Sunday, January 31, 2010

Clear and cold on the mountain!

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The First Swiss Army Knife

Special thanks to Josh for calling this great tool to my attention!

This could very well be the world's first Swiss Army Knife. Bearing a striking resemblance to modern multi-tools, it has at least six distinct functions and originates from the Roman Empire circa 200 A.D.

If our multi-tools today, with their screwdrivers, pliers, and the rest, center on fixing things, this Roman predecessor is more useful for enjoying the pleasures of food. The tool includes a spike which historians think was used to snag snails out of their shells. A hook-like spatula is thought to have helped coax sauce out of the bottle.

Of course, the device also includes a fork, spoon, and knife for mealtime, as well as a toothpick to clean up your grill afterward. Amazingly, all of these tools appear to fold into the handle to keep everything compact, just like Swiss Army Knives and Leatherman multi-tools we use today.

The tool was found in the Mediterranean area nearly twenty years ago, so technically it's not Swiss at all, and it predates the modern Swiss Army Knife, invented in 1897, by nearly 1,800 years.

This very old gadget is currently being exhibited as part of a collection of Greek and Roman artifacts at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England. [Daily Mail]

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow in Nashville!

Three very cute girls!

The Base Files for Autostitch

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Magic of Autostitch

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Cold foggy day on the mountain!

Why do people vote against their own interests?

The Republicans' shock victory in the election for the US Senate seat in Massachusetts meant the Democrats lost their supermajority in the Senate. This makes it even harder for the Obama administration to get healthcare reform passed in the US.

Political scientist Dr David Runciman looks at why is there often such deep opposition to reforms that appear to be of obvious benefit to voters.  Last year, in a series of "town-hall meetings" across the country, Americans got the chance to debate President Obama's proposed healthcare reforms.  What happened was an explosion of rage and barely suppressed violence.

Polling evidence suggests that the numbers who think the reforms go too far are nearly matched by those who think they do not go far enough.  But it is striking that the people who most dislike the whole idea of healthcare reform - the ones who think it is socialist, godless, a step on the road to a police state - are often the ones it seems designed to help.

In Texas, where barely two-thirds of the population have full health insurance and over a fifth of all children have no cover at all, opposition to the legislation is currently running at 87%.


Instead, to many of those who lose out under the existing system, reform still seems like the ultimate betrayal.  Why are so many American voters enraged by attempts to change a horribly inefficient system that leaves them with premiums they often cannot afford?  Why are they manning the barricades to defend insurance companies that routinely deny claims and cancel policies?

It might be tempting to put the whole thing down to what the historian Richard Hofstadter back in the 1960s called "the paranoid style" of American politics, in which God, guns and race get mixed into a toxic stew of resentment at anything coming out of Washington.  But that would be a mistake.

If people vote against their own interests, it is not because they do not understand what is in their interest or have not yet had it properly explained to them.  They do it because they resent having their interests decided for them by politicians who think they know best.  There is nothing voters hate more than having things explained to them as though they were idiots.  As the saying goes, in politics, when you are explaining, you are losing. And that makes anything as complex or as messy as healthcare reform a very hard sell.

Stories not facts

In his book The Political Brain, psychologist Drew Westen, an exasperated Democrat, tried to show why the Right often wins the argument even when the Left is confident that it has the facts on its side.  He uses the following exchange from the first presidential debate between Al Gore and George Bush in 2000 to illustrate the perils of trying to explain to voters what will make them better off:

Gore: "Under the governor's plan, if you kept the same fee for service that you have now under Medicare, your premiums would go up by between 18% and 47%, and that is the study of the Congressional plan that he's modelled his proposal on by the Medicare actuaries."

Bush: "Look, this is a man who has great numbers. He talks about numbers.  I'm beginning to think not only did he invent the internet, but he invented the calculator. It's fuzzy math. It's trying to scare people in the voting booth."
Mr Gore was talking sense and Mr Bush nonsense - but Mr Bush won the debate. With statistics, the voters just hear a patronising policy wonk, and switch off.  For Mr Westen, stories always trump statistics, which means the politician with the best stories is going to win: "One of the fallacies that politicians often have on the Left is that things are obvious, when they are not obvious.

"Obama's administration made a tremendous mistake by not immediately branding the economic collapse that we had just had as the Republicans' Depression, caused by the Bush administration's ideology of unregulated greed. The result is that now people blame him."
Reverse revolution

Thomas Frank, the author of the best-selling book What's The Matter with Kansas, is an even more exasperated Democrat and he goes further than Mr Westen. 

He believes that the voters' preference for emotional engagement over reasonable argument has allowed the Republican Party to blind them to their own real interests.  The Republicans have learnt how to stoke up resentment against the patronising liberal elite, all those do-gooders who assume they know what poor people ought to be thinking.

Right-wing politics has become a vehicle for channelling this popular anger against intellectual snobs. The result is that many of America's poorest citizens have a deep emotional attachment to a party that serves the interests of its richest.  Thomas Frank says that whatever disadvantaged Americans think they are voting for, they get something quite different:

"You vote to strike a blow against elitism and you receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our life times, workers have been stripped of power, and CEOs are rewarded in a manner that is beyond imagining.

"It's like a French Revolution in reverse in which the workers come pouring down the street screaming more power to the aristocracy."
As Mr Frank sees it, authenticity has replaced economics as the driving force of modern politics. The authentic politicians are the ones who sound like they are speaking from the gut, not the cerebral cortex. Of course, they might be faking it, but it is no joke to say that in contemporary politics, if you can fake sincerity, you have got it made.

And the ultimate sin in modern politics is appearing to take the voters for granted.

This is a culture war but it is not simply being driven by differences over abortion, or religion, or patriotism. And it is not simply Red states vs. Blue states any more. It is a war on the entire political culture, on the arrogance of politicians, on their slipperiness and lack of principle, on their endless deal making and compromises.

And when the politicians say to the people protesting: 'But we're doing this for you', that just makes it worse. In fact, that seems to be what makes them angriest of all.

Story from BBC NEWS

Published: 2010/01/30 00:57:43 GMT

Good Morning All!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Next Version

All I need to do now is figure out how to save these screen layouts in the Logbook so I can restore them when I restart!  This layout allows fast frequency and band changes using Favorites; Gray Line Review; Chat Room; Rig Control; and Logbook adds.  Window's sees these as one program.  You can then open other Win programs, e.g. I.E. and tab between this "collection" and other programs.

Sun Spots

January 27, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

W4UOA "Mobile"

Blaw-Knox Tower

BBC ‘Lisnagarvey Transmitting Station’ was opened on the 20th March 1936 in a rather overpowering ceremony held - unbelievably - at the actual transmitter site! It was attended by various high-ranking BBC and local dignitaries such as A.C. Norman chairman of the BBC, Sir John Reith Director General, and BBC regional director G.L. Marshall. Civil dignitaries included Lord Craigavon Moderator of the Church of Ireland, the Archbishop of Connor and many others. In today’s world a gathering such as this is inconceivable for the opening of a ‘mere’ broadcast transmitter, however it must be borne in mind the political significance of Northern Ireland as part of the ‘United Kingdom’ and the demand for broadcasting at the time.

Screen Shot 2

Screen Shot 1

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

DeWalt on the job!

I should finish the base boards and the corner molding by the end of the day tomorrow.
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New base board

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Reading the nail gun instructions!

It's true, I read ALL the instructions.

Even this one.  Do you think their lawyers made them put this in the instructions?

The French I could manage.

This one I had a little trouble with.

Oh, by the way.  There was not one of these little cards in English.

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