Death once had a near-Sarah Palin experience.

calendar   Friday - May 02, 2008

Baghdad fighting focuses on Sadr City Wall

Leaving aside the Pink Floyd references that jump to mind, there has been a very intense level of fighting going on in Baghdad over the past few weeks. Coalition forces are trying to build a wall around one of the worst areas of the Sadr City slum zone, to control egress. Our troops are building a wall while under nearly continuous assault. The wall is supposed to isolate the area and keep insurgents (sorry, they’re called “criminals” now) from being able to range the Green Zone with mortar fire. This is what you get from fighting a “gentle war”. Maybe a wall, or that way, isn’t the best course of action right now?

The large majority of the direct attacks by the Mahdi Army against US and Iraqi forces in Sadr City are occurring on Qods Street, where a barrier is being erected to separate the Iraqi Army and US controlled sections in the south from the northern portion of the district, the US military told The Long War Journal. The Mahdi Army is attempting to stop the building of the barrier.
image...The Mahdi Army is desperately trying to stop the barrier from being built, and is focusing its attacks on US engineers and patrols as they work to complete it. The Mahdi Army has launched complex attacks and ambushes using small-arms, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and roadside bombs.

“[The barrier is] a magnet,” said Lieutenant Colonel Steven Stover, the chief Public Affairs Officer for Multinational Division Baghdad in response to email questions on the recent fighting in Sadr City. “In that area, for the past three days we’ve seen some pretty heavy, prolonged engagements.
“As the engineers were emplacing the barriers an M1A1 Abrams fired a main gun round at militants across the street,” Stover said. “We fired 5 Hellfire missiles and dropped two JDAMs from fixed wing aircraft. It got a bit hot today, but our Soldiers continued emplacing the barriers.”

Please go read the rest over at Bill Roggio’s Long War Journal. For a nearly constant stream of press releases about things going on in Iraq, visit Operation Iraqi Freedom, the website of MNF Iraq.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/02/2008 at 11:21 AM   
Filed Under: • IraqWar On Terror •  
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More Border Security, More Loss of Your Freedom

Border Agents can search computers, cellphones, PDAs

U.S. border agents can search traveler’s laptops without suspicion, according to a recent court ruling.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that computers are like luggage and therefore subject to searches at national borders and airports. The 3-0 decision is likely to extend to cell phones and other personal electronic devices. It overturns a previous ruling that sided with a defendant’s arguments that laptop searches to constitute intrusions of the mind.

Timothy Arnold, a 43-year-old teacher from California, challenged the federal government’s right to search laptops after border agents searched his computer nearly three years ago, reported finding child pornography, and arrested him on his way back from the Philippines.

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled that agents must have reasonable suspicion to search electronic devices and said they did not meet that threshold in Arnold’s case. The government appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court.

Federal laws allow border agents to search diaries and other personal material without cause. The U.S. Department of Justice claims that laptops are no different than other containers and agents must be able to search them in order to prevent crime and protect national security.

And, of course, the instant counter lawsuit. Seems to be a regular pattern, don’t it?

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives disagrees. It filed an amicus brief siding with Arnold and pointing out that laptops contain personal information, which could be systematically collected, stored, and searched without justification or oversight. Laptops can also be confiscated and held indefinitely.

Because we’re all terrorists, spies, data smugglers, and secret agent provacatures you know. 


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/02/2008 at 11:10 AM   
Filed Under: • Judges-Courts-Lawyers •  
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Is New York State Now The Federal Government?

That’s a strange and seemingly stupid question to ask, but I was certain that the regulation of interstate commerce was a power/duty reserved for the feds. A few weeks ago New York passed a convoluted tax that is going to require Amazon and other complex online retailers to collect NY state sales tax for them. While quite a few states have a Use Tax which requires citizens of that state to fork over tax money for everything they buy out of state, almost no one other than my mom actually complies, because it is obviously unenforceable. New York’s new “Amazon Tax” would close this “loop hole”, and if effective, would spread overnight to every other state, and the tax advantages of buying things on the internet would soon evaporate.

What makes the Amazon Tax interesting is the convoluted thought process behind it. Amazon is not one store anymore. Amazon is a reseller; more and more of what you shop for there doesn’t come from a place called “”, it comes from whatever Mom & Pop happens to have the product at the price point you want. Amazon simply redirects your order to the small businesses, and takes it’s little slice for that effort. There are tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of these associated businesses, all over the country. Therefore, reasons NY, some of them must be in NY. Therefore an internet sale to Amazon from a customer in NY is a sale within NY so sales tax must be collected. Thus their new law.

There is a basic logically fallacy here which I can’t quite put my finger on. Something about not extrapolating from the individual to the general? Sounds close. Just because an Amazon affiliate is in NY doesn’t mean they are ALL in NY, so making a law requiring NY sales tax to be collected at Amazon is logically incorrect. And unconstitutional, by, as we have seen with Philthydelphia’s gun laws, that doesn’t stop laws from being passed at all.

New York has some of the highest taxes in the country, if not THE highest. The recent state budget is $122 Billion, for a state with a population of 20 million. This law is expected to collect about $50 million.

‘Amazon Tax’ Lands in New York
Controversial new law shifts collection requirement to online retailers in a move that other states could follow, but legal uncertainties abound. With the passage of the hotly debated state budget last night, New York legislators approved a bill that will require many online retailers to begin collecting sales taxes on purchases shipped to the state, even if they have no operations or employees working there.
New York Governor David Paterson is widely expected to sign the measure.  The so-called “Amazon tax” closes a loophole for Internet retailers who derive sales through affiliate programs in which Web site owners place a link to the merchant on their site and earn a commission on sales made from referrals. In lobbying for the bill, the industry group representing New York retailers had argued that the exemption from the sales-tax collection requirement gave out-of-state online retailers an unfair competitive advantage.
The controversial bill ends what for many New Yorkers had been tax-free online shopping, and experts predict that other states could follow suit with similar provisions. Consumers are required to report purchases they make online from out-of-state companies on their tax returns and remit a use tax, but many people are either unaware of that obligation or ignore it. Collecting those taxes from individuals has been an administrative impossibility.  New York expects the new requirement will generate about $50 million in revenue this fiscal year.
The tax was inspired in some ways by a 1992 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. In Quill v. North Dakota, the Court determined that out-of-state retailers cannot be required to collect sales tax on purchases sent to states where they did not have a physical presence. They argued that compelling merchants to adhere to the complexities of the state and local tax codes would place an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce.

With the new law, New York is taking an aggressive stance on the Quill ruling, claiming that a retailer such as Amazon holds a physical presence in the state because it derives sales through its affiliates who live there, explained Hugh Goodwin Jr., a state and local tax attorney and partner at the global firm DLA Piper.

Amazon is suing of course. My guess is that a mere 98% of the population supports their suit.

Amazon Sues New York State to Void Sales Tax Rules
Before the ink on the bill has even dried, has filed a suit challenging New York State’s new law that forces online retailers to collect sales taxes on shipments to state residents.
The question is whether the vendors must collect those taxes on behalf of the state. Generally, only those companies that have a physical presence, such as an office or store, in the state of the purchase are required to collect the taxes.

The new law is based on a novel definition of what constitutes a presence in the state: It includes any Web site based in the state that earns a referral fee for sending customers to an online retailer. Amazon has hundreds of thousands of affiliates—from big publishers to tiny blogs—that feature links to its products.
The state law says that if even one of those affiliates is in New York, Amazon must collect sales tax on everything sold in the state, even if it is not sold through the affiliate. This is an extension of an existing rule that companies that employ independent agents or representatives to solicit business must collect sales taxes for the state.

Amazon’s suit challenges the constitutionality of this interpretation and seeks a declaratory judgment that it is invalid.
The online retailer further claimed that the new rules violate the equal protection clause of the constitution because it specifically targeted Amazon. “It was carefully crafted to increase state tax revenues by forcing Amazon to collect sales and use taxes,” the complaint says, noting that “state officials have described the statute as the ‘Amazon Tax.’ “

So there you have it. A new law, a new lawsuit. I’m sure Amazon can claim “proactive standing” as they will obviously be “injured” by this one. But that’s a side issue. Is New York overstepping it’s bounds? Does this law attempt to regulate intersate commerce through taxation? Why write such a law against Amazon - and it is against Amazon and other Big Business, because the law doesn’t apply to small companies that have less than $7400 per year worth of referral fees - when this kind of action would probably be more effective if written against the credit card companies and PayPal.

Personally I think it’s bullshit and I hope NY gets a swift boot in the ass in court. I understand it takes money to make government run, and that money has to come from taxes. But I think all Use Taxes are wrong, period. It’s my money. The state I live in already taxed me when I earned it, and they tax me again on what I spend within the state. That’s more than enought. What I spend out of the state is none of their goddammed business. They do not own my money and I can spend it how and where I please. Fuck off.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/02/2008 at 10:27 AM   
Filed Under: • GovernmentCorruption and GreedTaxes •  
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So this woman is arrested okay? She deserved it but ….

There just isn’t a way to get the link and the whole article would bore you anyway.
It isn’t the arrest of this non-entity I’m concerned with.  It’s the totally insane use of law and language that has had me on simmer for a long time.

It also seems to be part of the politically correct cross we’ve all become accustomed to.

Will Rogers once said he only knew what he read in the papers, and at the moment I only know what our local paper has allowed me to know.  That the accused became violent and threatening, that she hit a couple of teen age girls, that she’s proven herself to be untruthful.  Yawn.

But what makes her case fall into the looney-tune moonbat catagory for me is the racial thing.  Unless the Hampshire Chronicle (Winchester,England) isn’t telling all, here’s what I have that just bothers the hell outta me because it doesn’t make any sense at all.

Apparently she has a record with the girls she punched.  She hit em back in Dec. and again more recently.  She has a record 12 years long, she’s a recovering drug addict, so we aren’t talking about Mary Poppins here.

She will spend two years in jail for all the offences.  She was given two months for the Dec. attack, and 18months for the most recent one.
She was given 4 months also for ....  “CAUSING RACIALLY-AGGRAVATED ALARM or DISTRESS” to the arresting officer.

The arresting officer it is reported, is of Czech descent.  I know you guys will be very quick to correct any error I make so feel free.

I thought a Czech would fall more under nationality then it would race.  BUT WAIT ....  You need to read exactly what the paper is reporting this woman said to the officer that falls into the racial crime catagory.  Here is the quote.


That’s it folks.  That’s the great racial insulting crime of the Winchester decade I suppose.

So, two months of her sentence for hitting ppl and 4 for what?  RACIALLY AGGRAVATED ALARM?

If saying the cop “isn’t even from this country” is stressful for the officer, what’s she gonna be like when she finds her first bloody body.  If she hasn’t already done so. 

Yes, I understand there are more pressing problems out there to worry about.  And I think Drew quite brilliantly laid out much in his editorial statement and the worries over BMEWS.  But this bit of insanity with the use of words and law has me quite sidetracked. 

The world is surely mad to come up with crap like, racially-aggravated alarm? 


Posted by Drew458   United Kingdom  on 05/02/2008 at 10:23 AM   
Filed Under: • Nanny StateStoopid-People •  
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calendar   Thursday - May 01, 2008

Geek heaven

Charles Babbage’s Diffference Engine #2 built, and it works just fine.

Computer geeks rejoice, the very first computers have actually been built. 160 years after they were designed. Charles Babbage designed mechanical computers, well super calculators actually, that could do fairly advanced mathematics. He is considered the father of computers, and is one of those misty figures from techno pre-history like Henri Jacquard (who invented the punchcard) Ada Lovelace (who invented the loop and the If-Then statement that no programming language would work without) and Herman Hollerith (who modified Jacquard’s idea into the 80 column punchcard that was used from the 1890 US Census up until the early 1980s. He also started the company that would one day become IBM) Babbage’s engines are massive piles of gleaming steel and brass gears and rods, true works of mechanical art.


Engine #2 stands 11 feet long and weighs 5 tons. It has a mere 8000 precisely machined moving parts, less than a third of the nearly 25,000 parts count of Engine #1. Which shows you that something like Moore’s law existed even back then. Engine #2 can solve systems of simultaneous equations up to the seventh order.

Read all about it over at The Computer History Museum where you can watch a neat video. Or you can read about it at Gizmodo, and watch the same video in a slightly larger format. 


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/01/2008 at 10:34 PM   
Filed Under: •   
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A Voice in the Wilderness


Ramirez, 4/30/08


Ramirez, 4/11/08

Boy howdy, if these two cartoons by the earstwhile Ramirez don’t sum up our National Energy Policy into a nutshell, I don’t know what does. Super Fantastic. But what he does with ink, this guy does with a keyboard:

What to do about oil? First it went from $60 to $80 a barrel, then from $80 to $100 and now to $120. Perhaps we can persuade OPEC to raise production, as some senators suggest; but this seems unlikely. The truth is that we’re almost powerless to influence today’s prices. We are because we didn’t take sensible actions 10 or 20 years ago. If we persist, we will be even worse off in a decade or two. The first thing to do: Start drilling.

What keeps these areas closed are exaggerated environmental fears, strong prejudice against oil companies and sheer stupidity. Americans favor both “energy independence” and cheap fuel. They deplore imports—who wants to pay foreigners?—but oppose more production in the United States. Got it? The result is a “no-pain energy agenda that sounds appealing but has no basis in reality,” writes Robert Bryce in “Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of ‘Energy Independence.’ ”

On environmental grounds, the alternatives to more drilling are usually worse. Subsidies for ethanol made from corn have increased food prices and used scarce water, with few benefits. If oil is imported, it’s vulnerable to tanker spills. By contrast, local production is probably safer. There were 4,000 platforms operating in the Gulf of Mexico when hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit. Despite extensive damage, there were no major spills, says Robbie Diamond of Securing America’s Future Energy, an advocacy group.

Yup, this fits my special Filed Under category to a T.

Many activities that currently use oil, natural gas, propane, or coal can be converted to electricity. Like heat and hot water. So let’s provide lots of electricity, cheap. There’s only one way to do that, without leaving a big ‘carbon footprint’, and that’s nukes. So get to work. US designs out of date? Go hire the French. Their whole damn country runs on nuke E, and they haven’t had a spill or a disaster yet. If we had nearly limitless electricity we would hardly even need gasoline. Almost everyone could run a local battery powered car. Diesel hybrids? Why not? The Germans have little clean diesels that get 75mpg. Hybridization of those might get you 90mpg. Get to work. You want solar farms too? Fine, let’s build some. Wind farms and tidal generators too. Right where Teddy sails his little boats. But when they don’t generate enough juice to pay for themselves in a decade they go on the scrap heap and you hippies shut the fuck up about them already.

But gosh, all this stuff will take time!! What do we do NOW? (see the above article: start drilling). Well, right now you’ve got a few choices. Pray. Walk. Start a war. Or accept that you’re going to suffer for an entire generation until things get built. You can’t just solve the “energy crisis” by complaining, or by endless research. You’ve got to pick a plan or three RIGHT NOW and then GET TO WORK.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. I have lived most of my life hearing the same bullshit from the government every single year about “alternate energy research” and all that yadda yadda. Since the early 70s. More than 35 years of hot air. Well, it’s long past time to ‘git er done’. The REAL energy policy of the US is to do nothing. Nothing. We’ll continue to buy up all the oil the rest of the world has, and not drill our own, until they run out. Then we’ll have lots left, plus 500 years worth of coal. And all the food! Neener neener neener!!! But in the meantime, you and I will pay out the wazoo. I don’t want that. I want CHANGE. I want to HOPE that I can fill up my little economy car’s tank for less than half a day’s pay.


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/01/2008 at 04:15 PM   
Filed Under: • No Shit, Sherlock •  
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US Appeals Court to Mayor Bloomberg: You’re a Loser

Appeals Court Throws Out Bloomberg Gun Lawsuit

Gee, that’s just too bad ain’t it? As far as I know, only the lawsuit in Gary Indiana remains in play. All the rest got tossed or were pulled.

The Second Amendment Foundation said today’s dismissal of a lawsuit filed against the firearms industry by anti-gun New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg should send a clear message that “courthouse demagoguery and harassment of law-abiding business is not the responsible way to fight crime.”

The 2-1 opinion, written by U.S. Appeals Court Judge Robert J. Miner, affirms the constitutionality of the 2005 Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. It overturns a lower court ruling by activist federal judge Jack B. Weinstein, explaining that he should have dismissed the case instead of allowing it to go forward.

“Today’s ruling is clearly a defeat for Michael Bloomberg,” said SAF founder Alan M. Gottlieb. “The law trumps a billionaire’s arrogance and a federal judge’s long standing anti-gun activism. It is time for Bloomberg to grow up, and for Weinstein to step down.

“Judge Weinstein should certainly step aside from a case that will come before the court shortly on Bloomberg’s harassment lawsuit of firearms dealers in other states,” he added.

Gottlieb called the Miner ruling a clear victory for America’s politically demonized firearms industry, and he congratulated gun makers and the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

“This ruling should also send a message to anti-gun extremist groups like the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence that bankrolling frivolous junk lawsuits in an attempt to bankrupt a heavily-regulated, lawful industry must cease,” Gottlieb observed. “Abusing the legal system to harass gun makers may grab a few cheap headlines, but what does it really accomplish? Criminals still commit crimes with guns they get illegally from illicit sources.

Brooklyn federal district Judge Jack Weinstein is known for getting assigned huge class actions with billions at stake. He’s also known for getting reversed by his colleagues on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. In the latter respect, the month of April has been a doozie. On April 3, the Second Circuit reversed Weinstein in the so-called light cigarette litigation, decertifying a class of 50 million plaintiffs.

And today, the court tossed out New York City’s lawsuit accusing the gun industry of selling firearms with the knowledge they can be diverted into illegal markets. ...

The crux of the suit, which dates back to 2000: The city of New York sued the gun industry — including Beretta, Browning, Colt, Glock Inc. and a bunch of others — for facilitating “the movement of legally distributed handguns into illegal markets” by, among other things, facilitating “straw purchases” in which those qualified to purchase guns from the manufacturer, such as retailers, make purchases on behalf of those who aren’t qualified.

Back in 2005, Weinstein denied the manufacturers’ 12(b)(6) motion, holding that the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, did not require dismissal of the city’s case, which was brought under a New York criminal nuisance statute. In a 2-1 decision, a Second Circuit panel reversed, finding that the claim restrictions of the PLCAA did apply and barred the suit.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a federal law provides the gun industry with broad immunity from lawsuits brought by crime victims and violence-plagued cities. A federal judge (Weinstein) had allowed the lawsuit to proceed, though it had not yet reached trial.
Lawrence G. Keane, a lawyer for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a firearms industry trade association, called the ruling “very gratifying to members of the firearms industry.”

He said Congress “understood that frivolous lawsuits like New York City’s defied common sense and represented a clear abuse of the judicial system that threatened to bankrupt a responsible and law-abiding industry.”

The lawsuit was first brought in June 2000 while Rudy “I really am a Conservative. April Fool’s!!” Giuliani was mayor. The full court opinion is here.

Wow, what can I say? It only took 3 years, but the federal courts figured out that the federal law against nuisance suits against firearms companies trumps nuisance lawsuits against firearms companies. I’m so glad they figured this out. But I could have saved them 3 years and probably a few million in taxpayer money with my own enlightened and highly nuanced legal opinion of “well, duh!”


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/01/2008 at 03:33 PM   
Filed Under: • Guns and Gun Control •  
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Is lack of politics killing this blog?

BMEWS readership is slowly ebbing away. We were getting about 1000 visits a day back when I took this place over. That’s way down from the 2000+ when the Skipper was around. Now we’re down to around 600. Of course, I’m basing my numbers on a different tracking system than what they were using, and while that does make a difference, the numbers are falling. Maybe I have to get back into political blog. Yech. I’ll do what I have to do, but I’ll want to dip my keyboard in bleach afterwards.

I have not been running the never-ending stories about Hillary and Obama that everyone else has. What’s the point? Both of them are Marxist idiots who shoot themselves in the foot almost every day. If you haven’t figured that out yet I can’t help you. Schadenfruede? That only goes so far. Once the clowns have kicked themselves in the ass 10 times it stops being funny. At 20 times it’s no longer pitiful, pathetic, or even bathetic. It’s just boring.

This election cycle is never ending and I am beyond bored with it. i was bored with it a full year ago. By the time November gets here I’ll be amazed if 20 voters can retain enough consciousness to drag themselves to the polls. It’s that dull, really. We’ve got a choice ... some choice: a liberal posing as a conservative, running against your choice of either a communist posing as a liberal or a marxist posing as a liberal. None of the three has even a spark, much less a flame of excitement. Big money politics vs big money politics vs big money politics pretending not to be big money politics. Lame.

This is the 21st century. The age of instant communication. There is no reason at all why this entire race can’t be run in a weekend. Ok, a month. Two months tops. And that would save hundreds of millions of dollars of public and private money otherwise wasted on the MSM. They’re the ones making the money off of this. They’d be happy if the election cycle lasted a decade each time. Well, too bad for me, but I don’t want to play. It took me perhaps a week, way back when, to figure out which candidate I stood behind. By the time my state primary arrived, he was no longer running, although he was still on the ballot. Hello, age of instant communication? Duh, you guys ever hear of an update? So I voted for my second choice guy, who promptly removed himself from the race. Great. And at the end, the one clown left in the ring was the one guy I didn’t want under any circumstances. Double great.

Meanwhile, the left half of the country has just been going wild for their two leftovers. The Smartest Woman in the World (says who?) vs the Negro from Nowhere. Endless debates with the same old softball questions and the same old canned BS responses. Mrs. Tough Guy (oh, why are they picking on me, I’m a girl!) against Mr. Bitter and his wife Mrs. Bitterer, both of them products of the very best schools in the world, both of them living nearly in The Land Beyond Money. Victims of the Man Holding The Brothers Down. And us, the poor citizens and TV viewers, told a hundred million times that the DNC race isn’t about gender or race, which is a total crock, because that race is about nothing other than race or gender. It’s tiring being lied to every single day.

Hillary doesn’t need a gun to shoot herself in the foot. She doesn’t need Bosnian snipers to do it for her either. All she has to do is stand up at the podium with her red faced Lothario next to her and everyone can not fail to shudder at the thought of that lecher being back in the White House being “co=president” again. And then he opens his mouth and makes it worse. You don’t even need to hear what she has to say, though it’s the same tax & spend, cut & run , socialist crapola she’s been dribbling for years. Just seeing old Slick Willy up there ought to send you running for your life.

Obama. Obrother. Oblarney. What. a. tool. How many episodes of proof will it take to convince people he’s an empty suit with a red lining? 100? 500? It isn’t happening. Every time he opens his mouth he either sticks his other foot in, or spews out another iteration of the Emperor’s New Clothes. He speaks in empty phrases. He has no plan. He wants to tax you naked “because it’s the fair thing to do”. He’s a hater. A racist. He hangs out with racists and bomb throwing anarchists. And people can’t or won’t figure him out. He’s the big mystery. It’s taken 4 solid months of his goofs just to wear enough shine off his aura so that people aren’t “getting taken up” and fainting at his speeches. 4 months just to bring the Obamessiah down to human standards so that it’s almost Ok to have questions and doubts. About the people around him, not Obama hisself. Sheesh. I am embarrassed for my country that so many of us are so willfully blind.

And where is McCain in all this? Gosh, old OLD Johnny boy is on the backburner because he’s got no money. Due to his own stupid legislation that didn’t foresee the never-ending campaign we’re enduring. Gee, too bad for you, Mr. “give up your First Amendment Rights”. It’s only a miracle that he dumped the Hezbollah funding guy working on his Michigan staff. He still has that Mexican double agent though Juan Hernandez, right? Yeah. And he’s still fighting with the GOP, calling us out of touch. Holy shit. You couldn’t haul a big enough cluebat with a tractor trailer truck.

So, once more into the breach dear friends? Politics and more politics and more politics? Or should I just go all Manolo and turn this site into yet another shoe blog?


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/01/2008 at 12:07 PM   
Filed Under: • Politics •  
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Even better than Aarrgh, Pirates!

Sunken Treasure Ship Found

WINDHOEK, Namibia (AP) —Geologists searching for diamonds have stumbled upon a shipwreck loaded with gold and silver coins, ivory and cannons to fend off pirates.

That must have been a fun report to give to management. “So, did you find diamonds?” “No sir, we found gold!” “Damn, there goes the 1Q profit margin.”

An archaelogist told The Associated Press on Thursday that the ship dates back some 500 years—around the time Vasco de Gama and Columbus were plying the waters of the New World.

The Namdeb Diamond Corp. had reported Wednesday that geologists discovered the shipwreck on April 1 during a search for diamonds off Namibia’s southwest coast.

Astrolabes and other period navigational tools were discovered.
Spanish gold coins, Portuguese silver coins minted in the late 1400s or early 1500s were found, as well as dividers used for measuring distance on a map during navigation.

The reverse of the some of the gold coins depicts Ferdinand and Isabella, two Spanish monarchs of the time.

Awesomely cool. I wonder if they will ever be able to figure out which ship it was, and whether it was a pirate vessel or not. It doesn’t matter if the haul here is as big as that of the Atocha that Mel Fisher found some years ago, this is a boyhood dream come true. Buried treasure! Aarrgh! 


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/01/2008 at 11:45 AM   
Filed Under: • Pirates, aarrgh! •  
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“olds” as “news” again

Haven’t these MSM types figured out that, like diamonds, the Internet is forever? Here’s another one of today’s top stories, being reported around the world, that wasn’t even new news more than a year ago. Does it need some publicity? Sure, why not, it seems like a really promising medical breakthrough. But don’t put it in the “Breaking News” column, cuz it ain’t.

‘Pixie Dust’ From Pig’s Bladder Regrows Man’s Finger

With the help of an experimental powder, a man’s severed finger has regrown to its original length in just four weeks, reports London’s Daily Mail.  Lee Spievack, of Cincinnati, who sliced almost half an inch off the top of one of his fingers, described the powder as “pixie dust,” according to the newspaper. The “pixie dust” is actually extra-cellular matrix, bursting with collagen and is made from a dried pig’s bladder, the newspaper reports.

Medicine’s Cutting Edge: Re-Growing Organs

Three years ago, Lee Spievack sliced off the tip of his finger in the propeller of a hobby shop airplane.  What happened next, Andrews reports, propelled him into the future of medicine. Spievack’s brother, Alan, a medical research scientist, sent him a special powder and told him to sprinkle it on the wound.

The amazing ‘pixie dust’ made from pigs bladder that regrew a severed finger in FOUR weeks


Scientists are claiming an amazing breakthrough - regrowing a man’s severed finger with the aid of an experimental powder. Four weeks after Lee Spievack sliced almost half an inch off the top of one of his fingers, he said it had grown back to its original length. Four months later it looked like any other finger, complete with “great feeling”, a fingernail and fingerprint. The secret to the astonishing regrowth is said to be the powder described by Mr Spievack, a Cincinnati model shop salesman, as “pixie dust”. More properly known as extra-cellular matrix, it is bursting with collagen, the protein that gives skin its strength and elasticity, and is made from dried pig’s bladder. It was developed to regenerate damaged ligaments in horses. “The second time I put it on I could already see growth,” said Mr Spievack, 69.

“Each day it was up further. Finally it closed up and was a finger. It took about four weeks before it was sealed.” Mr Spievack damaged his finger in the propeller of a model plane three years ago. He turned down a skin graft in favour of the “pixie dust” recommended by his brother, a former surgeon and the founder of the firm that makes the powder.

While it is not entirely clear how the powder works, its developers believe it kick-starts the body’s natural healing process by sending out signals that mobilise the body’s own cells into repairing the damaged tissue. Dr Stephen Badylak, of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, told the BBC: “There are all sorts of signals in the body. We have got signals that are good for forming scar tissue and others that are good for regenerating tissues. One way to think about these matrices is that we’ve taken out many of the stimuli for scar tissue formation and left those signals which were always there for constructive remodelling.”

In other words, the powder directs tissues to grow afresh rather than form scars.

The New York Daily News is running it too, as are other papers and online news sources. Why not? It’s a great story - this guy cut off his fingertip when he accidently stuck it in the path of the propellor on a running model airplane. By pure luck his own brother is a research scientist working on limb and organ regrowth. Brother sent brother some “magic powder”, actually made from pig collagen, sprinkled it on, and in a month the fingertip grew back. Pretty darned amazing, but it isn’t a new story today. It wasn’t a new story when Esquire ran it last September:

A Doctor, a Pig, and a Magical Pixie Dust That Could Regrow Fingers

Once upon a time (last month), in a distant land (Pittsburgh), there was a medical breakthrough that could regrow fingers. Happily, this was no fairy tale.

It may have actually been news when MSNBC ran it back in February 2007, but I have my doubts:

Researchers are trying to find ways to regrow fingers — and someday, even limbs — with tricks that sound like magic spells from a Harry Potter novel.

There’s the guy who sliced off a fingertip but grew it back, after he treated the wound with an extract of pig bladder. And the scientists who grow extra arms on salamanders. And the laboratory mice with the eerie ability to heal themselves.

This summer, scientists are planning to see whether the powdered pig extract can help injured soldiers regrow parts of their fingers.

Why am I running on and on about this? Because these are all “professional journalists and reporters” doing exactly what they accuse the pajamas-clad blogosphere of doing - dogpiling (blogswarming) on a story, and just passing it around. Worse, they aren’t even reporting something new. It’s an old story that’s just being recycled. They aren’t even adding anything new. So this is crap work by the MSM, and I’m probably one of the few bloggers who will even spot the recycle. What’s next, Breaking News that President Kennedy was just assasinated?


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/01/2008 at 10:58 AM   
Filed Under: • Amazing Science and DiscoveriesNews-Briefs •  
Comments (4) Trackbacks(1)  Permalink •  

Life on the other side of the looking glass

Did I miss the memo going around that says it’s now time for the Democrats to see reality and the Republicans to live in dreamworld? That’s how this story from Cybercast News Service seems to me.

Kennedy Links World Food Shortages to U.S. Ethanol Policy

Senators Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) told Cybercast News Service on Wednesday that they believe there is a connection between federally mandated consumption of ethanol, a gasoline additive made from corn, and world food shortages.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandates that increasing amounts of ethanol be used in the United States to dilute gasoline. The law called for 4 billion gallons of ethanol to be used in 2006, 6.1 billion gallons in 2009, and 7.5 billion gallons by 2012.

As the demand for corn has increased because of increased ethanol consumption, the Washington Post reported this week, the number of acres used to grow wheat in the U.S. has contracted, contributing to a shortage of wheat on the world market and an overall increase in world grain prices.
When Cybercast News Service asked Lieberman if he thinks federal laws that mandate escalating domestic ethanol consumption ought to be repealed, he said such a solution ought to be considered.

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) expressed a different view.

“I don’t see the link between hunger and our requirements that ethanol be mixed into our gasoline,” Craig told Cybercast News Service . “We are still exporting food to the world. The world hunger movement is also tied to the environmental movement. Environmentalists have decided that ethanol is bad and so liberals are arguing that it’s connected with food and therefore it is all bad. There has to be a balance.”

“Ethanol today has brought the price of gas down by 20 cents,” Craig said. “American consumers may be paying a little more for food but they are also paying a little less for gas because of ethanol in the market. It’s a worthwhile trade. Let’s lower the subsidy on ethanol, and let the market stabilize, but our country is better off today because we are producing ethanol.”

What the heck? What planet is old Larry from anyway?

It takes a lot of corn to produce ethanol. Ask any moonshiner. There is only so much farmland; it’s the old “Guns & Butter” lecture from Economics 101. Grow more corn and you have less space to grow other things like wheat. Selling the corn to the government or the distillers at a premium increases the demand and the price. Higher corn prices means less corn for your money, and if you have almost no money, then you go hungry. Given a fixed demand level for wheat, growing less wheat also causes the price to rise, and once again, if you don’t have much money then you go hungry. Which is why there are food riots in Haiti, Mexico, Pakistan, and other poor areas around the world.

And ethanol has lowered the price of gas? Says who? As crude oil continues above $110 a barrel, and the price of regular gas hits $3.50 a gallon, I’m not seeing any savings at all. And where is this ethanol stuff anyway? I’m not seeing any signs on the pumps at the gas station. I’m not seeing a special little truck following the gas tanker around, yet I remember hearing that ethanol couldn’t be added to the gasoline pipe network because it would rot out the pipes, and therefore had to be added at the local level. And if there has been a miraculous technological advance that has made the distillation of ethanol calorically efficient I haven’t heard of it. It still takes more energy to heat the mash to get the alcohol out then the alcohol itself provides. And what are they using to fire the stills? Oil. D’oh!

And ethanol is suddenly out of favor with the enviro squad?  Come on, the stuff is made FROM PLANTS. You can’t get any greener than that. WTF, I guess I’ve been hiding under my rock again if I missed that one.

The whole ethanol thing is a dumb idea. Especially if you have oil and gas you can drill for. Like we do. 


Posted by Drew458   United States  on 05/01/2008 at 10:31 AM   
Filed Under: • Economics •  
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Not that very many people ever read this far down, but this blog was the creation of Allan Kelly and his friend Vilmar. Vilmar moved on to his own blog some time ago, and Allan ran this place alone until his sudden and unexpected death partway through 2006. We all miss him. A lot. Even though he is gone this site will always still be more than a little bit his. We who are left to carry on the BMEWS tradition owe him a great debt of gratitude, and we hope to be able to pay that back by following his last advice to us all:
  1. Keep a firm grasp of Right and Wrong
  2. Stay involved with government on every level and don't let those bastards get away with a thing
  3. Use every legal means to defend yourself in the event of real internal trouble, and, most importantly:
  4. Keep talking to each other, whether here or elsewhere
It's been a long strange trip without you Skipper, but thanks for pointing us in the right direction and giving us a swift kick in the behind to get us going. Keep lookin' down on us, will ya? Thanks.


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GNU Terry Pratchett

Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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