Bob's Junkmail (important stuff.)

Bob’s Junkmail, #199

Fishing in Sakhalin

Hokkaido is the northernmost island in Japan, unless you count the Kuril Islands. The Kuril Islands are a string of islands that run northeast from Hokkaido to the Kamchatka Peninsula.


About 25 miles north of Hokkaido is the island of Sakhalin. Sakhalin is about 600 miles long.

Japan and Russia have been arguing over the Kurils and Sakhalin off and on for the past 300 years. In 1875 they agreed that Japan could have the Kurils and Russia could have Sakhalin.

Near the end of World War II, in August 1945 after the atomic bombs and before the surrender, the Soviet Union mounted a big offensive to take over Sakhalin and the Kurils. In 1946, the Soviet Union kicked out the Japanese and now owns the islands. Japan still claims ownership of at least some of the Kurils, but Russia is in control.

It looks like they may finally resolve the dispute this summer. Japan may end up with the Southern Kurils (Kunashiri, Etorofu, Shikotan and Habomai (Japanese names)), and a World War II peace treaty between Japan and Russia may finally be signed.


Sakhalin Island is now a big oil producer. It is also a popular place for ice fishing. In the winter they take snowmobiles miles out into the frozen Sea of Okhotsk. Apparently, large amounts of vodka are among the required fishing equipment for these expeditions.

The ice melts in the spring and the people stop ice fishing, but not always in that order. Sometimes the ice floats away, carrying with it the ice fishermen, ice fisherwomen and ice fisherchildren. This is known as trolling. Then they get rescued by helicopters and boats.

In February 2007, 442 people were rescued from drifting ice, although about 70 initially refused to be rescued without their fishing gear.


This month, 758 people were rescued from the drifting ice. Some of the anglers called for help when the ice floe had blown 5 miles out to sea. Impressively, there were no deaths or injuries outside of hangovers.

One report said, “Similar rescue dramas are something of an annual ritual in spring when local enthusiasts target migrating fish and the winter ice pack is already starting to break up.”


I suspect this would also be the case in Minnesota if Minnesota had an ocean.

Sunken Truck

Only in Minnesota do they recommend you leave your window down when you drive on thin ice so it’s easier to swim out when your truck sinks.



John Ashcroft

Former Attorney General John runs his own Washington consulting company called Ashcroft Group, LLC. Last fall his company was awarded a no-bid government contract that will bring in somewhere between $28 million and $52 million over 18 months.


Ashcroft said there was nothing wrong with this. He said this is how the government saves money. I guess that would explain this year’s half-trillion dollar federal budget deficit.

The federal government is spending $500,000,000,000 more than it has this year. For some reason, that seems worse to me than a delinquent sub-prime loan. Maybe I should foreclose on the Washington Monument.

(may require subscription)

Oddly enough, John did not go on to explain how his company was selected for the contract, or why other companies should not be allowed to bid on such a contract. He was quoted as saying, “Certainly I deserve $50,000,000. The National Republican Congressional Committee Treasurer stole a cool million, and I’m easily 50 times more important.” Or maybe I just made that up.


Airplane Cockpits

Here are cockpit photos of various planes, from the F-35 to the Desert Hawk UAV. It’s pretty interesting.


There’s no photo of the Airbus A319 cockpit, so we can’t see the bullet hole.


Here’s a good article on the F-35 cockpit.


The F-117 Stealth Fighter is being retired. The last flight of four will be made on April 21-22 to Tonopah, Nevada where the F-117 was secretly tested before 1988.


I think the F-117 became obsolete because new and better radar made it a little less stealthy. And its stealth is its only defense — it has no radar and no defensive weapons.

The F-117…


…will be replaced by the F-22…


…and possibly the Cessna 177:


A Cessna 177 (not this one) meandered over Washington DC on March 12. The terrorism threat level was raised from some color to another color, and Capitol personnel were ordered to prepare to evacuate. Tourists, however, were left to die, with a threat level of purplish-yellow.

Destruction of the nation’s capital and capitol were imminent when two F-16 supersonic fighters and a Coast Guard(?!) helicopter intercepted the single engined Cessna and escorted it to Leesburg, Virginia, where the terrorist threat level was 13.6-F.

The Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) around Washington is violated just about once a day by terrorists and other unsuspecting pilots. Maybe the new President will have a bit of common sense and get rid of the ADIZ (or at least reverse it so it keeps the politicians inside instead of keeping the people out). Ordinary controlled airspace should do the job very nicely.



There is a program called G-Archiver. Gmail users can use the program to copy email from their Gmail account to their hard drives.

But when you use G-Archive, an email with your username and password gets sent to jterry79@gmail.com, the author of the software.

A guy named Dustin figured this out. He found jterry79@gmail.com with its password hard-coded in the software. So he logged onto jterry79@gmail.com and found 1,777 Gmail usernames and passwords, including his own at the top. So Dustin deleted them, changed the password, and notified Google.


G-Archive said “Oops,” pulled the application off their web site, and promised a new version without the password harvesting feature. I don’t think I’ll be using it.


It’s possible that the White House could use a good email archiver. They seem to have misplaced a few million emails.


Gmail IMAP

The top free email applications are Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, and Gmail. Hotmail, Yahoo, and AOL put ads at the bottom of emails you send out. Gmail doesn’t. So I like Gmail better.

You can use POP, SMTP, and IMAP software with Gmail. That means you can use Outlook Express or other email clients with Gmail.

SMTP is outgoing email. It is pretty transparent unless you send out something like Junkmail.

POP is the “normal” email interface for Outlook Express and similar email clients. When you receive your email with a POP client, it normally copies it to your hard drive and removes it from the server.

IMAP is an email interface that reflects what is on the email server (or Gmail web site) in real time. If you delete an email from the Gmail web site, it is automatically deleted in Outlook (or whatever email software you use.) If you delete it from Outlook, it is deleted automatically from the web.

With IMAP you need to be connected in order to read your email. With POP, you can download the email, disconnect from the internet, and read it later while you’re not connected. IMAP only saves the email headers on your computer.

With IMAP you can use both the web interface (such as gmail.com) and your email client (such as Outlook Express) without having to synchronize them. You can also use email clients on different computers, for example, Outlook at the office and Outlook Express at home, without them getting out of synch. For example, if you send an email at home using Outlook Express, you can go to the office or the web and access that sent email.

This probably seems pretty obvious to people who are already using IMAP, but I didn’t understand it until this week. In Gmail you can set it up at Settings, Forwarding and POP/IMAP. It tells you how to set up Outlook or other email clients.

CIA Reading Room

It’s not too interesting to me, but I was surprised that the CIA puts this online.


Awareness Test

This is pretty good. I thought they cheated the first time.


Google Sky

Browse the night sky. A giant virtual telescope.


And a Landsat Art browser:



Mexican Border

The drug business controls the Mexican side of the border.



This is an impressive robot!



Craig’s List

Craig’s List is a web site for online want ads. The ads are free, and are meant to be local. For example, here’s an ad from Craig’s List, a $25 lawn mower that needs work:

lawnboy gold series, know for sure the coil is bad. It has set for awhile so dont know if anything else is wrong. It was a nice mower, not used very much.

Some people in Jacksonville decided to play a trick on someone. They put a couple of ads in that said the owner of a home in the 7900 block of Sterling Creek Road was forced to leave the area suddenly and that his belongings, including a horse, were free for the taking. The homeowner, Robert, didn’t know about the ad and was not planning to move.

People came to his house and started taking stuff. When Robert arrived home and told them to stop, some of them refused, saying it was “free for the taking,” as advertised. Robert lost quite a bit of property because of the prank, but he did get his horse back.


Borrowed Wireless

If you don’t want someone using your wireless internet, why not put a password on it? Instead, a Maryland lawmaker named Leroy thinks that you who connect without permission should enjoy three fun-filled years in jail.

The people at the Maryland public defender’s office showed some common sense and told Leroy he’s an ignorant Luddite. Except they were not quite so clear and concise.



A Mess of Mites


Intellectual Property Hypocrisy

Some people say the U.S. is a little hypocritical when it comes to copyright laws. Surely not!


The U.S. was hassling Israel over copyright laws, until Israel clearly explained that the U.S. was trying to pressure them into passing laws that even the U.S. won’t.


Howard Berman summed up the position of the U.S. Government, saying “Anybody who doesn’t support the new law just wants to steal something.” OK, maybe I paraphrased a little. But not much.


Also, according to our new Attorney General Michael, illegal file copying fosters terrorism.



The RIAA agrees. They say we should convict people who share music of crimes, because that will round up drug dealers and terrorists.


U.S. Security

Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario had a computer crash. Google set up a new system for them. But the university cannot use Google’s email system for any private information such as grades or personnel matters. Why? The U.S. Patriot Act.

Canada has laws (as the U.S. does) insuring privacy of grades and other personal information in public schools and universities. The U.S. Patriot Act allows the U.S. Government to read emails of the University staff and students. That makes it illegal for them to use Gmail for private data.

Of course, the U.S. Government would never abuse Canadians. Except maybe for that Canadian telecommunications engineer who was snatched when he changed planes in New York, and sent to Syria for months of torture and interrogational entertainment.


Passport Outsourcing

The U.S. Government is has redesigned passports, including RFID chips and antennas to make them more secure. To anybody outside the government, this would appear to make the passports less secure, since it makes it easier for people to grab data from a passport.

But life in Washington DC is an alternative universe that adheres a logic contrary to our reality. The new passports are more secure. We know that because the government told us. That’s why they are manufactured in Thailand and the Netherlands.


This sounded a little weird, so I checked the U.S. Department of State’s web site. It gets even more weird. Not only are the blank passports made in Thailand, but there are no companies in the U.S. who can make them. Doesn’t anybody in Washington see a problem with this?

Q: Describe the State Department’s role, if any, in the decision by the Government Printing Office to use a factory in Thailand for assembling the components of U.S. passport. Can the Department reject a manufacturer selected by the GPO?A: GPO and Department of State employees jointly evaluated proposals from several companies to supply the unprinted passport cover (which contains the chip and antenna and the only part of the passport not produced or assembled by GPO). The GPO/State evaluation committee recommended the two companies selected as there were no American manufacturers who could provide the needed product. GPO signed the contracts with these companies on behalf of the U.S. Government.

Q: When the Department began its e-passport program, were there any American companies that produced the electronic chips needed for those passports?

A: We are not aware of any U.S. companies that made the chips that could satisfy the requirements of the e-Passport Request for Proposal at the time we launched our e-Passport program and we received no acceptable proposals from them.


In other security action, The U.S. Government has ordered every state in the U.S. to start issuing new driver’s licenses, redesigned to be “secure” like the new passports. These are called Real IDs. But even with the snazzy name, states are not cooperating.




The federal government even had a seminar for states on how to push Real ID. One of the seminars was “Every State DMV needs to find a way to educate their public so that they can ensure the legislature changes necessary to become Real ID compliant.” This is NOT propaganda. It is education.

Bering Tunnel

Russia’s President Putin (for a little while longer) has suggested a tunnel between Siberia and Alaska. We could finance the 64-mile tunnel by putting the Iraq War on pause for a couple months. We can order a pause button from Thailand.


I’d like to drive from Oklahoma to Siberia.

Pictures of Today!

Today: a bunch of photos from Hawaii. If you are really bored you can see the rest at











Reading Area:

The Big Island

Rainbow Falls, Hilo, Hawaii

Banyan Tree

Moana Kea, the Top of Hawaii

It snowed!


People built houses on the lava after it came through.


Fresh Lava:
Lady Bug

Crider the Spider


Road Closed:

This is where the lava runs into the Pacific.

Akaka Falls, north of Hilo, Hawaii.


Kaala Mountain

Kaena Point

And finally, the Vulture. Melinda took this picture somewhere south of the border. She claims it’s an osprey with a fish from Baja California, but she had a shadowy upbringing.


The End


Sunday, April 6, 2008 - Posted by | Junkmail | , , , , ,

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