More Junkmail from Bob!

December 3, 2010
Important Stuff.

Atomic Ramblings

Klaus Fuchs was born in Germany in 1911. He went to college in Germany, joined the Communist party, and then had some run-ins with the Nazi Party. So he went to England to study physics in 1933. He got doctorate degrees at the University of Bristol and the University of Edinburgh. Then he taught physics at Edinburgh.

When World War II rolled around in 1939 (for Britain), Fuchs, as a German citizen, spent a few months in detention camps. Some of his colleagues got him released, however, and he became a British citizen and started work on the British nuclear weapons program in 1942.

In June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Here are some photos of the Red Army, most during World War II.

In August 1941, a lady named Ruth contacted Fuchs. Ruth had also been a member of the German Communist party, and was then a major in Soviet military intelligence. When Fuchs started his secret nuclear weapons research in 1942, he also started spying for the Soviet Union.

In December 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entered World War II. The Japanese bombed and torpedoed Pearl Harbor, but they also used midget submarines in the attack.

In 1943, Fuchs went from Britain to Columbia University and Los Alamos, New Mexico to work on the U.S. Manhattan project. He continued to spy for the Soviets, working with other Soviet spies in the U.S. nuclear program.

On July 16, 1945 the Trinity Test was conducted and the first nuclear explosion exploded. Actually, the first man-made nuclear explosion exploded. The Sun had been at it for a few years already.

A portion of the Alamogordo Bombing Range was chosen as the site for the Trinity Test. This section of the test site was located at McDonald Ranch, which served as assembly headquarters for the atomic device. All of these temporary buildings were removed after the test.
Plutonium for the Trinity device is moved from the sedan that brought it to McDonald Ranch.
Norris Bradbury, group leader for bomb assembly, stands next to the partially assembled Gadget atop the test tower. Later, he became the director of Los Alamos, after the departure of Oppenheimer. Bradbury would serve as the director for several decades.
The famous mushroom cloud at 12 seconds after detonation.
"Jumbo" atomic device being positioned for "Trinity" test at Alamogordo, New Mexico.
"Jumbo" atomic device being positioned for "Trinity" test at Alamogordo, New Mexico.

A few weeks later, the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


Around 200,000 people were killed, including those who died within a few months of the bombs. As bad as this is, it almost certainly saved many more lives than this by ending the war. Japan had already lost over 2,000,000 military and 500,000 civilians in the war, with about 200,000 dead in the Battle of Okinawa alone.

Fuchs kept passing nuclear weapons research, designs, and other information to the Soviets throughout the war and after he returned to the U.K. in 1946, until he was caught and confessed in 1950. In 1950 Fuchs identified Harry Gold as a Soviet spy in the U.S., who identified David Greenglass as a spy, who identified Julius Rosenburg as a spy. They were all convicted of spying.

I don't know about Fuchs's mental state, but his grandmother, mother, and sister had committed suicide, and another sister was diagnosed as schizophrenic.

Fuchs was sentenced to 14 years in prison, the maximum sentence because the Soviet Union was considered a British ally. Julius Rosenburg and his wife Ethel (Greenglass's sister) were executed in 1953.

In February 1944, when Klaus Fuchs was in the U.S. working on the Manhattan Project and spying for the Soviets, the U.S. landed on Enewetak Atoll and took it from the 2,500 Japanese defenders.


The U.S. built a 6,800 foot airstrip.


The U.S. administered the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean, including Bikini and Enewetak Atolls, after peace broke out in 1945. The U.S. nuclear weapons program went ahead full steam because the Soviets were doing the same, and each country was more than a little worried about being blown up by the other.

The U.S. used Bikini and Enewetak Atolls for nuclear weapons testing. They conducted 43 nuclear explosions on Enewetak from 1948 to 1958. Luckily, they evacuated the residents to Ujelang Atoll before they started blowing up stuff. They also evacuated the bodies of the U.S. service men buried there during the war.

On Bikini Atoll, July 1946, a 23 kiloton sub-surface burst 90 ft underwater was used to test the effects of nuclear explosions on ships, part of Operation Crossroads.


In 1952, the first fusion explosion (hydrogen bomb) on earth was detonated on Elugelab Island, one of the islands of Enewetak Atoll. The island was vaporized.

The "sausage device" of Ivy Mike nuclear test on Enewetak Atoll:


The 10.4 megaton blast is considered the first U.S. fusion explosion, but 77% of the 10.4 megaton blast came from uranium fission, and only 23% from fusion energy.

In March 1953, the U.S. performed a blast test on a wood frame house 1,100 meters from a 16-kiloton nuclear blast.


On May 23, 1953, the world's first atomic artillery shell was fired from the Army's new 280mm cannon in Nevada. Hundreds of high ranking Armed Forces officers and members of Congress watched.


In 1954 the U.S. exploded "Castle Bravo" on Bikini Atoll, about 200 miles east of Enewetak. This explosion was the first ever powered primarily by nuclear fusion. The 15 megaton blast was and is the largest ever exploded by the U.S., and was three times larger than they thought it would be. That must have surprised some people. An extra 10 megatons is hard not to notice.


There was also three times more radioactive contamination released by Castle Bravo than they expected. This was considered very bad manners. Among those exposed to radioactive fallout were the crew of the Japanese fishing boat Daigo Fukuryu Maru. This led to an anti-nuclear movement in Japan and inspired the movie Godzilla.

In 1959, one year after the nuclear tests were stopped on Enewetak Atoll, Klaus Fuchs was released from prison. He moved from the U.K. to East Germany where he was received as a hero. He was later appointed deputy director of the East German Institute for Nuclear Research.

Local (former) residents of Enewetak Atoll were allowed to return in 1970. The U.S. began decontamination of the atoll in 1977. This seems backwards, but there is some distance in the atoll between the nuclear test sites and the residences.

The decontamination was an extensive project. They scraped and dug up more than 75,000 cubic meters of radioactive soil. They mixed this soil and other debris with cement, and dumped it into a blast crater at the north end of Runit Island.

The crater was about 365 feet in diameter and 30 feet deep. The crater became a mound 25 feet high. They capped the mound with an 18-inch layer of concrete, and it became known as Cactus Dome, named after the Cactus "shot" that created the crater. The Cactus shot was a "small" fusion explosion of 18 kilotons in 1958.


You can find the crater on Google Earth and Google Maps. It's odd that on Google Earth, Cactus Dome is blanked out with gray pixels, but it appears in Google Maps. Google Earth does link to some photos.

In 1986 the Marshall Islands, including Enewetak Atoll, became an independent country. In 2000, the U.S. paid $340 million to the people of Marshall Islands for loss of use, hardship, medical difficulties, and further nuclear cleanup. In addition, the U.S. pays the Marshall Islands about $6 million per year for education and health programs. About 62,000 people live in the Marshall Islands, less than a thousand of these on Enewetak Atoll.

The U.S. continued above-ground (atmospheric) nuclear tests until 1958, with a total of 192 nuclear explosions. In 1958 the U.S. and Soviet Union stopped atmospheric nuclear tests, each unilaterally.

In 1961, the Soviets broke the non-agreement of 1958. On October 30, 1961, they detonated a 50 megaton bomb at an altitude of 13,000 feet, the largest ever exploded on earth. Buildings, both wooden and brick, were destroyed at a test location 55 km away from the blast. Even though it was detonated at 13,000 feet, the bomb created a seismic event of magnitude 5.0 to 5.25. The weapon was a 100 megaton design, but they dampened it by replacing some of the uranium with lead in order to eliminate 97% of the radioactive fallout.

In late 1961 and 1962 the U.S. retaliated with 124 atmospheric nuclear tests. Not all of these were huge bombs. The last above-ground nuclear explosion at the Nevada Test Site was a test of the Davy Crockett .02 kiloton warhead in July 1962.

The Davy Crocket had a range of 1.25 to 2.5 miles. It wasn't very accurate, and was more deadly from the radiation than the blast itself.


The Davy Crockett was deployed in the U.S. Army from 1961 to 1971.

In the early 1960's people said we kids shouldn't eat snow (in Oklahoma) because of radioactive fallout from Nevada.


After 1962, the U.S. continued underground nuclear tests until 1992. Most underground tests were at the Nevada Test Site, although there was a small one in Mississippi (5.3 kilotons) and a big one on Amchitka Island, Alaska (around 5 megatons).

I was meandering across Mississippi last October and ran across this helicopter:


The 1964 Salmon Test was a 5.3 megaton underground blast about 25 miles west of the helicopter. The helicopter was not involved. They blew a hole in a salt dome so they could learn to measure seismic signatures of underground nuclear tests.

Warning sign at the Salmon Test Site:


From 1945 to 1962, there were more than 500 nuclear explosions in the earth's atmosphere.

Upper Income

An October Headline in major news sites: "Highest Earners' Pay Quintupled in 2009, Government Data Shows."

This story appeared in a lot of newspapers, TV networks, and web sites. It naturally makes you think that most of the country's rich people are making five times more than they did last year. But such is not the case.

They said that the people in the U.S. who made more than $50 million in 2009 made an average of 5 times more in 2009 than in 2008. They neglected to mention that there were 131 people who made more than $50 million in 2008, and only 74 people who made that much in 2009. They also didn't point out that, since people move in and out of the $50 million income club every year, those with income above $50 million would normally average higher income than they did in the previous year.

Aside from these statistical liberties, there is one more minor flaw with this data:  it is wrong. The Social Security Administration and/or IRS, who came up with this gem in the first place, counted a couple of W2's twice. They naturally blamed someone else. But even with the statistical tricks above, the average income of those who earned more than $50 million in 2009 was 7.7 percent below their 2008 earnings.

No matter what, the average increase of income for people who make more than $50 million in 2009, or any amount, for that matter, is an obscure statistic. Someone in the government decided to take this and present it as proof that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. I don't know whether that is true, but I do know that you can't tell by the average change in income of those who made more than $50 million in 2009. It makes me want to call someone an idiot.

Stupid Software Patent

Microsoft has patented the "to-do list." In fairness, the list in the patent is also located in the comments of programming source code, and changes in one changes the other. But it's so dadblasted simple and obvious that there is no way it would deserve a patent in the world of the sane. But we're talking USPTO here.

In other news, USPTO has decided that Facebook now owns the word "Face."

Alice's Piano

Alice Sommer has played all of Chopin's etudes on the piano. By memory. While in a Nazi concentration camp. More importantly, she likes Beethoven. She's 106.

Jammie Thomas

About three years ago, I did some ranting and raving when a jury decided that a single mother named Jammie who made $36,000 per year owed the U.S. Recording Industry $222,000 because she shared 24 songs on Kazaa.

Luckily, there were some appeals and more trials and legal stuff. Now Jammie owes a more reasonable amount to the Recording Industry. $1.5 million. I guess she'd better find a higher-paying job.

That makes me want to go download some music. Legally, of course.

Placebo Buttons

I have noticed that walk buttons at stoplights rarely work for me. I'll admit I usually don't have the patience to wait more than 5 seconds, and generally walk across the street before I even get to the corner. But when I do hit the walk button, nothing seems to happen.

I get the same feeling when I'm on an elevator and hit the close-door button. Nothing closes until it's good and ready.

The machines of the world are not out to get me after all. Well, they probably are, but not with the impudent walk buttons and close-door buttons that won't take orders from me. It turns out they behave this way for everybody, because they are cosmetic buttons that may have never even seen a wire.

Roger Davidson Music and Computing

Sometimes when you have a laptop with a problem, it may be cheaper just to buy a new one. This was the case for musician Roger Davidson.

Roger was having laptop problems in 2004. He took his computer into the Mount Kisco computer store to have it fixed. It turned out to be a virus.

Computer store owners Vickram and Helga convinced Roger that government intelligence agencies, foreign nationals, and Opus Dei priests were after him through his computer. For the low, low price of $160,000 per month, Vickram and Helga would protect him.

After losing somewhere between $6 million and $20 million (musicians don't count very well), Roger went to the police, and Vickram and Helga went to jail.

I was going to buy one of his songs on Amazon to help him out ($0.99) but I couldn't find any I liked.


After (and before) winning control of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republicans announced that there would be no more earmarks in government funding, blaming Obama for the decades-old practice. But it was not long before the newly elected politicians figured out that all funding bills originate in the House, not the White House, and that their constituents are expecting paybacks of a monetary variety. So now Republicans are once again in favor of earmarks and pork barrel politics -- at least enough to preserve the earmark tradition. I think The Who had a song about that.

Arizona Senator John Kyl was one of the most vocal critics of earmarking. Three days after he voted for a ban on the practice, Kyl slipped $200 million for Arizona Indian water rights into an unrelated bill. I find that reassuring. It would be distressing to find a politician without a shred of hypocrisy.


There are now 10.3 trillion stars in the observable universe per capita. How big is that? Bigger than all the dollars in the U.S. National Debt. (2009)

Windows Phone 7

Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 had not been a huge success so far. I haven't tried one, but if they ignore the customer needs like they have in their recent software applications, I can see why they're not selling.

One funning thing is that the phone uses microSD cards, like most other phones and many other small devices. Except the Windows Phone 7 requires a microSD card that is certified by Microsoft for the Windows Phone 7. And there are no certified cards in existence. And the non-certified cards really won't work. Brilliant!


A Qantas A380 had an engine failure. Normally that's not too serious, since there are three more engines available on that plane. But when the engine failed, it took out one of two main hydraulic systems, hampered the fuel transfer system, punched a hole in the forward wing spar, and caused a major fuel leak. Oops.


A couple of years ago, Mike and I took a hike with a small group in the Himalayas, in Nepal. I didn't take a computer, and it was the longest time I'd been without a computer for at least 15 years. The withdrawal symptoms were horrible. I almost became a normal human. But not quite.

Jeff Greenwald was with us. He has spent a lot of time in Nepal, and has even written some books about it: Mister Raja's Neighborhood (my favorite, but maybe not his) and Shopping for Buddhas.

I thought it was interesting when I was there that the people had leapfrogged wired telephone service. People had cell phone service in towns where there have never been any landlines and where the electrical service consisted of solar panels and a few generators.


Today, there is 3G cell service throughout the area, and even on top of Mount Everest. Jeff recently wrote a good article about 3G cell service being available on Mount Everest and in that area. I was happy to see that he presented a realistic view of the technology, rather than the normal "we're ruining the culture" story you see so often.

"Access to the Internet is starting to seem like a human right, so let me offer a disclaimer. There is no rational downside to the arrival of broadband on the flanks of Everest. I'm not a Luddite, and would never suggest that developing nations should be denied, for any reason, the global access that technology can provide. This 3G network will undoubtedly save lives -- not only by providing weather information and support to Everest climbers and trekkers, but as an alert system for the nearby villages threatened by flash floods from Glacial Lake Overflow (GLOF), another peril caused by global warming."

This article presents a glimpse into the technological changes of Nepal in the past couple of decades. It's changed about 5 times faster than it has in the U.S.

Who knows? Maybe someday we'll even have 3G cell service in Pryor, Oklahoma.

Chinese UAV and RPA

The U.S. Air Force has been building fighters, bombers, and other military planes for close to 100 years. The U.S. has the most sophisticated military aircraft on the planet for most, if not all, of that time.

Today, some of these aircraft don't even require pilots, at least, not inside the planes.


These have been called UAVs, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. I thought it was unusual in this day and time to use the term unmanned instead of unwomaned. But the term UAV is being phased out in favor of RPA, or Remotely Piloted Aircraft. This term keeps clear of the gender police, but RPA may have an accuracy problem as autonomous unpeopled aircraft join the world.

101123-F-4684K-500.JPG090508-N-2821G-146.jpg (hi-res)

UAVs won't replace manned military aircraft any time soon, but they are useful in many situations. With a UAV, You don't have to worry about a pilot getting shot down. You don't have to have seats, ejection systems, pressurization, instrumentation, windshields, and other heavy stuff used to keep people alive. UAVs can be built to take higher g-forces than people. However, UAVs require communications with a remote pilot, and their autonomous flying is not quite up to the level of human pilots.

China is getting into the RPA and/or UAV business now. Maybe they're leapfrogging manned military aircraft.

Meanwhile, China will be opening some of its airspace for General Aviation. You will be able to fly below 1000 meters without a flight plan and below 4000 meters without the hard-to-get prior approval that is required today. Maybe I can fly around China someday.


The new space shuttle is an unmanned vehicle. The X-37B is a lot smaller than the manned space shuttles, and is operated by the Air Force instead of NASA. Last April 22 they launched one from Cape Canaveral on an Atlas V rocket.

100422-f-0000x-033.jpg (hi-res)

Since there are no people to keep alive, the X37B can stay in orbit for a long time. The one they launched in April landed at Vandenburg Air Force Base at 1:37 am Friday, after more than 7 months in orbit. I guess they didn't need to worry about runway lights since nobody was on board.

100330-O-1234S-001.jpg100405-O-1234S-001.jpg (hi-res)

Computer Science

If you learn a little computer science, you could become President!

Quick Start

"Thank you for your interest in the DotNetNuke Quick Administration Guide. The nearly 400 page Guide is designed to quickly get you up and running with DotNetNuke."

400 pages? Quickly? I've got to learn to read faster.

Photo Shop Disasters

I don't look at ads much, so I was surprised to see how many blatant errors there are in photo editing. If you're going to cheat, you should cheat well.

Google is Hiring

Some of these may even come to Pryor.

The Secret of Life

Not long ago, Physicist Bob Parks recounted the celebration in the Eagle pub of the discovery of the structure of DNA, as told by James Watson in The Double Helix. Raynor Smith sent him a response that put it in perspective: "These great men did indeed discover the secret of life. The secret is to gather with friends in a warm pub, and raise your glass to celebrate your accomplishments, and likewise those of your friends, whether large and earthshaking or small and humble."

Quantitative Easing

This is funny. Some of the facts are wrong, and I disagree with a lot of it, but it's really funny.

Homework Assignment

Learn about sea snakes.

In 1932 millions of sea snakes were seen from a steamer in the Strait of Malacca off the coast of Malaysia. They formed a line of snakes 10 feet wide and 60 miles long.

Wiseguy Tickets

Four guys, Kenneth, Kristofer, Faisal, and Joel, got some CAPTCHA solving software. They installed it on a bunch of computers. They used these computers to buy a bunch of the best tickets to concerts and other events. Then they sold these tickets for a huge profit, since they had bought a good percentage of the best seats. Then they were arrested for hacking and wire fraud and things like that.

Kenneth, Kristofer, and Joel pled guilty, and Faisal is on the run.


Some people at CERN made some antihydrogen. Antihydrogen, and antimatter in general, is hard to carry around, because when it comes across regular matter, the antimatter and an equal amount of matter are converted into light and kinetic energy (for the most part).

A nuclear fission reaction releases about 1 million times as much energy as a chemical reaction with the same amount of fuel (energy per unit mass). Nuclear fission is about a million times more powerful than chemical reactions

Nuclear fusion is about 100 times more powerful than fission. An antimatter reaction is about 100 times more powerful than nuclear fusion. The reaction of 1 kg of antimatter with 1 kg of matter would make an explosion of about 43 megatons.

So, why has CERN not been converted to a bunch of energy? They only made 38 atoms of antihydrogen, and it only lasted about .16 seconds. But this is still pretty important. Nobody before this has ever made enough antihydrogen that lasted long enough for it to be tested.

Texting in the 1700's

It's common for people to send hundreds of text messages every month. Before that? We were stuck with instant messaging. Then email. Then phone calls. Before phones? There was a long period, thousands of years, when people were stuck writing letters.

Some people wrote a lot. The second U.S. President, John Adams, and his wife Abigail ended up with a collection of 1,160 letters to one another from 1762 to 1801. They're available on online:

When they were active in politics, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were rivals on opposite sides of most issues, and they did not get along well. After they retired, they became internet buddies, or the 300-year-ago equivalents, through correspondence with many friendly arguments about everything from politics to religion to society in general.

On July 4, 1826, 50 years to the day after signing of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died; Adams at home in Massachusetts and Jefferson at home in Virginia.

You can still read their letters:

Wiping Phones

Some employers have the right to erase everything on your cell phone, even if you own the phone personally with a personal account. Some employees have been very surprised by this, especially when it's done inadvertently.

FBI Wiretapping

The FBI wants Google, Facebook, and other internet companies to make it easier for the FBI to eavesdrop on users.

They've come a long way since 1967, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that wiretapping requires a warrant.

Sometimes it's nice to be able to upload a picture on the internet to share with people, without making a web site for it without using something like Flickr or Facebook. I do this sometimes when I want to post a photo on a forum, for example.

Here's an easy way to do it:

All you do is drag a photo from your hard drive onto your browser when this page is loaded. Then your picture comes up with its own URL. You can make it public or private. They plan to have a few text ads, but nothing like the big mess of ads you find on similar sites.

Bird Lists

Here is a list of every wild bird species ever seen in Oklahoma. I'm not sure how they know this, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. I am quite distressed that there are no wild penguins in Oklahoma.

If you go down to the bottom of this page, you can get the bird lists for most states and three provinces, including Nunavut:

Nunavut also has no penguins.


P2P, which stands for peer-to-peer is a method of communicating between two computers directly without going through a central server.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security owns, in addition to the U.S. Coast Guard, TSA, and U.S. Customs; the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, whose motto is "Protection is Our Trademark." Homeland Security also attempted to gain control of Congress, but, to their consternation, Congress had long been bought and paid for.

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center as a new effort to protect American consumers from potentially harmful trade goods. Instead, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center has shut down 82 web sites in the past week.

One site was, which had links to other sites that had links to files (torrent files) you could use to share files using P2P networking. Some of the torrent files linked to copyrighted songs such as music, books, and movies.

The site quickly moved to One thing about this takedown that upset some people is that torrent-finder does not have any copyrighted material, does not link directly to any copyrighted material, and does not even link to any torrents which link to copyrighted material.

I felt obligated to check out this devious web site, so I downloaded a book:

Isaac Newton's The Mathematical Principals of Natural Philosophy should be out of copyright by now, depending on when Disney last paid off Congress.

Big Integers

Microsoft .net Framework 4.0 has a Big Integer class that supports integer arithmetic at arbitrarily large precision. That could be a lot of fun to play with.


There currently is a big foofaraw afoot about Wikileaks, the U.S. State Department, and a guy named Julian. I won't regurgitate all of that stuff, except to mention that the Army guy (Bradley) who original copied all this stuff is from Crescent, Oklahoma.

Bradley was arrested last May, and the government knew exactly what documents were copied, so none of this Wikileaks stuff should have come as a surprise.

One U.S. Congressman claims Wikileaks is a terrorist organization. And to think when they passed the Patriot Act they promised me it would not be abused.

Someone mounted a DoS attack on the Wikileaks site and brought it down for a while. Then Wikileaks moved to Amazon Web Services, a cloud, which also happens to be where,, and are located.

To get set up on Amazon AWS, you pay some money and they give you one or more virtual servers and hard drives. It's really flexible, because you can expand or reduce your system on the fly. It's also cheap.

When Wikileaks went to Amazon, I imagine nobody at Amazon realized it. They don't prescreen their customers. It was just a new customer with a web site. Then people figured it out, politicians got (or pretended to get) upset, and a U.S. Senator named Joe threatened Amazon, thinking Amazon was intentionally supporting Wikileaks. Joe is kind of old and probably thinks the internet runs through pipes that get clogged up.

Then Amazon told Wikileaks, "Hey! You! Get Offa My Cloud!" and kicked Wikileaks out.

Amazon Web Services said they did this because Wikileaks violated their terms of service by having content on their site without owning the content or the rights to the content.

I think Amazon would have been hard pressed to ignore this, even without political interference, because Wikileaks was in blatant violation of their terms of service.

So Wikileaks went back to a Swedish server. Then Wikileaks' DNS server kicked them off. Here's what they said.

I did download all the new Wikileaks data (using P2P) a couple of days ago and noticed that they had only posted about 500 of the 250,000 documents. This could be a long, drawn-out affair. Julian seems to be milking this for all the publicity he can get. If he was really concerned about making the information public, he'd put it out on a  torrent so it would spread around the world in minutes.

I think Wikileaks might have given all their documents to the New York Times, who is handling it reasonably responsibly.

I did a search through the documents I downloaded, and there was no mention of Pryor, or even Oklahoma. But there was some stuff on 1966 Argentine fishing limits.

For the moment, if you want to browse the Wikileaks documents (currently 600 or so), you can do it here:

More info:

Windows Live Blogs

Windows Live is a project by Microsoft. I never did figure out what its purpose was, beyond installing a bunch of stuff on your hard drive.

Windows Live has a search and some tools, including a blog system. They've since abandoned their blogs and are sending people to So far, they've moved more than half a million blogs from Windows Live to WordPress. I probably won't have time to read all of them.


The army has a new gun. At $25,000 apiece, the XM-25 is pretty expensive. But it is not just another gun. It fires exploding projectiles about an inch in diameter and an inch and a half long, with a point range of over 500 yards.


The gun's range finder measure the precise distance to a target. Then the projectile can be programmed to explode up to 10 feet before or after that distance. This allows someone, for example, to shoot over a wall and have the projectile explode 2 feet past the wall.

The projectile starts spinning in the rifled barrel, and measures the distance traveled by the number of rotations it has made while traveling through the air.

The Army plans to buy 12,500 of these and have them deployed in 2012. The XM-25 is considered a grenade launcher, although the grenade is more like a large exploding rifle round.

TSA Searches

I ran across this post from someone outside the U.S. on an online forum this week.

"lol, America, where's these freedoms that you're out invading other countries to protect? Your own government has taken more freedoms away from you in the past 10 years than terrorists ever have."

I agree. It's obvious even to those who don't live here.

I was going to go off on a serious, long-winded rant about TSA and airplane security and Homeland Security and such, but I got tired of thinking about it. In fact, I'm willing to make a deal. I'll let the TSA touch me all they want so long as I get to keep my shoes on.

This first link is pretty good. All the others are optional and will not be covered on the exam.


Pseudoscorpions are tiny bugs (arachnids) that look like scorpions without tails. There are 3,300 species of Pseudoscorpions, one of which, the Book Scorpion, is common in houses.


Most pseudoscorpions have a venom gland in their claw they use to capture and immobilize their prey. Even with the venom, pseudoscorpions are harmless to people. In fact, they are nice to have in your house because they eat things like clothes moth larvae, carpet beetle larvae, booklice, ants, mites, and small flies.

In 2006, Jean Krejca discovered a new species of pseudoscorpion in Yosemite National Park, in a cave caused by rock falls a few hundred years ago. She didn't realize it was a new species at the time, but she did take a four of them for identification. She went back a couple of times in 2009, and found some in a cave a half mile away.


Jean and some others at Texas Tech eventually figured out this was a new species, and they published a nice paper about it September 30, 2010.

The new pseudoscorpions are about 0.16 inches (4 mm) long, not really noticeable under a pile of granite.

I would probably never have known about this important new arachnid if I had not seen the calm, conservative article at "New Venomous Animal Discovered at Yosemite," describing a scary animal that "waits for prey with its venom-filled claws at the ready." Never mind that the animal is a tiny bug, harmless to people, and was discovered four years ago.

Don't Hack Politicians

A student named Mitchell brought down some conservative web sites using DoS attacks in 2006 and 2007. He was sentenced last month to two and a half years in jail.

The guy who read Sarah Palin's email was sentenced to one year and one day in jail.

I might rather spend a year in jail than read Sarah Palin's email. That sounds painful.

Botnet Battles

Botnets are groups of hundreds or thousands of computers that have been compromised by malware (trojan, virus, etc.), allowing the computers to be controlled remotely. You can join a botnet when you click on an executable email attachment, for example, or visit a flaky web site without updating your browser.

The botnet owners do not even write their own malware any more. It's available for purchase on the internet. All you have to do is buy a malware kit, get it into some spam or onto a web site, and wait for unknowing participants to join your botnet.

Once you have the malware installed on someone's computer, you can install keyboard scanners to search for credit card and password info, you can also use the computers in your botnet to send spam, and if you're good you can even steal a World of Warcraft account.

Internet security people have been taking over botnets occasionally, essentially stealing them from the original botnet owner. Then they can check out the latest malware and learn to shut down entire botnets at once. They do this by setting up closely monitored computers that join botnets.

So now, the botnet software designers have designed fake botnet controllers that can be hacked by the good guys so they can learn and block the techniques the good guys are using to hack the bad guys.

This could go on forever.

It is illegal to run a botnet. In October the FBI arrested a guy named Oleg, the largest botnet owner in the world. Oleg was living in Russia, but was arrested when he visited Las Vegas.

The FBI got a warrant to go through Oleg's gmail account, but they went through someone else's email by mistake on the first try.

Terrorists are Everywhere

A plastic toy robot brought Denver to its knees Wednesday.

Those Denver people must be wimps.


North Korea shot at South Korea a few days ago, and South Korea shot back. That's just about all you could find in most news articles, aside from dozens of pundits and politicians either (a) trying to act tough, (b) criticizing other politicians, (c) replying to questions about the shooting with completely unrelated answers, or (d) all of the above.

I finally checked Wikipedia. They actually have some facts. North Korea shot about 170 artillery rounds at the island of Yeonpyeong, but only about 80 hit the island. South Korea shot about 80 shells at North Korea. For a quick summary, read the timeline in this article. Or read the whole thing. It's interesting.

Pictures of Today!

An EA-6B waved off due to a fouled deck on the USS Ronald Reagan, November 5, 2010.

The first carrier model of the F-35 arrived at Patuxent River, November 6, 2010. These will replace the AV-8B Harrier.

Harrier, April 21, 2010
Austin Hazard took this picture.

Harrier, November 29, 2010
Bob took this picture.

The Amarillo Cadillacs, November 2000.

Question Mark



A butterfly tasting a bug.


Moon over Peak 2