Bob's Junkmail (important stuff.)

Bob’s Junkmail, 203


Last month I stepped off a sailboat and re-entered the world after a couple of months’ hiatus, only to learn that Russia and Georgia (the country, not the state) were fussing. With tanks. Luckily, the world banded together and nobody told President Bush that Russia possesses weapons of mass destruction.

It is common knowledge that many botnets used for spam are controlled by people in Russia. During the skirmish between Russia and Georgia, the world’s spam traffic went down significantly. It seems that Russia got the botnet controllers to use their botnets to conduct Denial of Service attacks on Georgia. They reduced internet service in Georgia overall, and completely killed it at some sites for a few days.


I assume this means that the Russian government won’t be shutting down their spammers anytime soon. They seem to be a part of Russia’s national defense.

Singlehanded Transpac

The Singlehanded Transpac is a sailboat race from San Francisco to Hawaii. Only one person is allowed per boat. It is not the world’s biggest race, but it has been around since 1978, on even years.


There are not a lot of stringent rules. Essentially, you just take a seaworthy boat, between 20 and 60 feet long, to Hawaii. You also have to be over 18 years old.



One of the entries, the Wenlemir, tore sails and had generator problems. The sailor was rescued by the Coast Guard 135 miles from California.


Skip Allen won the Singlehanded Transpac this year with the best corrected time in the 27-foot Wildflower.


Skip Allan is a world-class sailor who has taken Wildflower "all over the North and South Pacific, often times single handing long distances — to New Zealand and back — in record times." It was his 28th race to Hawaii, the 7th in Wildflower.


After the race Skip was sailing back home. He got into some bad weather that lasted for days and was expected to last more days. One notable quote, "…these breaking waves, some of which I estimate to be in the vicinity of 25-35 feet, and as big as I hadn’t seen since the ’79 Fastnet Race storm on IMP."

Eventually, Skip decided that there was a good chance he would drown if he stayed on the boat until the storm was over. So he requested help and was rescued by a nearby container ship. The rescue was arranged by the U.S. Coast Guard. When we got off, Skip scuttled the Wildflower so it wouldn’t be a hazard to navigation.

Check out Skip’s log if you don’t read anything else in this section:


Here is an interesting photo provided by Skip Allan — a whale on the wrong end of a freighter:



Mike and I participated in (notice that I did NOT say "competed") the multi-handed Transpac race last year. Now there’s a movie about the Morning Light, one of the boats in the race. If I recall, they barely beat us. By a few days.


B2 Crash

Old news — a B2 stealth bomber crashed on Guam last February. The crash was caused because some air pressure sensors were wet.



That happened to me in the Aircam a couple of times.


When you wash the Aircam without covering the pitot tube, water gets in it. During the takeoff roll, everything looks good. But when the air tries to push the water upward in the pitot tube, there’s not enough pressure and the airspeed display stops around 45 mph, whether you’re going 45 or 85. Luckily, the computer flying the Aircam is more flexible than the one flying the B2. Or maybe Aircam is bit less complex to fly.

I Feel Safe!

The TSA came out with a new rule last June. That should always give you a warm, fuzzy feeling. The TSA will allow you to fly on a commercial flight without proper ID, as long as you do not "exhibit defiance." This is because terrorists who intend to blow up airliners will always exhibit defiance when asked for ID, rather than lying and saying they just forgot it.


It makes you wonder about the thought processes (assuming there are some) going on inside the TSA.

Last month in Chicago, TSA agents decided to see if they could break into some airplanes, for reasons known only to the TSA. So they used instrument probes, similar in function to those that crashed the B2, as handholds and steps. You might understand this if one idiot did it to one airplane, but the TSA excels. They damaged 14 planes in one evening! American Eagle had to delay over 40 flights while they made repairs and inspections.


After they complained that the TSA broke their airplanes, the TSA conducted a security investigation on American Eagle, threatening a $175,000 fine. Maybe American Eagle was guilty of "exhibiting defiance."

TSA Boss Kip said of the incident, "The investigation into American Eagle has nothing to do with them reporting us for damaging their planes. It’s all for our new video ‘TSA Gone Wild!’"

$700,000,000,000.00 Party

From the pending $700 billion bailout law:  "Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."

So… the Secretary of the Treasury gets to spend more than 10 times the net worth of Bill Gates in two years, without any oversight whatsoever. I want that job!




Comcast Customer Support

Comcast continues to explore the question, "How many ways can you alienate customers?" After the FCC made them stop throttling down the internet speed for P2P users, Comcast decided to slow web traffic for "targeted customers," 10 to 20 minutes at a time.

The management at Comcast apparently cannot see that 2 things happen when you slow down the internet for someone.

1. The same number of bits get transferred, it just takes longer. This does not open up any bandwidth in the long run.

2. Customers leave Comcast for Cox or DSL or other ISPs. This does have the advantage of opening up available bandwidth for Comcast.



By the way, I have nothing against Comcast. I have never used their service that I know of. But I am continually amazed at their "creative" decisions.

Joint Strike Fighter

The F-35, or Joint Strike Fighter, is taking longer and costing more than anticipated. I think this makes it a military aircraft.


As a result of the time and cost overruns, the size of the aircraft has been reduced:


Actually, that is Yves Rossy with a wing powered by 4 small turbojet engines. He plans to fly across the English Channel this week. He lands using parachutes.



Citibank doesn’t have to be bailed out by the government. Their executive bonus fund was funded by customer mistakes. When someone accidentally overpaid a bill, rather than returning or crediting the extra like most companies, Citibank would just move it into their executive bonus fund. Really!

The state of California has persuaded Citibank to return the $14 million (plus interest) to its customers.


Republican National Convention

More than 800 people, including around 40 accredited members of the press, were arrested at the Republican National Convention. Ironically, the popular charges against those arrested were felony charges from the Patriot Act — things like "intent to riot in furtherance of terrorism." Some are still in jail.






California Laws

Oregon used to claim copyright on Oregon state laws, but people complained and the state backed down. Now California is doing it! California has decided to charge people for reading California State Laws.

According to California bureaucrat Linda, "We exercise our copyright to benefit the people of California. We are obtaining compensation for the people of California." If you can’t read the law, more people get fined, and California gets more money, right?


Prison TV

U.S. prisons are requesting help from government, cable, and broadcasting companies to provide digital TV for their prisoners. TV in prison??? Apparently that’s the norm in the U.S.A.


Presidential Campaign

Without pushing for either presidential candidate, there are some things that are just too stupid to pass up. McCain gave a speech at the Republican National Convention, with a photo of Walter Reed in the background. Unfortunately for the poor individual who obtained the photo, it was not Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital. It was Walter Reed Middle School. In North Hollywood, California. The really funny part is that nobody noticed it until AFTER the speech.


At the same convention, Karl Rove, the kindly grandfather figure of the U.S. political scene, mentioned that Sarah Palin had been mayor of the second largest city in Alaska.

Let’s see… Fairbanks? No. Juneau? No. Ketchikan? No. She was mayor of Wasilla, 5th largest at the time (pop. 5,000) and 4th largest in Alaska now. It’s a small but blatant error.

Next, McCain and Obama turned their attention to pigs and lipstick, for whatever reason. I considered this an improvement. Then I lost interest. I expect to vote for any candidate that can pronounce "nuclear."

President Bush visited Oklahoma City the week before last. He banned flights over a huge area (a 599 square mile no-fly zone and a 3,700 square mile restricted area) for four and a half hours, affecting 24 airports and airspace up to 18,000 feet. That guy must be afraid of airplanes.

Satellite Tracking

AGI Developer Network has a Google Earth file that shows the locations and orbits of all satellites currently flying around the earth. (Except for those that don’t officially exist.) It’s pretty cool.



Google Earth and Google Maps are really fun to play with. You can browse around most places in the world with pretty good images of what’s on the ground. You can import lots of things such as photos, GPS tracks, and waypoints. For example, here’s where I went climbing with Tim the biochemist a few days ago:


The image came from Google Earth. I tilted it to get a 3-D view showing the mountain heights. I imported the tracks (the blue lines) from my Garmin GPS. In Google Earth I can rotate it around and view it in 3D from any angle, etc. Here’s the Google Earth file you can load if you have Google Earth. You might notice that the GPS battery ran down before we made it to the top of Windom Peak.


There is a new satellite you can track. An imaging satellite was launched September 6, the GeoEye-1. GeoEye is the company that owns the satellite. Google has the exclusive rights to the online mapping produced by the satellite. The Department of Defense will use it. Boeing launched it at Vandenberg Air Force Base. General Dynamics made the satellite. ITT made the imaging payload. I bet some lawyers got paid overtime to put all that together.


The GeoEye-1 satellite can take black and white photos at 16-inches resolution, and color photos at about four times that. It can collect about 270,000 square miles of color photos every day. This should improve Google Earth’s image quality for out-of-the-way places such as Aghiyuk Island, Alaska, and Pryor, Oklahoma.




In Maine, 78 percent of eighth graders failed the state’s standard writing test. So the state of Maine declared the test "inconclusive" and threw out the results. I think I could draw a conclusion.


Google Chrome

Google released Chrome on September 2, a free browser, competing with Internet Explorer and Firefox. It is pretty popular already. Some tech web sites are reporting 5 to 10 percent Chrome usage.

On xpda.com, 55% use Internet Explorer, 35% Firefox, 5% Safari (Apple), and just under 2 percent each for Chrome, Opera, and Mozilla.

I haven’t tried Chrome, but it’s supposed to be pretty good. You can get a copy here:


Hard Facts

1. You can always believe everything you see on the internet.

2. A company’s stock price always represents the fundamental financial condition of the company. Unless you’re John McCain, in which case the fundamentals reflect employee creativity and stuff like that.

On September 8, trading on United Airlines (UAL) stock was halted, following rumors that the airline holding company was filing for bankruptcy. UAL said it was completely untrue. It turns out that an old news item on United Airlines seeking bankruptcy inadvertently resurfaced on a Web site, triggering a sell-off that wiped out nearly 76% of the company’s share price. Oops.

Here’s how it happened:


Ice Shelves off Ellesmere

Some ice shelves off Ellesmere Island have been breaking up.


Here is an interesting, informative report without the typical "world is ending" hype.


European Copyright Extension

The European Union is planning to extend copyrights on performances from 50 to 95 years. News articles correctly point out that the recording artists get almost no benefit from the copyright extension, despite what the backers of the plan have claimed. The articles miss the point. The beneficiaries of the copyright extension are the politicians who get millions in donations and other payoffs from the recording industry.



Anti Anti Scientology

The Church of Scientology has gotten YouTube to remove about 4000 videos they deemed critical of Scientology, claiming violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Many of the videos are back up, but it is a little scary to see something like this happen.


Large Hadron Collider

Higgs Corner is a corner on Highway 69, north of Pryor, Oklahoma. In the 1960s, there was a sign there that said "Higgs Ranch." Also in the 1960s, some people developed the Standard Model of Particle Physics.



The Standard Model is a generally accepted theory that describes the interactions of the subatomic particles that make up matter. It is consistent with special relativity and quantum mechanics. The model does not include gravity, but that’s OK because gravity does not exist.


Among the subatomic particles in the Standard Model is the Higgs Boson. That’s the one that’s missing from this diagram.


All 12 fermions and all 4 gauge bosons have been observed. (They’re a bit too small to see with the naked eye.) Seven of these 16 particles were predicted by the Standard Model before they were observed experimentally. That’s pretty impressive. The Higgs Boson has not been observed. Yet.

The Large Hadron Collider is the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator. They hope to find the Higgs Boson in the next year or two.


They fired up the collider on September 10 for testing and calibration. They have since shut it down after some helium started leaking. This is important because liquid helium cools the superconducting magnets which are integral to the operation of the collider. Here’s one of the magnets:


They expect to get the collider going again next Spring.

Some people claim the collider will cause the end of the world by creating a black hole that swallows us up. That is ridiculous. Black holes are tiny — they couldn’t hurt anybody.



Space Race

India and China are planning space missions to the moon.



Meanwhile, NASA is auctioning off patents. That seems unfair, considering I paid for the research and development of those patents.



Actually, I think NASA does a good job, especially when you consider all the politicians they have to contend with.


Excellence in Security

A student at Carleton University in Ottawa pointed out to university officials some security holes in their computer system. The university magnanimously rewarded the good deed with criminal charges.



Bike Rides

Three weeks ago the 17th annual Dam JAM took place in Pryor. In 1992, Jim Beach, his wife Marie, and one other guy got the idea for a 100-mile bike ride out of Pryor. Jim and Marie have organized the annual event ever since, attracting hundreds of bicyclists and other mentally infirm souls every year.

I rode 100+ miles this year. For some odd reason, I didn’t see another bicycle after about the first 35 miles. I guess all those other people were really slow. If you missed it this year, put it on your 2009 calendar:


How fast can you ride a bicycle? Without a hill? Last week at the Battle Mountain World Human Powered Speed Challenge, which is quite a long name, a guy named Sam set a new record of 82 miles per hour. Here’s his bike:



Free Files

Like many computer companies, ASUS includes a recovery DVD with their laptops. You can use this to restore the original files to your computer after you’ve really bungled things up.

Some of the ASUS recovery DVDs recently included someone’s personal files, all at no extra charge! There was a Powerpoint presentation that presented problems at ASUS, a software cracker, and various and sundry items too numerous to mention. I bet someone got in hot water over that.


Border Laptop Searches

I’ve mentioned before that the U.S. Customs is prone to searching your laptop when you enter the U.S. If they want, they can keep your computer for a while. They don’t even need probably cause.


Apparently, a lot of people have been complaining about this. Congress may put some limits on this practice, such as how many days Customs can hold your computer hostage, and allowing people to watch the search of their computer.


Ironically, the Department of Homeland Security, who happens to own U.S. Customs, issued a warning about foreign governments searching laptops of U.S. travelers.



Microsoft Lawyers

Microsoft has gotten some harassment over sending lawyers to handle questions at product launches. The world’s biggest law firm?




Stonehenge on the Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, England was built 4300 years ago.



Stonehenge in Maryhill, Washington, USA, was built 78 years ago.



Obligatory RIAA Harassment

Almost a year ago, a jury awared the RIAA $222,000 after they sued a lady named Jammie from Minnesota for downloading music. Actually, they sued her for making the music available for download. This week a judge named Michael overturned the award, saying that making copyrighted material available for download does not constitute distributing copyrighted material. It only is an offer to distribute.


I’ll spare you the rants, but here are some more articles for your reading pleasure.











Fiscal Responsibility in Iraq

In 2003 and 2004, the U.S. gathered up 363 tons of $100 bills and sent them to Iraq, almost $12,000,000,000. Why did the U.S. want billions in cash to go to Iraq?

They gave the cash to Iraqi Ministries and U.S. Contractors. While U.S. contractors in Iraq have always been above reproach, there are some suspicions that some of this money went to ghost employees of the Iraqi Ministries, and some may have even been stolen.


A lady from Oklahoma was murdered in Iraq, probably involving $320,000 cash she and another civilian were given by the U.S. government a few days before.


We are currently sending $10-$12 billion to Iraq per MONTH, although most of this is no longer cash. Iraq now has $79 billion in the bank, a cumulative budget surplus. The U.S. national debt is $9,789,731,934,674, give or take $700 billion. Maybe Iraq should be shipping $100 bills to the U.S.

This week a former Iraqi official said more than $13 billion spent on reconstruction projects in Iraq was wasted or stolen through elaborate fraud schemes. However, not all of this money was wasted per se. Some went to Al Qaeda in Iraq and was deposited in foreign banks, which, I suppose, would make the U.S government guilty of crimes under the Patriot Act.


In 2005, $9 billion was reported missing in Iraq.



The BBC reported about $23 billion lost, stolen, or not accounted for in Iraq. They also reported a U.S. gag order that is preventing the discussion of these allegations. Maybe that explains why there seems to be so much more news about the missing money in the international press.


In Search of Excellence

Lehman Brothers boss Richard Fuld got $22.1 million in 2007. Fuld also realized $40.3 million from exercising stock options and $26.5 million from vesting stock awards, totaling around $89 million. He got this money for "his role in leading the company through the challenging market environment," as well as fiscal 2007 performance. "Fuld led Lehman Brothers to a $870 million profit for the year." Maybe some books were cooked, eh?

Down the street, AIG paid its boss Martin Sullivan $14-million in 2007. Five other top executives got between $6.6 million and $10.2 million apiece.

This seems to be the norm for dismal performance. Maybe if I become completely incompetent, I can take home $10 or $20 million a year.



And who goes to jail? The FBI arrested the poor guy who put some Guns n’ Roses music on the internet.


What About Oil?

Sarah Palin claims Alaska "produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy." That’s not true. Alaska did produce 14 percent of the crude oil produced in the U.S. last year, but that’s far from 20 percent and farther from 20 percent of all the energy produced in the U.S., after you consider coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy. However, in 1988, the peak of North Slope production, Alaska produced 24 percent of U.S. Crude Oil.


Alaska crude oil production is significant, but last year’s production amounted to only seven percent of U.S. oil imports and five percent of U.S. oil consumption.


Last year,Texas produced 50% more oil than Alaska.


What about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge? People seem to have made up their minds about that issue without looking at the numbers. Or, at least, without looking at accurate numbers. It is pretty hard to find how many barrels of oil per year are expected from ANWR if they do allow drilling.

The government says there is a 50% chance of extracting 10.4 billion barrels from ANWR and associated fields. They don’t specify how many years would be required to get this oil, but I would guess 30 to 50 years. The North Slope has a lot more oil and is expected to produce 300 to 700 million barrels per year until about 2030. That will be 60 to 70 years total.

So an average of 10.4 billion barrels over 40 years would be 260 million barrels of oil per year. In reality, the numbers would be higher and first and then drop off after a few years. 260 million barrels amounts to about 4.7 percent of 2007 U.S. oil consumption. I’m not sure how good a number the 10.4 billion barrels is. The report seems a little vague on that.


Should drilling be allowed on ANWR? I think they should wait, even if you don’t consider the environmentalist point of view. I think it’s a good idea for the U.S. to buy oil while possible, instead of using up all the reserves. The oil in the ground will be worth more later.

But they can drill in Oklahoma. Here’s a well being drilled in Blaine County. They expect to drill to 18,328 feet.


More drilling rigs:


5K Run

This Saturday is the First Annual Pryor Fever 5K Run. Dad, Barb & Mike Green’s kid Janet, Mike’s kid and kid-in-law Jenny and Adam, and I are all signed up — three generations worth.

Tricia’s baby boy Graham is chicken to run against me after I thrashed him in a triathlon 2-3 years ago. (By a few seconds.) Graham ran a 16:14 5K a few days ago. He claims to have a high school cross-country meet Saturday.

It’s been a few years since Dad’s run a race. He used to run on the OSU (Oklahoma A&M) track team in the 1940’s. Or was it the 1840’s? Here’s Dad on the track at the football stadium, Cordell Hall in the background.


Here he is running on the porch at Deer Creek, a couple years earlier:


The 5K run starts at 9:00 am Saturday at the Pryor Rec Center across from the high school. Be there! You can register before the race. You can even run in the mud if you want to.


Pictures of Today!

Pictures from Mount Eolus, Colorado, September 12:


Ice crystals under sand, Sunlight Peak, Colorado, September 13


Great Sand Dunes, Colorado, August 22:


Snake tracks?


Here is an avalanch fracture, in sand. It was only a couple inches tall, but it looks like a snow slab avalanche.


The sand slide movie:


It slid like that every time I took a step:


The man and the moon:


My tracks running down the dune, and a flying football:


Near Mount Sneffels, Colorado:


Rock Glacier, Gilpin Peak, Colorado:


Ice Glaciers, Alaska:



Alaska Flower:


Oklahoma Birds (Fall is coming):


A difference of 8-9 hours (Colorado):


A New Mexico Moonrise:


The End.


Thursday, September 25, 2008 - Posted by | Junkmail | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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