More Junkmail from Bob!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Important Stuff

Windows Update

I updated Windows on my laptop when they announced their latest security update. Then a bunch of programs wouldn't run on my laptop. Being the patient sort of computerist I am, I went in and ripped out a bunch of autoexecutes and services I didn't like, and I deleted a couple of suspect files out of the system32 folder. I thought maybe I had a virus or trojan or maybe the update didn't install right.

I generally click on "restart later" when I install or uninstall something that wants to restart. And I close the lid to my laptop rather than doing a shutdown. This means I have to clean things out occasionally. Anyway, after a couple of reboots everything ran fine.

Then I got home and updated my desktop. It didn't boot right. That narrowed the problem down, but it was fairly easy to fix. I wondered what I had on my computers that nobody else does, that causes the Windows Update to mess up.

It turns out that Microsoft was magnanimous enough to mess up lots of computers with their last update.

      http://support.microsoft.com/kb/918165

      http://news.com.com/2100-1002_3-6063529.html

In fact, you can now get a Windows Update Update to fix the Windows Update.

      http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1952463,00.asp

Microwave Wavelength

Here's an interesting article about how to measure the speed of light in a microwave oven. It actually measures the wavelength and assumes a frequency of 2.5 ghz. But I think it's pretty cool (or hot, actually) to measure the half wavelength of a microwave oven using chocolate chips.

     http://superpositioned.com/articles/2006/03/09/measure-the-speed-of-light-with-chips


Blind Justice?

About 4 and a half years ago some people crashed some planes into a couple of buildings in New York and one in Washington. You might have heard about it. A few days later, the government decided they needed to nail some terrorists so they caught a "sleeper cell" of four terrorists in Detroit.

That same month the government also arrested a guy from Morocco named Youssef. Youssef was a career con man, guilty of $180,000 in fraudulent credit card charges.

      http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060330/METRO/603300397/1003

Youssef turned out to be the government's star witness. His sentence, potentially 81 years, was reduced to 46 months (last I heard).

In 2003, two of the four people were convicted of conspiring to provide support to terrorists. One was convicted on document fraud, and the third was acquitted. The conviction was overturned in 2004.

The prosecution had sketches that were supposed to be plans for blowing up a hospital in Jordan. They went to Jordan and took photos of the hospital to prove it. Except the hospital was not the building in the sketches. So the prosecutors kept quiet about the mismatch and convicted them based on the "fact" that those were drawings of the hospitals.

One of the two convicted for terrorism is being charged with fraud now. He and at least one of the others is being deported to Morocco. I think that's suitable. They were doing some insurance and credit card fraud. The innocent guy was in Florida working in a construction job last year. I assume he's still around there.

That's all a pretty complicated story. Here are the details:

      http://www.detnews.com/2004/specialreport/0403/29/a01-105567.htm

But the story doesn't end there.

Richard, the federal prosecutor who kept the evidence quiet, resigned last year and sued the government for mounting a smear campaign against him. So the government has retaliated and filed criminal charges against Richard for hiding the evidence in the case of the four Detroit "terrorists." They also charged State Department officer Raymond.

I can't tell the good guys from the bad guys in this mess! Maybe I'll have to wait for the book to come out.

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114367085130911552.html

      http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060330/METRO/603300397/1003

      http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060330/NEWS05/603300462/1007

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/29/AR2006032901583.html


DHS Trojans

The Department of Homeland Security had some trouble with trojans last August. The Zotob trojan infected a bunch of border security terminals and shut them down. Airports at Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Laredo were all hit by the trojan.

The DHS did not upgrade Windows 2000 on their border control systems until it was too late. This is not too surprising, and not overly unusual. But their cover-up is.

The day this happened, the DHS told the AP that a virus caused the mass outage. Later on, they changed their story and said it was just a "normal computer glitch" in a complex system. It's odd. I've been working with computers for more than 30 years, and I've never seen a glitch.

Wired magazine had some time on their hands and decided to get to the bottom of this. After getting a severe runaround from DHS, they finally got some documents through the Freedom of Information Act. A large part of these were blacked out.

The blacked out areas were obviously not chosen based on security. For example, they blacked out a Microsoft security bulletin number. But they left the entire bulletin in the document, making it simple to determine that the number they blacked out was MS05-039. They blacked out a word "Initial reports confirmed that the US-VISIT workstations were _____ impacted" by the virus. This may have been "not" or it may have been "severely." It's a stretch to say this deletion is anything but someone trying not to look bad.

I guess anything that makes the DHS look bad is a threat to national security. If they'd just admit that the got a trojan because they didn't update their computers because they were afraid the updates would cause problems, it would appear normal and it would be the truth. Instead, the Department of Homeland Security is pretending they're too important to make mistakes, and too important to care whether what they say is true.

      http://wired.com/news/technology/0,70642-1.html


Informants or Enemy Combatants?

It depends on who you ask. Two African guys from Britain had ties to a radical Moslem cleric. After about a month of interrogation, in which they were asked to become informers for the CIA, they ended up in Guantanamo. Some people think it's justified. Some think the government is using strong-arm tactics to get informers.

      Washington Post story


Smile!

Privacy as we know it is less than it was a few years ago. In the future, we'll have less privacy than we do now. Why? It's not because of evil government plots. It's because it's easier to monitor people and their behavior.

Video cameras are everywhere. Video cameras are installed on many if not most major intersections in cities and towns across the U.S. Even Pryor, Oklahoma has some. I've been meaning to ask who looks at them in Pryor, but I keep forgetting. Most retail stores, banks, hotels, motels, and large companies have video cameras scattered around. Many towns have privately and publicly owned video cameras monitoring the streets and sidewalks. It's getting so you can't pick your nose any more without someone recording it.

Telephone conversations are being recorded by the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security. Not all conversations of course, but many are. The technical term for this number is "a whole bunch."

The internet is also being monitored, probably more than telephone conversations. This is because it's technically easier to monitor internet traffic.

Cell phones can be easily tracked by the FBI and other government organizations. New cell phones transmit GPS data to the cell system, allowing the precise location of your cell phone to be monitored. Even without GPS data, you can track a cell phone based on its movement from one cell tower to the next. Software is used to decide what road the phone is likely to be traveling on, based on the timing of cell towers changes. You can turn off a cell phone, but there is an "emergency mode" on the new ones. In this mode, the cell phone company can lock your phone on so that it continues to transmit GPS data. So next time I rob a bank and am on the run, I'll have to either remove my cell phone batteries or throw the phone onto a passing freight train.

In the future, we'll have transponders in our cars and RFIDs on our personal identification cards. In the beginning, the government will assure everybody that they won't be used to track our behavior. Then, after we're used to the new devices and have forgotten the assurances, they'll start tracking us in the name of national security. And then, of course, it will make sense to jail criminals using this information. And then, civil suits and divorce courts will subpoena the information.

A good example is the cell phone GPS data. At first, the FBI assured the country that this information would not be used in criminal investigations, and that it was only for 911 emergency calls. Now they seem to have forgotten that and are using it for criminal investigation. That's OK with me, but I don't like the way they broke their promise.

With the millions of video cameras, millions of recorded phone calls, and trillions of bytes of internet data, it's hard to imagine enough people sitting around reviewing all that mess. It would take more time to watch it than it did to live it.

The videos, conversations, and data are not normally viewed by humans. They use Martians. When Martians are not available, they just record it. Then, when I rob my bank, they can review videos and see where I came from by tracking it backwards. They probably don't record my phone conversations because I'm not very important. Some internet records may be available, just because they're easy to keep. They might accidentally be able to see that I was checking out the bank's and armored car company's web site the week before my robbery.

They also have computers monitor the phone conversations, internet data, and to a very limited extent, videos. The computers pick out the "interesting" stuff for humans to look at, based on keywords and, more importantly, source and destination of the communication.

I don't think the increased government monitoring is worth complaining about any more than the weather is. It's here because it's cheap and easy to implement, and it's not likely to go away.

It is a lot different than it has been in the past. It used to be a big deal when a government agency tapped a phone without a court order. Now it happens all the time, and the President even says it's legal. High security locations used to be the only ones with video monitoring, or CCTV. Now there are dozens of video cameras in stores like Walmart.

It will be interesting to see where all this leads in 10 or 15 years, when the ubiquitous video is available online. Wait a minute... It's already there! Try searching Google for "traffic cameras."

Then, wonder whether the government computers just logged that search you made. So far, they're limiting their investigations to child pornography, but I don't think it will stop there.

      http://informationweek.com/shared/printableArticle.jhtml?articleID=184401156

Even Cisco is getting into the video surveillance business.

      http://news.zdnet.com/2100-1035_22-6046533.html


Mars

Mars has not avoided the invasion of video surveillance cameras. In 1965, Mariner 4 took the first close-up (relatively speaking) photos of Mars. Since then, the U.S., the Soviet Union, and Europe have send video cameras to Mars.

Mariner 4 returned 25 photos. The Mars Exploration Rovers have returned tens of thousands since January 2004. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the latest invader of Mars, arrived in orbit last month, and began the change from an elongated elliptical orbit onto a more nearly circular orbit closer to the planet.

The MRO has taken a few photos, mostly for equipment test and calibration. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRise) camera took a photo from 1527 miles away with a resolution better than 3 meters per pixel. Next fall it will be taking photos at resolutions better than one foot per pixel when it reaches its orbit of 174 miles altitude.

Here's a false color perspective view of from MRO's hires camera, with no vertical exaggeration.

      Release_01_3d_1x_overview4.jpg    hires image

More on MRO

      http://hiroc.lpl.arizona.edu/first_images/first-web-blog.shtml

      http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/mro/


Iraq Contractor Fraud

Custer Battles LLC was charged with 37 counts of fraud in a $9 million contract to distribute new Iraqi money in Iraq. Maybe it all didn't get there. There were fake invoices run through shell subsidiaries set up in the Cayman Islands. They also took some Iraqi Airlines forklifts from the airport, painted over the logos, and charged the U.S. government for them. I guess it fits their company slogan: "Transforming Risk into Opportunity."

      http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-03-09-defense-contractor_x.htm

In another contract, Custer Battles was paid $15million to provide security for civilian flights at Baghdad International. The funny thing is that during the term of the $15 million contract, there were no civilian flights at Baghdad International.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A24468-2005Feb14.html

I suspect that this is a very small example of the fraud and waste going on in Iraq. In fact, it would not surprise me to learn that millions of the billions of dollars being funneled into Iraq is going for weapons and ammunition used to fight the U.S.


Stupid Hardware Patent

In their infinite wisdom and diligence, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued a patent on a tin can string phone. Brilliant!

      http://www.realtechnews.com/posts/2877


Massachusetts Health Insurance

If you live in Massachusetts, you need health insurance. It's the law. If you work for a company with 11 or more employees, you're company will provide it. Otherwise, you are required by state law to buy health insurance. It seems like a lot of people are really against this or are really in favor of it. I'm not sure.

I think that everybody in the U.S. should have access to medical care. I'm just not sure what the best way to accomplish that is.

Even in Oklahoma I'm required to have auto insurance. The problem is, they've just cancelled all mine. The bums. Maybe they heard stories about my driving.
     
     Washington Post story


Model Plane in a Hurricane

Some NOAA people successfully flew an Aerosonde, a small unmanned plane, on a 10-hour mission through tropical storm Ophelia last September. Ophelia had been downgraded from Hurricane Ophelia.

      2063833386_WD05-191-22_a4.jpg

Aerosonde, an Australian company, received a contract from NASA to fly the small UAV's through clouds and hurricanes. The work is being done with the University of Colorado.

      http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2005/images/ophelia-09-16-2005-1315z.jpg

The NOAA has flown big planes (WP-3D Orion, Gulfstream-IV, and WC-130H) through hurricanes, but they have to stay up high because of turbulence and crashing and stuff. Aerosonde flew down to around 500 feet.

      http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2005/s2508.htm

      http://www.aerosonde.com/index.php


Flat Screen Ovens

Some people in Indiana have been selling "hot" flat-screen TV's, packaged in bubble wrap. But the stolen TV's are actually stolen oven doors. I think the people who buy them deserve what they get.

      Oven Doors


New Digital Copyright Law

There's a new digital copyright law on the way. For years, people (myself included) have been whining and complaining about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and how its stupid provisions that do nothing to protect copyright holders.

      http://www.eff.org/IP/DMCA/?f=unintended_consequences.html

For example, when Sony came out with their root-kit modifications, it was illegal for anybody to remove it or even to publish how to remove it. Sony chose not to sue Symantec and McAfee, but under the DMCA they could have.

But now, Congress is revising the law. The only problem is, they're making it worse!

      http://blogs.siliconvalley.com/gmsv/2006/04/the_digital_mil.html

Why would they refuse to listen to years of advice and complaints from industry leaders?

There's a small matter of $532,114 that was donated to the House Judiciary Committee members by the recording, TV, and Movie industry. In bipartisan cooperation, 53% went to Democrats on the committee, and 47% to Republicans. In our democracy, it seems that money trumps common sense as well as the will of the people.

      Donations

What's wrong with this new law?

It makes it a federal crime just to attempt copyright infringement. If you try to download copyrighted music and fail, you could face up to 10 years in jail. I think the punishment for a successful download is to be hanged by the neck until dead, dead, dead.

      http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00002319----000-.html

The new law targets noncommercial piracy such as posting copyrighted photos, videos, or news articles on a Web site if the value exceeds $1,000. So if I copy a news article and put it on my web site, I can go to jail for it.

One scary provision of the law is that it creates civil asset forfeiture penalties for anything used in copyright piracy. Computers or other equipment seized must be destroyed or otherwise disposed of. So if your kids download music, you can have all the computers in your house seized and destroyed.

The law says that copyright holders can impound records documenting the receipt of items involved in infringements. This means the RIAA can take server logs of Internet Service Provides and police everybody's web activities.

The bill says nobody may "make, import, export, obtain control of, or possess" software or information on how to get around copy protection, if they may be redistributed to someone else. In other words, it would be illegal for me to tell you how to get the Sony rootkit off your computer. So much for freedom of speech.

The law allows FBI wiretaps in investigation of copyright crimes. I'm not sure whether court orders are required.

The law extends existing law to cover copyright violations even if the work was not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

"Fair Use" rights are just about gone under this bill.

This law has not been passed yet. It's still in committee. But I'm not willing to pay the House Judiciary Committee members half a million dollars, so I doubt they'll listen to me.

      http://news.com.com/2100-1028_3-6064016.html


Yet Another Law

Senator Dianne Feinstein has received $116,711 from the recording, TV, and movie industry. Senator Lindsey Graham only got $110,165. Now they're trying to pass a law saying that it's illegal to transmit recordable audio or video from satellites.

They say that that satellite transmission media is recordable and broadcast is not. They apparently don't have a VCR at home, or more likely, don't know how to use it.

The law also makes it illegal to webcast .mp3 or other common file formats. If this law passes, you'll have to use an RIAA approved format that cannot be recorded.

      http://blogs.siliconvalley.com/gmsv/2006/04/oh_yeah_well_iv.html

A few hundred thousand dollars is small potatoes to a real politician. A representative from West Virginia named Alan quit his place on the House Ethics Committee. Among other things, his real estate holdings and other assets mysteriously jumped in value from $562,000 to over $6 million from 2000 to 2004.

      Washington Post story


RIAA Promotes College Dropouts

Millions of students have downloaded music illegally. A few have been sued by the Recording Industry Association of America. If they can't pay, the RIAA recommends that they drop out of school.

The RIAA sued an MIT student named Cassi. They were negotiating a payment of $3750, which Cassi had not agreed to. She doesn't have the money, among other things.

The RIAA representative told Cassi "In fact, the RIAA has been known to suggest that students drop out of college or go to community college in order to be able to afford settlements."

That's right. Download an MP3. Then drop out of college to pay the Recording Industry's lawyers. It sure sounds like extortion to me.

      http://www-tech.mit.edu/V126/N15/RIAA1506.html


Conrad's iPod

Conrad Burns is a U.S. Senator from Montana. iPac is a political action committee that is "a nonpartisan group dedicated to preserving individual freedom through balanced information policy," whatever that means.

Since Conrad is from Montana, iPac apparently assumed that he needed a technological upgrade. iPac sent Conrad an iPod as a gift. They did the proper paperwork, and everything was legal. Conrad returned it, saying he could not accept that gift. The iPod cost $317.

      http://ipaction.org/blog/2006/04/conrad-burns-returns-ipod-swears-off.html

The odd thing is, Conrad had no problem accepting $59,000 from the entertainment industry.

The odder thing is that Conrad had no problem accepting $150,000 from Jack Abramoff.

      Washington Post story

Maybe he just prefers cash in even thousands.


The War on Music

A guy in England sang a song in a taxi on the way to the airport. He was listening to the London Calling by the Clash. The cabbie was apparently not impressed with his vocal ability. He called the police. The police came and got the guy off the plane and questioned him for three hours. It turns out that the song he was singing in the taxi have the words "gun" and "jet airliner."

Whew! It was a close call on the war against terrorism, or the global fight against extremism, or the fight against flights, or whatever they're calling it today.

Here's what the guy said: "I played London Calling and sang along before finishing up with the Beatles. After I got on the flight, two men in suits came on. I got frogmarched off the plane in front of everyone and had my bags searched. I've laughed about it, but my friends and family are furious."

      http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2006150569,00.html

In 2004, another guy was arrested after he sent a text message about the song. I expect they'll institute crimes of thought regarding music. This will match the "crimes of thought" provisions in the new U.S. digital copyright law.


Taser Shield

Are you tired of constantly getting hit by tasers, day after day, week after week? Check out this electrically conductive clothing that shorts out the taser.

      http://news.com.com/2100-1008_3-6057801.html


Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is getting a 7-year $7 billion upgrade. It will be capable of handing more traffic and wider ships.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4876322.stm


Terrorists are Everywhere!

The Wesley Foundation is a church group found at a lot of universities, including the University of Georgia.

Two or three weeks ago, that Wesley Foundation had a pirate vs. ninja event. One of the ninjas (Jeremiah) was headed back to his room. Since he was dressed as a ninja, he felt it proper to skulk about.

Federal ATF agents disagreed. They caught Jeremiah. This picture, taken by a nearby student with a cell phone, shows Jeremiah enjoying the hospitality federal agents.

      Pretty Picture

It was yet another victory in the War on Ninjas!

      http://www.randb.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2006/04/12/443c71ed40b94


Venus Express

On April 11, the ESA's Venus Express arrived in orbit around Venus. It will be in its final 250 km orbit on May 7. It's getting some new pictures. However, the visibility of the atmosphere there leaves a little to be desired.

      http://www.esa.int/esaMI/Venus_Express/SEMUTYNFGLE_0.html


Tenth Planet

The 10th planet was discovered outside Pluto last year. It's been called Xena, after the princess warrior, but it doesn't have an official name and is not yet an official planet.

After checking images from Hubble, they've decided that Xena is about 2400 km in diameter instead of 3000 as previously calculated. Pluto has a diameter of about 2300 km. I suppose this hurts the chances of making Xena a "real" planet.

      http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/060411_planet_shrinks.html


Wiretaps

The NSA was installing some wiretap equipment at an AT&T switching station in San Francisco in 2002. Then there was a lawsuit and a whistle-blower.

      http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,70619-0.html

AT&T is trying to keep everything secret.

       http://wired.com/news/technology/0,70650-0.html


Calories

Need to lose weight? Input less than you output. Use more calories than you eat. Here's a good web site with the calories in staple foods such as Burger King Cini-Minis.

      http://www.dietfacts.com/fastfood.asp


Norad

Norad may close down Cheyenne Mountain, the base inside a mountain at Colorado Springs. This base is supposed to be able to withstand a nuclear blast. One funny thing in this article is how the Canadians are being treated now, since they are not "cooperating" enough to suit the White House.

      http://www.denverpost.com/northcom/ci_3503161


L-39's

I mentioned in an earlier Junkmail the story of the L-39's jets that were seized in Palmer, Alaska by federal agents.

      http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/7445675p-7356227c.html

They've returned six of the eight jets because they are not capable of using the missile launchers in question. They're still fighting over the other two.

      http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/7628870p-7540477c.html

Drunk FBI Agent Sues

An FBI agent who was driving drunk sued Chevrolet because his pickup caught on fire after he passed out at the wheel. That's got to be good for his resumé.

      http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2006/Apr-14-Fri-2006/news/6840736.html


Arctic Man

This is my kind of race! "The skier begins at a summit elevation of 5,800 feet and drops 1,700 feet in less than 2 miles to the bottom, where he meets up with his snowmachine partner. With both on the go, the skier attaches himself to a tow rope, which pulls him 2 1/4 miles uphill at speeds reaching 90 mph. The skier and snowmobile then separate, and the skier goes over the side of a second mountain and drops another 1,200 feet to the finish."

It's near Paxson, Alaska.

      http://www.adn.com/includes/arcticman


Online Gambling Ads

Online gambling is illegal in the U.S. But are the ads? They're illegal too, as Sporting News found out. Sporting News is owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. They've paid $4.2 million and are putting out anti-gambling public service ads for three years.

The ads go something like this: "Sports fans like you should know that betting with offshore or foreign gambling enterprises via the internet or telephone violate U.S. federal and state laws."

Some other U.S. companies are still running online gambling ads without government interference.

      http://wired.com/news/politics/0,70660-0.html

In the mean time, I'm still getting lots of spam despite the federal anti-spam law. Why won't they enforce that law? Actually, they did stop one spam operation, but there must be hundreds they're ignoring.

      http://news.com.com/2100-7350_3-6059048.html


Fast Lane at Airport Security

By this summer, you will be able to pay some money, undergo a background check in order to get through security faster at 20 airports. Next year the TSA hopes to expand the program nationwide. I think they're planning to pay me some extra money since I always get to go through the line for "special" folks.

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114555560918831433.html
     (subscription required)


Demonstration and Detention

Millions of people demonstrated for immigration recently. The government responded. They arrested 1200 illegal immigrants. Homeland Security boss Michael said the timing was just a coincidence.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4928764.stm


FEMA Refunds

In typical form, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) overpaid a couple thousand people $4 or $5 million after the Katrina. So they sent out letters asking for their money back. They are giving people 30 days to pay.

They say some are just mistakes on FEMA's part, and some of the overpayments were obtained fraudulently. I think the frauds should go to jail, and FEMA employees should be responsible for the mistakes.

      FEMA story

A FEMA employee pled guilty to fraud in Florida over a 2004 storm. This seems almost minor compared to the latest goings-on.

      http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/14443809.htm

For example, FEMA almost intentionally paid $7.8 million too much for portable classrooms in a no-bid contract.

      http://www.usatoday.com/money/2006-04-11-katrina-classrooms-contract_x.htm

15 or 20 years ago I was in Washington and I walked by a FEMA building. I had never heard of FEMA. I could not imagine why there needed to be an agency to manage emergencies. Now some politicians are wondering the same thing. I think if they dismantle FEMA, they'll replace it with something similar, wasting a lot of money in the process. Maybe they just need to straighten out what's already there.

      http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/04/27/katrina.fema/index.html


Homeland Security Grants

Some police and fire departments are using Homeland Security grants to buy things like exercise equipment and sponsor clown and puppet shows on fire safety. Some people are getting riled up over this. I would prefer them to spend the money on something constructive like that rather than unnecessary weapons, robots, and armored vehicles.

      http://www.washtimes.com/national/20060420-110852-8296r.htm


Rumsfeld Takes Over the World!

After his superb showing in the Iraq War, Secretary of Defense Donald now as the authority to attack anybody anywhere in the world. I feel safe! What ever happened to that part of the Constitution where Congress is the one to declare war?

      Washington Post story

Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution says that Congress shall have the power to declare war and make rules concerning captures on land and water. It seems pretty explicit to me.


Underground Sub Base

On your summer vacation you can visit an underground Soviet nuclear sub base. It's been closed about 10 years.

      http://www.archibase.net/archinews/7129.html


Get a Human

Need to call a big company without trying to teach English to a robot?

      http://www.gethuman.com/us/index.html#insurance


F-22 Canopy

On April 10, Air Force Captain Brad Spears had the honor of being the first person to be freed from the cockpit of an F-22 with a chainsaw. He was stuck for about 5 hours.

F-22 03-041 Stuck Canopy
TSgt Robinson 1st MXG/MXQ

• On 10 April 06 at approximately 0815 aircraft 03-041 had a Red Ball for a canopy unlock indication. Attempts to clear the problems by cycling the canopy failed. The final cycling of the canopy resulted in it being in the down and locked position. The canopy would not cycle up form this position trapping the pilot in the cockpit. The aircraft subsequently ground aborted.

• Attempts to manually open the canopy were unsuccessful

• 27th AMU consulted Lockheed Martin and the F-22A System Program Office to determine alternate methods to open the canopy and extract the pilot

• After all maintenance options were exhausted, the canopy was cut by fire department personnel and the pilot was extracted at approximately 1315.

• Trouble-shooting of the aircraft is in work.

• Canopy replacement cost is $182,205.



      f22.38.jpg      f22.39.jpg      f22.40.jpg

      f22.41.jpg      f22.42.jpg      f22.43.jpg

      f22.44.jpg      f22.45.jpg      f22.46.jpg

      f22.47.jpg      f22.48.jpg


Record Recording

I bought a new record player. That's something you don't hear much any more. You can get them now with pre-amps builtin, and plug them into a computer. Now I can play old records and save them as .mp3 files or put them on CD. I'm using SpinItAgain software. It works pretty well. It takes out almost all the pops and crackles without noticeably hurting the sound quality.

      http://www.acoustica.com/spinitagain/

Since I naturally abhor any copyright violation, I checked up on the copyrights of old music. It's pretty interesting. Anything published before 1923 is in the public domain. Anything published before 1978 without a copyright notice is in the public domain. It gets more complicated after that.

      http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/training/Hirtle_Public_Domain.htm


Maroon Skiing

Last week I decided to go to Maroon Lake, near Aspen. I drove as far as I could, which as about 5 miles from Maroon Lake. I took a bicycle up to the lake. I rode about 2/3 of the way, and pushed the bike the last 1-2 miles.

      P1040643.jpg

I thought I would be able to ride it down, but by then the snow was soft and I got to push it down.

      P1050159.jpg

At Maroon Lake I broke out the snowshoes. I hiked in a couple of miles to the Crater Lake area, about 1.5 miles from the top of North Maroon Peak. It must be Spring, because butterflies were out.

      P1040762.jpg      P1050100.jpg      P1050082.jpg

On my way up, I met a guy on his way down. He had climbed part way up North Maroon, but quit before he got to the top because of the snow conditions. He was hoping to climb to the top and ski down. I thought that guy must be nuts.

I went by this small avalanche chute and didn't like it at all, even though it was pretty safe at the time.

      P1050055.jpg      P1050056.jpg

I am way too chicken to climb North Maroon in the snow, let along ski down.

I took a lot of pictures on the hike.

      P1040856.jpg      P1040869.jpg

      P1050116.jpg      P1050119.jpg      P1050125.jpg

Here are the Maroon Bells a few days earlier. I cross-country skied in because there was a lot more snow.

      P1040486.jpg

There's a snow slide down low coming from between the peaks.

      P1040986.jpg

Here's a close-up:

      P1040994.jpg

Maroon Lake through the aspens, from above:

      P1050048.jpg

I like these rocks, northwest of Maroon Lake.

      P1050113.jpg

Moonset on South Maroon Peak:

      P1040916.jpg

Here is some snow sliding down the mountain. I have a 40mg movie of that slide. It went on for a minute or two.

      P1040926.jpg

When I got back to town, I looked at some of the pictures and noticed ski tracks coming down off North Maroon Peak. Somebody did it! I checked on the internet, and found out quite a few people have skied down that mountain. I have climbed the Maroon Bells and Pyramid Peak and was kind of proud of that (until now), but skiing up and down? That's impressive!

Chris Davenport probably left these tracks. He is planning to climb and ski down all of Colorado's 54 14,000' mountains in a single season. Only one other person has done them all, and it took him 14 years.

Here are the ski tracks:

      P1040972.jpg      P1040943.jpg

Here is Chris Davenport's trip report. He did this on Wednesday. I was on the mountain Saturday.

      http://www.skithe14ers.com/p-north-maroon-peak.php

Read the one on Capitol Peak. It's impressive.

      http://www.skithe14ers.com/

Here are a couple other web sites about that type skiing.

      http://www.wildsnow.com/

      http://www.steepskiing.com/w_14ers.html

Those guys are better than me. A lot braver, too.


Pictures of Today

Hanging Lake, near Glenwood Canyon, CO.

      http://xpda.com/co22/

Even more Colorado pictures -- Peekaboo Gulch and Twin Lakes area.

      http://xpda.com/co20/

And finally, the starburst galaxy Messier 82. It was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in March, celebrating 16 years of successful service. (More details are in the image file comment).

      messier82.jpg



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