hope the decisions made are based on technical and not legal/political reasons.

July 19, 2010

Verizon iPhone 4G Release By Early 2011

Verizon iPhone 4G Release By Early 2011: Analyst | LA News Monitor

It really makes a lot of sense for Verizon to have a sooper dooper phone to accompany it's launch of its new LTE 4G network. Must it be dual band 3G/4G to be successful? That may well depend on how quickly VZ expands the LTE coverage across the U.S. A 4G only device may well be less expensive and the usage footprint will expand quickly.

This only complicates my smartphone buying decision. Should I buy now or wait for 4G in my area, unlikely before 2012? Maybe I'm better off buying 3G now and upgrading in 2012.

Charles Krauthammer on President Obama's Agenda

Charles Krauthammer's analysis of TeamObama's restructuring of America, Part I and Part II.

Ask yourselves, is this direction you want America to be led? Not for me. Now only if we had a realistic opposition agenda that would energize people. It's simply not enough to oppose TeamObama's policies. Critics need a better alternative. Who will step forward and proclaim it?

"...Consider what he has already achieved. Obamacare alone makes his presidency historic. It has irrevocably changed one-sixth of the economy, put the country inexorably on the road to national health care and, as acknowledged by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus but few others, begun one of the most massive wealth redistributions in U.S. history..."

"...Obama is down, but it's very early in the play. Like Reagan, he came here to do things. And he's done much in his first 500 days. What he has left to do he knows must await his next 500 days -- those that come after reelection.
The real prize is 2012. Obama sees far, farther than even his own partisans. Republicans underestimate him at their peril"

Thousands Call for FCC Broadband Reclassification - PCWorld Business Center

Net neutrality is a high sounding concept, but the FCC's proposal to move broadband services under common carrier regulation, similar to plain old landline telephone service, is far too heavy-handed. The FCC may promise 'forbearance,' i.e., selectively choosing which elements of the service regulation to enforce, but that approach provides them far too much discretion.

At this early point in its evolution
the internet and broadband services are working just fine and the status quo, no regulation, suits me better than any managed regulatory scheme the FCC may impose.

I don't believe the Internet is threatened by corporate interests. It provides me with what I want. Leave it be.

July 16, 2010

Unmanned stealth plane may pick its own targets | Military Tech - CNET News

Unmanned stealth plane may pick its own targets | Military Tech - CNET News

Wait! I want target engagement to be a human, not a computer function.

36 Arrested in Medicare Scams Totaling $251M - NYTimes.com

36 Arrested in Medicare Scams Totaling $251M - NYTimes.com

Let's hope this crackdown is the beginning of serious efforts to thwart Medicare and other criminal fraud that has allowed people to bilk the U.S. Government out of untold $billions over the years. What's needed is real-time processing of claims that can be bounced against a database of existing claims and payments so that patterns of suspicious activity can be revealed right away. Treasury or NSA has algorithms that would make this child's play. It seems  the Medicare folks have finally begun to use them.

More actions like this are required to restore confidence in Government. Now if the Feds would only get serious about illegal immigration...

"...Federal authorities launched a strike force in Miami in 2007 to target the problem. The program has since expanded to seven cities and is responsible for more than 720 indictments that collectively have billed the Medicare program for more than $1.6 billion.

Miami-Dade County received about $520 million from Medicare in home health care payments intended for the sickest patients in 2008, which is more than the rest of the country combined, according to a federal report. Only 2 percent of the patients live here.

It used to take 90 days before the government detected a scam. By then, the crooks were long gone, sometimes with millions of dollars. Now authorities get billing data as it's submitted, allowing them to catch suspects in real time, ''as opposed to the typical pay and chase model we've had for years,'' said Gerald Roy, assistant inspector general for investigations."

Efforts to Stop the Leaking Oil in the Gulf of Mexico - Graphic - NYTimes.com

Efforts to Stop the Leaking Oil in the Gulf of Mexico - Graphic - NYTimes.com

A wonderful graphic from the NY Times describes in the detail this engineer loves the various blowout containment attempts leading up to the apparently successful containment of the oil leak from the Macondo Prospect well.

Considering the complex engineering and fabrication work in the background and the complicated logistics of managing this effort a mile underwater under the threat of the hurricane season and intense public criticism, BP deserves some appreciation for getting this done... finally.

The TV talking heads cannot possibly deliver this level of detailed reporting and most of the public could care less how they stopped the leak.

July 15, 2010

Cal Thomas Official Web Site - CAL THOMAS COMMENTARY JULY 15, 2010

Today's commentary by Cal Thomas published in the Burlington Free Press provides examples of a few governors' bold policies and actions to control/reduce their state government spending. Aggressive action is the proper course... policies that embrace fiscal discipline and the courage to enforce it is what's essential. This basic discipline is absent at the Federal level and not nearly aggressive enough in Vermont.

It's beyond time that Americans and Vermonters have a serious conversation about what we should expect from government rather than be lulled by spendthrift politicians that government can be our keeper and provider of all good things.

The mood of the country, but less so in Vermont, is leaning in that direction. Latest polls show that Americans have become disenchanted with TeamObama's promises of change that are creating excessive spending and an overbearing government and failing to deliver on the rhetoric.

The November elections will provide a voice for the growing frustration with politicians who promise and spend, but all too often fail to improve the condition of the citizenry.  People want a decent job and a decent living. They should look to the the private sector and not government to meet those expectations.

July 12, 2010

Google's master Android plan: We're all mobile app developers now | ZDNet

Google's master Android plan: We're all mobile app developers now | ZDNet

A fascinating approach by Google...an attack on Apple's walled garden!

John Fund: The Obama-Pelosi Lame Duck Strategy - WSJ.com

John Fund: The Obama-Pelosi Lame Duck Strategy - WSJ.com

Now that the din of the World Cup vuvuzelas have been silenced, we are hearing and reading about another obnoxious blast concerning proposed actions by a lame-duck Congress. John Fund's column is one of many opinion pieces about the issues that TeamObama may try to push through Congress in the wake of a republican upset of control of the House of Representatives in the November elections.

Some of the the issues that John Fund and others allege might be on the lame-duck table that TeamObama and Democrat candidates do not want to debate on the campaign trail leading up to this fall's elections:

  • "card check"—the measure to curb secret-ballot union elections
  • a federally mandated universal voter registration system to override state laws
  • a budget resolution to lock in increased agency spending
  • lots of pork for members of Congress likely not returning
Coincidentally, the Business Roundtable and the National Chamber of Commerce including some Obama allies have gone public opposing TeamObama's increased anti-business regulatory burden that they argue add billions to the cost of doing business and creates a dampened climate for economic growth in the face of unemployment.

Here's the conclusion of a 54-page letter/report to TeamObama (letter to Peter Orszag):
We believe that a new, comprehensive assessment of federal policies and regulations is fundamental to the U.S. economy regaining its competitive strength. Regulators should assess the financial impact of individual and collective mandates, remove existing mandates that have become redundant and increase efficiency through market competition. They should also establish a system for creating new regulations that do not impede private‐sector investment and job creation.
At the same time, the government must reduce spending to manage down deficit and debt. The current levels of U.S. debt, as well as those required to finance the forecast deficits, will crowd out private capital. If less capital is available for corporate borrowers, it will retard future growth and investment, erode the value of the U.S. dollar, accelerate inflation and, eventually, reduce consumer spending power.
Economic recovery must be lead by the private sector, both large and small, if we are going to create jobs and reduce the unemployment rate. In assessing all regulations, the goal should be to reduce uncertainty, fear and overall cost impact while creating a regulatory system that is business‐friendly, cost‐effective, and encourages efficiency.

Obviously, the national business community fears the same possibility. Fortunately, they seem to have gotten TeamObama's attention.

Here's a brief video excerpt of a recent speech by Ivan Seidenberg, Chairman of the NBR, to the Economic Club of Washington DC.

We should contact our Congressmen and Senators advising against any attempt to push through such controversial legislation/regulation using such a naked abuse of power. I for one will vote against my Senator and Representative if they support a lame-duck session for this purpose.

July 10, 2010

2010 06-22 Great Escape Camping

Finger damage while breaking camp at Lake George RV park. All better now!!

A review of T-Mobile's HSPA system - WSJ.com

A review of T-Mobile's HSPA system - WSJ.com

A nice summary by Walt Mossberg of the carriers' plans for 3G+ and 4G network rollouts and some side-by-side testing of T-Mobile's 3G+ network in the Washington DC area.

Looking forward to the broad deployment of these 4G networks, probably by 2012 in the Burlington area where I live, but suspect I'll have a 3G smartphone well before then.

July 8, 2010

U.S. Program to Detect Cyber Attacks on Infrastructure - WSJ.com

U.S. Program to Detect Cyber Attacks on Infrastructure - WSJ.com

This is a VERY big deal and any American paying attention to the threats facing the country should wake up for this one. It'll move along quickly, as it should, hopefully in a non-partisan fashion. The issue is too important for political bickering. Let's see if out leaders can keep it above the political infighting. If not, we need different leaders.

Pew: Mobile Web Use Now The Norm

Pew: Mobile Web Use Now The Norm

I suppose it's nearing the time when I should join those who access the Internet via cell phone to increase the lowly % from my age cohort described in one of the charts accompanying this story. Besides, my 'old' non-smartphone has a crack in the glass face, but is perfectly functional. No, I didn't do it on purpose...it's a long story.

I have been using my laptop to connect via 3G for a few years, but have been agonizing over when and what kind of smartphone to purchase. My choice definitely needs to have WiFi hotspot capability even though the two-year contract on my Verizon MiFi runs until next April.

Could I upgrade that device to a smartphone with WiFi hotspot capability?

Should I wait for Verizon's LTE 4G to arrive in my area and buy a 4G smartphone or jump in now and upgrade in a couple of years? Or will iPhone really come to Verizon in 3Gg...or will Apple wait for 4G deployment before joining VZ?

Or is the Verizon Droid X what I need now to satisfy my technolust? I really like what I'm reading about Android.

All savvy advice welcomed!!

Russian Spy Suspects Plead Guilty as Part of a Swap - NYTimes.com

Russian Spy Suspects Plead Guilty as Part of a Swap - NYTimes.com

Now we know why this affair is not damaging relations between Russia and the U.S. It's likely that this deal has been in the works for a long while. Seems to work well for all concerned if we get some or our spies back in exchange for theirs.

A borderline case against the immigration law in Arizona - CSMonitor.com

A borderline case against the immigration law in Arizona - CSMonitor.com

TeamObama's court fight against Arizona's immigration status validity check law is obviously grounded in politics, not a legitimate and essential requirement to enforce existing federal laws. Stronger border security is favored by a vast majority of Americans and in recent polls nearly 70% support the Arizona law. Border security has been sadly neglected by TeamObama and catering to Hispanic voters is the obvious reason for the legal battle.
"...Arizona was also careful to anchor its statute in federal law, aiming to complement Washington’s efforts rather than work against them. No new requirements, for example, are imposed on aliens. (The Justice Department decided not to make a federal case out of concerns about possible racial profiling by Arizona police.)
The law, SB 1070, also does not preempt the federal role of defining the admission, authorization, or deportation of aliens. In fact, it builds on Supreme Court rulings that have long recognized the rights of states to discourage illegal immigration.
Rather than see the Arizona law as an obstacle to better enforcement, Obama must start to work better with the states as partners. As the often-quoted federal judge Learned Hand once wrote, “it would be unreasonable to suppose that [the federal government’s] purpose was to deny itself any help that the states may allow.”

July 7, 2010

This Hero, Ed Freeman, Exemplifies Courage and Caring

Ed Freeman's Medal of Honor citation reads as follows:

Captain Ed W. Freeman, United States Army, distinguished himself by numerous acts of conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary intrepidity on
14 November
1965 while serving with
Company A,229th Assault
Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). As a flight leader and second in command of a
lift unit, he supported a heavily engaged American infantry battalion at Landing Zone
in the
Ia Drang
Valley, Republic of Vietnam.

The unit was almost out of
ammunition after taking some of the heaviest casualties of the war, fighting off a relentless attack from a highly motivated, heavily armed enemy force. When the infantry commander closed the helicopter landing zone due to intense direct enemy fire, Captain Freeman risked his own life by flying his unarmed helicopter through a gauntlet of enemy fire time after time, delivering critically needed ammunition, water and medical supplies to the besieged battalion. His flights had a direct impact on the battle's outcome by providing the engaged units with timely supplies of ammunition critical to their survival, without which they would almost surely have gone down, with much greater loss of life.

After medical evacuation helicopters refused to fly into the area due to intense enemy fire, Captain Freeman flew
14 separate
rescue missions, providing life-saving evacuation of an estimated
30 seriously
wounded soldiers — some of whom would not have survived had he not acted. All flights were made into a small emergency landing zone within 100 to
200 meters
of the defensive perimeter where heavily committed units were perilously holding off the attacking elements.

Captain Freeman's selfless acts of great valor, extraordinary perseverance and intrepidity were far above and beyond the call of duty or mission and set a superb example of leadership and courage for all of his peers. Captain Freeman's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.

July 6, 2010

A Remedy for Victimization from Peanuts

Charles Shulz shows us how love can remedy many ills!


July 4, 2010

Declaration of Independence


When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature's GOD entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, 'it is the right of the people to alter -or- abolish it, and to institute new government, laying it's foundation on such principles and organizing it's powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.' Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is the right...it is the duty...to throw off such government, and provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former system of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our suppression, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the SUPREME JUDGE of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of DIVINE PROVIDENCE, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.

July 2, 2010

YouTube - Peek at the Future: Verizon Wireless Boston 4G LTE Trial

All we need now is the price for Verizon's 4G LTE and when it'll be in Vermont!

Google Voice Primer from CNET

Google Voice newbies, start here | Webware - CNET

Now that Google has opened Voice to everyone, link above is a good primer for getting started, in addition to all th e information provided by Google... And at least for now, it's tough to argue against not taking a convenient service that's free...at least for now. My guess is Google will find a way to monetize new features and attempt to penetrate business telecom.

Certainly Google will offer more Voice features and services in the future so now's the time to get a new number or use Voice to manage your voice mail with your existing number. Overseas calls are very inexpensive and U.S. calls are free, so there's a opportunity to save a few bucks, too.

I set my Google Voice number to ring both both my cell and home phones. While the automatic transcription accuracy of voice to text leaves a lot to be desired, I can generally understand the gist of the message. It's handy to have a voice mail appear in GV as text and to receive an email notification that I have a voice message.