Monday, December 31, 2007

Crazy accident from kangaroo country.

Today's crazy accident comes to us from Down Under, courtesy the upside-down department of energy.  I knew there was a reason to clean up grinding dust, because it gets into everything, will discolour water based paints and dull wood working tools rather horribly.  But this is something I never thought of.

A safety coordinator at the Esso Oil Company plant in Longford, Australia, was using a belt grinder in his home workshop to smooth the edge of a hacksaw cut on a 2" length of 1.5" angle iron. He had been grinding for about 1.5 to 2 minutes when there was a loud "THUMP" accompanied by an approximately 2-foot diameter brilliant yellow orange fireball. The fireball lasted no more than 1 second and then completely extinguished itself. It completely enveloped the machine, his hands to half way up his forearms, and the front of his torso.
I'll spare you the gory details.  The guy got burnt a bit, needless to say.  Good thing he was wearing his glasses, eh?

Now, what on earth makes a belt grinder explode? 
Nothing on the bench was burning. A few streaks of white powder were deposited on the bench top and on a few items lying on the bench. The workshop was filled with dense white smoke with very little odor.
Hmm, white powder?  White Smoke?  The plot thickens!  One last piece of info is missing.
A few days before the event, the man's son had ground the heads off about twelve aluminum pop rivets.
Aluminum makes a belt grinder explode?  Yes it does my friends!  Aluminum dust plus grinding dust from steel makes thermite.  Add a bunch of heat from grinding sparks, and POOF goes your eyebrows.  The good news is that thermite is very difficult to get going.  This poor guy's loss of eyebrows was pretty fluky.  But if you grind a lot of steel and a lot of aluminum...

So all you hot rodder slobs like myself who work with steel AND aluminum, get busy with the vacuum cleaner.  The facial hair you save may be your own.

The "but am I paranoid enough?" Phantom

Thursday, December 27, 2007

HRC, the gauntlet is cast! Right in their teeth too.

Mark Steyn has a new post up at his blog regarding his upcoming hearing before one of our Human Rights Commission tribunals , and may I say that the battle is surely joined.
Here's my bottom line: I don't accept that free-born Canadian citizens need the permission of the Canadian state to read my columns. What's offensive is not the accusations of Dr Elmasry and his pals, but the willingness of Canada's pseudo-courts to take them seriously. So I couldn't care less about the verdict - except insofar as an acquittal would be more likely to bolster the cause of those who think it's entirely reasonable for the state to serve as editor-in-chief of privately owned magazines. As David Warren put it, the punishment is not the verdict but the process.
That is the kind of talk I like to hear from targets of Liberal persecution.  Bring. It. On.
The ladies and gentlemen of the Canadian Conservative Party should be moving to forward this battle with all possible speed.  Go git 'em boys 'n girls!

The Phantom

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wind power done RIGHT!

Ahhh, now this is how you do wind power.

"To latch onto the powerful winds prevailing well above the surface, the kite attached to the high-tech steerage unit flies up to 300 meters high to tug the 10,000-tonne ship forward, supporting its diesel engines and cutting fuel consumption.  Under favorable wind conditions, the 160-square meter kite shaped like a paraglider is expected to reduce fuel costs by up to 20 percent or more ($1,600 per day)..."

Wind power that saves money, what a freakin' concept.  One problem, the damn kite costs $750,000 so they are going to have to have about 15 months of days under "sail" to break even.  MV Beluga might want to work on that part a bit.

Incidentally, the above two sentences are about all the useful information in the article.  MV Beluga attaches kites to freighters, and saves them 20% on gas.  The whole rest of the article is "carbon footprint" and  climate change bollocks.

I don't care.  My container gets across the ocean  20% cheaper, I save twenty bucks on a $100 item.  (Yes, I know its not that simple.  But ultimately, cost reductions end up in consumer pockets.)  Added bonus, less actual pollution gets spewed into the air.  You know, poisonous gases.  The kind nobody ever seems to talk about anymore, but have not gone away.  I don't want to smell fartfull sulfur dioxide any more than the next guy, so here's a way to cut it by 20% and make money, not lose it.  Awesome!

The Fartfull Phantom

Monday, December 17, 2007

Mechanical component to wound healing discovered.

Fun facts, sometimes when you get a cut and it scars up the scar keeps on scar-ing and end up making a fascial adhesion, sometimes leading to fibrosis.  New discovery announced today gives a little insight into the process.  The interesting thing is that a purely mechanical component to the pathway is mentioned.  Basically growth hormone is released for cell activity by pulling on the fibers being created.Fascinating article.  Read it!  ~:D

The Myofascial Phantom

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Only in Canada you say? Pity.

Some things have happened this last week I thought you should be aware of.

First, the natives are restless in Caledonia.  Not the Six Nations idiots, I mean the people who live in Caledonia.  Seems that illegal smoke shops (as in more than one) have been springing up along Highway Six in the occupied Douglas Creek Estates confusion zone.  People in Caledonia don't like it because its illegal, blocks traffic and is an eyesore.  December 1st they had a  demonstration in front of one.  Not the first time residents have staged a demonstration, but it IS the first time 200 OPP cops didn't show up.  This time they sent eight (8).  Predictably, the noble Six Nations Protesters punched out fat, diabetic old Gary McHale who frankly looks about as dangerous as a fire hydrant. 

The other casualty happened when the OPP tackled and seriously injured a resident with a video camera.  You know, before he captured somebody doing something they shouldn't be, like Indians shoving and hitting the cops while the cops ignored them and faced the residents who were NOT shoving and/or hitting anyone.  But there's still video of Gary McHale getting attacked from behind though.  Walking away too.  That's not going to play well in court I bet, when the noble Six Nations Protesters try to get McHale charged with assault.  Love those camcorders.  OPP Chief Fantino was rumored to be blaming McHale for assaulting Clyde Powless's fist with his face, Gary says he's going to cooperate only with the RCMP, not the OPP.  Good luck with that, Gary.

Second, last week Toronto had its 80th murder.  That's getting near a new Hogtown record I think.  The record may be broken this year, I heard they found a 7/11 attendant stabbed to death this morning.  On the bright side, more victims were bludgeoned and/or hacked to death compared to 2005.  According to the mayor, "Fearless Leader" Dave Miller, that's a cause for celebration.

So things are not looking great in Ontario, "Yours To Duck and Cover", from a policing standpoint.  What then are the Great Minds in Queens Park doing about this?  Its a beauty, believe me.  Check it out:

The provincial gun regulator will begin inspecting the homes of older gun owners in Toronto to ensure they are storing their firearms safely, an initiative one sporting association said amounts to "harassing" seniors.  Ontario's Chief Firearms Office says it is responding to concerns raised by Toronto police, which have in the past been called to the homes of gun owners who had either died or been hospitalized and did not have their registered firearms securely stored.

Yep.  Going to go check up on Grandma and Grandpa, make sure them eeeevile shootin' irons ain't lying around where they could jump up and stab a convenience store clerk.  That's what Metro police are going to be doing for the next little while.  Can't be too careful about them old geezers, they're friggin' dangerous.

Thought you'd like to know, eh?

The Phantom

Friday, November 23, 2007

DemocRats: Party of the rich?!

Say what?!

In a state-by-state, district-by-district comparison of wealth concentrations based on Internal Revenue Service income data, Michael Franc, vice president of government relations at the Heritage Foundation, found that the majority of the nation's wealthiest congressional jurisdictions were represented by Democrats.

He also found that more than half of the wealthiest households were concentrated in the 18 states where Democrats hold both Senate seats.
The Democrat Party, best politicians money can buy!

The Phantom

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Serious Chinese toy issue. Parents, listen up.

A toy made in China has been found to have a lot more wrong with it that
a little lead paint. Check this out.

> Australia announced a nationwide ban on Wednesday on a Chinese-made
> toy which investigations showed contained a chemical which metabolizes
> into a "date rape" style drug when swallowed.
> The ban across Australia's six states and two territories came after
> three children became severely ill after they swallowed the toy beads
> called Bindeez.
> Toy importer Moose Enterprise issued a voluntary recall of Bindeez,
> named Australia's 2007 Toy of the Year, saying some batches of the
> beads did not match the approved formula.
This toy is being marketed in Canada and the US as Aquadots. Its on
kid's TV all the time. Here's the poop:
> Three Australian children suffered seizures and needed intensive
> hospital care in the past two weeks after eating the plastic beads,
> which scientists discovered contain a chemical that breaks down into a
> potentially fatal recreational drug.
> Ms. Burney said an investigation was under way into how the dangerous
> chemical 1,4-butanediol came to replace the safe chemical
> 1,5-pentanediol in the manufacturing process.
> "The issue of how a dangerous substance was used in these beads and
> not the non-toxic substance ... that is going to take us a few more
> days to uncover," she said.
I think now would be the time to */not/* buy toys that say "Made in
China" on them. A wee bit of lead paint, ok whatever, don't let the kid
eat the ALL the paint off the thing. But this here, this is a whole new
level of Chicoms not giving a shit.

Bottom line, if it's made in China there's a good chance its hinkey.
'Nuff said.

The Phantom (who ain't buying any more Chicom made toys, Mr. Walmart sir.)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A little good news on cancer for a change

Disclaimer first, this is an experimental drug showing good results in mice.  Not humans.
A new study of an estrogen-derived drug shows promise as a treatment for breast cancer and breast cancer metastases to bone.

The study, which was done in mice, appears on the cover of the November issue of Cancer Research.


In studies of other cancers, 2ME2 has been shown to induce cancer cells to self-destruct. Otherwise, tumor cells evade this process allowing them to continually divide and spread throughout the body.

Clinical trials of 2ME2 for breast cancer patients are in progress. These trials are based on an oral version of 2ME2 to treat primary tumors, but this method has limitations as the oral version of 2ME2 is poorly suited to getting into the blood system and reaching tumors. Researchers resolved this problem by delivering 2ME2 by injection and found it was much more effective.

[more snippage]

Researchers described 2ME2 as an “attractive candidate for controlling tumor growth, metastasis to bone and bone disorders,” such as osteolysis caused by the spread of breast cancer.

“This is potentially of very substantial importance because this agent has few of the unpleasant side effects of most chemotherapy drugs and targets both bone resorption and the cancerous tumor cells,” Turner said. “It really is the first agent that has been clearly demonstrated to do that.”

So there you go, some nice hopeful info for you to balance off the land slide of daily bullshit.  If the stuff is in drug trials in one form and it passes, it could end up on the market in the other form as well assuming no deal breaking side effects crop up.  Like extra nose syndrome!  When something shows good results like this they sometimes fast track the hell out of it.

The Bony Phantom

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Even a blind squirrel finds the odd acorn.

Known for chittering madly and running headlong into every stump and rock in the forest, Sheila Copps is the very Platonic Ideal of a blind squirrel.  Today is a red letter day, for our Sheila has found an acorn.
Nothing makes my blood boil more than to see a parade of so-called experts trashing reductions to the Goods and Services Tax. Having endured the scars of that hated tax a, I welcome any move by any government to listen to the people.
Behold, even Sheila "Tax'em 'till they bleed!" Copps knows the GST is a bad thing, and every reduction in it is a good thing.  Even Sheila understands that the Federal government can't keep jacking up taxes while running record cash surpluses.  Even the Blind Squirrel of Hamilton understands that a party which defends the GST is doomed to destruction.  Somebody phone Dion and McGuinty, tell them their own alumni is firing on them.  Incoming!

Repeat after me everyone:  "There is no such thing as a bad tax cut."

The Over Taxed Phantom

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I hate being right. Again.

Ladies and gentlemen, y'all will recall a while ago I posted some articles to do with the computer in your car, and how it stores data on your driving habits.  The cops can and do use this data in court against drivers all the time.  Cars also phone home to Momma, OnStar can track any of their units with GPS already, and do.  Sometimes to catch car thieves, sometimes just speeders.

At the time I opined in typical feverish Phantom paranoia that pretty soon the computer would be able to shut the car down if the cops didn't like what you were doing.  Well, it didn't take long.  I hate being right.  From the AP write up:

Starting with about 20 models for 2009, the service will be able to slowly halt a car that is reported stolen, and the radio may even speak up and tell the thief to pull over because police are watching.

OnStar already finds 700 to 800 cars per month using the global positioning system. With the new technology, which OnStar President Chet Huber said GM will apply to the rest of its lineup in future years, OnStar would call police and tell them a stolen car's whereabouts.

Then, if officers see the car in motion and judge it can be stopped safely, they can tell OnStar operators, who will send the car a signal via cell phone to slow it to a halt.

Why would GM do this?  The cops asked them to.  Seems the cops would very much like to be able to stop cars by remote control as well as track them anywhere.  One immediately assumes the criminal car chase scenario, which would be just fine.  But how about if they would like to stop all the cars on a certain street?  Or all the cars in a certain town between the hours of 11 PM and 7 AM, or ... you get the picture.  And remember kids, what is optional now can be made compulsory any time.

Man I hate being right.

The Not Nearly Paranoid Enough Phantom

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

new media chew toy: Andromeda Strain!!!! ieeeee!

It had to happen.  Global Warming is starting to be shot to pieces (finally!) as bloggers and smart people discover where the Gaia worshipers lied.  What's the MSM response?  Find a new scare!  Gotta fill those column inches with something, why not make shit up?  Its cheaper that way.

So here it is, killer bugs from space!  I couldn't make this up if I tried, its just too mental.
Now there's a new kid on the inter-planetary catastrophist's block: superbugs. Super spacebugs. Scientists working on and with the space shuttle have found certain bugs, dangerous enough when earth-bound, will grow more powerful in space. Like salmonella, which acts differently, genetically, in space, making it stronger, more deadly.
The newsies have discovered that bacteria act different under zero G.  Holy crap, we're all gonna die!
This is my favorite bit right here.  What about the Man Made© bugs Batman?
...But what of the bugs that might be attached to all the space junk, the old satellites, rockets, probes, missiles constantly falling back to earth?

There's no shortage of outdated, second-hand space trash orbiting the earth while harbouring who knows what kind of mutating space bugs in the weightless environment so conducive to extraordinary growth and genetic variation. Do stories like Michael Crichton's Andromeda Strain really give us an idea of what we might face as we dabble with space discovery and scientific experiments ostensibly aimed at furthering medicine and mankind's advancement as a civilisation?

Yes friends, lets start worrying about the Andromeda Strain and mad scientists brewing up superbugs on rocket ships in space.  Its never too early to jump on the Next Big Scare and make a million lobbying Congress to clean up all that deadly orbiting space junk.  Hey, if nematodes could survive the shuttle crash then so can the Bug That Ate My Face, only squared.

Oops, I used math.  Squared is like times two only different, 'kay?

The Phantom Bug Ignorer

Friday, September 21, 2007

Photon drive! Woo hoo!

The photon drive is now a reality.  No, I'm not kidding.
Part of the Photonic Laser Thrust's secret lies in amplifying and bouncing the photon beam.  The photon beam is bounced back and forth between a set of mirrors, creating a powerful net propulsion force.

Dr. Bae Young built the PLT using off the shelf components at the Southern California laboratory of the Bae Institute.  The patent pending device uses an egg-size laser head to produce a laser so powerful, only massive weapons and commercial grade lasers are able to match it.

The laser generates 35 uN of thrust and is scalable to much larger amounts of propulsion.  Dr. Young Bae has stated that the device could propel a spacecraft to speeds well beyond 100 km/sec.  He recently announced that a spacecraft utilizing the PLT could transit the 100 million km to Mars in less than a week.
As usual, Dr. Bae is NOT part of any big government brain trust, he's running his own shop.  Now that he's got the thing working, the brain trusts are happy to come rain money on him.

At any rate, this is a Big Deal in spacecraft technology.  You can use solar panels to generate as much electricity as you want (in principle anyway) and convert that to thrust with this laser.  No word on how efficient it is, but when the electricity is basically free, that's not too important.  The satellite or ground station with the laser is stationary, it blasts away at the object to be accelerated with the laser.  By bouncing the light beam back and forth between the source and target Dr. Bae gets much more thrust than one would by simply firing a laser. 

One of his ideas is to tie satellites together with a cable and keep them in position by firing the laser, keeping them pulling taut against the cable.  A very, very large telescope can be made cheaply using an idea like this.  Another is to boost small spacecraft (pop can size) to very high speeds, to get them to the outer planets much faster than usual.

Very cool.  ~:D

The Phantom

Thursday, September 20, 2007

So what ARE they there for?

A new report says that although there are tens of thousands of CCTV cameras in the Greater London area, 80% of crimes go unsolved.

London has 10,000 crime-fighting CCTV cameras which cost £200 million, figures show today.

But an analysis of the publicly funded spy network, which is owned and controlled by local authorities and Transport for London, has cast doubt on its ability to help solve crime.

A comparison of the number of cameras in each London borough with the proportion of crimes solved there found that police are no more likely to catch offenders in areas with hundreds of cameras than in those with hardly any.

In fact, four out of five of the boroughs with the most cameras have a record of solving crime that is below average.

That's because cameras aren't supposed to prevent crime.  They are like gun control.  They allow the politicians at the local and the national level to be seen Doing Something About Crime just by spending a little of your money, and they add another layer of control on the general populace.  CCTV sucks for solving general crime, but it rocks for collecting taxes and spying on individuals.

It also takes cops off the street and puts them in a nice warm, safe office where they can drink coffee all day and don't have to run around in the rain writing tickets.  That's why cops love CCTV.

Incidentally, the 200 million pounds was for just the cameras, not the control/recording network or the guys to watch them.  Imaging the storage needed for video from 10k cameras running 24/7.  Petabytes.

Just remember that the next time some ponce of a city councilor proposes cameras.  Its crap.

The Photographed Phantom

Friday, August 31, 2007

Super computer for $2500. Cheap enough for you?

Geeking out here just a little, 26 gigaflops/second for 25 hundred bucks.  Microwulf.    Homepage.  Frickin' cool!

The Geekster Phantom

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Solar powered remote WiFi!

News article today about a new start-up selling solar power solutions for off grid applications like WiFi and security cameras.  Solis Energy is the company.

A small US startup has announced technology for running Wi-Fi routers in remote places using only the power of the sun.

Among the first round of products from Solis Energy is the Solar Power Plant, touted as being capable of supplying 12, 24 and 48 Volts DC for use in stand-alone applications such as surveillance cameras and outdoor Wi-Fi.

Comprising a large solar panel connected to a generator unit, the system claims to be able to power such devices for up to seven days without sunlight to recharge its batteries, hence the out-sized panels. In normal use, power stored during the day keeps the system running at night.
They have a couple more interesting things, like a power tap for running wifi routers off street lights.  Cell phone and cable companies better get the lead out or wifi/Voip is going to eat their lunch.  Bring on the fiber optic-to-home installs.

In other news, San Francisco discovers that wifi alone does not a dollar make.

Mayor Gavin Newsom's high-profile effort to blanket San Francisco with a free wireless Internet network died Wednesday when provider EarthLink backed out of a proposed contract with the city.

The contract, which was three years in the making, had run into snags with the Board of Supervisors, but ultimately it was undone when Atlanta-based EarthLink announced Tuesday that it no longer believed providing citywide Wi-Fi was economically viable for the company.

And no wonder.  Get this:

In January, the city agreed to a deal in which EarthLink would have paid the city $2 million for the right to build, install and run a free Wi-Fi network and to partner with Google to provide Internet service. People could have paid $20 per month for a faster connection.

In other words, its hard to make money off "free" internet service when you have to pay two million bucks for the privilege AND pony up all the equipment, installation and insurance etc.  Funny how this San Francisco socialism fails every time its tried.
Better idea, the city steps out of the way and lets private companies rent or buy space to put their routers, and doesn't try to dictate to them how it will all be paid for.  They'd end up with two or three competing wifi providers insead of one monolithic Soviet-style piece of crap.

They'll never do it.  No wifi at all is better than cheaper/faster capitalist wifi.  For the poor.

The Phantom

Sunday, August 12, 2007

more brilliance!

Today is a good day for cheap, clever hacks!  Check this:

Until now, determining the mechanical properties of these thin films was either an expensive and time-consuming endeavor, requiring powerful microscopes to view the films, or scientists examined composite structures and made uncertain assumptions. This new research will give scientists a simple way to access the material properties of most thin films.

"As we delve more into the nanotechnology, it becomes increasingly important to know if the material properties of ultrathin films differ from their properties in the bulk," said Thomas Russell, a program director in the Polymer Science and Engineering Department at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. "Everyday we see examples where a material's dimensions can change its properties. Aluminum foil is flexible, whereas a bar of aluminum is not. But what happens when a film's thickness approaches molecular dimensions" These experiments give us a simple, inexpensive way to measure mechanical properties of films that are only tens of nanometers thick."

Russell and his colleagues use a low-power optical microscope to observe what happens when they place a tiny drop of water on thin film as it floats in a Petri dish of water. The "capillary tension" of the drop of water produces a starburst of wrinkles in the film. The number and length of the wrinkles are determined by the elasticity and thickness of the film.

In some of the materials studied, the wrinkles in the ultrathin polymer films vanished with time, unlike the skin of a dried fruit or the crumpled hood of your car after an accident. This vanishing provides insight into the relaxation process of an ultrathin film by yielding information on the way polymer chains move in the highly confined geometry.

That's clever.  :)  And a kid can do it in the basement too.

The Phantom

What makes glass... glassy?

Today's piece of  gear head geeky brilliance, a rig for watching teeny weenie particles with a video camera.  Why?  To see why glass is the way it is, of course!

"One idea for why glass gets so viscous is that there might be some hidden structure," says Weeks, associate professor of physics. "If so, one question is what size is that structure""

The Emory Physics lab began zeroing in on this question two years ago when Hetal Patel, an undergraduate who was majoring in chemistry and history, designed a wedge-shaped chamber, using glue and glass microscope slides that allowed observation of single samples of glassy materials confined at decreasing diameters.

For samples, the Emory lab used mixtures of water and tiny plastic balls Ð each about the size of the nucleus of a cell. This model system acts like a glass when the particle concentration is increased.

The samples were packed into the wedge-shaped chambers, then placed in a confocal microscope, which digitally scanned cross-sections of the samples, creating up to 480 images per second. The result was three-dimensional digital movies, showing the movement and behavior of the particles over time, within different regions of the chamber.

"The ability to take microscopy movies has greatly improved during the past five to 10 years," Weeks says. "Back in the mid-90s, the raw data from one two-hour data set would be four gigabytes. It would have completely filled up your hard drive. Now, it's just a tiny part of your hard drive, like a single DVD."

Emphasis mine.

Glass, crazy glue and a microscope, and you can test the theory that's been bugging people for years.

This gets an Official Phantom A1 Awesome award for doing science with no money.  NASA take note.

The Phantom Cheapskate

Monday, June 18, 2007

Clever new hack in archaeology.

Something new under the sun in animal archeology, which doesn't happen every day.  A new and fabulous way to discern the locomotion style of an animal based on only the skull.

"We have shown that there is a fundamental adaptive mechanism linking a species' locomotion with the sensory systems that process information about its environment," says Alan Walker, Evan Pugh Professor of Anthropology and Biology at Penn State University, one of the team's leaders. The researchers studied 91 separate primate species, including all taxonomic families. The study also included 119 additional species, most of which are mammals ranging in size from mouse to elephant, that habitually move in diverse ways in varied environments.

The project is the first large-scale study to document the relationship of the dimensions of the semicircular canals to locomotion. These structures are filled with a fluid, which moves within the canals when the animal moves. The fluid's movement is sensed by special cells that send signals to the brain, triggering the neck and eye muscles to reflexively keep the visual image stable.

The basic hypothesis of the project was that the organ of balance -- which helps stabilize an animal's gaze and coordinate its movements as it travels through the environment -- should be irrevocably linked to the type of locomotion produced by its limbs. "If an animal evolves a new way of moving about the world, its organ of balance must evolve accordingly," Walker explains. From the visual information, the animal tracks its position relative to stationary objects such as tree trunks, branches, rocks or cliffs, or the ground. Having a stable image of the environment is especially crucial for acrobatic animals that leap, glide, or fly.

By mapping the structure of the balance organ to each style of movement they have created a map for comparison of extinct species.  Example, baboons have much more development of the semicircular canal than sloths.  Humans have more than baboons. Given a skull fragment with most of the canal structure in it and a CAT scanner to image it, you can arrive at a general idea of what kind of animal it was.

Damn that's clever eh?  I love cleverness like that.

The Phantom

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Punks with guns.

Having got nowhere trying to kill Jews and Lebanese Muslims, the Palestinians have settled for killing each other.
Hamas fighters overran one of the rival Fatah movement's most important security installations in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, and witnesses said the victors dragged vanquished gunmen from the building and killed them in the street.
No independent confirmation on the killing them in the street part, but the media spin is predictable:
The moderate President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, for the first time in five days of fierce fighting, ordered his elite presidential guard to strike back. But his forces were crumbling fast under the onslaught by the better-armed and better-disciplined Islamic fighters.
Translation from MSM Speak, gang leader Abbas's murderous punks aren't as tough as the Hamas punks, and besides Hamas is getting better bang bang stuff from Egypt.  Must have a special deal with the Egyptians,  without whom, by the way, these rival gang shit heads would be reduced to fighting with pointed sticks.  Hamas probably paid somebody off bigtime.

The MSM is now dignifying this with the title "Civil War", but really its a case of two criminal gangs fighting over turf.  Change the names Hamas and Fatah to get a better idea of what is going on.  Crips vs. Bloods in San Diego, with RPGs and mortars they bought from Mexico using money they got from the UN and the EU.  But less organized.

Whoever comes out on top is going to be the next bunch of a-holes the Israelis are expected to "negotiate" with.  Kind of a special revelation on the complete futility of the Mid-East Peace Process.  Looks like Israel had the right idea with the Wall.  Put up a fence and let the rats duke it out over UN table scraps.

Speaking of the UN, lets see how much aid the Egyptians sends to help their suffering brothers and sisters in their time of need.  I'm betting they send zippo, other than selling the bastards more ammo.

The Phantom

Friday, June 08, 2007

Another step on the road to perdition.

Today the Supreme Court of Canada announced that collective bargaining is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Previous decisions of the Blackbirds held that Canadians have no right to private property.  Or freedom of speech (that'd be the hate speech legislation).  Or guns.

Just to be clear, unions are protected by the Charter but not people.  This concludes our Perdition road trip for today.

The Phantom

Monday, June 04, 2007

Pipeline bomb plot: mostly crap, kids.

Ok, so they caught four guys plotting to "blow up" the fuel pipeline that runs into NYC.  Good cop work, a well earned attaboy for Homeland Security.

But now we get the overheated media "lets make a buck!" coverage.  Example, "Pipeline Security A Joke" from the NY Post.

Or, "Ex-Airport Worker Plots Massive Attack On JFK"  (Officials Believe Attack Could've Been Worse Than 9/11)

Uhm, no.  There's two unalterable facts about pipelines.  First, you can't guard them.  Not a chance.  They are too long, and they are too numerous.  Second is that you can't "blow them up" as described in the red-hot but dead-wrong MSM reports.

The most you can do to a pipeline is put a hole in it.  If it is running natural gas or gasoline you can get a dandy fire going where the hole is, but you can't ignite the whole pipeline.  No oxygen in it, just fuel.  The most that Abdul Bin Dumbsheisse and his merry band of idiots could do is interrupt fuel deliveries for a little while, maybe make the MSM some more money selling doom and destruction stories.

When exactly did "educate and inform" become "alarm and dishearten"?  I'm starting to think journalists are a bigger problem than these moronic terrorists.

The Phantom

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Mother Sheehan hangs up her spurs.

In a blog post entitled "Good Riddance Attention Whore", Cindy Sheehan calls it a day.  Seems she's tired of taking abuse from all sides.  Poor baby was fine as long as she restricted herself to slagging the Republicans, but when she started in on the Dems she made a shocking discovery.

Unlike Republicans, the DemocRats aren't gentlemen.  They use live ammo!

The first conclusion is that I was the darling of the so-called left as long as I limited my protests to George Bush and the Republican Party. Of course, I was slandered and libeled by the right as a "tool" of the Democratic Party.  This label was to marginalize me and my message. How could a woman have an original thought, or be working outside of our "two-party" system?

However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the "left" started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used. I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of "right or left", but "right and wrong."

So, Mother Sheehan slinks off into a well deserved obscurity, another tool used to destruction and cast aside by the Left.  These are the wages of fraud and deceit, as many a useful idiot has discovered.

I can't say it makes me happy to watch this woman suffer.  She's just another example of the Universal Law:  what goes around, comes around.  Don't be a jerk and the Universe probably won't go out of its way to crap on your head. 

From these examples we learn wisdom.

The Phantom

Palestinian refugee camp shelled!

Yep, the Nahr al Bared  refugee camp has had the living crap blown out of it this week.  Bet you didn't know that.
On May 20, ... troops surrounded the camp, with tanks and artillery pieces shelling it at close range. Army snipers gunned down anything that moved. At least 18 civilians were killed, and dozens more injured. Water and electricity were cut off. By week's end, much of the camp had been turned into deserted rubble. Thousands of terrified residents fleeing the camp reported harrowing stories of famished, parched families trapped in their basements.
Palestinian women and children dying of thirst, lots of photogenic explosions for TV crews, guys getting blasted by snipers in broad daylight, big friggin' tanks tearing around blowing shit up... and not a peep out of CNN.  No mutilated bodies of kids, no stuffed animal pictures, no Green Helmet Guy.

How can this be? 

Its because it happened in Lebanon, not in Israel!  In Jenin the Israelis sent infantry to remove dug in Palestinians, with careful attention to civilian casualties.  The Lebanese Army just drove up to the fence and walked a barrage across the place.  For a week.
Just as Lebanon's stew of eternally warring Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, Hezbollah terrorists and militarized clans serves as a Mediterranean microcosm for the political dysfunction of the Arab world, this month's events capture perfectly the utter cynicism of the Islamic world's trumped up vilification of Israel, and the West as a whole. As with the Muslim- on-Muslim slaughter in Darfur, Iraq, Pakistan, Gaza and a dozen other hot spots, the siege at Nahr al Bared shows that what inflames "the Muslim street" (for lack of a better cliche) isn't Muslim suffering, but the relatively tiny fraction thereof that jihadi propagandists and their Western apologists can lay at the feet of Jews and Christians.
And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is what makes the Lefties and their willing accomplices in the Main Stream Media such a bunch disloyal, lying bastards.  A pox upon them.

The Phantom

Monday, May 28, 2007

A picture of matter waves.

Remember back in high school when the teacher said matter was made of waves just like light?  And you nodded while thinking "As IF!!!" to yourself?
Matter waves, dudes!

Check that out.  Matter waves.  Do we live in a cool time or what?

The Quantum Superimposing Phantom

Re: Panel loaded with gun buffs

Beretta CX4 according to the CBC.  That is a small rifle chambered for 9mm pistol ammunition.  Prior to Kim Campbell's gun ban of 1992 I used to own a rifle something like it.  They are fun at the range, as the man said.  Their purpose is primarily sporting, as in shooting pop cans and possibly the odd ground hog.  Your outrage at the suggestion that such a thing could be fun indicates you may be a spoil sport.

Third, the committee of men and women who are not just buffs but widely respected experts in the fields of firearms and policing "indicates you may be more attached to your propaganda campaign than you are to preventing more murders of little boys, because clearly your gun registry/gun ban ideas are not working.  Jordan Manners' murder is sufficient proof of that, if more proof was needed. 

There has been strict registration of pistols in this country since the 1930's, and a billion odd dollars has been spent registering all other types since 1995.  Yet a 17 year old with poor impulse control

Saturday, May 26, 2007

News of America's decline premature.

Jihadis and other like-minded wankers of the world listen up.  Here's what you are messing with.
A boy and his hog.

For those of you who didn't get the get the image, this is an 11 year old kid with a humongous revolver leaning on a wild hog.  A nine foot, four inch hog.  Its as big as a Volkswagen.
Jamison [Stone], who killed his first deer at age 5, was hunting with father Mike Stone and two guides in east Alabama on May 3 when he bagged Hogzilla II. He said he shot the huge animal eight times with a .50- caliber revolver and chased it for three hours through hilly woods before finishing it off with a point-blank shot.
Through it all there was the fear that the animal would turn and charge them, as wild boars have a reputation of doing.
Ya.  Think rhinoceros here.  Think half ton of pissed off pig with five inch teeth.  They needed an earth mover to get it out of the woods.

These are the kind of people Al Queerda thinks are going to be easy meat.  Doubt it eh?

The Phantom

Friday, May 25, 2007

Inevitable gun control screaming begins.

Well, here we are back again.  A little boy was killed yesterday, at school, in the Jane/Finch shooting gallery.  Guns are to blame. Ban the guns!

Ontario politicians called on the federal government Thursday to get tough on handguns following a tragic high school shooting that claimed the life of a 15-year-old Toronto boy.

"We have seen too many shootings result in too many funerals for our young people," Premier Dalton McGuinty wrote in an open letter to federal party leaders, urging them to push through proposed criminal justice legislation and implement a "real ban" on handguns.

"Handguns are designed for one purpose only – to shoot people – and should have no place in Ontario or anywhere in Canada."

Ontario AG goes farther, blaming those eeeevile gun owners.

The value of allowing handgun collections should be reconsidered, said Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant.

"There's got to be a balance between people's property rights and personal responsibilities to others," he said.

That rascal, he's pretending we Canadians have rights to property.  What a card!  Hee hee!

Finally the mayor of Hogtown gets to the real truth:  It isn't just those reckless gun "collector" lunatics, its the Americans, stupid!

Toronto Mayor David Miller, who voiced his support for an outright ban, went a step further and recommended that handgun regulation should become an international issue.

"We know that there's two sources of guns used in Toronto: one is guns that are stolen from collectors, and the other is guns that come from the U.S.," Miller said.

"The U.S. has to take some real steps, otherwise we're going to keep seeing tragedies. ... I mean, a 15-year-old boy. You know it's absolutely tragic."

To their credit, the (Red) Star actually includes the existing law in the comments which serve to mock these Liberal apparatchiks.  We've had full handgun registration for 60 years, handguns are extremely well controlled under the law, and carry permits are nearly nonexistent.  Meanwhile back in Ottawa there's some gun related legislation being stalled in committee by, yes friends, the Liberals!  Why?  I can only surmise because it isn't THEIR legislation, and it doesn't involve banning guns.  The Conservatives are pursuing the novel idea of actually jailing people for doing crime with a gun.  Liberals are afraid this might reduce the number of killers on the streets and give the Conservatives a win, so they resist with all available force.

Some random kid getting whacked in a school isn't a problem for the Liberals, its an opportunity! They get to whip out those polished speeches of outrage, make some mileage in the main stream press, and generally collect brownie points in the Toronto electorate.  Win win win!

Meanwhile, drunks armed with Kalashnikov style assault rifles (banned since 1992, thanks Kim Campbell) wander around Caledonia Ontario shrieking death threats, in plain view of Ontario Provincial Police, and indeed shoot young people with no intervention from the OPP.  I note that Premier Dalton, AG Mikey and Mayor Dave had nothing at all to say about that incident.  Could be because it didn't happen in Toronto, or possibly because it was only an Indian that got shot and they expect that kind of behavior from Indians.

Or, as an outside possibility it could be that the three of them are so full of shit their eyes are brown.  Hey Mayor Dave, we're going to "keep seeing tragedies" until murderers start getting life with no parole (at least!), and armed robbers get 25 years, no parole.  You point a gun at somebody, you go to jail.  No bail, no time off for good behavior.  After a couple hundred of these goblins get stuck in a hole someplace the crime rate should respond rather nicely.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Media logic.

Here we have an article by Mr. Don Cayo of the Vancouver Sun today.  I couldn't pass this one by.  Its just too illustrative of the kind of drek the MSM serves up as commentary.  Way to go Mr. Cayo.

He's reporting the findings by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation that taxes make up 1/3 of gas price at the pump.  Which they do.  The title of the piece is "Our gas prices are shocking -- they're far too low"

"A third?" I said when I saw the figure. "Is that all?"

I feel this way because the amount falls far short of what Canadians' love affair with the car actually costs our citizens and the economy.

Ok, here we go.  After the usual litany of PC offenses the humble car makes against humanity, he comes up with this beauty:

Driving-related taxes -- not just gas taxes, but also taxes on vehicles and repairs, licensing fees and the like -- add up to more or less enough to cover direct driving-related costs, such as road-building and maintenance. But if you subtract the general taxes like GST and PST -- which apply to everything else, so why should driving be an exception -- the revenue for government falls well short of the expenses.

And if you toss in the massive externalities -- the cost of car-related injuries and deaths, of productive hours lost to congestion, of health and economic losses caused by noxious and greenhouse gases -- then the extent of the free ride for car drivers starts to become clear.

Indeed, if the car hadn't been invented a century ago, there's not the slightest chance it would be allowed to be built today.

Can you imagine how a regulator might respond to a proposal to introduce the automobile now? I fancy the conversation would go something like this:

"You say that these new-fangled 'automobiles' will kill 300-400 British Columbians -- as many as 3,000 Canadians -- a year, and they'll injure tens and tens of thousands more? That they'll trap people for hours on end on roads, and tie them up so badly that Greater Vancouver alone will lose half a billion dollars a year, give or take, in forgone productivity? That they'll spew gases which may collect in the air and make vulnerable people sick in places like the Fraser Valley, and they'll become the biggest single contributor to global warming?

Clearly they do not teach logic in journalism school.  Or perhaps they do and Mr. Cayo is just being more biased than usual. 

Picture this headline:  Appendectomies kill hundreds annually! That's not even a lie, I'm sure a hundred or so people die world wide on the table or due to complications from appendix surgery.  Can you imagine how a regulator might respond to that?  If he had half a brain he'd say "well, but how many people die from burst appendix every year?"

This is a favorite rhetorical trick of some "journalists", they just cut off half of the cost/benefit ratio and then rage on about the cost part.  In this particular case we are treated to the spectacle of Mr. Cayo preaching in support of taxes to Canadians, who have nearly the highest level of taxation in the developed world.

Next up, the di-hydrogen monoxide threat.  It kills hundreds every year!  Deadly chemicals in our food!!!!  Run away!

The Phantom

Friday, May 11, 2007

Common sense prevails for park wardens.

Here's a refreshing change from the usual Liberal crap.
Canada's park wardens were stripped of all law enforcement duties and equipment Thursday, the day after a federal ruling called for them to be issued handguns.

Parks Canada has taken away enforcement tools such as batons, handcuffs, body armour and pepper spray from wardens. They have also been asked to turn in badges that identify them as peace officers.

And if they encounter any anything criminal on the job -- from wildlife poachers to noisy campers -- they are now under orders to call the RCMP and stay back until police arrive.

Parks Canada was ordered to either arm wardens and give them weapons training or remove their law enforcement role in a 200-page decision issued by appeals officer Douglas Malanka Wednesday.
What makes this a good thing?  Because for a really long time federal park wardens have been doing cop stuff out in the woods with NO guns at all.  Which is really, really stupid.  These guys are HOURS away from backup, not minutes.  For my money they should be issued .308 assault rifles, not just pistols.  Sometimes they have to shoot animals.  You get a rabid grizzly bear, ain't no little pistol round going to stop it.

Finally a somebody with the brains God gave a goat.  Arm the wardens or send cops, no middle ground.  Now if we can just get some progress on arming campers in bear country...

The Phantom

Sunday, April 29, 2007

It's the Dust, stupid!

As I've reported here before, Mars is getting warmer. But now an MSM paper has discovered it! Woo!
Scientists from Nasa say that Mars has warmed by about 0.5C since the 1970s. This is similar to the warming experienced on Earth over approximately the same period.

Since there is no known life on Mars it suggests rapid changes in planetary climates could be natural phenomena.

The mechanism at work on Mars appears, however, to be different from that on Earth. One of the researchers, Lori Fenton, believes variations in radiation and temperature across the surface of the Red Planet are generating strong winds.

In a paper published in the journal Nature, she suggests that such winds can stir up giant dust storms, trapping heat and raising the planet’s temperature.

Yeah, dust. Right. Or it could be that the sun is having a 1000 year sunspot maximum and there's more sunlight shining on Mars, which is making for more wind and more dust as well as heating things up.

Naw, it must be my truck doing it.

The truth is like a flounder.

Yes it is.  You kick it under the table and ignore it long enough, it'll start to STINK.

Case in point:  University!
In their forthcoming book Ivory Tower Blues: A University System in Crisis, Prof. Côté and his co-author, Anton Allahar, sound the alarm about the demise of higher education, where many students are more interested in the piece of paper they get at the end of their programs than in the intellectual journey along the way, where professors are cowed into watering down courses and bumping up grades, and where universities are run like corporations hawking mass-produced degrees which are increasingly in demand but increasingly meaningless.

The consequences, the authors argue, are a disengaged student body, disillusioned faculty and a glut of bachelor-degree-holding graduates with unrealistically lofty aspirations in for a shock when they land in a job market fuelled by "credentialism" and plagued by under-employment.

Credentialism!  This is what you get when people are assumed to be incompetent morons unless proven otherwise.  Doesn't matter a damn if you can DO the job, you have to have the right paperwork. 

Kids are preparing for the workplace the best way they can.  They sleep through the indoctrination, browbeat the gatekeepers into punching the damn ticket and get the hell out ASAP.  That they don't know anything and can't do anything is irrelevant so long as they got the ticket!  If they schmooze well they can parlay their incompetence into a pretty decent sinecure in one of the many layers of public or corporate bureaucracy modern life is infested with.  Kids learn early that the system rewards popularity, not ability.

Problem is this credential madness leads to poor performance in corporations and government.   Guys have the ticket, they look good in the suit and they can bafflegab with the best of 'em, but they can't do the friggin' job.  Leading to countries like China eating our lunch.

That'd be the bad smell from kicking truth under the table too much.

The Smelly Phantom

Monday, April 23, 2007

Blasting the myths

Dear Ms. Marsden,

I was surprised to read your article "Blasting the Myths" in the Sun today.  Equating nukes with handguns is the kind of rhetorical trick I usually expect from a Liberal.

Do you know why Palestinian terrorists use suicide bombs?  The Palestinians discovered 20 years ago that when their death squads tried to stage a massacre in some school or store or theater, they'd get killed  before they could empty a magazine.  Whoever was in the crowd would immediately return fire, long before the IDF showed up with heavy weapons.  Mr. Terrorist would whip an AK out, and some old grandma would blast him.

Bystanders.  Killing terrorists.  With handguns!  In Israeli cities.

But it can't happen here because people like you, Rachel Marsden, hold your fellow Canadians in contempt.  You trust the increasingly corrupt and incompetent Federal government apparatus more than the average Joe.  That's not Conservatism.  That's the same mentality that drives our high tax rates, runaway regulations, the cult of PC victim hood and absurdities like Kyoto.  People are too stupid, venal, wasteful and bigoted to be allowed freedom. They must be controlled by the gentle but firm hand of their betters. 

That's gun control Ms. Marsden.  You want that for our country, you need to join your intellectual brothers and sisters in the Liberal party.

You also need to learn a little about guns before you start raving on about pistols.  The Virginia Tech killer had to shoot his victims multiple times to kill them because he used a handgun.  Had he been using a common deer rifle or shotgun, one round each would have sufficed.  Rifles are considerably more destructive than pistols.  We do not want the nut cases switching to rifles.

If you want to opine on these issues and not appear uninformed and indeed silly, do some homework eh?

The Phantom

Monday, April 16, 2007

New clot finder prototype tested in India.

On a day in which we are being inundated with bad news from Virginia Tech, I thought I'd look at something good instead.  Just to be contrary.

So here it is, a portable device that they claim can image CVAs.

The device, called an "infrascanner", can spot blood clots on the surface of the brain known as haematomas, which can lead to death or disability if left untreated.

It is being tested in India, but if successful it could have benefits for patients anywhere.


The infrascanner uses harmless "near-infra-red" light - like that in a TV remote control.

The light beam penetrates the skull up to three centimetres.

A blood clot absorbs near-infra-red light differently to normal brain tissue and the signal is bounced back to the scanner.

The tech then views the results on a computer or even a PDA.  There's a picture of the whole lash up in the article.  Looks like a really sweet piece of kit, particularly for ambulances, emergency rooms and old folks homes.

The nice part is it'll be cheap enough to become wide spread in use, just like the portable defibrillator.  This will hopefully allow lots of clots to get diagnosed early enough for those miracle clot-buster drugs to have a shot at fixing up the patient.

So there you go, some good news on a bad day.

The Clot Bustin' Contrary Phantom

Friday, April 13, 2007

Fun with Photons

I confess.  I'm a tool guy.  If there's a tool I don't have, I want one.  If there's a tool I do have, I'm dying for a chance to use it.  Welders, chisels, makes no difference I love them all.

When I hear about a new tool to do something completely nuts, I love that too.  NIST just posted a few kewl things on Eureka AlertThis one's a beauty.
In a significant improvement on previous designs, physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have devised a system that delivers such pairs with great efficiency over a wide range of energy, and with very little noise from extraneous photons.
While it doesn't reveal new properties of quantum entanglement itself, it does provide lots of entangled photons, cheap.  Awesome.

How about quantum dot lasers?
Quantum dots are nanoscale regions in a crystal structure that can trap electrons and “holes,” the charge carriers that transport current in a semiconductor. When a trapped electron-hole pair recombines, light of a specific frequency is emitted. Quantum-dot lasers have attracted attention as possible embedded communications devices not only for their small size, but because they switch on with far less power then even the solid-state lasers used in DVD players.

In recent experiments*, the NIST-Stanford-Northwestern team made “microdisk” lasers by layering indium arsenide on top of gallium arsenide. The mismatch between the different-sized atomic lattices forms indium arsenide islands, about 25 nanometers across, that act as quantum dots. The physicists then etched out disks, 1.8 micrometers across and containing about 130 quantum dots, sitting atop gallium arsenide pillars.

Intel processors right now are made on a 65 nanometer lithographic process.  They will be going to 45 nanometers pretty soon.  That's high production commercial kit.  25 nanometer feature size isn't too long away.  Kewl!

The Photonic Phantom

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sunspots at 1000 year high.

Notwithstanding Algore, Dr. Fruitfly Suzuki and the Global Warming Host, there seems to be an under-reported issue in the present climate.  Sunspots!

Dr Solanki is presenting a paper on the reconstruction of past solar activity at Cool Stars, Stellar Systems And The Sun, a conference in Hamburg, Germany.

He says that the reconstruction shows the Maunder Minimum and the other minima that are known in the past thousand years.

But the most striking feature, he says, is that looking at the past 1,150 years the Sun has never been as active as it has been during the past 60 years.

Over the past few hundred years, there has been a steady increase in the numbers of sunspots, a trend that has accelerated in the past century, just at the time when the Earth has been getting warmer.

The data suggests that changing solar activity is influencing in some way the global climate causing the world to get warmer.

Over the past 20 years, however, the number of sunspots has remained roughly constant, yet the average temperature of the Earth has continued to increase.

This is put down to a human-produced greenhouse effect caused by the combustion of fossil fuels.

This latest analysis shows that the Sun has had a considerable indirect influence on the global climate in the past, causing the Earth to warm or chill, and that mankind is amplifying the Sun's latest attempt to warm the Earth.

They had to stick that line in there about human greenhouse effect, but conveniently ignore the measurements of Mars' warming over the last few years.  As I've mentioned here before, that by itself is more than enough to account for the 1/2 degree C increase over the last 20 years we've seen.  The .5C is the only measurement the global warming propagandists have.  Everything else is computer models.

Rage on Algore, I'm going to keep driving my truck.

The Phantom

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Vimy Ridge 90th memorial

To commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, I thought I'd post this link to Google Maps, give you all a view of Vimy from the air.  In the center is the wooded park, which has some trenches etc. restored.  If you zoom in you can see lots of evidence of the craters and trenches of 90 years ago.

Here's a link to a good overview of the battle in the Globe and Mail.

The Phantom

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Daylight saving change saves no fuel.

This is why we need less government.

As it turns out, the US Department of Energy (and almost everyone else except members of Congress) was correct when they predicted that there would be little energy savings. This echoed concerns voiced after a similar experiment was attempted in Australia. Critics pointed out a basic fact: the gains in the morning will be offset by the losses at night, and vice-versa, at both ends of the switch. That appears to be exactly what happened.

Reuters spoke with Jason Cuevas, spokesman for Southern Co. power, who said it plainly: "We haven't seen any measurable impact." New Jersey's Public Service Enterprise Group said the same thing: "no impact" on their business.

So while the US government pats itself on the back for at least looking busy, know that the main goal—energy conservation—has not been met. We can still argue over other supposed benefits, like the supposed reduction in crime (which returns in November?) and the fact that many people seem to simply like the change. As far as the purpose of the move is concerned, that appears to be a total flop.

What's really scary here is this is just the Kyoto Accord on a smaller scale.  You want to see what will happen if carbon credits are fully implemented, just take the costs incurred by this little piece of waste motion and add six or seven zeros.  Total impact on The Environment (caps to indicate an actual entity, like The Church) will be zero, but by George those socialists will look like they Really
Care (TM).

People in government Being Seen Doing Something, on my dime.  Tax cut now please!  Twenty percent per year for ten years will be a good start.

The Phantom

Thursday, March 22, 2007

new stroke treatment technique

Ah, finally some GOOD news for a change.   Clever lads and lassies at MIT have come up with a robotic assist for stroke patients.

The wearable, portable, lightweight robotic brace slides onto the arm. By sensing the patient's electrical muscle activity through electromyography (EMG)--which detects muscle cells' electrical activity when they contract--and sending that data to a motor, it allows stroke patients to control their affected limbs.

When used under the supervision of an occupational or physical therapist, the device can be used to help patients progress from basic motor training, such as lifting boxes or reaching for a light switch, to more complex tasks such as carrying a laundry basket or flipping a light on and off while holding an object with the unaffected limb.

According to the study researchers--Dr. Joel Stein, Kathryn Krebs and Richard Hughes of Harvard Medical School and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and MIT graduates Kailas Narendran and John McBean--even people who have experienced a stroke years ago may be able to use the device to regain mobility.

In my experience, and more importantly according to previous studies of NDT assisted movement techniques, this should work really, really well.  The problem with NDT and all the other manual therapies for stroke is not that they don't work.  The problem is expense.  You need a highly trained therapist doing the treatment, whose time is worth about $100 bucks an hour.  This device can continue the treatment when the therapist is not there, at a huge cost reduction to the patient.

Friggin awesome.  I want one!

The Phantom

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

No, you are NOT paranoid enough.

My last two missives relate to sneaky things you can do with computers that amount to tech toys for boys.  Here's what the Big Kids have been doing.

Quite a few people have by now read about AOL’s new Skyhook “Near Me” buddy plugin. That’s the plug-in for the service which lets you know if any of your buddies are geographically near to you, and puts them in a “Near Me” buddies group.

But what far fewer people realize is exactly how it works. How does it know when you are geographically near one of your buddies?

The answer may surprise - and concern - you.

The underlying technology is provided by Skyhook Wireless. According to news sources, Skyhook has spent the past several years “driving a fleet of 200 trucks up and down the streets of 2,500 cities and towns across the United States and Canada,” mapping every single wireless router. Not just commercial hotspot routers. They openly admit that their trucks “scan for the pulse given off at least once a second by every home wireless router or commercial hotspot, recording the unique identifying code for that piece of Wi-Fi equipment.”

Then, that code - of your home wireless router “is correlated with the exact physical location where it was captured using GPS in the trucks, which cruise the streets at 15 to 50 miles (24 to 80 kilometers) per hour as they collect this information.”

Yes my friends, these guys have done something that even the East German Stazi couldn't dream up.  They made a map of every wi-fi router in North America.  Yes, including yours.  But not including mine.  Being the nasty suspicious type that I am, I don't use one.  I don't like the idea of a router that broadcasts to the great outdoors.  Looks like I was right to be a little concerned.

This isn't even the government, its just a small private company.  I can't imagine what the real Big Brother guys are doing.

The Phantom

Monday, March 19, 2007

Fighting Little Brother on the cheap.

We saw in the previous post that Big Brother's annoying sibling is getting pretty capable.  But all is not lost, kids!  Uncle Phantom found some keen-o neat-o Linux stuff you can run on that cheapo wireless router collecting dust in the back of your closet.

Check out the OpenWRT project. OpenWRT is a Linux distribution for embedded devices, and it brings a lot of exciting possibilities to your humble wireless router. Although still in its release candidate stage (currently at RC6), OpenWRT is very usable and feature-rich right out of the box. Be warned, you could void your manufacturer warranty by installing OpenWRT on your wireless routers.

So what can you do with an embedded Linux device running on limited RAM and very small storage? As it turns out, quite a lot actually. You can install asterisk, and have your personal, customizable PBX (private branch exchange). If you already have a SIP phone or some kind of VoIP phone interface (such as the Cisco ATA 186 adapter), you can have your very own VoIP system at home, all running out of your low power-consumption embedded hardware.

Put your router/firewall on steroids by installing packages like nmap (network security scanner), snort (intrusion detection), and tcpdump (packet sniffer). Together with iptables (which comes with the Linux kernel), you can turn your OpenWRT box into a powerful security tool. Install openvpn, and you have a very affordable VPN device. And if it strikes your fancy, you can install quagga and turn your dusty little Linksys into an OSPF and BGP-capable router.

Want to provide your own wireless hotspot? No problem. Install chillispot, and you are ready to go. You can even install FreeRADIUS on the OpenWRT for the authentication back-end, and WPA (wifi protected access) for the added security.

You can turn it into an all purpose office server by installing DHCP, cups (print server), lighthttpd (web server), NTP (time server) and OpenSSH or dropbear (secure remote administration). If your router has a USB port, you can also turn it into a file server by hooking it up with a USB hard drive and installing NFS.

And don’t forget that this is a wireless router. It has a wireless card, so take advantage of it! Install kismet on it, and you have a wireless sniffer. This can prove to be invaluable if you ever need to analyze the airwaves at a remote location, but don’t want to leave your expensive laptop on-site. Drop in place a $50 OpenWRT box loaded with kismet instead.

You can use this stuff to secure your home network like Fort Knox.  It won't keep Big Brother out (because he will kick in your front door at 3AM if he REALLY wants something), but it will certainly make Little Brother's life difficult.

The Phantom

How secure is your Bluetooth gizmo?

How secure is your Bluetooth enabled whatchamacallit?  Good question eh?  That Bluetooth phone has lots of stuff in it, so does your PDA, laptop, all kindsa stuff.

The answer, unfortunately, is not very.  Nope, not at all really.

The above links are to an article that describes how some kids built a Bluetooth "sniper rifle" style sniffer that can detect, and fiddle with, Bluetooth devices at a mile or more away.  The guts of it is a large antenna (which one could make pretty quick out of a wok) and a Gumstix computer the size of a pack of, you guessed it, gum.  Stir in some solder and a bit of time and shazam! you've got a big ear on the world.  Did I mention these are kids?

We've been aware for quite a while now that Big Brother is listening and watching ever closer.  There's nothing the government can't crack or find out about on line, given time.  If its on a computer, its theirs.  Big Brother sees all.

This thing here is different.  This is what I'm going to call Little Brother.  Big Brother's annoying younger sibling.  Little Brother is getting pretty sneaky these days, so just take care what you put on your wireless devices.

The Phantom

Friday, February 23, 2007

Idiotic blast from the past.

While on the subject of idiocy we need to protect ourselves from, Wendy Cukier is once again climbing up on the bodies of slain innocents to shriek lies.  Same lies as always, same strident shriek.  Military weapons are DIFFERENT than mere semi-automatic hunting rifles, hunting rifles are ok except not always, blah blah blah.  But there she is, peddling the same old crap in the Ottawa Citizen.

This article is even less logical than most.  Here's my favorite nonsequiter. Hunting rifles are safe for people to own, buuuut....
There is no doubt that many unrestricted semi-automatic hunting rifles are more powerful than [dealdly military death] guns that are restricted. For example the .338-calibre rifle used to kill Laval police constable Valerie Gignac was called "an elephant gun" by the police chief, because of its firepower. Many of the so-called "duck guns" the Harper government wishes to deregulate are extremely powerful semi-automatics.
That would be, at most, a bolt action .338 rifle such as this Ruger.  The police chief is an idiot, because the .338 is most certainly NOT an elephant gun.  An elephant would shrug off a round of .338 more than long enough to kill your ass.  The .338 is an elk and moose gun.  You want an elephant gun you need to go up to .416 Rigby or a .375 H&H magnum., Wendy's just using the chief's convenient sound-bite to further the lie about the gun and its extreme power being the problem.  She also ignores the fact that a standard issue police vest can be penetrated by pretty much any rifle caliber over .223, and a plaster wall won't slow down anything bigger than a .22 rimfire.

The real problem in this case was the Justice Ministry.  It has an unpleasant habit of leaving violent offenders out on the street until they kill a cop.  Just killing the average schlub isn't considered important enough I guess.

Anyway, to complete the absurdity in the next paragraph Wendy says:
My group, the Coalition for Gun Control would not prohibit semi-automatic rifles designed for hunting or semi-automatic handguns designed for target shooting.
That is probably the biggest fib in this whole piece.  Wendy and her minions live for one thing, and that is to ban the private ownership of firearms in Canada.  I'm quite sure they'd disarm the cops if they could.  Those extremely powerful semi-automatic duck gun owners are Wendy's true target.  Men are scum, men with guns are dangerous scum.  That's Wendy's universe, and she would like to make it yours.  So would the Liberal Party of Canada, as evidenced by all the government money they've slid Wendy over the past 13 years.

In other news, guns don't seem to be the only deadly weapons out there.  I'd make the old joke about a knife registry, but they have one of those in England now and I'm sure some useful idiot is polishing up a letter to the editor on the subject.  Plus I can't be bothered, Wendy has made me tired.

At least 2 dead in Hamilton multiple-stabbing

Updated Sat. Feb. 17 2007 8:35 AM ET News Staff

Police in Hamilton, Ont. have confirmed two deaths after an overnight multiple stabbing incident at a night club.
The dead men were 18 and 19 years old, CTV News has learned.
Several others were rushed to hospital with undisclosed injuries.
The violence is alleged to have occurred at the Dizzy Weasel hip hop bar.
An employee of a nearby restaurant told CTV he saw one body on the ground covered by a tarp.
Police are investigating the deaths.
More to come...

Seems the boys were quite determined about the whole affair.  It is really quite hard to stab a guy so that he dies right on the spot.  Two guys in the same fight?  That's serious business.

In the long past days when I was a roadie, the difference between Toronto and Hamilton bars was in the fights.  In Hamilton they threw punches and chairs, in Toronto they would use bottles and knives. 25 years of "progressive" justice have left their mark, the knobs in Hamilton have upgraded.  Nice job, justice guys.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Protecting oneself from idiots.

First of all, my thanks to Mr. Al for introducing to me this absolutely excellent speech by Michael Crichton.  He ripped out the best quote on the MSM I've seen in ages.  Upon discovering that the "disaster" of Chernobyl was in fact 99.5% hogwash (!), he went looking to see what else might be.
Now, Chernobyl started me on a new path. As I researched these old fears, to find out what had been said in the past, I made several important discoveries.  The first is that there is nothing more sobering than a 30 year old newspaper. You can’t figure out what the headlines mean. You don’t know who the people are. Theodore Green, John Sparkman, George Reedy, Jack Watson, Kenneth Duberstein. You thumb through page after page of vanished concerns—issues that apparently were vitally important at the time, and now don’t matter at all. It’s amazing how many pressing concerns are literally of the moment. They won’t matter in six months, and certainly not in six years. And if they won’t matter then, are they really worth our attention now?
Well, yes and no.  No, they aren't worth our attention because they are not True, capital "T".  That is, they do not reflect actual reality.  Unfortunately yes, they demand attention because these fake issues and the wall to wall discussion of them in the media mobilize human effort and money just as much or even more than actual real problems.

Case in point A), Canada.  Here we have a whole country that's been living in a friggin' fantasy since the 1970's.  The fantasy even has a name, coined by Mark Steyn:  Trudeaupia.  Here's a book review of the cost this Trudeaupian fantasy has had for us poor residents of Canada.  Peter Worthington:

What makes history professor Jack Granatstein's new book, Whose War Is It?, riveting, is that it's as timely as tomorrow and underlines where Canada has gone wrong, where it needs correcting, and dares challenge conventional dogma.

For those who think Canada is doing everything right, and needs no correcting, consider that our influence on the world stage has steadily diminished since World War II, that we've developed something of a reputation for self-satisfaction, of not pulling our weight on global issues, and -- until Afghanistan -- we were freeloaders in collective defence.

It goes on in the same vein, but for the purpose of my point it illustrates the way 20 million Canadians have been taken for a sleigh ride by idiots who can't tell Truth from fiction.  I managed to see the snow job for what it is after I had lived in the USA for a few years, but I get met with blank stares a lot here when I talk about it.

Case in point B), global warming.  This particular crock is starting to boil over, to the point where we have MSM guys out there seriously suggesting violence be visited on its critics.  And its a CROCK.  It is no less a total crock than fundamentalist Islam, and heading in the same direction.  People are really going to get killed over this crap if we aren't careful.

Case in point C), gun control.  An idea whose time has come and gone already.  High profile politicians have moved on, dedicated gun controllers still riding the train are treated like has-been entertainers.  Nobody cares when Tony Orlando releases a new album, nor do they care when Sarah Brady makes another speech.  But this was the issue that pushed George W. over the top and sank Algore.  Total bullshit, but changed American history.

Case in point D), the North American electrical grid.  It's old, it's crunchy, it's on the ragged edge of catastrophic failure every goddamn day.  What do we hear about this Real, True, actual problem that could leave millions without heat in the winter, pretty much any day?  We hear NOTHING.  Not one thing.  A fire this week in a Toronto capacitor bank caused a major voltage drop across Ontario and New York, re-booted servers all over the place.  Hear about it?  Nuh uh.

Taken together, I'd say we have a serious idiot problem.  As Crighton says,

But most troubling of all, according to the UN report in 2005, is that "the largest public health problem created by the accident" is the "damaging psychological impact [due] to a lack of accurate information…[manifesting] as negative self-assessments of health, belief in a shortened life expectancy, lack of initiative, and dependency on assistance from the state."


In other words, the greatest damage to the people of Chernobyl was caused by bad information. These people weren’t blighted by radiation so much as by terrifying but false information.  We ought to ponder, for a minute, exactly what that implies. We demand strict controls on radiation because it is such a health hazard.  But Chernobyl suggests that false information can be a health hazard as damaging as radiation. I am not saying radiation is not a threat. I am not saying Chernobyl was not a genuinely serious event.


But thousands of Ukrainians who didn’t die were made invalids out of fear. They were told to be afraid. They were told they were going to die when they weren’t. They were told their children would be deformed when they weren’t. They were told they couldn’t have children when they could. They were authoritatively promised a future of cancer, deformities, pain and decay. It’s no wonder they responded as they did.


In fact, we need to recognize that this kind of human response is well-documented. Authoritatively telling people they are going to die can in itself be fatal.
We live in an increasingly powerful society.  There is getting to be very little outside the grasp of the Western nations should we collectively decide we want something.  Wanna go to the moon?  No problem.  Mars?  No problem.  Jupiter?  We'll work on it. 

Currently much of that power is being wasted with these tail-chasing exercises, to the point where it is actually becoming dangerous to us as individuals.  Something like this global warming fuss could seriously damage The West and leave us easy meat for the likes of the Chicoms or some other bunch of friendly totalitarians.

We need to defend ourselves, and in this instance guns are useless.  What's needed is a method for sorting out these useful idiot campaigns and distinguishing them from Reality, Capital "R", then defeating them in the arena of free speech.  I think the Blogosphere is a start on something like that, but far from a whole solution.  Witness who's US House Speaker today if you doubt me.

Suggestions are welcome.

The Phantom

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Lying 2007.01-A, the coverage of one's butt.

Our friend Heidi Cullen got a bit more mail (1650+ when I looked) on her last blog entry than she bargained for I guess, because today she has this "clarification"

Its a classic of the liars method of covering one's butt.  Lie more.

First, you establish you are smarter than your audience.

I am a scientist. And I'm a skeptic.

Then you restate your original lie as being the absolute truth.

AND after more than a century of research -- based on healthy skepticism -- scientists have learned something very important about our planet. It's warming up -- glaciers are melting, sea level is rising and the weather is changing. The primary explanation for this warming is the carbon dioxide released from -- among other things -- the burning of fossil fuels.

Then you categorically deny that you said what you said.
I've read all your comments saying I want to silence meteorologists who are skeptical of the science of global warming. That is not true. The point of my post was never to stifle discussion. It was to raise it to a level that doesn't confuse science and politics. Freedom of scientific expression is essential.
Nothing to see here, you are imagining things, please.

Which method worked just fine back in the day, but doesn't cut the mustard in the Internet Era.  'Cause I can go back and read what she said again:
If a meteorologist can't speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn't give them a Seal of Approval.
Which means:   "Freedom of scientific expression is essential... as long as you are expressing what I want."

Now, in case you were wondering what kind of genius hires a buffoon like Heidi Cullen and PAYS her to lie like that, this research has been done for us by Melanie Morgan.

The move away from scientific forecasting of the weather to sensationalized leftist political advocacy is in part due to the influence of Wonya Lucas, executive vice president and general manager of The Weather Channel Networks.

Lucas admitted in a recent interview with Media Village that the reprogramming of The Weather Channel was influenced by her tenure at CNN when that network shifted from presenting straight news to personality-driven programming.

Lucas decided that what was good for CNN was good for The Weather Channel, and the objectivity and respectability of the network has now been thrown out the window. It doesn't matter that CNN's turn to the left has caused their ratings to plummet; The Weather Channel's embraced its model.

Media Village reported that the move by The Weather Channel "is intended to establish a broader perspective on the weather category and, says Lucas, to move the brand from functional to emotional."

Yes friends, Wonya Lucas ex of CNN hired Heidi to sex up the weather and make some noise.  Next question, given that CNN's ratings are in the dumper, who's the fool that hired Wonya Lucas? 

I predict its some guy that votes Democrat and thinks Algore is a great statesman.  A useful idiot, in other words.

The Phantom