Tuesday, August 28, 2007

This Statement seems to have Lost its Meaning

It'll be a cold day in Hell before I...

Yeah, maybe when Hell freezes over...

Well, it turns out that Hell is just east of Trondheim, Norway. Not very hot at all really.

View Larger Map

Now, the train to Hell fills up pretty fast, but you can get a one way ticket to Hell if you are quick enough.

If this post bores you, you can go to Hell.
(and go skiing)

Only the Shadow Knows

This grainy picture was taken by Minibean's low-end digital camera about 4 hours ago. I woke up the family at just before 3am to view a lunar eclipse. If you saw my solar eclipse post a couple of items down, you will notice that Pandabonium and Maximilian Strange mentioned this lunar eclipse was imminent in the comments. We were lucky enough to have clear skies and it made for a cool, crisp look at the moon with temps down in the 50s F(about 12 C or so). Autumn is in the air!

I stayed up until the moon was a dark red, then I went off to bed (I DO have to work at 7am you know). I'm sure NASA and a few other places probably had better pictures, but I like Minibean's record of the event anyhow!

UPDATE: Here is a slightly better photo of the event.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Jim Bouton Brings Back 80s-style Baseball

1880s, that is. Jim Bouton pitched for the Portland Mavericks Single A baseball team in the 1970s after a major league career that began in 1962. He wrote a tell-all book, Ball Four, that pissed a lot of people off, but the sport eventually forgave him.

Ye old ball game
By Steve Henson

On a quaint patch of green in this historic western Massachusetts town last weekend, Bouton's vision of recreating an authentic 1880s ballgame amid a theatrical set piece of the period sprang to life at the first Vintage Base Ball Federation World Series.


As for the playing rules, Bouton and his board of directors of renowned baseball historians and writers have cherry-picked from 1850 to 1890 the ones they believe make for the best spectator sport. Besides the batter's choice of a high or low strike zone, other rules that no longer exist include: A foul ball caught on one hop is an out; there are no balks or timeouts; the hidden-ball trick and quick pitches are allowed at all times; and if the lone umpire can't see a play, he may "appeal to the bystanders and render his decision according to the fairest testimony at command."

I believe I actually remember seeing Bouton pitch once for the Mavericks (though it was about 35 years ago, so not very well). What a great idea this is! By the way, there are more interesting pix at the link, so check it out!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Mark your 2017 Calendars

(from the Strange Maps blog)

In the event we don't get nuked in the next 10 years (see post below for details), it looks like we will get a glimpse of a solar eclipse, this time in August. Our last solar eclipse was slightly less exciting because it was a dark, wet February day to begin with. Nonetheless, the darkening sky was eerie and interesting, especially in its rareness. On this rainy August day in 2007, I am more optimistic about our odds for good weather in 10 years.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The View from Mt Tabor is Fantastic

(thanks to my bro and a loyal reader for pointing this out)

Well the US gov't, in cooperation with local authorities and private freeloaders, are conducting a nuclear bomb test scenario here in beautiful Portland, Oregon. Let's scare you a little with a local fallout map...

(map courtesy of the Oregon Truth Alliance)

..how's that? Are you scared yet? That's right, Powell's Books is safe, but no more Blazer games. This exercise will be taking place over the next week.

The US Gov't has a new money spending campaign called Operation Noble Resolve. The Department of Fatherland Security picked little old Portland, with a low population density, no oil refineries or other energy centers, and a shipyard with a scarcity of military clients as their playground for a nuclear weapon.

I have no doubt that they are serious about this, but this scenario is for a 10 kiloton ground burst likely to be detonated by Al-Qaeda operatives that are, by some magical coincidence, more than 10 years ahead of the entire industrial capability of Iran in creating a nuclear weapon.

I will grant you that our little berg is not immune from a nuclear strike, but I suspect Russia, China, and North Korea (and possibly a pissed off Israel if we don't indulge their expansionism) long before anyone else in this category. Given the long history of nuclear energy in Russia and China, this scenario falls far short of their capabilities.

In addition, for the price of a community college student's report, I've already beaten our government to the punch. Over 20 years ago, I did a report in college on the effects of a one megaton (about 100 times bigger than Noble Baloney) blast on the Portland area. In my report, the blast was an air burst over the Burnside Bridge. The blast zone was orders of magnitude larger than that shown above and the death toll would have been in the hundreds of thousands over the course of time. I just wish I could find the dang thing in my boxes of schoolwork. If I do, I will type and post it (it was hand written).

I am preparing a post on how logic and risk intertwine to confuse the heck out of us, but suffice it to say that I don't appreciate my beautiful city and state being used for an implausible scenario. My take (and my contributing reader as well) is that any type of radioactive bomb from the so-called Al Qaeda would take the form of a dirty bomb, whose output would be more psychological than physical. Their element of surprise is gone and the days of fooling airplane passengers (if that is what happened) are long gone.

At any rate, if you see any would-be crusaders in P-town running around for no good reason talking about radiation over then next week, point your fingers and laugh at them and ask them to quit wasting our money on unlikely threats.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Roy Horn says "WTF?"

Here at Snabulus Blog, opportunities to show friendship and tenderness tend to take a back seat to pop culture references, satire, civic events, and occasionally politics. In this video, the good feelings get a turn at the steering wheel.

The story can be found here.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

It Isn't...

...as though...

...nobody has...

...warned us...

...about this....

US doles out millions for street cameras
Local efforts raise privacy alarms

By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | August 12, 2007

WASHINGTON -- The Department of Homeland Security is funneling millions of dollars to local governments nationwide for purchasing high-tech video camera networks, accelerating the rise of a "surveillance society" in which the sense of freedom that stems from being anonymous in public will be lost, privacy rights advocates warn.


In the last month, cities that have moved forward on plans for surveillance networks financed by the Homeland Security Department include St. Paul, which got a $1.2 million grant for 60 cameras for downtown; Madison, Wis., which is buying a 32-camera network with a $388,000 grant; and Pittsburgh, which is adding 83 cameras to its downtown with a $2.58 million grant.

Small towns are also getting their share of the federal money for surveillance to thwart crime and terrorism.

Recent examples include Liberty, Kan. (population 95), which accepted a federal grant to install a $5,000 G2 Sentinel camera in its park, and Scottsbluff, Neb. (population 14,000), where police used a $180,000 Homeland Security Department grant to purchase four closed-circuit digital cameras and two monitors, a system originally designed for Times Square in New York City.

"We certainly wouldn't have been able to purchase this system without those funds," police Captain Brian Wasson told the Scottsbluff Star-Herald.

Think about this. Nobody has time to watch these thousands of cameras. If the terrorist threat is truly real, they aren't going to proactively catch the perpetrators until after the destruction is wrought. All they can do is say after the fact, "Yep. Those were definitely dudes from some country with some brown people."

However, such data can be used to remove the freedom of non-terrorists.

Attention cheaters: E-Z pass is watching you


Friday, August 10th 2007, 6:31 PM

E-ZPass and other electronic toll collection systems are emerging as a powerful means of proving infidelity. That's because when your spouse doesn't know where you've been, E-ZPass does.

"E-ZPass is an E-ZPass to go directly to divorce court, because it's an easy way to show you took the off-ramp to adultery," said Jacalyn Barnett, a New York divorce lawyer who has used E-ZPass records a few times.

Of course, there are the Pollyanna's who just "can't believe our benevolent way of life here in America" would be compromised by the nice people who control our market and our nation.

Getting to know allabout you



When Robert Rivera signed up for a Vons grocery store card, he had no idea that detailed records of his shopping habits would one day be used against him. But that's exactly what he says happened.

Well, you're not in Kansas anymore, Toto. Data integration and mining is the new frontier and as much as it is convenient to look up your friend's house on Google Maps, it is just as easy for the corporate socialists to broker your personal buying information, no matter how personal or embarrassing, and sell it to the highest Bidder or give it to government officiAls under the auspiceS of tErrorism prevention.

I'm not talking Ahmed who lives in Apt. 13 hoping that he can just do his damn job without getting a coke Bottle shoved up his Ass by some redneck in a dark room. I'm taLking about you, Janet. I'm taLking aBout you, Robert. I'm tAlking abouT every gall-durn 'Murican no maTter how freakin' wHite or black you are buying "Harry PottEr" or a few too many tampons or a Couple bags extrA of fertilizer for your oversize garden plot. YOU, Stupid coMfortable AmERicA!

It is time to wake up and smell the Orwell, neighbor, and stop worrying about whether the abortion is being considered from somebody you've never met, or the tree you've never hugged could be cut down by someone you've never met because when you are under surveillance, you could be punished for exercising your right to even express your honest opinion about it. Understand? Maybe, maybe not. Hard to say. It seems so remote...

The So-Called Protect America Act: Why Its Sweeping Amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Pose Not Only a Civil Liberties Threat, But a Greater Danger As Well

The Washington Post, the New York Times, and politically-diverse organizations ranging from the John Birch Society and the Cato Institute to the American Civil Liberties Union all agree that the PAA is a serious mistake, and threat to the civil liberties of Americans. They point out that the law ignores the Fourth Amendment while, at the same time, hiding its actual operations in national security secrecy. Indeed, Congress was not even certain about the full extent of what it has authorized because President Bush and Vice-President Cheney refused to reveal it.

...but it gets worse every day.

Well, you know what? It isn't the few who connect the dots and realize that something terrible is happening who are going to turn the tide. It is the hundreds of millions of Americans who are slightly bothered here or there about snippets and sound bites here and there that contradict not only our Constitution and Bill of Rights, but the entire difference between a place once known as the "The Land of the Free" and places likes China. Places where you get along or go to jail for "re-education." My hope is that the non-conformists among us can look past petty political differences between right and left and look at the society that greedy and dull-minded Democrats and Republicans are building together.

Do you ever wonder what happened to this guy?

In America, he could have made a difference. In China, he might be still in jail, or "re-educated" or dead. Which country do you want to live in? If you are concerned, consider writing your Congresspeople, even if your are afraid it won't work.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Speaking of Geeks...

As if I didn't know...

Your Personality is Very Rare (INFP)

Your personality type is dreamy, romantic, elegant, and expressive.

Only about 5% of all people have your personality, including 6% of all women and 4% of all men
You are Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

For FoxPro Geeks Only

I couldn't find any good replacements in Visual FoxPro for the Visual Basic functions IsDate and IsDateTime, so I created my own. I submit them here in hopes that some VFP programmer can pull them up in a Google search and get some use out of them:

FUNCTION IsDateTime(sString)
   RETURN IIF("/  /" $ TTOC(CTOT(sString)), .F., .T.)

FUNCTION IsDate(sString)
   RETURN IIF("/  /" $ DTOC(CTOD(sString)), .F., .T.)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Toro Bravo

Well, Snabby & I have just had one of those magical restaurant experiences, the kind where great food, good friends and casual ambiance combine for a thoroughly enjoyable evening!

It helped that the co-owner of the restaurant was a former boss of Snabby's, who when he sold the business, decided to become a chef and open a restaurant of his own!

Toro Bravo is a brand new Tapas (Spanish appetizers, but so much more!)restaurent, and dishes are served "family style" -so folks can share all different kinds of meals. There's not much vegetarian stuff on the menu, but enough to keep a vegetarian satisfied (the salads and tomato dishes are excellent!).

Besides an excellent wine and beer list, you can have your choice of red or white Sangria!

There was a very good eggplant dish, (we both thought of Pandabonium!), Polenta & tomatos, Roasted Corn with green beans & red peppers, Apricot lamb with couscous, Avacado Gazpacho, to-die-for pork meatballs, and much, much more!

We ended up staying about 3 hours, and everyone but us had dessert too, (but we did get some bites in). Thanks to Snabby's old boss, we got a personal run-down of the whole menu and great treatment by the staff.

We're still "high", "blissed out" or whatever the term is now for feeling like you've just had the best time, in a LONG time! (and it was about time too!)