Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The resurgence of Europe's "spine"

It seems that local governments along Europe's historic "spine" are attempting to assert themselves. From Paul Belien at the Brussels Journal:

What’s Going Right in Europe – How Localism Might Save the Continent
[...] While France succumbs to North Africans and Germany to Turks, the parties from Old Lorraine, the spine of Europe, are preparing to fight for the preservation of their own identity. Owing to the massive immigration by people from an entirely different culture, many ordinary Europeans no longer feel at home in their own countries. Home is that cosy, often small, place where people feel safe among those whom they know and trust. The fight for the preservation of Europe is a fight for one’s own home, village, town, city, provence. That is why it is a localist issue.

Resistance to Islamization is not a matter of ideology, as one prominent American “anti-Jihadist” seems to think. The successful resistance in Europe has a provincial and an ethnic basis. It is about the right of the Europeans to hand their traditions, their identity, their cultural heritage down to their children so that the latter can continue to enjoy Europe’s ancient freedoms. The spirit of Old Lorraine has survived for 1,200 years. “Populist” parties in Flanders, Switzerland, Lombardia, Cologne and Alsace and other regions along the spine of Europe are popular for the simple reason that they are not prepared to let twelve centuries of capitalist self-reliance, self-governance and limited government fade away simply because foreigners are moving in with a spirit adapted to Arabian desert life. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) The article has some interesting figures on illegal immigration in Spain and Italy, the numerous amnesties that have been repeatedly granted over the years to assimilate them, and the political ramifications of that, but the article's not primarily just about immigration.

Belien goes into a detailed history of this European spine, where he claims capitalism in Europe had it's origins, and describes it as a place "...where citizens are still influenced by centuries of independence, self-reliance and adherence to a local identity that opposes centralizing authorities in far-away capitals."

It's interesting history, and it's interesting how he uses it as argument against Robert Spencer's argument that Jihadism should be fought as an ideology. I think there are merits in both points of view. Ethnicity and ideology are often closely linked, so it's not just a simple either/or scenario.

What I don't quite see is, how this spine of Europe is going to manage to exert any political power in the European Union, which seems hell-bent on ignoring or crushing such citizens. Yet there is also resistance to the EU from Ireland and other places, as discussed in one of the links below. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

Related articles at the Brussel's Journal:

Europe’s Fate and Turkey’s Progress

Freedom Fighters in Ireland, the Czech Republic and Germany Oppose EU Treaty

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ethanol and high food prices: the warnings were there years ago, but very few listened

Global warming hysteria lead politicians to "do something", regardless of the facts and warnings about what ethanol production would do to food prices. From Neal Boortz at Nealz Nuze:

But not now ... then.

Finally, somebody in DC is addressing the fact that ethanol production may have something to do with the increase in world food prices. Gee, ya think? I wonder what their first clue was.

Just yesterday Condi Rice said, "There has been apparently some effect, unintended consequence from the alternative fuels effort." Unintended consequences? Food costs rising 8% since 2005 ... People, even members of Congress, have been warned for years about the consequences of mandated ethanol production. Then there's this article from CNN Money dated back to 2006, or this one from almost one year ago warning us about ethanol's affect on food costs. Still not convinced? Go back to the 2004 election where ethanol was a really nice talking point for politicians. The New York Times even pointed out the problem of rising food prices due to mandatory ethanol production in January of 2006.

To give you one more piece of information, take a look at this article printed in the Science Daily back in Aug. 8, 2001. Here is what scientists have known since years:
The approximately $1 billion a year in current federal and state subsidies (mainly to large corporations) for ethanol production are not the only costs to consumers, the Cornell scientist observes. Subsidized corn results in higher prices for meat, milk and eggs because about 70 percent of corn grain is fed to livestock and poultry in the United States Increasing ethanol production would further inflate corn prices, Pimentel says, noting: "In addition to paying tax dollars for ethanol subsidies, consumers would be paying significantly higher food prices in the marketplace."

Back in 1994 when Al Gore cast the tie breaking vote in the Senate that led to a methanol mandate from the EPA we were told that "the price of corn flakes isn't going to go up by one penny." Hind sight truly is 20-20.

This is what happens when politicians decide to value hysteria, emotional thinking and feel-goodism over science, reason and basic math.

It was the Democrats who lead this irrational charge into nonsense that is now raising food prices world wide. Yes, they had bi-partisan support from many Republicans who they suckered into the Ethanol boondoggle. But it was none other than enviro-wacko Al Gore who cast the tie breaking vote that pushed through the ethanol program. There's an Inconvenient Truth.

Now that we have rising food prices, will Gore take the credit? I doubt it. Because the price rises are occurring during a Republican administration, I bet he and the Democrats will try to put the blame on the Republicans. This is what the Republicans get for supporting pie-in-the-sky legislation from Democrats.

John McCain had spoken out against Ethanol production for many years, but more recently he also caved into the pressure to support it. He shouldn't have, because he was right all along.

The question now is, who's going to fix this government-created mess? Will anyone have the nerve to say we should scrap the Ethanol subsidies?

Related Links:

Undoing America's Ethanol Mistake

Mark Steyn: Feed your Prius, starve a peasant

Rising food costs are due to Ethanol Boondoggle

Optical Illusion: The Spinning Dancer

It's a moving .gif file, so I can't post it here on the blog, but here is the link to it:

The Truth About the Spinning Dancer
[...] The silhouette image of the spinning dancer doesn’t have any depth cues. As a result, your eyes will sometimes see the dancer standing on her left leg and spinning to the right. And sometimes they will perceive her as standing on her right leg and spinning to the left. Most people, if they stare at the image long enough, will eventually see her turn both ways. [...]

I couldn't see the flip at first, but then happened if I stared at her lowest foot, or looked at the image from my peripheral vision. Too weird.

This has been a popular email attachment, apparently. The article discusses the illusion and it's relation to vision, and has some links to other illusions, too.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Austrian House of Horrors Revealed

It was in Austria, but it sure wasn't the Von Trapp family. More like a "trapped" family. We all have problems in our lives, but things like this help you remember, that there is often somebody worse off than you:

'House of Horror children never saw daylight'

Austrian Man Confesses to Keeping Daughter, Her Children Captive in Cellar

The links have photos, video, more information. I'm not gonna publish excerpts because, frankly, I'd rather not think about it anymore today. Yikes.

I hope the Mom and the kids get rich selling the movie rights. I can only wonder if those kids will ever be able to have normal lives, having spent their entire childhood in a windowless basement. Never seen daylight! Too bizarre.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

As in Spain, so also in the world at large?

I've been thinking for some time that the entire world seems to moving Left politically, dragging the Center and Right with it. This recent article by Soeren Kern at the Brussels Journal talks about the conservative party in Spain, but I see a lot of parallels with conservatism in the USA and elsewhere:

Spanish Conservatives Face Identity Crisis, Power Struggle
Spanish conservatives are now in open warfare against each other as two opposing factions seek to gain control over the ideological future of the center-right Partido Popular (PP), the main opposition party in Spain. The internal battle has been brewing for a number of years, but has become a very public affair ever since Mariano Rajoy, the party’s leader, lost the general election on March 9.

The fact that the winner of that election, Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, was at best a mediocre candidate, one who should have been relatively easy to defeat at the polls, has added to calls for a major reform of the PP. And adding injury to insult, the 2008 vote was a virtual replay of the previous general election in 2004, when Zapatero defeated Rajoy by a similar margin. [...]

Spain's conservative party has been trying to hold together a coalition of center right groups, but there is a power struggle within the party between religious and secular elements. Unless they can find common ground for compromise, they may be stuck, and continue to lose elections. Read the whole thing for the details. But I found it not only educational about Spanish politics; I see this same struggle happening in many other countries as well. It's a new global political reality that conservatives everywhere are having to contend with.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Farm Report: More Naked Chicks

That title should do wonders for my site meter tally from Google searches. The older chick is now 3 weeks old, and the younger, 2 weeks. The oldest seems to have most of it's feathers now, and likes to fly a lot. I think it sees itself as more of a bald eagle than a chicken:

The younger one does it's best to imitate the older one, and has learned to fly also, but just barely. It can fly up to the rim of the blue box they live in:

Here they are with their surrogate mom (me):

They stretch their wings and legs in the big wide world, a.k.a. the back porch:

I still see "Mutt & Jeff" whenever I look at them together.

Related Link:

Farm Report: The Weekly Chick Pic

When a Mosquito is a GOOD thing

From Tammy Bruce:
Noise Audible Only to Teens Used Against Loiterers
A wall-mounted gadget designed to drive away loiterers with a shrill, piercing noise audible only to teens and young adults is infuriating civil liberties groups and tormenting young people after being introduced into the United States...

The high-frequency sound has been likened to fingernails dragged across a chalkboard or a pesky mosquito buzzing in your ear. It can be heard by most people in their teens and early 20s who still have sensitive hair cells in their inner ears...

It's been used successfully in Europe, where of course it's now being challenged by some politicians as "racist". From the Brussels Journal:

European Parliament Should Not Ban Mosquito, Says Inventor
A letter from Howard Stapleton

Dear Sir,

My name is Howard Stapleton. I am the inventor of the Mosquito. The main drive behind my invention was that my 15-year-old daughter was unable to enter our local shop owing to a gang of badly behaved teenagers loitering in the doorway and making a nuisance of themselves. As I discovered later, and sales of my device have proved, this was not an isolated case. Can the Members of the European Parliament who are campaigning to ban my device offer an alternative so that the blight of anti social teenage behaviour can otherwise be resolved without involving millions of Euros?


I find it extraordinary that an inexpensive solution to a serious problem is at risk of being cast aside for what I can only assume are political motives. Every time I have been interviewed on radio or T.V. where members of the public have been asked their view more than 70 per cent were in favour. Many went on to suggest the Civil Liberties campaigner or the M.P.s who wanted to ban the Mosquito come and live at their address. They would then get a taste of what it was like to visit local shops or children’s play areas trying to avoid often drunken and abusive teenagers. They want our streets returned to law-abiding citizens and will support anyone who can help. [...]

Should people be forced to tolerate anti-social behavior, physical attacks and crime, and have their businesses disrupted by gangs driving away their customers, just to avoid being called racist? Many Leftists think so. Yet far more disturbing than the device, is the fact that it's become necessary for so many people to use it just to maintain safety and protect their businesses. There was a time when such devices were not needed. What's happened to the concepts of law and order and a civil society?

Read the whole thing for more details of this fascinating and simple invention, and the political attempts to stop it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

"God Damn America" taken out of context?

This is the ad that's created such a fuss? Why? It just reminds everyone of what kind of Church Obama has attended for 20 years. What part of it isn't true? It makes perfect sense to preach "God Damn America" if you hate this country and think it's bad and evil. It also makes perfect sense to attend a church that teaches that if you agree with it. Duh.

I see Bill Moyer's (who has a long history of activism with the American Communist Party and related groups), did a softball interview with Rev. Wright, who insisted his comments were taken out of context. It begs the question, "What context makes 'God Damn America' a good thing to say?"

I fear I know too well. I lived in San Francisco for 23 years, and many people there agree with Wright. Many of them also happen to be communists and hard core socialists (or their overly emotional, easily manipulated "useful idiots"). They believe that America is evil because it is capitalist, and cannot be redeemed, until it CHANGES by renouncing capitalism.

Rev. Wright preaches Liberation Theology, which is Marxism dressed in religious clothing. Obama's church teaches that "middle classness" is wrong. Can you imagine what kind of "change" it is that Obama wants to bring about?

God Damn America? How about God Damn the main stream media, for refusing to talk openly and honestly about what Wright and Obama really believe?

The comments made by Wright are nothing compared to Obama's actual ties to terrorists and terrorist groups:

Muslims for Obama

Barack's other terrorist buddy

Obama's radical Marxist friend

Obama's Kenyan Muslim Friends burn churches

Barack and Michelle and Bill and Bernardine: The Obama/Weather Underground compendium

And lets not forget his leftist foreign policy advisers, who're themselves foreigners:

Obama and his leftist foreign policy advisers

A thorough examination of these would do a lot to put "change you can believe in" into context. But don't hold your breath waiting for the MSM to tell you.

UPDATE 04-28-08

Rev. Wright maintains that "God Damn America" was taken out of context. It's that's true, then seeing the whole sermon should remedy that. And now you can see the whole sermon, on-line:

Videos of Wright's “God Damn America” sermon

Does the context change the meaning? See it and judge for yourself.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Yes He Can...

H.T. Kim Jong-Il: “Yes I Can” Music Video


"Dress for Arrest": a guide to un-success

Mug shots from arrest photos, of people wearing "message" T-shirts:

TOP 10 Shirts To Get Arrested In

If only all criminals came with obvious labels. It's not hard to see how most of these folks were heading for trouble. I felt a bit sorry for "Bambi" though, she's not wearing a message T-shirt, I don't think she belonged on the list. A good looking gal with a job, you have to wonder what happened that got her arrested, what her story was?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mortgage bailout = wealth redistribution

When we bought our first house in San Francisco 14 years ago, we bought a small fixer-upper, with a multitude of problems. We could have gotten a mortgage for a better house, but the payments would have been higher, and money would have been too tight if anything changed in our financial situation.

Well we were smart to go with the fixer. Not long after we got the house, Pat was laid off when the hospital he worked for made cutbacks, and a few months later, I was given six months notice that my job at a Law firm was going to be eliminated. If we had bought a more expensive house, we would have lost it.

In the current national situation, we have a small bunch of people (homes in foreclosure are less than 2%), who made bad choices, and now want "the government" to bail them out. "The government" means tax payers like us, home owner's who chose not to live beyond their means, and renters (32% of households) who have also chosen to be careful, and who are often saving up to buy a house that they can afford. Why should WE all be punished for other people's mistakes?

Losing a house to foreclosure is a hard lesson to learn. But hard lessons also have the benefit of teaching people not to repeat the same mistakes again.

Conversely, bailing people out from the consequences of their mistakes, only teaches them that they do not have to consider the consequences of their actions, because "the government", Big Daddy, is going to step in and fix it for them.

And if the government does it even once, it sets a precedent. If they did it last time, why shouldn't they do it again? And again? And again? After all, they did it the LAST time.

How is this fair to the rest of us who were smarter? Since when is it the roll of government to subsidize foolishness? How is it wise to reward the consequences of bad decision making?

And let's not forget that is was the Democrats who pushed and pushed to have bank mortgages made available to people who couldn't otherwise get them, in the name of "fairness". Now those loans have defaulted, and we who were smarter with our money have to subsidize those who weren't? How is that "fair"?

Once again, the Democrats create a problem, then offer themselves as the solution for the problem they created, using our tax dollars, taking money away from people who earn it and spend it wisely, and giving to people who did neither. It's something to remember, when you vote in November.

H.T. to It’s about time:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Can political correctness destroy a nation?

Great Britain is a good contemporary example. For years, creeping political correctness has been making inroads there, much as it has here in the USA. But over the last several years it's gotten really ugly and scary.

From A. Millar at the Brussels Journal:

Forty Years On: Sleepwalking Toward the Tiber’s Edge
[...] History repeats itself, yes; but history does not repeat itself as we might expect. Today, we are obsessively fighting the last war. Everyone’s enemy is a “racist” and a “fascist.” These terms are invoked by the far-Left, Jack Straw, David Cameron, and even the B.N.P., to describe their opponents. Yet at the same time we see an extreme ideology spilling out from politics and becoming increasing absorbed by the judiciary, police, schools, local councils, etc., all against the common sense of the public. And we also see a rapidly expanding Islamic militancy, occasionally becoming linked to public figures such as Ken Livingstone, and, consequently, accepted by the public.

Free speech – which has been so horribly eroded in Britain – was meant to guard against extremism and the persecution of both individuals and larger groups because of the establishment of some dubious ideology. Today, it would appear, that prosecutions for hate speech are based not on what is said but who is speaking. Protests in support of al-Qaeda are deemed free speech, as is downloading terrorist material and discussing the validity and possibility of carrying out terrorist attacks. Similarly, as think tanks such as the Centre for Social Cohesion and CIVITAS have said, Britain’s governmental and judicial establishments have failed to tackle honor crime, with police, councils, and teachers afraid of being branded racist if they make any attempt.


Today we are faced with a “multiculturalism” that has eroded British culture and the constant drumbeat of racial “equality” that treats people not as human beings but mere racial blocks. As Rageh Omaar has said in an op-ed piece on Powell’s so-called “Rivers of Blood” speech for The Daily Mail, “Instead of multi-culturalism, we are getting tribalisation,”


We have reached a point, then, at which racially or culturally distinct ghettos – the unfortunate results of long-term multiculturalism – are mirrored at both lower and higher levels of government and party politics. Moreover, if some young Muslims are surfing the net, and finding inspiration in al-Qaeda and websites peddling Islamic radicalism, so too do we see a similar phenomenon at government level, with, for example, Livingstone now having gained the support of suicide bombing apologist Dr Azzam Tamimi – which he has not rejected. It is remarkable to think that not only Muslims, but Muslim extremists, are now playing an important, if not decisive, role in British politics. Yet, it is not difficult to imagine that Britain fifty years from now will have a political reality not entirely unlike that of Lebanon’s today. We must hope that it does not take the same sort of upheaval – such as Powell predicted for a multicultural Britain – to get there, but such a hope seems to be fading. Two thirds of the residents of Britain now believe immigration will lead to violence. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) The article gives many examples of how even the mere accusation of "racism" is used with the force of law to stifle free speech and debate on a multitude of issues, at every level of society.

As "identity politics" grows stronger, so does political correctness and it's concomitant restrictions on free speech. When it dominates as a political force, assimilation stops, and "multiculturalism" becomes more like "tribalism", dividing people and destroying a unifying national identity. This weakens the people as a whole, and is the first step in conquering and controlling them.

Am I mistaken, or did this really start to get very bad in Britain in 1997, when they passed a law making private ownership of handguns illegal for citizens? Crime went up by two thirds, and everything else seemed to start going to shit real fast. If that ever happens in the USA, I believe it will be the beginning of the end.

An unarmed population is completely dependent on government for protection, and must live to serve the government, instead of the government existing to serve them. Read the whole article for the horrific details; there is a lesson in it for us all.

Related Links:

Political Correctness — The Revenge of Marxism

Did Tony Blair advance a "Culture of Lies"?

What is the Nature of Multiculturalism?

Our Culture, What’s Left Of It

About British gun laws:

England and Gun Control --- Moral Decline of an Empire


Britain’s Gun-Control Folly

Monday, April 21, 2008

All three astronauts appear at news conference

Even after a grueling re-entry and rough landing, they all appear to be well:

Russian flight engineer Yuri Malenchenko, left, American astronaut Peggy Whitson, centre and South Korea's first astronaut Yi So-yeon pose after news conference in Star City, outside Moscow, Monday, April 21, 2008. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

Yi describes frightening return to Earth
STAR CITY, Russia (AP) — South Korea's first astronaut said Monday she was "really scared" when the Russian space capsule she was in made an unexpectedly steep descent to Earth over the weekend.

"During descent I saw some kind of fire outside as we were going through the atmosphere," said Yi So-yeon, a 29-year-old bioengineer. "At first I was really scared because it looked really, really hot and I thought we could burn."

But then she said she noticed it was not even warm inside the Soyuz capsule. "I looked at the others and I pretended to be OK," Yi said.

The steeper-than-usual descent from the international space station subjected Yi, American astronaut Peggy Whitson and Russian flight engineer Yuri Malenchenko to severe gravitational forces during the re-entry Saturday.

The technical glitch also sent the TMA-11 craft off-course and it landed about 260 miles from its target on Kazakhstan's barren steppe.

All three members of the crew walked slowly and were unsteady on their feet Monday when arriving for the news conference at Russia's Star City cosmonaut training center outside Moscow.

Malenchenko said it was not yet clear what caused the unusual descent.

"There was no action of the crew that led to this," he said. "Time will tell what went wrong."

(bold emphasis mine) Interesting. Previously, a spokesman at the Russian Mission control said that the Soyuz crew failed to notify them of a change in flight path and trajectory. Now the pilot, Malenchenko, says the crew had nothing to do with it. Whatever the problem was, thank goodness it didn't kill or injure them.

You can read more details about the re-entry here:

Soyuz spacecraft has rough landing on Earth

Monday Funnies 04/21/08

I have three funnies today, that happen to coincide with the "Top of the News" column on my iGoogle home page. (the comics came from

Obama struggles to win white vote in rural Pennsylvania
[...] Local people called the Illinois senator arrogant, unpatriotic and un-Christian after his remarks that residents of small towns in Pennsylvania and elsewhere are bitter because of job losses, and so have turned to traditions like guns, religion and anti-immigrant sentiment.

"He is saying people are weak, dumb and naive, and they are seeking religion as a way of getting through," said Darwin Whitmoyer, 54, a white truck driver, at the gas station in this town of about 100 people 150 miles northwest of Philadelphia. "He didn't help himself." [...]

This has hurt Obama in gallup polls, but as of today, it seems his rating in the Daily Gallup poll is slowly starting to rise again. Just when I thought reality might make a difference... Do people have short attention spans? Do polls lie? Or is it a bit of both, or something else too?

Pope Ends Visit With Yankee Stadium Mass

It was an impressive turn out, the stadium was full. Tickets had sold out shortly after they were offered, if there had been a larger venue is seems that many more people would have attended. Some people insist the Catholic Church is dying. From what I saw on Sunday, I can only say that it sure isn't dead yet.

It all seemed to go quite smoothly. According to one woman's account of the event, security was very tight.

Carter Says Hamas May Accept Right of Israel to Exist

Oh come on. How often have they said this? They "hint" that they "might" accept Israel; the West then offers them money, they take the money, which satisfies them... for about 15 minutes. Then they announce it's not enough; they need MORE money if there is ever going to be peace. It's an ongoing game of extortion. Meanwhile, the money is used to support them while they continue to wage war.

This game has been going on for decades. They keep playing them game, because it's lucrative. And it's fools like Jimmy Carter that encourage them to keep the game going. He's their favorite useful idiot.

Really, does this sound like people who want peace? Only to Jimmy Carter and other pie in the sky Lefties.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Soyuz spacecraft has rough landing on Earth

A new crew has taken over the ISS, and the old crew returned to Earth, but not without some problems. From NASA:

Expedition 16 Soyuz Lands Safely in Kazakhstan
HOUSTON – NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, the first female commander of the International Space Station, returned to Earth at approximately 4:30 a.m. EDT Saturday, ending a mission during which she conducted five spacewalks and set a new record in American spaceflight.

Whitson and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, members of the 16th crew to live and work aboard the station, safely landed their Soyuz spacecraft in the steppes of Kazakhstan. Spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi also returned to Earth aboard the Soyuz. The landing was approximately 295 miles from the expected landing site, delaying the recovery forces’ arrival to the spacecraft by approximately 45 minutes. [...]

Now the astronauts are OK, but it hasn't yet been determined what went wrong. This next report, from the associated press via Fox News, has some interesting remarks:

Capsule carrying first SKorean astronaut lands off target
MOSCOW — A Russian space capsule carrying South Korea's first astronaut landed in northern Kazakhstan Saturday, 260 miles off its mark, Russian space officials said.

It was the second time in a row _ and the third since 2003 _ that the Soyuz landing went awry.

Mission Control spokesman Valery Lyndin said the condition of the crew _ South Korean bioengineer Yi So-yeon, American astronaut Peggy Whitson and Russian flight engineer Yuri Malenchenko _ was satisfactory, though the three had been subjected to severe G-forces during the re-entry.

The Russian TMA-11 craft touched down at 4:51 a.m. EDT about 260 miles off target, Lyndin said, a highly unusual distance given how precisely engineers plan for such landings. It was also around 20 minutes later than scheduled. Search helicopters then took 25 minutes to locate the capsule and determine the crew was unharmed.

Officials said the craft followed a so-called "ballistic re-entry" _ a very steep trajectory that subjects the crew to extreme physical force. Lyndin said the crew had experienced gravitational forces up to 10 times those on Earth during the descent.

The crew were being examined on site by medical officials, and were later to return to Moscow for further evaluation.

"The most important thing is that the crew is healthy and well," Federal Space Agency chief Anatoly Perminov told reporters. "The landing occurred normally, but according to a back-up plan _ the descent was a ballistic trajectory."

Perminov said engineers would examine the capsule to determine what caused the glitch, though he blamed the Soyuz crew for not informing Mission Control about the unusual descent.

Later, Perminov referred to a naval superstition that having women aboard a ship was bad luck when asked about the presence of two women on the Soyuz.

"You know in Russia, there are certain bad omens about this sort of thing, but thank God that everything worked out successfully," he said. "Of course in the future, we will work somehow to ensure that the number of women will not surpass" the number of men.

Challenged by a reporter, Perminov responded: "This isn't discrimination. I'm just saying that when a majority (of the crew) is female, sometimes certain kinds of unsanctioned behavior or something else occurs, that's what I'm talking about." He did not elaborate. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) I bet someone's going to have some fun with those remarks. It will be interesting to see what the final report says.

Then there is this from a Reuter's reporter at

South Korean astronaut OK after rough landing
[...] the crew had begun leaving the capsule, which carried Yi So-yeon, a 29-year old nanotechnology engineer from Seoul, U.S. commander Peggy Whitson and Russian flight engineer Yuri Malenchenko.

A Reuters photographer, who traveled to the landing site in a helicopter with rescue crews, saw plumes of smoke rising from the capsule, which was lying in its side stamped about 30 cm into the ground with its parachute burning.

The photographer said the U.S. astronaut looked pale and was not fit enough to take part in a brief news conference. He said the Korean and the Russian looked fine as they traveled in a helicopter from the site to the Kazakh city of Kustanai.

He said the Korean had been dozing in the helicopter most of the way back to Kustanai but started smiling and made a flower drawing on the wall after she was served tea and had her blood pressure measured.

"Even though it is a very small place you can float back and fourth under each other, over each other," smiling Yi So-yeon told in English of her experiences in zero gravity environment at the International Space Station.

Russian space officials back at mission control in Moscow had waited nervously before confirmation came that all three were safe and their health was satisfactory. [...]

Peggy Whitson is 48 years old. It was her 2nd mission in space, and she had been living in zero gravity since October. It probably made her weaker than Yi So-yeon who is 29, and who had only been up there for a short time. Whitson had said before she returned that she wasn't looking forward to dealing with the gravity; I think she was anticipating it would be difficult for her. Yuri Malenchenko is 46, he had been up there as long as Whitson had. But he's also a Russian Air Force colonel as well as a seasoned cosomonaut, and no doubt very tough. It's a heck of a way to travel, for anyone at any age.

The Soyuz space crafts have been pretty reliable, but they are not reusable. The Americans are building a new capsule spacecraft called Orion, that will replace the space shuttle in 2010, and will be also used for Earth re-entry for Lunar and Mars missions. It will most likely be re-usable, but there is still some debate going on about that.

Farm Report: The Weekly Chick Pic

Our first chick of the year is now 2 weeks old. Less fluff, more feathers:

She (I'm guessing the sex) was difficult to photograph this week, as she's getting quite active. She can actually fly now, and while she does enjoy sitting on my finger like a parakeet, she fidgets a lot. She's tamer than other chicks I've raised, because we have so few that I've been able to handle her a lot.

Here she is strutting around the back porch:

She's started getting tail feathers, which I suspect she gets from her Bantam father, not her Cochin mother. She only has one sibling, who was born last week. He (I'm guessing the sex) is a pure Bantam, thus much smaller than she:

There is only one weeks difference between the two; yet it's like looking at
Mutt & Jeff. Pat posted last week about their gruff introduction, where she tried to peck his eyes out. But after a few attempts at integration they adapted to each other, and now he follows her everywhere, and they've become inseparable.

Related Links:

Our first chick of this year...

Farm Report 04-13-08: Trashy Fowls and Rats

Friday, April 18, 2008

Black Churches: The Bitter VS the Optimistic

Obama's "God Damn America" church has got a lot of attention lately, and has some people asking more questions about black churches generally. How many of them are the bitter "God Damn America" kind, and how many are more positive and optimistic? Does one type actually shun the message of MLK? John Blake at compares the two kinds; you decide.

Modern black church shuns King's message
[...] Prosperity ministers preach that God rewards the faithful with wealth and spiritual power. Prosperity pastors such as Bishop T.D. Jakes have become the most popular preachers in the black church. They've also become brands. They've built megachurches and business empires with the prosperity message.

Black prophetic pastors rarely fill the pews like other pastors, though, because their message is so inflammatory, says Edward Wheeler, a church historian. Prophetic pastors like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the former pastor for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, often enrage people because they proclaim God's judgment on nations, he says.

"It's dangerous to be prophetic," said Wheeler, who is also president of the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, Indiana.

"I don't know many prophetic preachers who are driving big cars and living very comfortably. You don't generally build huge churches by making folks uncomfortable on Sunday morning," he said.


Black prosperity preachers say their message is not based on greed, though, but self-help.

Bishop Paul Morton, senior pastor of Greater St. Stephens Full Gospel Church in New Orleans, Louisiana, says that teaching black people better money management is the "next dimension" of King's ministry.

"The Bible said that the poor we will always have with us," he said. "It's up to us to bring ourselves out of the curse of poverty."

Morton was the only black prosperity preacher contacted who agreed to talk about King's ministry. Many of the black church's most popular prosperity preachers -- the Rev. Creflo Dollar of Atlanta, Georgia; the Rev. Fred Price of Los Angeles, California; and Bishop Keith Butler of Detroit, Michigan -- all declined.

Jakes, the most popular prosperity preacher (he made the cover of Time magazine in 2001), declined to talk as well. He did, however, address his views on social justice in August on "Religion & Ethics," a PBS news program.

"I'm not against marching," Jakes said. "But in the '60s, the challenge of the black church was to march. And there are times now perhaps that we may need to march. But there's more facing us than social justice. There's personal responsibility, motivating and equipping people to live the best lives that they can." [...]

(bold emphasis mine) It's not surprising that optimistic prosperity churches attract more people than angry political churches. I think most people look to their churches for inspiration and practical help, more than political organizing.

The article talks about MLK and the fights (often literally!) in the church at that time. But what I find ironic is, that while MLK had his militant side, he also talked about integration. And yet, many of the angry black churches seem to be about black separatism, and are about separating themselves from society around them and even condemning it. Where is the integration, the joining?

There's a lot to be said for optimism, and for counting your blessings and being grateful. Anger has it's place in life too, but it needs to be moderated and balanced with other things, not put at the head of the table, or at the lead of the parade of life. The prosperity churches, all things considered, seem more well rounded in that regard.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Is John McCain the ultimate centrist?

There are various groups, on both the left and right, that endorse senators based on their voting record in the Senate. But each group tends to only select the issues that are most important to that group, and use that as the ruler to measure the candidates worth to the group. That's fine. But what happens if the ENTIRE record is taken into consideration? From Fox News:

McCain in the Middle?
[...] There are a number of organizations on the left and right that evaluate congressmen and senators on how they vote each year. These conservative and liberal groups pick the votes that their fellow liberals or conservatives most care about and figure out what position best supports their own views.

Two well-known organizations that rank congressional voting are the American Conservative Union on the right and the Americans for Democratic Action on the left. There also is the League of Conservation Voters, which ranks politicians from a liberal environmentalist position.

These three rankings from 2001 to 2006 paint a fairly similar picture, putting McCain to the left of most Republicans and to the right of most Democrats in the Senate, though usually much closer to the average Republican. [...]

You can read the rest of the article for a further detailed breakdown. I realise he isn't the ideal of what many conservative Republicans want. I also disagree with him on several issues; he was not my first choice. But the more I consider the larger picture, the more it seems like he might be the IDEAL choice for THIS election.

I normally prefer Governors over Senators for presidential candidates, but they are all Senators this time. None of them are perfect. But both the Democrat candidates have way too many negatives for me. John McCain has a long history in the Senate, a very good record on many conservative issues, and fortunately he's extremely well-connected politically, and has a broad appeal to moderates in both parties.

Neal Boortz believes the winner of the Clinton/Obama debate last night was... John McCain:


He gives some excellent reasons why, and I agree. McCain has so much going for him in comparison to the competition. On a good day, when I'm feeling optimistic, I think it very likely that John McCain will win. It's not a certainty, but he has a lot of things going for him that no other Republican candidate would have. He enjoys a broad appeal among moderates and independents, and I think they may well decide this election. I'm going to do my part in the coming months, not only to hold on to my optimism, but expand and share it too.

The MIDs are coming (Mobile Internet Devices)

Pundits weigh in on Atom-based MIDs
[...] In his TechNewsWorld opinion piece, "A Linux device that could beat the iPhone," Enderle concedes that MIDs are challenged because they are larger than the iPhone, which is itself hefty by cellphone standards. Yet he suggests that large may not be bad for such feature-rich devices. "I've often wondered," he writes, "if most people wouldn't actually be happier with a device that was a bit larger and more capable for video and e-mail than the iPhone currently is." [...]

The article has photos of several of the MIDs that will be coming out in the next one to three months. They look really neat, less than a laptop, but more than a cell phone. And all based on Intel's new Atom processor. See the full article for more photos and links.


Is the Middle East Preparing for War?

Heck, they are always preparing for war, but I mean sometime real soon? This article from seems to think there are many signs that say yes:

Source: U.S. Strike on Iran Nearing
[...] A number of signs indicate that, contrary to the belief President Bush is a lame duck who will not act before he leaves office, the U.S. is poised to strike before Iran can acquire nuclear weapons and carry out the threat of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to “wipe Israel off the map”:

  • According to intelligence sources, the administration now rejects the National Intelligence Estimate report issued in December that asserted Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program in late 2003.

    The French daily Le Monde reported in March that newly surfaced documents show that Iran has continued developing nuclear weapons. In late 2006, U.S. intelligence reportedly intercepted a phone conversation in Iran’s Defense Ministry in which the nuclear weapons program was discussed.

  • The commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, Admiral William Fallon, resigned in March amid media reports that he broke with President Bush’s strategy on Iran and did not want to be in the chain of command when the order comes down from the President to launch a strike on the Islamic Republic.

    Democrats suggested he had been forced out because of his candor in opposing Bush’s Iran plans, and Esquire magazine contended that Fallon’s departure signaled that the U.S. is preparing to attack Iran.

  • According to a Tehran-based Iranian news network, Press TV, Saudi Arabia is taking emergency steps in preparing to counter any “radioactive hazards” that may result from an American attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

    The Saudi newspaper Okaz disclosed that the Saudi government has approved nuclear fallout preparations, and the Iranian network reported that the approval came a day after Cheney met with the kingdom’s high-ranking officials, further stating that the U.S. “is now informing its Arab allies of a potential war.”

  • The American commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, has stepped up criticism of Iran, telling Congress last week that Iranian support for Shiite militias posed the most serious threat to Iraq’s stability. He told senators : “Iran has fueled the violence in a particularly damaging way.” Last week, the U.S. said Iran was providing insurgents with missiles that were killing Americans and hitting targets within the U.S. occupied Green Zone in Baghdad.

    MSNBC Commentator Pat Buchanan said Petraeus’ remarks to Congress lay the groundwork for a U.S. attack on Iran.

  • President Bush said in a speech at the White House on April 10 that Iran, along with al-Qaida, are “two of the greatest threats to America.”

    He said Iran “can live in peace with its neighbors,” or “continue to arm and train and fund illegal militant groups which are terrorizing the Iraqi people … If Iran makes the wrong choice, America will act to protect our interests and our troops and our Iraqi partners.” [...]

  • These are just some of the reasons given, there's more details in the article. I've seen articles like this before though. It's easy to speculate, but harder to predict what actually will happen. Much depends on what any of the players do. The potential is certainly there. I've also read arguments about why it won't happen, but I don't think it's a certainty either way.

    Ahmadinejad has been preparing for war for years, and has many reasons for wanting it to happen, based on his strong apocalyptic religious beliefs. As long as he is in power, war seems likely sooner or later. If Iran gets Nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia will want them too, and Turkey will feel compelled to have them as well, etc etc. If war happens THEN, it will be much worse than anything that happens now. If war is going to happen sooner or later, there may be advantages to having it sooner. It could be the lesser of two evils.

    Tuesday, April 15, 2008

    Barack Obama; the larger, complete picture

    From Thomas Sowell: A Living Lie
    An e-mail from a reader said that, while Hillary Clinton tells lies, Barack Obama is himself a lie. That is becoming painfully apparent with each new revelation of how drastically his carefully crafted image this election year contrasts with what he has actually been saying and doing for many years.


    Speaking privately to supporters in heavily left-liberal San Francisco, Obama let down his hair and described working class people in Pennsylvania as so "bitter" that they "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them."

    Like so much that Obama has said and done over the years, this is standard stuff on the far left, where guns and religion are regarded as signs of psychological dysfunction -- and where opinions different from those of the left are ascribed to emotions ("bitter" in this case), rather than to arguments that need to be answered.

    Like so many others on the left, Obama rejects "stereotypes" when they are stereotypes he doesn't like but blithely throws around his own stereotypes about "a typical white person" or "bitter" gun-toting, religious and racist working class people.


    However inconsistent Obama's words, his behavior has been remarkably consistent over the years. He has sought out and joined with the radical, anti-Western left, whether Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers of the terrorist Weatherman underground or pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli Rashid Khalidi.

    Obama is also part of a long tradition on the left of being for the working class in the abstract, or as people potentially useful for the purposes of the left, but having disdain or contempt for them as human beings.

    Karl Marx said, "The working class is revolutionary or it is nothing." In other words, they mattered only in so far as they were willing to carry out the Marxist agenda.


    It is understandable that young people are so strongly attracted to Obama. Youth is another name for inexperience -- and experience is what is most needed when dealing with skillful and charismatic demagogues. [...]

    (bold emphasis mine) This describes so well what I was trying to explain about the wealthly San Francisco Democrats Obama was addressing: they purport to be for the working class, but they actually despise them. It was hard to pick excerpts from this, Thomas packed in so many relevant points, about Obama's senate record and much more. It's well worth reading the whole article.

    John Fund at the WSJ also looks at Obama's flaws, and some of the reasons that they are only being examined now:

    Obama's Flaws Multiply
    Barack Obama's San Francisco-Democrat comment last week – about how alienated working-class voters "cling to guns or religion" – is already famous. But the fact that his aides tell reporters he is privately bewildered that anybody took offense is even more remarkable.


    Mr. Obama has prospered in Democratic primaries. But as John Harris and Jim VandeHei note in, that's in part because these primaries have "been an exercise in self-censorship" about Mr. Obama's weaknesses. It is "indisputably true," they write, that "Obama is on the brink of the Democratic nomination without having had to confront head-on the evidence about his general election challenges."

    There are many. His statements that he wants to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq, combined with his lack of foreign policy experience, could hurt him. And his aides are hard pressed to come up with any deviations in a voting record the nonpartisan National Journal calls the most liberal of any U.S. Senator.

    As a state legislator he was even more off-center. In 1996, he opposed the Defense of Marriage Act, which the Senate approved 85-14 and President Clinton signed into law. He twice voted "present" on a bill to ban partial-birth abortions. In 1999, he was the only state senator to oppose a law that prohibited early prison release for sex offenders.

    Mr. Obama also backed a total ban on handguns, a move his campaign now says was the result of a rogue aide filling out a questionnaire. But Mr. Obama's own handwritten notes were found on the questionnaire, calling into question the campaign's version of what happened.

    Everyone knows Mrs. Clinton's electoral vulnerabilities – GOP consultant Mike Murphy jokes that "half of the country thinks she rides a broom." But Mr. Obama has shown weakness with key Democratic constituencies. He's had to fend off concerns about his Middle East policies with Jewish voters; he's also won only a third of Hispanic primary voters.

    Then there is trade, where his insincerity is at least as clumsy as Mrs. Clinton's. During the San Francisco episode, Mr. Obama had a throwaway line about how working-class voters fixate on "anti-trade sentiment" in order to vent their frustrations. But isn't it Barack Obama who has been spending months stirring up "anti-trade sentiment?" He has threatened to yank the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement unless Canada and Mexico renegotiate it. Last week, he denounced the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

    According to Canadian diplomats, top Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee admitted to them that they could dismiss his man's anti-Nafta rhetoric. All of this makes Democrats wonder if Mr. Obama is ready for prime time.

    But they have themselves to blame for letting him get this far largely unexamined. While Republicans tend to nominate their best-known candidate from previous nomination battles (Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and now John McCain), Democrats often fall in love during a first date. They are then surprised when all the relatives don't think he's splendid. [...]

    That's almost laughable, except that the Democrats have take "emotional thinking" so far that Obama is practically already nominated, without even being thoroughly vetted and examined. I'm not sure which is more disturbing: the fact that he made it this far without being questioned and examined, or the fact that none of this seems to matter in the polls, as there seems to be a large mass of emotional thinkers who are going to follow their "feelings" and vote for him no matter what.

    Also, I'm sure many of the Democrats running the party these days knew all these things, and didn't care. The Party has gone so far left, and they believe the American Public is so stupid, that they could ignore the inconvenient truths about him, and sell Obama "emotionally" as a Rockstar/Messiah/American Idol. Facts don't matter anymore, IF you can distract enough people from looking at them.

    Neal Boortz has some more info on Obama's finances:


    Interesting facts ... for anyone who thinks it matters.

    Democrat Clowns Grab Spotlight, Fight Dirty

    While the Obama - Clinton sideshow continues, dominating the Media Spotlight, the Democrats fight dirty by using every ploy available to them to try to tar John McCain with allegations of illegal campaign finance activity:

    Democrats Sue FEC over McCain Finances

    The irony is, they are suing the FEC for being non-functional. The FEC is non-functional because it has only two commissioners, not the needed four. There are only two because the Democrats have been blocking White House nominees for the commission since December 2005. They've even blocked a Democrat nominee. They are basically suing over a problem they have created and continue to perpetuate.

    John McCain is being accused of exceeding spending caps, when he hasn't received a dime of public money. He filed an application, then withdrew it. The Democrats maintain that's a crime, while simultaneously making it impossible for the FEC to investigate. They cause the problem, then posture themselves as fighting for the solution. Typical Democrat BS posturing.

    Meanwhile, Obama accepts funds from a sleazy lobbyist group, even as he claims he does not accept money form lobbyists:

    Obama Took Money From Abramoff Firm? The Hell You Say!

    That's a real story, more interesting than the Democrat's manufactured self-created drama with the FEC. We have more than enough of these Democrat clowns in the Congress and Senate, let's not put one in the White House too. John McCain would be a much better, serious choice.

    Monday, April 14, 2008

    From Hamas TV: "Brothers of Apes and Pigs"

    Click here to view video clip

    Hamas MP and Cleric Yunis Al-Astal in a Friday Sermon:

    "We Will Conquer Rome, and from There Continue to Conquer the Two Americas and Eastern Europe"

    Following are excerpts from an address by Hamas MP and cleric Yunis Al-Astal, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on April 11, 2008.

    Yunis Al-Astal: Allah has chosen you for Himself and for His religion, so that you will serve as the engine pulling this nation to the phase of succession, security, and consolidation of power, and even to conquests thorough da'wa and military conquests of the capitals of the entire world. Very soon, Allah willing, Rome will be conquered, just like Constantinople was, as was prophesized by our Prophet Muhammad. Today, Rome is the capital of the Catholics, or the Crusader capital, which has declared its hostility to Islam, and has planted the brothers of apes and pigs in Palestine in order to prevent the reawakening of Islam – this capital of theirs will be an advanced post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread through Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, and even Eastern Europe.

    I believe that our children or our grandchildren will inherit our Jihad and our sacrifices, and Allah willing, the commanders of the conquest will come from among them. Today, we instill these good tidings in their souls, and by means of the mosques and the Koran books, and the history of our Prophets, his companions, and the great leaders, we prepare them for the mission of saving humanity from the hellfire on the brink of which they stand.

    Yeah, we really do need to keep sending money to these folks. After all, they NEED us Apes and Pigs to keep sending them money to help them to destroy us. And lets send Jimmy Carter to talk to them too, Carter helped Iran to strengthen Hezbollah into what it is today, I'm sure he can help Hamas thrive and prosper too. After all, Carter is on their side. Just one of the many reasons Islamic fascists everywhere love our Democrat party.

    Monday Funny 04-14-08

    With tax filings due tomorrow, this joke I got in my email seems appropriate:

    The IRS decides to audit Ralph, and summons him to the IRS office.
    The IRS auditor is not surprised when Ralph shows up with his attorney.

    The auditor says, "Well, sir, you have an extravagant lifestyle and no
    full-time employment, which you explain by saying that you win money
    gambling. I'm not sure the IRS finds that believable."

    "I'm a great gambler, and I can prove it," says Ralph. "How about a

    The auditor thinks for a moment and said, "Okay. Go ahead."

    Ralph says, "I'll bet you a thousand dollars that I can bite my own
    eye." The auditor thinks a moment and says, "No way! It's a bet."
    Ralph removes his glass eye and bites it. The auditor's jaw drops.

    Ralph says, "Now, I'll bet you two thousand dollars that I can bite my
    other eye. "The auditor can tell Ralph isn't blind, so he takes the
    bet. Ralph removes his dentures and bites his good eye. The stunned
    auditor now realizes he has wagered and lost three grand, with Ralph's
    attorney as a witness. He starts to get nervous.

    "Want to go double or nothing?" Ralph asks. "I'll bet you six thousand
    dollars that I can stand on one side of your desk, and pee into that
    wastebasket on the other side, and never get a drop anywhere in

    The auditor, twice burned, is cautious now, but he looks carefully and
    decides there's no way this guy can manage that stunt, so he agrees

    Ralph stands beside the desk and unzips his pants, but although he
    strains mightily, he can't make the stream reach the wastebasket on
    other side, so he pretty much urinates all over the desk.

    The auditor leaps with joy, realizing that he has just turned a major
    loss into a huge win. But Ralph's attorney moans and puts his head in
    his hands.

    "Are you okay?" the auditor asks. "Not really," says the attorney.
    "This morning, when Ralph told me he'd been summoned for an audit, he
    bet me twenty thousand dollars that he could come in here and piss all
    over your desk and that you'd be happy about it."

    HP to offer UMPC Mini-Notebook with Linux

    HP will shortly be offering an UMPC (Ultramobile PC), aimed at the education market. There will be two versions, one offered at the end of April, and another more expensive version in May:

    HP releases its first Linux-powered laptop
    [...] The HP Mini is another UMPC (Ultramobile PC). Unlike Asustek Computer's Eee PC and Everex's CloudBook, the HP Mini is the first UMPC to arrive from a top-tier system vendor.

    Like the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child)'s XO Laptop and Intel's Classmate PC, the HP Mini is designed for the wear and tear of use by children. The 2.5-pound UMPC comes with an anodized aluminum shell that's designed to be sturdy. It also comes with "HP DuraKeys," a clear damage-resistant keyboard coating designed to help prevent chocolate-milk-induced system failures. It also includes the HP 3D DriveGuard, which uses a three-axis digital accelerometer chip to shut down the hard drive if it's dropped (or thrown, or kicked).

    Besides the usual array of SLED software goodies, the system also includes educational software. Jim Mann, an HP technology strategist, credited Novell with putting together an excellent collection of educational software.

    The PC itself comes in two different versions. Both models are powered by a 1.6GHz Via C7 processor. They also both have 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and an 8.9-inch display with 1280 by 768 resolution. They each also include a pair of USB ports and Ethernet port. The cheaper model, the one that's aimed directly at the education market, comes with 1GB of memory and a 120GB hard drive. This system, which should be available by the end of April, will retail for $499. The higher-end system comes with 2GB, a faster 120GB hard drive and a larger six-cell battery. This system will be available by May and list for $799, HP said.

    HP has is going to offer it on it's HP 2133 Mini-Note PC, seen here with Windows Vista on the screen:

    The Windows Vista version which is already available, is reviewed here:

    HP 2133 Mini-Note PC
    It didn't take long for PC makers to realize the gold mine ASUS struck with its Eee PC 4G. The Eee PC is a sleek, 2.2-pound ultraportable that costs less than $400—something the UMPC platform had promised but failed to deliver. Now, manufacturers are mobilizing to create an Eee PC "killer," so to speak. The HP 2133 Mini-Note PC ($749 direct) has the potential to be just that. It sports a sexy, 3-pound design, has features similar to the Eee PC, and offers a variety of operating systems to choose from. Even more compelling, however, is that this miniature device can be used by kindergarteners or top-level executives alike, and is affordable to most families with schoolchildren. My configuration was relatively expensive; others start as low as $499—a price that HP had to nail down in order for the Mini-Note to fly. [...]

    Sounds intriguing! Although for that price you could buy a regular notebook computer with Vista, and install Linux over it or dual boot it with Vista. But this particular model of mini notebook is especially rugged and durable, and will have an appeal all it's own. I'll be watching the reviews, that's for certain.

    Sunday, April 13, 2008

    Unusual Quake Activity off the Oregon Coast

    Unusual earthquake swarm detected off Oregon
    By JEFF BARNARD, Associated Press Writer
    GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - Scientists listening to underwater microphones have detected an unusual swarm of earthquakes off central Oregon, something that often happens before a volcanic eruption - except there are no volcanoes in the area.

    Scientists don't know exactly what the earthquakes mean, but they could be the result of molten rock rumbling away from the recognized earthquake faults off Oregon, said Robert Dziak, a geophysicist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Oregon State University.

    There have been more than 600 quakes over the past 10 days in a basin 150 miles southwest of Newport. The biggest was magnitude 5.4, and two others were more than magnitude 5.0, OSU reported. [...]

    I've not felt any quakes. A ship is being sent out to take water samples. There are some other things that make it unusual... see the rest of the article for more details.

    Farm Report 04-13-08: Trashy Fowls and Rats

    Our First Chick reported on last week turned one week old on Friday:

    It's wing feathers are starting to show, and it's already quite tame. Now it just needs some siblings to keep it company.

    In the past week, I tried to save a Bantam chick that got crushed in it's egg a few days too soon before it was ready to hatch. I put it in a small incubator, it lived for a few days, using up it's yoke sack, but it then died anyway. Another Bantam chick was born in the coop yesterday, and I took it out before nightfall.

    This is the reason I remove chicks from their trashy moms:

    The Bantams like to crowd together in the nest boxes. There are four in this box. A fifth one climbed in soon after I took the photo. The larger pullets like to climb in with the Bantams and lay their eggs in the Bantam's nests too. As a result, eggs and chicks can get crushed. You can see Bantam #5 climbing in on the left:

    The hens on the other nests are full sized pullets. They often sit on eggs in the morning but usually abandon them by the afternoon. In the photo below, you can see the empty nest boxes available, but the Bantams crowd together anyway.

    The hen in the lower left corner is our Chinese Coachen. Of all our hens, she is the most reliable sitter for hatching out eggs. Some of the Bantams succeed, but it's hit or miss with them. Our most reliable Bantam from last year went out into the woods to make a secret nest, and probably got eaten by something.

    We've had a rat problem that's been too big for the cat to handle alone, so "Victor" and I have been giving her a little help:

    Some folks imagine that living on a farm is like a "Dr. Dolittle" movie. But the reality is, there are some critters you just can't waste time talking to.

    And that's the end of this week's FARM REPORT.