Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pilot Without Arms

25 year old Jessica Cox passed her FAA exam on 10 October 2008, becoming the first-ever licensed pilot without arms. She also has a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and is said to be pretty good with a pair of nunchucks.

Jessica beams from the cockpit of an Ercoupe

You may learn more about this determined young lady at her website:

Ms. Cox flies an aircraft using her feet; most people with two arms and two legs aren't able to drive and use a cellphone simultaneously.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Palm Tells Current Customers To Get Lost!

Palm Inc: Bean-counters with rotten souls

I recently went on a business roadtrip with a friend who had a brand-new IPod Touch he gently hinted--at the beginning of our journey--was so much better than my not-even-a-year-old Palm TX. Without fail, I was able to download and send email, update a blog and check the news from every two-bit, podunk town across six western states, while he was left wondering if he even *had* email literally 98% of the time.

And my TX had the same usefullness and functionality on the streets and in the cafes, restaurants and hotels of Amsterdam and Berlin. My phone wouldn't work there. I didn't even take it and got along fine--never out of touch. I like my TX. It's far more useful than a phone with a screen the size of an ant's butt.

Yesterday, Palm announced their new "Palm Web OS" operating system. A linux-based OS that is incompatible with all their current devices.

Today, it is obvious that all Palm development and the vast majority of, if not all, third-party development for my Palm TX--which recently celebrated it's FIRST birthday in our home--has just come to a screeching halt. I know now that I will never see a decent browser for it, (Opera comes close--no cigar).

Palm has stated they have no plans to continue their PDA line. It's rather like parents kicking a child out of the house because they had a new baby.

For the past year or so, Palm has stated the new operating system--then codenamed "Nova"--would support legacy applications from Palm OS 5. It doesn't. Seems to me they were less than ingenuous--I can't believe it was simply, somehow, a sudden surprise to them that there is no legacy support. Perhaps they didn't want potential--and current--customers gravitating to competitor's products?

"It won't natively run applications written for the original Palm OS, but," [Palm vice-president, Stephane] Maes said "we anticipate there will be solutions to do so."

Note she doesn't say, "We're working on it." Personally, I anticipate they will leave it up to third-party developers, as usual.

If you have been a Palm customer in the past and you buy their new product, you will have to pony up big bucks to replace all your old applications with software that does pretty-much the same thing in their new gadget. Dastardly. You still won't have Graffiti, though. The new Palm Web OS does not feature Graffiti--one of the most useful features of the former Palm OS.

Don't hold your breath waiting for Palm to come up with any additional, breathtaking apps or simple, reasonable improvements for their new OS. They have a history of sitting on their hands about such things, (I have long suspected that they suffer--as a group--from Attention Deficit Disorder.)

They have, for example, consistently refused to release an SDHC card driver for Palm OS 5, leaving it up to an unassociated third-party to finally get around to doing so. Palm's built-in browzer "Blazer" was a laughably horrible application from the beginning and in four years Palm did nothing to reasonably improve it.

There is every reason to believe they will hold their new customers in equal contempt.

I expect to be using my TX for years yet, despite the fact that Palm has just thrown me--a recent customer--to the wolves in favor of profit. I will keep in mind they have done this once now, and Palm has given me no reason to believe other than they will do it again to millions of customers down the road if it suits their purposes to do so. They have shown they cannot be trusted. They have shown that they care nothing for the consumers who--collectively--spend millions of hard-earned dollars on Palm's products and third-party software for those products.

I, therefore, will never again do business with Palm. I will use smoke signals or semaphore flags first. Fool me once...

The bottom line is: it's all about the "bottom line." After the Palm Web OS announcement, Palm stock soared a whopping 35%.

Palm--indeed most corporations--feel no loyalty to, nor regard for their millions of customers. They answer only to their stockholders and don't give a fig about anyone else.

If everyone felt the way I do, voiced their disapproval, and took the same actions, corporations would never treat the public so.

If you agree, write Palm a quick email expressing your disapproval. If you don't agree, you are, alas, part of the problem.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Twit Issues Fake Evacuation Order

Chris Sanders Wins Our Useless Git of The Week Award!

On 1 January 2009, Christopher C. Sanders, an unqualified “geologist,” posted a YouTube video and a bogus “evactuation order” on a website, (since taken down), illegally featuring a USGS logo and designed to scare the holy-hoppin’ bejeesus out of everyone in the known universe:

"I am advising all State officials around Yellowstone National Park for a potential State of Emergency. In the last week over 252 earthquakes have been observed by the USGS. We have a 3D view on the movement of magma rising underground. We have all of the pre warning signs of a major eruption from a super volcano. - I want everyone to leave Yellowstone National Park and for 200 miles around the volcano caldera."

Chris Sanders in a quiet moment just before the world blows up.

The United States Geological Survey, (not affiliated with Chris or his spider-web of online sites), issued this press release on a genuine USGS website:

“The USGS is not affiliated with a web site that recommends evacuation of Yellowstone National Park and bears the USGS logo. The USGS is not recommending the evacuation of the park. Officials at the USGS are working through the appropriate legal channels to have both the warning and logo removed from the web site. Yesterday, the USGS issued a press release announcing that the swarm of earthquakes has stopped for now and may have ceased entirely.”

Mr. Sanders apparently became spooked at a number of earthquakes—like Chris, very shallow and insignificant—in the Yellowstone vicinity. He has neither the authority, qualifications nor the requisite amount of grey-matter, (the required amount, I understand, being at least 947cc or about one quart), to make such a judgement or release such an “order.”

Chris also gave an amusing, paranoid, rant extemely plaintive email interview to a journalist a transcript of which is posted at this site.

He also has more shady websites, (all asking for your money), than you can shake a bought senator at, including—and I submit this explains a very great deal—The North Dakota Hemp Council.

You may express your disapproval and send dead, stinky fish to Chris at:

Chris Sanders
The Gas Company
7510 Sunset Blvd. Suite #1073
Los Angeles, CA 90046

(Please don’t really send dead, stinky fish through the US mail. I have a friend in the postal service. Use Fedex.)

There has been much gnashing of teeth and beating of breast and "OMG where do I hide?" about this, and since everyone and his dog has put in his two drachmas' worth, I hope no-one minds if I do so.

I live a short, pleasant drive from the northern entrance to Yellowstone Park. The animals here are behaving normally. The scientists here are behaving normally. The residents here are behaving normally, (Chris Sanders doesn’t live here). No-one's worrying about the Park blowing up--except this one, dull-witted, so-called "geologist.”

There are ALWAYS earthquakes in the Park--hundreds a year. I know when there is one much over a mag 3, because my power-pole does the hula in proportion to the severity of the shock.

A look at the raw data from the pretty-much official Yellowstone Earthquake Data site shows that most of the recent quakes are quite shallow--some only a few hundred feet in depth. Not at all what one would expect of an imminent “Deep-Magma Hot-Spot" super-eruption.

I'm with one of the country fire departments. I talk to meteorologists on our weather and climate and how they affect wildland fire behavior. I talk to the geologists about the Park. I get briefed on emergency procedures and evacuation plans, because our department will be instrumental in carrying them out.

I am not a trained geologist, but my training IS in astrophysics, so I'm not a complete and utter dimwit unlike…well…some.

I pretty-much know what goes on around here.

Let me first tell you about Heart Mountain near Cody, Wyoming. Heart Mountain's geologic layers are upside-down, and match geologic layers of areas of Yellowstone Park, to the west, (you can read about this in geologist John McPhee's seminal book, "Rising From The plains"). The last time the Yellowstone "Super Volcano" erupted, it picked up what is now Heart Mountain and deposited it—the whole fraking mountain—upside-down about 100 miles away. That last eruption was a doozy-and-a-half, (I might point out that the Wikipedia entry on Heart Mountain is full of what drops out of the south end of a north-bound bull, but that's typical of Wikipedia).

I might also mention that a small number of geologists believe that there is currently NOT one or two huge magma pool under the Park, but a series of small ones. Their findings cause everything from gasping, sputtering and jaw-dropping to outrage among many "PhDs" and—through decades of experience with other scientists—and academia in general—I therefore tend to believe that handful of geologists are likely correct, (only the truth tends to make tenured hack "scientists" that upset).

Much has been made recently of the uplift of parts of the ground surface in Yellowstone, which showed an uplift rate 3 times that observed in the 1920’s. There is some discussion that the 1920’s surveys may not have been as accurate as formerly believed, leading many to question just how much uplift may really have occurred during and since that period.

Let me now tell you the warning signs of a major eruption in Yellowstone Park. A major magma expansion is going to exude pressure onto the rock strata above, (yes, yes, and below and to the sides but that's not my point here, read on). High school physics will show the pressure will be expressed as heat. This heat and pressure will spread—finally—to the geyser-water table under the Park. All the geysers in the Park will start spouting—including those that haven't spit a drop of luke-warm water in decades or centuries. When you see THAT happening, start worrying. Until then, find something else to do.

If the Yellowstone caldera erupts in the fashion it did some 640,000 years ago, Bend Over And Kiss Your Sweet (insert appropriate skin color here) Patootie GOODBYE. It is believed that eruption ejected 1,000 cubic kilometers, (240 cubic miles), of material into the atmosphere. By contrast, the 1815 eruption of the Indonesian volcano Mount Tambora threw about 93 cubic miles as high or higher as 30 miles into the atmosphere—along with some 400 million tons of gas—resulting in 1816’s “Year Without A Summer,” during which it snowed in New England in June and crop failures were the norm in Europe and North America. Hundreds of thousands of people died as a result.

There is nowhere on this entire planet you can go and be unaffected by an eruption of the nature of the one in Yellowstone 640,000 years ago, and there are frightfully few places you can go where you won't die within a year or two.

Within 600 miles or so you will likely be dead within a few days. The further away you are in the northern hemisphere, the longer it will take to kill you, but it will—almost certainly—eventually kill you directly or indirectly. The ash is mostly macro-to-microscopic particles of glass, (I can dig down a few yards in my pasture and show you a sample if you wish—it's pretty nasty and never comes out of your skin—don't inhale it), and it will kill much of the animal life—including humans—in an enormous region. And an awful death it will be: The thousands of microscopic shards of volcanic glass you inhale with each breath will slash the alveoli, (air sacs within your lungs), and you will slowly and painfully drown in your own blood. If you are--I hesitate to say, "lucky"--the amount of ash you breathe in will not be fatal and you may contract fibrosis, alveolar proteinosis, epidermoid tumors, lymph node granuloma, or half-a-dozen other nasty afflictions.

Then, after a time—not a terribly long time—much of that ash will drift south into the southern hemisphere.

Somewhere in the process, the billions of tons of debris and gases—such as sulfur dioxide—the super volcano will blow into the atmosphere will block the sunlight and cause much of the Earth to freeze. Noontime will look like twilight. Snow and ice will cover the ground everywhere. A large amount of sunlight will be bounced out into interstellar space. Spring and summer as we now know it will simply not occur in many regions, perhaps for years, perhaps for generations—depending on whose models you believe. Thousands of plant and animal species with be extinct in a year or two.

Further devastation may result through the landing—perhaps hundreds or thousands of miles away—of volcanic ejecta capable of starting forest fires of a number, extent and ferocity such as man has never seen. This would further add to the sunlight-blocking material in the atmosphere, and would directly and indirectly kill even more people.

A Yellowstone super eruption certainly won't cause the mass extinctions Earth endured during the asteroid strike 65,000,000 years ago, but most humans will not survive it, simply because:

Because the vast majority of us have our food brought to us by truck and ship and plane—sometimes from many hundreds—thousand—of miles distant.

Because our water is electrically pumped to us through pipes from somewhere-or-other.

Because we depend on our heat from electricity and gas: The eruption will cause those services to fail in much of the world.

Because the infra-structure the majority of us depend on—and blithely ignore—for our very survival cannot, itself, survive such a cataclysm: Part of it will collapse due to the direct, physical assault of the eruption and the remainder will collapse because the humans who operate and service it will be dropping dead by the thousands.

The human race will not die out, but it will be a pale, sickly shadow of what it was the day before such an eruption. Those who do not die of the ash, or the cold, will simply starve, or be the victim of anything from hungry animals, suicidal depression or vicious humans fighting to save themselves.

Realistically, there won't be many of us left.

I am not generally not one to speak in anything approaching absolutes, but the bottom line is:

If there is a "super volcano" eruption in Yellowstone Park of the nature of the last one, you—reading this—almost certainly will not survive it. If there ISN'T an eruption, you are worrying for nothing.

Me? I'm not going anywhere. I see nothing to worry about now. Though if I did, well, I'd prefer the quick death of the blast wave to the slow, agonizing death the rest of civilization would have.

BTW: The "ash fallout map" which has been mentioned on many websites and forums, is perfectly circular, which is complete and utter bilge. The explosion will not be uniform, for one thing. No living human being can possibly predict the force—nor ANY—conditions of such an eruption. The eruption will not be nearly instantaneous then come to a screeching halt. The map also, and obviously, does not—cannot—take into account the speed and volume of the eruption, seasonal weather fronts, trade winds, ground winds, upper winds which vary depending on altitude, winds induced by the massive force of the eruption itself, etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

If this indeed meant to be an ash fallout map, as many say, it is a complete fraud. The last Yellowstone eruption spewed major amounts of ash most of the way to the Mississippi, some all the way to the Eastern Seaboard and such ash has been identified by isotopic analysis in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Whoever came up with that map should be first publicly flogged with a copy of the "Principia Mathematica" and then relegated to a job suitable to his level of intelligence—such as flipping burgers.

Such a map would, however, serve to illustrate the proposed—and laughably ridiculous—evacuation area in the event of the imminent eruption of Yellowstone. How would such an evacuation be carried out? There’s is no way it could be carried out that I can determine. Where would all those millions of people go? Well…um…er…

I am reminded of the Civil Defense plan, several decades ago, to evacuate Kansas City in the event of a nuclear, (pronounced new-clee-er, not new-kyuu-ler), attack. Said plans had the fleeing residents on busses or driving themselves through the nuclear missile fields of Missouri and Kansas—bigger targets than Kansas City itself. Perhaps this was the governments’ way of seeming to be on top of the situation while at the same time making it unnecessary to find housing for the refugees.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


If you want to know about me, read my posts.
For the record, I am neither a Republican or Democrat. If I can’t find a candidate to vote for, I will vote for the one whom I feel will wreak the least havoc.