Skip to content

Lead (Pb) is Good, Global Warming Doesn't Exist

Some snippets from a recent Wired article.

Two federal agencies are investigating whether the Bush administration tried to block government scientists from speaking freely about global warming and censor their research, a senator said Wednesday.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) said he was informed that the inspectors general for the Commerce Department and NASA had begun “coordinated, sweeping investigations of the Bush administration’s censorship and suppression” of federal research into global warming.

He said the investigations “will uncover internal documents and agency correspondence that may expose widespread misconduct.” He added, “Taxpayers do not fund scientific research so the Bush White House can alter it.”

In February, House Science Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) and other congressional leaders asked NASA to guarantee scientific openness. They complained that a public affairs officer changed or filtered information on global warming and the Big Bang.

The officer, George Deutsch, a political appointee, had resigned after being accused of trying to limit reporters’ access to James Hansen, a prominent NASA climate scientist, and insisting that a web designer insert the word “theory” with any mention of the Big Bang.

I’m confused as to why it has taken so long for someone to take action on this. I’ve been stunned that there hasn’t been outrage over this sooner. Forget global warning! Does anyone remember when Bush dissolved a CDC committee on the effects of lead on children after receiving the shocking conclusion that lead is bad for children. He then replaced the committee with lobbyists for Lead producing manufacturers!

The Iraqi Death Toll

My previous post on the Iraqi death toll was based on the US Government’s official estimates. I did mention the estimates of a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University in 2004 too though. To learn more about this study, listen to the interview with the study’s author at This American Life, it was broadcast 11/03/2006 (find it in the archives–their website totally sucks). A new study has the numbers at 6 times this study’s estimates. I’ve plucked the following quotes from a story run in The Guardian. Give the This American Life episode a listen too. It mentions the US Government’s estimate at bombs dropped to date (not sure what date) was somewhere around 55,000 in Iraq alone. That’s a lot of bombs.

The death toll in Iraq following the US-led invasion has topped 655,000 – one in 40 of the entire population – according to a major piece of research in one of the world’s leading medical journals.

The study, produced by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and published online by the Lancet, claims the total number of deaths is more than 10 times greater than any previously compiled estimate.

Nearly a third of the deaths (31%) were ascribed to the coalition forces. Most of the deaths – 601,000 out of 655,000 – were due to violence and of those, 56% were caused by gunshot wounds. Air strikes, car bombs and other explosions accounted for a further 13-14%.

The authors say their discovery that the death rate in Iraq has more than doubled from 5.5 per 1,000 a year before the invasion to 13.3 per 1,000 a year since “constitutes a humanitarian emergency”.

“We continue to believe that an independent international body to monitor compliance with the Geneva conventions and other humanitarian standards in conflict is urgently needed. With reliable data, those voices that speak out for civilians trapped in conflict might be able to lessen the tragic human cost of future wars.”

Non-Newtonian Fluid

In case you are wondering, a Non-Newtonian fluid is one that can temporarily exhibit the behavior of a solid. This occurs when there is a rapid application of force on the fluid at which time it exhibits what is called “shear thickening,” which is to say it appears to be solid. The rapidity of the application of force is critical. If you slowly apply force it will behave as one would expect, which is to say: as a fluid. Here is a fun demonstration.

In short, you too can have fun with Non-Newtonian Fluids. Corn starch and water is all you need. Read more about this at Wikipedia.

Ashby Crawls on Water!!

Ok, so she hasn’t crawled on water (yet), but Ashby did start crawling last week. Right at 10 months. She has been mobile for at least two months now, but she would propel herself about by what I can only describe as log-rolling. She would roll from one end of the room to the next, which had to make her dizzy. She is so darn big I think it’s been difficult for her to master crawling. Now she is trying to master climbing up the stairs.

P1030374 P1030393
P1030404 P1030379

Tommy and Brenda were down this weekend. Tara and I broke the news to them that we’re very likely moving to San Diego at the end of February. Needless to say that was rather emotional. It’s been wonderful living so close to them and Tara, Ashby and I will all miss them greatly. I know Tara takes great comfort in having her folks so close by. Moreover, Ashby loooooves Tbone and PorkChop. To be honest, they’re really our closest friends. We generally spend two weekends a month with them and I’m going to miss having them nearby. Also, I know Tara and Ashby are going to miss our wonderful neighbors J.J., Ron, and Alla. Tara and J.J. have grown close in the last few months (as have Ashby and Alla) and Tara doesn’t easily open herself to new friends. I’ll admit I have allowed myself to fantasize about Alla and Ashby growing up together and remaining close for many many years, even though I knew we almost certainly wouldn’t be around long enough for that. Alla is Ashby’s first friend though and they’re so sweet. End the long term I’m certain it’s for the best though.

P1030389 Ashby
Ashby P1030436

We went to Buca’s in Maple Grove. I’ve never been particularly fond of their food–it’s ok, but it’s a great place when you have young children. It’s loud and there’s lot to look at. While waiting for a table I took Ashby into the bar (non-smoking) and sat at the bar and had a drink while waiting for Tara and her folks to park the car. The place was totally packed and it was the only place I could sit down and keep Ashby somewhat sheltered from the throng. I got some disapproving looks, which I thought was odd. So, what’s the protocol now that most places disallow smoking? Who cares if I take my daughter into a non-smoking bar? Does she soak the sin of drinkers by way of osmosis? It’s not like I’m tying one on nor was I driving. She certainly enjoyed it.

P1030390 P1030405
P1030399 P1030383

Ashby, as always when she is on the go, had a blast. I believe she’s been to Buca’s at least five times since being born. The chain started here in Minneapolis. As an uninteresting side note many many years ago I opened a 350+ seat restaurant that was a total Buca’s rip-off. It was called Bella Vita. I didn’t know it at the time being I had not been to a Buca’s (I think there was only a couple around back then). Anyhow, I guess that’s another reason I like it. I had opened Bella Vita just months after meeting Tara (over 10 years ago). I started out as Soux Chef and then about 6 months later took over as executive chef. The former chef was a complete moron. Then 6 months later Tara and I took off and backpacked Europe for several months having very quickly saved enough money. It was kind of a funny thing. I remember I had just been promoted to Executive Chef and was making really good money (for how young I was and where I lived). Tara and I were talking outside of Bella Vita, smoking of course. And somehow we got on this conversation about how we should go to Africa. So, we decided we would save for the next 5-6 months and split to Africa. After a little research we discovered Europe would be lots cheaper to fly to. At that time I made it a practice of working for no longer than a year before splitting into the woods or on a road trip for a prolonged period of time. I miss that. I can’t believe I’ve lived in MN for just over two years now and I only made it into the BWCA once and only did one white water canoe trip (which Tommy and Brenda still swear they’ll never canoe with us again since that trip–gooood times). Lame.

I can’t wait to take Ashby abroad. I’ll never forget that American fellow we met in Pompeii. He was there with his wife and ~5 year old son. I believe he was a gemologist, or diamond merchant, or something odd like that, but related to gems. I remember thinking how damn cool it was that he was able to just take off and travel Europe for several weeks with his wife and son. With two kids this would be really hard, I think. If not impossible. I think we’ll stick with one child.

Halloween in the Homeland

Halloween_2006 (7)I had a couple speaking engagements in San Jose at KMWorld last week that conflicted with Halloween; so, rather than missing Ashby’s first Halloween, Tara and Ashby headed out to San Jose with me. It was great to have them there. We spent the entire week at my sister’s house, Julie, in Atherton. It would be wonderful if Tara and I could live the rest of our lives without ever being separate for an entire day. Tara read somewhere this is how Paul and Linda McCartney lived. That would be fantastic. Anyhow, it was great for Ashby to see her cousins again: Skylar and Owen. We were out there in June for at least a few days; so, it wasn’t their first time together, but now that Ashby is older she was able to really engage them.

Ashby really digs traveling. She is so into it, it’s a riot. She just has the time of her life at the airport, on the plane, strolling about in public from place to place. I think she thinks she is the queen of the parade or something. She just loves it! This girl loves to be on the go. This was the third time Halloween_2006 (13) she has flown since being born. The first time we flew to North Carolina so I could speak at UNC, then, as I said, we were in California last June (Tom Tran’s wedding), and now this Halloween trip. She’ll likely fly again this year to San Diego. More on that later.

Tara and Ashby spent all day at Julie and Paul’s while I went into San Jose to work from the hotel was holed up at: Hotel Montgomery, a snazzy and affordable hotel just a couple blocks from the McEnery Convention Center where KMWorld was being held. For some bizarre reason my sister’s place doesn’t have WiFi with broadband. I have no idea what’s up with that considering Julie is a Publisher for a major technology media company. It’s always strange going back to the valley. It definitely feels like home. As soon as I step off the plane the smell hits me and I immediately know I’m back to the homeland. Maybe that’s my kind of pollution. I don’t know. There is something comforting about the urban sprawl, the rolling foothills, and good Asian food on every corner. I guess you can go home.

Tara and I got out for sushi twice the week we were there. Living in Minnesota we don’t get many chances to get decent food…I mean Asian food. In case you didn’t know: Swedes, Norwegians, and Irish don’t have the most diverse palletes. We went to Bonsai in Redwood City off El Camino on Monday while Julie and Paul monitored Ashby while she slept, which had totally shitty service and ‘ok’ food. Then later in the week we took Ashby to some sushi place in Palo Alto that, oddly enough, Tara had been to once previously a couple years ago with her mother. Odd coincidence. This place was pretty good. Ashby ate rice for the first time, she loved it, and, as usual, had a gay ol’ time with us. She really gets a thrill about being on the go.

Halloween_2006 (18) Halloween_2006 (7)
Halloween_2006 (38) Halloween_2006 (37)

Halloween_2006 (20)

I spoke on Tuesday about wikis being the future of Knowledge Management and then on Wednesday I spoke about business/enterprise wikis and features and attributes to consider when selecting a wiki. I wrote briefly about this at my OpenGarden.org blog, which reminds me: I need to publish my PPTs up there. In general, I’m sorry to say, I think KMWorld is lame. Mainly because the Halloween_2006 (23)organizers were just so damn disorganized. Just to give you some idea: it took me 15-20 minutes, 5people and three trips to figure out that I needed another ribbon on my badge to get me into the exhibition hall. Also, they misplaced Joel Waterman (Program Director, Enterprise Search Solutions, IBM) and I in the ‘collaboration’ track and totally boffed the description for our presentation.

I was stunned to see TheBrain there. Apparently they’ve been at KMWorld every year since 2000. It’s weird because I remember this software application like 6 or 7 years ago. It’s a mind map based personal information manager. I remember when I first saw it I was so impressed by the interface. Strangely the interface hasn’t changed since I first saw it–six years ago. It looks old. It’s kind of like when you see furniture from the 1980’s…not pretty. Not exactly a classic. I look at some of these bubbly Web 2.0 interfaces and I just know it’s going to be the same thing a few years from now. We’re going to look back at them and wonder what the hell was everyone was smoking. Just because we can make everything clickable, draggable, with rounded edges and primary colors doesn’t me should. San Jose

Then there was Halloween. Wwwwweeeeeeee!! This was so much fun! I hauled ass back to Julie’s house after my presentation on Wednesday just in time to catch everyone geared up and ready to go trick-or-treating. Ashby was, as you can see, dressed as a Lady Bug from hell. Ok, so I said she was from hell for creep factor. It didn’t work well. I grabbed the only costume I had at my disposal in 5 minutes and we headed out. It was awesome! Ashby was totally into it. We went a couple miles away from Julie and Paul’s place and met up with a mob of children, and their parents, that Julie and Paul know. Tara and I made it out to about a dozen houses before heading home early to get Ashby to bed.

On Thursday, Paul and I went to a San Jose Sharks game. I had never been to a hockey game. It was a blast! Paul got us some killer seats: eighth row center. Other than Mark, the very big and clearly mentally impaired dude in the seat next to who kept crowding me and periodically dropping peanuts into my beer it was great. Hockey is loads of fun live. San_Jose_Sharks (32)Sharks lost 1-2 to the Rangers.

Friday, we convened the: "Phase 2 of Establish Global Dominance" meeting with several of the MindTouch core team. MUHAHAHAHA!!! The next 6 months are going to be very exciting.

Finally, on Saturday we had brunch in Las Altos (Las Altos Cafe–good) with Josh Branscomb. An old buddy of mine that I graduated from UNC with. We did our senior project together. He’s pretty cool, for a Republican. Josh actually helped forge MindTouch waaaaaay back when it was still just an idea, before there were even other Wiki companies out there. In fact, he really was a founder. Instead of continuing with MindTouch he decided to go to Stanford Law School to get his law-monkey certification. He’s doing great though. He spent last Summer in D.C. and he’ll be working with Wilson and Sonsini this summer. In case you didn’t know, this is probably the most well respected technology focused law firm in the country. They represent Google, Yahoo, and perhaps the most impressive client: MindTouch!

What would you buy with $2 Billion…a week?

Given the opportunity to spend $2 Billion a week, what would you spend it on? Personally, I would spend it on research and education. Imagine…an additional $2 Billion a week. Just think about what an incredible difference this would make to mankind. Well, our government has instead chosen to spend $2 Billion every week on waging war in Iraq (an average since beginning of war). What does this buy us? Well, this buys us 7,000 dead Iraqis a week (on average based on Lancet, a British Medical Journal ). This also buys us 164 American casualties a week with 22 Americans dead a week (on average–based on official numbers, estimated is higher). This also buys us new generations of terrorists, destabilization in the middle east, an emboldened Korea, Iran and Syria, a more competitive China, and global disdain for our country.

It’s important to point out this is $2,000,000,000 is money we do not have. We’re borrowing this money from, mostly, China. We’re funding the world’s next super-power on the backs of our sons and daughters. Remarkable.

American Military Casualties in Iraq
Total
American Deaths  
Since war began (3/19/03):
2828
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03) (the list)
2691
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03):
2362
Since Handover (6/29/04):
1962
Since Election (1/31/05):
1392
American Casualties  
Total (‘Officially’) Wounded:
21077
Latest Fatality November 2nd, 2006

DekiWiki Germinate 1.0

To all my CS buddies out there who periodically read my personal blog I want to make sure you check out the following program I’m kicking off over at OpenGarden.org. See below:

MindTouch DekiWiki Germinate v.1.0

MindTouch wants you!

We want to enlist the help of the Gardeners (you) in steering the development of DekiWiki.

What's in it for you?

Aside from gratitude and a smug piece of mind knowing that you're making a great project even better, the Gardener (submitter) whose feature is selected will receive a Video iPod tm and as much fame as OpenGarden.org can provide.

We're excited about reviewing your ideas! This is a unique opportunity for you to impact a software application that is currently powering almost 40,000 sites (as of October 24, 2006).

Details

For more information and to provide your submissions visit here.

Area 61 U.F.O. Convention

Area61-UFO.jpg Tara, Ashby, and I headed north to the in-laws early Saturday morning to spend some time with Tommy, my father-in-law, for his 62nd birthday.Area 61 As it turned out the weekend coincided with the third annual Area 61 UFO Convention. Two years ago Tara and I stumbled upon this conference. It's like entering an alternate dimension. The event is held at Lakeview Castle, which is a bar/restaurant on the North shore of Lake Superior. The place is too big for it’s location and it bears a strong resemblance to a run down quasi-castle. The first time we stumbled upon the Area 61 Convention we were diving into about a hundred and fifty hipsters, folks with antennae, wannabe Men In Black, and a modern dance troupe that danced a diddy while William S. Burroughs performed spoken voice over a techno beat. Mix in some lumberjacks and you've got a pretty good idea what this place and event is like. Pretty trippy.

After getting to the in-laws’ house on Saturday morning, Brenda (mother-in-law) informed us Area 61 was going on. Suddenly our celebration of Tommy’s birthday morphed into Tara and I getting some, much needed, time out alone. (Happy Birthday Tommy, thanks) We got to Lakeview a little after 9 PM. This being the event's third it had grown considerably. This was the first time I’ve ever known Lakeview to charge a cover. The Black Labels were playing and they are worth a lot more than the $5 cover; so, I didn't mind. A band named Crew Jones took stage a little after we got there. They had a good sound (reminiscent of Soul Coughing), but their sound setup was total crap. A monkey must have been working their sound board.

Tara and I chatted with the percussion/trombone player from The Black Labels at the bar for a bit while Crew Jones playes. He's a good guy. If you haven’t been to a Black LabelsArea 61 show you’re missing out. They’re the best band I’ve heard in MN that's from MN since the Surahoolies back in the mid-90s. I wonder: whatever happened to the Surahoolies? Anyway, The Black Labels are great They are dance hall, but regularly riff into surfer rock. Duluth has a peculiarly active music scene.

Anyway, Area 61 was definitely the highlight of the weekend. Otherwise my time has been devoted to preparing for KMWorld, where I’ll be speaking in just over a week and completing a proposal.

Fascism

I often hear people throwing around the word: “Fascism.” The Bush administration has been calling ‘terrorists’ Islamo-Fascisist. Some Liberals claim the Bush Administration is a Fascist government. This got me to thinking: What is Fascism? Fascism is a social and political ideology with the primary guiding principle that the state or nation is the highest priority, rather than personal or individual freedoms. Historically this has taken the form of extreme anti-communistic and anti-liberal. I found the following definition, which I like because it also provides the etymology of the word:

Fascism
The name comes from the Latin fasces – a bundle of rods with a projecting axe, which was the symbol of authority in ancient Rome. The term was applied by Mussolini to his movement after his rise to power in 1922. The Fascists were viciously anti-Communist and anti-liberal and, once in power, relied on an authoritarian state apparatus. They also used emotive slogans and old prejudices (for example, against the Jews) to bolster the leader’s strongman appeal. Fascism had a direct influence on Hitler’s Nazism.

Provided the term liberal, above, I’m forced to ask: In this context what is meant by liberal? The same site provides this definition:

Liberalism
A term that gained significance in the 19th century, when it meant the limiting of government power and the increase of social reform. In the 20th century, capitalist democracies occasionally described themselves as ‘liberal’ to indicate that they didn’t attempt to control thought and action to the same extent as Communist regimes.

Historically Liberal means a person who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties. Almost every definition defines a Liberal as someone who is concerned with the protection of civil liberties. I think this is important to point out. By this definition I consider myself Liberal. I believe government should, mostly, stay out of business and let the markets manage themseleves (within common sense) and, by God, businesses should stay the hell out government. Also, religion and government do not mix. In general, I’m fiscally conservative and consider myself to be Libertarian and very big on education. I bring this up because as a Libertarian I find Fascism terribly frightening.

Dr. Lawrence Britt, a political scientist, published an article on fascism (“Fascism Anyone?,” Free Inquiry, Spring 2003, page 20) This was the summary of a study he conducted on the fascist regimes of Franco, Mussolini, Hitler, Suharto, and Pinochet. Dr. Britt posits each of these regimes all shared 14 charateristics, which he defines as the “identifying characteristics of fascism.” The following is an except taken from Free Inquiry in accordance with the magazine’s policy.

  1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
  2. Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

  3. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
  4. Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

  5. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
  6. The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

  7. Supremacy of the Military
  8. Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

  9. Rampant Sexism
  10. The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

  11. Controlled Mass Media
  12. Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

  13. Obsession with National Security
  14. Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

  15. Religion and Government are Intertwined
  16. Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

  17. Corporate Power is Protected
  18. The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

  19. Labor Power is Suppressed
  20. Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed .

  21. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
  22. Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

  23. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
  24. Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

  25. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
  26. Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

  27. Fraudulent Elections
  28. Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Is it possible to read this without concluding that we, in the United States, are living in a regime that has been for the last six years sliding toward fascism?

SunNimbus?

What happened to SunNimbus? Wellllllll…I’ve sat on this domain: http://www.nblogn.com for at least a couple years now and SunNimbus is a bit of a pain in the ass because whenever I tell someone: S-U-N-N-I-M-B-U-S they’re always confused. Also, typing it sunnimbus.com for email is a bit of a pain. In short, nblogn is just hella cool, a lot easier to remember, and easier to speak to someone. That’s the story.