Sunday, September 30, 2007

3 musketeers

Chivalry, Honor, Bravery, Faith, Loyalty---these are things seldom heard or taught anymore as we grow up. As my little boy and I watched the three musketeers in the movie, Man behind the Iron Mask, he remarked at the end, with watery eyes, I want to be just like them. They are good men. So I explained again what they believed in and stood for and told him that all people could and should live their lives in that manner.
For a 8 year old that was a lot to absorb-but it made him feel good and made me think about what I do teach him. I have become lazy in teachings like most parents do by the third child. That is something I must remedy. But it is such a powerful cluster of 5 words. If a person is taught these 5 words and their meanings and taught how to live them in his every day life - how can that person possibly go wrong.
One for all-all for one!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Be careful what you ask for-

Lately I have kind of been in a inspirational slump - if you know what I mean. Saturday I saw the young nightwatchman at work riding his bicycle by work with his 3 year old son on his arm-both of them laughing and sweating, but glad to be together. The dad is a young man raising his son by himself-much like I have been. He is financially strapped but does the best he can. I thought about that scene of them riding by all weekend. I am so fortunate and have been so blessed over the years and have much of what I would like to have. I know winter is coming and I hated to think of them riding the bike in the winter. SOOO-I got to feeling guilty and humble and gave him a car for free. I have bought 3 extra cars for parts for a racer I'm building- and I gave him the keys to the good one and said tell your boy that kindness and good people do exist in this messed up world. Thought he was gonna cry. No one had ever given him anything like that before. But I hated to tell him how good it made me feel too. I really rested good and was really at peace because I had helped out someone for no reason. I am not bragging about it-just wanted to remind you all what life is really all about. Respect, kindness, mercy, humbleness...
And to be careful what you wish for-sometimes it comes true. I really was inspired again.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

cheap solar panels?

A method developed at Colorado State University for crafting solar panels has been developed to the point where they are nearly ready for mass production. Professor W.S. Sampath's technique has resulted in a low-cost, high-efficiency process for creating the panels, which will soon be fabricated by a commercial interest. 'Produced at less than $1 per watt, the panels will dramatically reduce the cost of generating solar electricity and could power homes and businesses around the globe with clean energy for roughly the same cost as traditionally generated electricity. Sampath has developed a continuous, automated manufacturing process for solar panels using glass coating with a cadmium telluride thin film instead of the standard high-cost crystalline silicon. Because the process produces high efficiency devices (ranging from 11% to 13%) at a very high rate and yield, it can be done much more cheaply than with existing technologies.'"

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Homeland Security isn't telling everything

Travelers concerned about being labeled a terrorist or drug runner by secret Homeland Security algorithms may want to be careful what books they read on the plane. Newly revealed records show the government is storing such information for years.
Privacy advocates obtained database records showing that the government routinely records the race of people pulled aside for extra screening as they enter the country, along with cursory answers given to U.S. border inspectors about their purpose in traveling. In one case, the records note Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder John Gilmore's choice of reading material, and worry over the number of small flashlights he'd packed for the trip.
The breadth of the information obtained by the Gilmore-funded Identity Project (using a Privacy Act request) shows the government's screening program at the border is actually a "surveillance dragnet," according to the group's spokesman Bill Scannell.
"There is so much sensitive information in the documents that it is clear that Homeland Security is not playing straight with the American people," Scannell said.
The documents show a tiny slice of the massive airline-record collection stored by the government, as well as the screening records mined for the controversial Department of Homeland Security passenger-rating system that assigns terrorist scores to travelers entering and leaving the country, including U.S. citizens.
The so-called Automated Targeting System scrutinizes every airline passenger entering or leaving the country using classified rules that tell agents which passengers to give extra screening to and which to deny entry or exit from the country.
The system relies on data ranging from the government's 700,000-name terrorism watchlist to data included in airline-travel database entries, known as Passenger Name Records, which airlines are required to submit to the government.
According to government descriptions, ATS mines data from intelligence, law enforcement and regulatory databases, looking for linkages in order to identify "high-risk" targets who may not already be on terrorist watchlists.
ATS was started in the late 1990s, but was little known until the government issued a notice about the system last fall. The government has subsequently modified the proposed rules for the system, shortening the length of time data is collected and allowing individuals to request some information used by the scoring system.
The government stores the PNRs for years and typically includes destinations, phone and e-mail contact information, meal requests, special health requests, payment information and frequent-flier numbers.
The Identity Project filed Privacy Act requests for five individuals to see the data stored on them by the government.
The requests revealed that the PNRs also included information on one requester's race, the phone numbers of overseas family members given to the airlines as emergency contact information, and a record of a purely European flight that had been booked overseas separately from an international itinerary, according to snippets of the documents shown to Wired News.
The request also revealed the screening system includes inspection notes from earlier border inspections.
One report about Gilmore notes: "PAX (passenger) has many small flashlights with pot leaves on them. He had a book entitled 'Drugs and Your Rights.'" Gilmore is an advocate for marijuana legalization.
Another inspection entry noted that Gilmore had "attended computer conference in Berlin and then traveled around Europe and Asia to visit friends. 100% baggage exam negative.... PAX is self employed 'Entrepreneur' in computer software business."
"They are noting people's race and they are writing down what people read," Scannell said.
It doesn't matter that Gilmore was reading a book about drugs, rather than Catcher in the Rye, according to Scannell. "A book is a book," Scannell said. "This is just plain wrong."
The documents have also turned Scannell against the Department of Homeland Security's proposal for screening airline passengers inside the United States.
That project, known as Secure Flight, will take watchlist screening out of the hands of airlines, by having the airlines send PNR data to the government ahead of each flight. While earlier versions included plans to rate passenger's threat level using data purchased from private companies, DHS now proposes only to compare data in the PNR against names on the watchlist, which largely disarmed civil libertarians' opposition to the program.
That's changed for Scannell now, who sees Secure Flight as just another version of ATS.
"They want people to get permission to travel," Scannell said. "They already instituted it for leaving and entering the country and now they want to do it to visit your Aunt Patty in Cleveland."
The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Who said nap time can't be fun. Billys cousin was asleep like this on the couch when I got home. What in the world was he doing when he went to sleep? I make them keep their feet off the couch-maybe that was a way to do it and not take his shoes off. Anyway-couldn't resist the photo-sure he won't appreciate later in life.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Here lately I have been very busy and have skipped a few days of blogging. But here I am again in the blogoshere whacking away at the keybard and not really saying a whole lot. Sometimes I get afraid I rely on the computer to hide behind, instead of facing the world head on. It is a fine line to walk. Blogging has been and will always be a wonderful research tool, up-to-date-current events, a political battlefield, a fantastic group of well informed and worldly aware brain stormers. I have personally used the blog as a vent for frustrations and a what you think forum, as well as a place to just ramble. Isn't it amazing how today the technology has allowed us to communicate instantly-anywhere in the world. Isn't it amazing how much blogging has influenced the worlds methods of news broadcasting. I am not a pulitzer prize winner-but I do enjoy this daily rant. I enjoy all the different blogs I read daily.
Keep on blogging bloggeroonies
Later gators

Friday, September 14, 2007

Perils of parents on internet

I posted about kids having free reign on internet-what about parents on dating sites and such. Or long distance penpals becoming something more. Is that possible or is it just more internet caused problems. I know a lot of people who had internet {love affairs} and most of them learned the brutal truth before too long. But I know 3 people right here in town who married and are very happy with the love they found on the internet. Hmmmmm. Isn't it amazing what kind of new problems in life the internet has brought about. And yet, isn't it amazing how easy it is to talk and look and browse anywhere in the world at a few keystrokes. Maybe it is like everything around us. There is danger in everything, but as long as we are aware of it and take precautions, we can get the good out of it. Like blogging-it is good and it has some of the best informed and opinionated people in the world. I love it.
later gators

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Perils of kids having free reign on internet

oh me- This has been one heck of a week. I was faced on the 7th with the difficult task of verifying whether or not my oldest sons girlfriend{on the internet} had commited suicide. Her myspace page was changed to a memorial type page and I couldn't find out anything at all. I've searched google death certificates in Miami where I thought she lived but to no avail. Then today I was given her moms email address by a friend of my sons, after he had a email chat with the mom. Seems this girl was only 13, and had been writing all this time under another name and age. The mom had intercepted one or more of my sons letters and cut off phone and internet. So the girl and her friends apparently made this memorial page to cover up her not being on internet. So today I wrote him a letter explaining the whole thing. I am so glad no one is deceased, but there has got to be more ways to protect ones self or kids from this sort of thing happening. The girl didn't even live in Miami-or Florida at all. What if my son had found out or thought she was dead, he would have gone crazy being held up in boot camp. I think maybe this will help huim understand about why I constantly preached about using the internet like he did. Which didn't help anyway. But shouldn't sites of this nature have some sort of age verification-or something to make sure your imputting correct information about yourself?
All I can say for sure is-Parents-be more aware and bug the tar out of your kids using the internet-you can't be too careful.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

map services do it again

A man looking for a new home on an online mapping service has stumbled across an aerial image of a US nuclear-powered submarine in dry dock showing its secret propeller design.
The image - which appears on Microsoft's Virtual Earth mapping service - is of the seven-bladed propeller used on an Ohio class ballistic missile submarine.
The vessel was being worked on at a dry dock at the Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Washington State, in the north-west of the United States.
The base is part of Bangor's Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific which houses the largest nuclear weapons arsenal.
Propeller designs have been closely guarded secrets since the days of the Cold War.
It is still common for them to be draped with tarps or removed and covered when a submarine is out of the water.
The propeller design is an integral part of a submarine's ability to remain undetected during operations, ensuring that it can patrol the seas in stealth without giving its position away to surface ships.
The find has triggered a debate over whether online mapping services offered by the likes of Google and Microsoft should be allowed to snap and publish images of sensitive US military installations.
Reporting the discovery, the Navy Times newspaper quoted military analyst Nathan Hughes as saying that exposing the propeller was a major blunder that had compromised "sensitive naval technology".
The paper quotes a Pentagon public affairs officer as saying that the Defence Department does not have a policy - or the legal authority - to demand the removal or blurring of commerical aerial or satellite photography.
The discovery was made by Dan Twohig, a deck officer on a ferry service in Washington State. He made the discovery in early July when he was looking at real estate near Seattle using Virtual Earth, a mapping service similar to Google Maps and Earth.
Twohig lives in North Bend in Washington State. Situated about 50km east of Seattle, it was the setting for David Lynch's landmark TV series Twin Peaks in the early 1990s. Twohig was looking for a place closer to his work.
He subsequently posted the find on his blog, MonsterMaritime, and the story found its way into mainstream media late last month.
"You can also use the zoom in and out keys and move around the Bangor Sub Base taking a close up look at the bunkers and magazines where they keep the nuclear weapons," he wrote in his blog.
"You would think the US government would keep better tabs on this stuff."
Twohig's discovery was made around about the same time that Hans Kristensen, a nuclear weapons analyst for the Federation of American Scientists, spotted an aerial image of China's new Jin-class nuclear-powered submarine on Google Earth.
The Chinese sub, which is capable of firing intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the US mainland, was snapped at the Xiaopingdao Submarine Base south of the city of Dalian - a facility named in honour of the late paramount Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping who died 10 years ago.
An article written by Paul Forsythe Johnston, Curator of Maritime History at the National Museum of American History, and posted on the museum's website, explains the significance of submarine propeller design and the "tip vortex flowfields" the propeller creates.
"Once [the propellers] reach a certain speed, the blades begin to create a partial vacuum, which results in air bubbles," he writes.
"This is a state known as cavitation. Bubbles are noisy, and submarine propellers are designed and shaped to reduce cavitation and exploit other relevant laws of physics as much as possible and still maintain useful speeds."

Saturday, September 08, 2007

to chip or not to chip

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved implanting microchips in humans, the manufacturer said it would save lives, letting doctors scan the tiny transponders to access patients' medical records almost instantly. The FDA found "reasonable assurance" the device was safe, and a sub-agency even called it one of 2005's top "innovative technologies."
But neither the company nor the regulators publicly mentioned this: A series of veterinary and toxicology studies, dating to the mid-1990s, stated that chip implants had "induced" malignant tumors in some lab mice and rats.
"The transponders were the cause of the tumors," said Keith Johnson, a retired toxicologic pathologist, explaining in a phone interview the findings of a 1996 study he led at the Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, Mich.
Leading cancer specialists reviewed the research for The Associated Press and, while cautioning that animal test results do not necessarily apply to humans, said the findings troubled them. Some said they would not allow family members to receive implants, and all urged further research before the glass-encased transponders are widely implanted in people.
To date, about 2,000 of the so-called radio frequency identification, or RFID, devices have been implanted in humans worldwide, according to VeriChip Corp. The company, which sees a target market of 45 million Americans for its medical monitoring chips, insists the devices are safe, as does its parent company, Applied Digital Solutions, of Delray Beach, Fla.
"We stand by our implantable products which have been approved by the FDA and/or other U.S. regulatory authorities," Scott Silverman, VeriChip Corp. chairman and chief executive officer, said in a written response to AP questions.
The company was "not aware of any studies that have resulted in malignant tumors in laboratory rats, mice and certainly not dogs or cats," but he added that millions of domestic pets have been implanted with microchips, without reports of significant problems.
"In fact, for more than 15 years we have used our encapsulated glass transponders with FDA approved anti-migration caps and received no complaints regarding malignant tumors caused by our product."
The FDA also stands by its approval of the technology.
Did the agency know of the tumor findings before approving the chip implants? The FDA declined repeated AP requests to specify what studies it reviewed.
The FDA is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services, which, at the time of VeriChip's approval, was headed by Tommy Thompson. Two weeks after the device's approval took effect on Jan. 10, 2005, Thompson left his Cabinet post, and within five months was a board member of VeriChip Corp. and Applied Digital Solutions. He was compensated in cash and stock options.
Thompson, until recently a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, says he had no personal relationship with the company as the VeriChip was being evaluated, nor did he play any role in FDA's approval process of the RFID tag.
"I didn't even know VeriChip before I stepped down from the Department of Health and Human Services," he said in a telephone interview.
Also making no mention of the findings on animal tumors was a June report by the ethics committee of the American Medical Association, which touted the benefits of implantable RFID devices.
Had committee members reviewed the literature on cancer in chipped animals?
No, said Dr. Steven Stack, an AMA board member with knowledge of the committee's review.
Was the AMA aware of the studies?
No, he said.
Published in veterinary and toxicology journals between 1996 and 2006, the studies found that lab mice and rats injected with microchips sometimes developed subcutaneous "sarcomas" — malignant tumors, most of them encasing the implants.
• A 1998 study in Ridgefield, Conn., of 177 mice reported cancer incidence to be slightly higher than 10 percent — a result the researchers described as "surprising."
• A 2006 study in France detected tumors in 4.1 percent of 1,260 microchipped mice. This was one of six studies in which the scientists did not set out to find microchip-induced cancer but noticed the growths incidentally. They were testing compounds on behalf of chemical and pharmaceutical companies; but they ruled out the compounds as the tumors' cause. Because researchers only noted the most obvious tumors, the French study said, "These incidences may therefore slightly underestimate the true occurrence" of cancer.
• In 1997, a study in Germany found cancers in 1 percent of 4,279 chipped mice. The tumors "are clearly due to the implanted microchips," the authors wrote.
Caveats accompanied the findings. "Blind leaps from the detection of tumors to the prediction of human health risk should be avoided," one study cautioned. Also, because none of the studies had a control group of animals that did not get chips, the normal rate of tumors cannot be determined and compared to the rate with chips implanted.
Still, after reviewing the research, specialists at some pre-eminent cancer institutions said the findings raised red flags.
"There's no way in the world, having read this information, that I would have one of those chips implanted in my skin, or in one of my family members," said Dr. Robert Benezra, head of the Cancer Biology Genetics Program at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Before microchips are implanted on a large scale in humans, he said, testing should be done on larger animals, such as dogs or monkeys. "I mean, these are bad diseases. They are life-threatening. And given the preliminary animal data, it looks to me that there's definitely cause for concern."
Dr. George Demetri, director of the Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, agreed. Even though the tumor incidences were "reasonably small," in his view, the research underscored "certainly real risks" in RFID implants.
In humans, sarcomas, which strike connective tissues, can range from the highly curable to "tumors that are incredibly aggressive and can kill people in three to six months," he said.
At the Jackson Laboratory in Maine, a leader in mouse genetics research and the initiation of cancer, Dr. Oded Foreman, a forensic pathologist, also reviewed the studies at the AP's request.
At first he was skeptical, suggesting that chemicals administered in some of the studies could have caused the cancers and skewed the results. But he took a different view after seeing that control mice, which received no chemicals, also developed the cancers. "That might be a little hint that something real is happening here," he said. He, too, recommended further study, using mice, dogs or non-human primates.
Dr. Cheryl London, a veterinarian oncologist at Ohio State University, noted: "It's much easier to cause cancer in mice than it is in people. So it may be that what you're seeing in mice represents an exaggerated phenomenon of what may occur in people."
Tens of thousands of dogs have been chipped, she said, and veterinary pathologists haven't reported outbreaks of related sarcomas in the area of the neck, where canine implants are often done. (Published reports detailing malignant tumors in two chipped dogs turned up in AP's four-month examination of research on chips and health. In one dog, the researchers said cancer appeared linked to the presence of the embedded chip; in the other, the cancer's cause was uncertain.)
Nonetheless, London saw a need for a 20-year study of chipped canines "to see if you have a biological effect." Dr. Chand Khanna, a veterinary oncologist at the National Cancer Institute, also backed such a study, saying current evidence "does suggest some reason to be concerned about tumor formations."
Meanwhile, the animal study findings should be disclosed to anyone considering a chip implant, the cancer specialists agreed.
To date, however, that hasn't happened.
The product that VeriChip Corp. won approval for use in humans is an electronic capsule the size of two grains of rice. Generally, it is implanted with a syringe into an anesthetized portion of the upper arm.
When prompted by an electromagnetic scanner, the chip transmits a unique code. With the code, hospital staff can go on the Internet and access a patient's medical profile that is maintained in a database by VeriChip Corp. for an annual fee.
VeriChip Corp., whose parent company has been marketing radio tags for animals for more than a decade, sees an initial market of diabetics and people with heart conditions or Alzheimer's disease, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
The company is spending millions to assemble a national network of hospitals equipped to scan chipped patients.
But in its SEC filings, product labels and press releases, VeriChip Corp. has not mentioned the existence of research linking embedded transponders to tumors in test animals.
When the FDA approved the device, it noted some Verichip risks: The capsules could migrate around the body, making them difficult to extract; they might interfere with defibrillators, or be incompatible with MRI scans, causing burns. While also warning that the chips could cause "adverse tissue reaction," FDA made no reference to malignant growths in animal studies.
Did the agency review literature on microchip implants and animal cancer?
Dr. Katherine Albrecht, a privacy advocate and RFID expert, asked shortly after VeriChip's approval what evidence the agency had reviewed. When FDA declined to provide information, she filed a Freedom of Information Act request. More than a year later, she received a letter stating there were no documents matching her request.
"The public relies on the FDA to evaluate all the data and make sure the devices it approves are safe," she says, "but if they're not doing that, who's covering our backs?"
Late last year, Albrecht unearthed at the Harvard medical library three studies noting cancerous tumors in some chipped mice and rats, plus a reference in another study to a chipped dog with a tumor. She forwarded them to the AP, which subsequently found three additional mice studies with similar findings, plus another report of a chipped dog with a tumor.
Asked if it had taken these studies into account, the FDA said VeriChip documents were being kept confidential to protect trade secrets. After AP filed a FOIA request, the FDA made available for a phone interview Anthony Watson, who was in charge of the VeriChip approval process.
"At the time we reviewed this, I don't remember seeing anything like that," he said of animal studies linking microchips to cancer. A literature search "didn't turn up anything that would be of concern."
In general, Watson said, companies are expected to provide safety-and-effectiveness data during the approval process, "even if it's adverse information."
Watson added: "The few articles from the literature that did discuss adverse tissue reactions similar to those in the articles you provided, describe the responses as foreign body reactions that are typical of other implantable devices. The balance of the data provided in the submission supported approval of the device."
Another implantable device could be a pacemaker, and indeed, tumors have in some cases attached to foreign bodies inside humans. But Dr. Neil Lipman, director of the Research Animal Resource Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, said it's not the same. The microchip isn't like a pacemaker that's vital to keeping someone alive, he added, "so at this stage, the payoff doesn't justify the risks."

Friday, September 07, 2007

What to do?

Wellll-it's been a long week. The weather has settled down at last and my wireless is back to normal-thank God. I have a dilema and am not sure what to do so tell me your opinion please. My oldest son is in his 3rd week of Marine bootcamp and I just found out his girlfriend commited suicide. Everyone wants me to tell him but I hate to mess up his head right now. But I know I would want to know and would be mad if no one told me. His DI is supposed to call me and discuss it tomorrow. As a parent-this is a hard choice to make.
What do you all think?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

wild weather and crappy internet

the weather here has been so wild lately and the internet has been off and on sporadically. Im posting this before it goes off again. Hopefully they will figure why this happening.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

pay to drive?

Some powerful elected officials say they strongly oppose a Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) effort included in the agency's federal lobbying plan. The effort asks Congress to allow the state of Texas to buy segments of the Interstate system and turn them into toll roads. The Texas Department of Transportation says the agency included this idea in it's Congressional lobbying plan in January as an option for replacing federal highway dollars, which are declining. Experts at the legislature say behind the scenes opposition to the issue erupted publicly following several news reports. Now U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison says she opposes the concept because it would force Texans who financed road construction with tax dollars to pay again with tolls if they want to drive on the same highways. Texas Senator John Carona calls the recommendation dreadful and predicts state legislators will take action. Chris Lippincott is a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation. He says if Congress approves the idea local governments will still have the final say. Sound:19Oucue: or here at homeBut legislative staffers say it is unclear whether current state statutes would guarantee local governments the power to prevent existing interstates from becoming toll roads.