April 2015 archive

TBC: Morning Musing 4.27.15

I have 3 articles for you this morning!

First up, this needs to happen:

The Sun Must Go Down on the Patriot Act

Predictably, the Patriot Act has been at the root of many of the most serious abuses of government spying powers. It was the Patriot Act the FBI relied on to vastly expand its use of “national security letters,” which the FBI now issues thousands of times every year to obtain information about innocent Americans who have no connection to terrorism. It was the Patriot Act the government relied on to conduct clandestine searches in investigations having nothing to do with terrorism. It was the Patriot Act the government invoked to permit the FBI to disregard the Fourth Amendment’s usual requirements – criminal probable cause, a particularized warrant – in ordinary law enforcement investigations. And it’s the Patriot Act the government is now using to justify the NSA’s call-records program.


On This Day In History April 27

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

April 27 is the 117th day of the year (118th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 248 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1805, Naval Agent to the Barbary States, William Eaton, the former consul to Tunis, led an small expeditionary force of Marines, commanded by First Lieutenant Presley O’Bannon, and Berber mercenaries from Alexandria, across 500 miles to the port of Derna in Tripoli. Supported by US Naval gunfire, the port was captured by the end of the day, overthrowing Yusuf Karamanli, the ruling pasha of Tripoli, who had seized power from his brother, Hamet Karamanli, a pasha who was sympathetic to the United States.

Lt. O’Bannon raised the US flag over the port, the first time the US flag had flown over a foreign battlefield. He had performed so valiantly that newly restored Pasha Hamet Karamanli presented him with an elaborately designed sword that now serves as the pattern for the swords carried by Marine officers. The words “To the shores of Tripoli” in the Marine Corps official song commemorate the battle.





Sunday Train: Variable Renewables and Dispatchable Demand

Much of the focus on the Sunday Train is on electrification of transport, ranging from 2,000 mile hauls of electrified freight through to hopping on an e-bike to pick up some groceries. And spending this school year mostly living and working in Beijing brings many of the possibilities to life … from riding the subway to get to the Sanlitun district for Texas BBQ, to seeing an electric freight train passing on a line overhead as the bus we were riding for our school spring outing last Saturday was bogged down in Beijing traffic, to seeing the electric delivery tricycle used by the pizza delivery from Woudaokou for the neighbor down the haul who seems to live in delivered pizza and Indian food.

But the efficiency gains of electric traction are only half of the story for sustainable transport, since its not fully sustainable unless that electricity is generated in a sustainable way.

And when following online discussion of renewable energy at the Energy Collective, which attracts both advocates for and detractors of investment in renewable energy resources, a perennial source of ammunition for attacks on renewable energy are the challenges of meeting demand for electricity with the harvest of a variable source of energy that is available on its own schedule, and not ours.

This is a topic I have touched on before (cf , ), Inspired by the article at the Energy Collective: Will Natural Gas Peaker Plants Become Obsolete?, I am coming back to today. What I want to focus on today is the opportunities offered by dispatchable demand for better integration of variable renewable energy. And I would be happy if you would join me to discuss this topic (or any other topic involving sustainable transport), below the fold.

Rant of the Week: Bill Maher – Helicopter Parenting

Real Time with Bill Maher: Helicopter Parenting

Models of Distribution

It’s kind of a Tech Dirt thing.  I’ll let the film maker explain-

I posted #ALGORITHM on Youtube on December 7, 2014. Today, one month later, it has 41,156 views! I spent no money on advertising or promotion. This is all what the ad people call “Organic Traffic”. It’s people sharing what they love!  ALGORITHM’s 41k views may not seem like much compared to Gangnam Style or Taylor Swift or even Convos with a 2 Yr Old. Those went viral. Instead look at ALGORITHM’s numbers compared the #IndieFilm world. 41k views/month is the same as 164 completely sold out movie theater showings. Put another way, that’s 5 sold-out screenings every single day! I’ve never heard of any movie sustaining those kinds of numbers. Here’s the really wild part: ALGORITHM’s views/day are increasing. It’s rising faster every week. That’s the opposite of traditional movie distribution, which emphasizes the release weekend above all else. That model is built on buzz and hype and is a flash-in-the-pan. By giving #ALGORITHM away for free, I’m exploring a different way movies can be distributed. And you’re helping me, when you watch and share #ALGORITHM you’re changing the world. It’s a small step, but that’s how revolutions often start. www.thehackermovie.com

On This Day In History April 26

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

April 26 is the 116th day of the year (117th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 249 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1986, the world’s worst nuclear power plant accident occurs at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in the Soviet Union. Thirty-two people died and dozens more suffered radiation burns in the opening days of the crisis, but only after Swedish authorities reported the fallout did Soviet authorities reluctantly admit that an accident had occurred.

The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukrainian SSR (now Ukraine). An explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive contamination into the atmosphere, which spread over much of Western Russia and Europe. It is considered the worst nuclear power plant accident in history, and is one of only two classified as a level 7 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale (the other being the Fukushima I nuclear incident, which is considered far less serious and has caused no direct deaths). The battle to contain the contamination and avert a greater catastrophe ultimately involved over 500,000 workers and cost an estimated 18 billion rubles, crippling the Soviet economy.

The disaster began during a systems test on 26 April 1986 at reactor number four of the Chernobyl plant, which is near the town of Pripyat. There was a sudden power output surge, and when an emergency shutdown was attempted, a more extreme spike in power output occurred, which led to a reactor vessel rupture and a series of explosions. These events exposed the graphite moderator of the reactor to air, causing it to ignite. The resulting fire sent a plume of highly radioactive smoke fallout into the atmosphere and over an extensive geographical area, including Pripyat. The plume drifted over large parts of the western Soviet Union and Europe. From 1986 to 2000, 350,400 people were evacuated and resettled from the most severely contaminated areas of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. According to official post-Soviet data, about 60% of the fallout landed in Belarus.

The accident raised concerns about the safety of the Soviet nuclear power industry, as well as nuclear power in general, slowing its expansion for a number of years and forcing the Soviet government to become less secretive about its procedures.

(Click on image to enlarge) Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus have been burdened with the continuing and substantial decontamination and health care costs of the Chernobyl accident. Thirty one deaths are directly attributed to the accident, all among the reactor staff and emergency workers. A UNSCEAR report places the total confirmed deaths from radiation at 64 as of 2008. Estimates of the number of deaths potentially resulting from the accident vary enormously: the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest it could reach 4,000; a Greenpeace report puts this figure at 200,000 or more; a Russian publication, Chernobyl, concludes that 985,000 excess deaths occurred between 1986 and 2004 as a result of radioactive contamination.


After the explosion at reactor four, the remaining three reactors at the power plant continued to operate. In 1991, reactor two suffered a major fire, and was subsequently decommissioned. In November 1996, reactor one was shut down, followed by reactor three on December 15, 2000, making good on a promise by Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma that the entire plant would be closed.

Even after the last reactor shutdown, people continue to work at the Chernobyl plant until reactor units 1, 2, and 3 are totally decommissioned, which is expected to take years. The first stage of decommissioning is the removal of the highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel, which is placed in deep water cooling ponds. However, storage facilities for this are not suitable for long term containment, and those on site do not have the capacity for all the spent fuel from units 1, 2 and 3. A second facility is planned for construction that will use dry storage technology suitable for long term storage and have the required capacity.

Removal of uncontaminated equipment has begun at unit 1 and this work could be complete by 2020-2022.

The remains of reactor unit 4 will remain radioactive for some time. The isotope responsible for the majority of the external gamma radiation dose at the site is Caesium-137 which has a half-life of about 30 years. It is likely that with no further decontamination work the gamma ray dosage at the site will return to background levels in about three hundred years. However, as most of the alpha emitters are longer lived, the soil and many surfaces in and around the plant are likely to be contaminated with transuranic metals such as plutonium and americium, which have much longer half-lives. It is planned that the reactor buildings will be disassembled as soon as it is radiologically safe to do so.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with George Stephanopolis:  The guests on Sunday’s “This Week” are: author Peter Schweizer;  Rep. John Delaney (D-MD); and former White House counterterrorism adviser, Richard Clarke.

The roundtable guests are: Democratic strategist Donna Brazile; former House speaker Newt Gingrich; and Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, managing editors of Bloomberg Politics.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr. Schieffer’s guests are: Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Gov. John Kasich (R-OH);Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD); New York Police Commissioner William Bratton and Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller.

His panel guests are:  Peter Baker, The New York Times; Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post; Kim Strassel, The Wall Street Journal; and CBS News Political Director John Dickerson, who will take over as host of ‘Face The Nation‘ this summer.

Meet the Press with Chuck Todd: This week’s guests on “MTP” are: David Boies, Co-author, “Redeeming the Dream; The Case for Marriage Equality“; Ted Olson, Former U.S. Solicitor General and Co-author, “Redeeming the Dream; The Case for Marriage Equality“; Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR); Cecily Strong, Host of 2015 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner and Garry Trudeau, Creator, “Doonesbury” and “Alpha House.”

The roundtable guests are: Matt Bai, National Political Columnist for Yahoo! News; Helene Cooper, The New York Times; Doris Kearns Goodwin, American Biographer; and Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR).

State of the Union: CNN has announced that Jake Tapper, host of CNN’s “The Lead,” will take the anchor desk on “State of the Union” starting in June.

This Sunday’s guest host Jim Acosta talks with singer John Legend on his Free America campaign.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Nepal earthquake: Rescue effort intensifies



Rescue efforts in Nepal are intensifying after nearly 2,000 people were killed on Saturday in the worst earthquake there in more than 80 years.

Many countries and charities have offered aid to deal with the disaster.

Seventeen people have been killed on Mount Everest by avalanches – the mountain’s worst-ever disaster.

Meanwhile a powerful aftershock was felt on Sunday in Nepal, India and Bangladesh, and more avalanches were reported near Everest.

The 6.7 magnitude tremor sent people running for open ground in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Migrant boat crisis: the story of the Greek hero on the beach

Syria conflict: The illicit art trade that is a major source of income for today’s terror groups is nothing new

US filmmakers unveil FBI tactics to snare Muslims

A Third-Grade Rap Portraitist’s First Visit to New York, for His Tribeca Film Festival Debut

Russian ‘Night Wolves’ bikers banned from Germany

The Breakfast Club (Pop Music)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo 807561379_e6771a7c8e_zps7668d00e.jpg

Breakfast Tune: Mack The Knife by Roger Sprung on 1963-64 Folkways LP.

Today in History

The Chernobyl nuclear accident; John Wilkes Booth, President Lincoln’s assassin, killed; Guernica bombed in the Spanish Civil War; Vermont enacts same-sex civil unions; TV star Lucille Ball dies. (April 26)

Breakfast News & Blogs Below

Trolling, Trolling, Trolling…

Trolling, Trolling, Trolling

Keep suing, suing, suing

Though your claims aren’t proven

Keep those courts from moving


Don’t try and understand them

Go for settlements and land them

Soon we’ll be living high and wide

My accountant’s calulating

That they won’t bother debating

There’ll be money at the end of my ride

TV maker Vizio may finally get paid after beating 17th patent troll

by Joe Mullin, Ars Technica

Apr 24, 2015 1:30pm EDT

Television maker Vizio is one of the companies that fights back. It’s beaten no less than 16 “non-practicing entities,” and last week, the company released a statement showcasing its list of patent troll cases that ended in a key statistic: “$0 to plaintiff.” The list includes the usual bizarrely named shells, like “E-Contact Techs” and “Man Machine Interface,” as well as well-known patent holding companies like Walker Digital and Intellectual Ventures (whose patents were used by Pragmatus Telecom, one of the shells Vizio sent packing.)

Now, the company is trying to collect fees from one of its opponents, a company called Oplus Technologies. For the first time, it stands a real chance, in a case where it spent more than $1 million to win. Two recent Supreme Court decisions make it easier for victorious defendants to collect fees in patent cases. The TV maker is up against a storied patent plaintiffs’ firm, Chicago-based Niro, Haller & Niro, that has fought for Oplus tooth and nail.

Vizio won its patent case against Oplus last year. After a skirmish over legal fees, US District Judge Mariana Pfaelzer published an opinion (PDF) detailing Oplus’ “overly aggressive” and “uncooperative” style of litigation that was “outside the bounds of professional behavior.”

“At each step of the case, Vizio’s credibility increased while Oplus gathered rope to hang itself,” she wrote. Yet Pfaelzer denied Vizio legal fees. Now, the Federal Circuit has ruled (PDF) that Pfaelzer needs to reconsider that decision.

“The course of this litigation was anything but ordinary,” wrote a panel of three appeals judges. “The court issued an opinion with numerous findings regarding Oplus’s litigation misconduct,” and the “egregious conduct” warranted giving Vizio a second shot at fees.

For Vizio, the company feels that it’s on the verge of getting vindication for a long-standing policy of not backing down to patent trolls.

Conflict of interest alert!  My primary TV is a cheap 19″ Vizio Backlit LCD that actually has pretty good viewing angles for an LCD (but not nearly as good as an LED) and will do 1920×1080 as a monitor substitute in a pinch which is the same as my BenQ GW 2250 22″ though not nearly as nice (my other monitor is a Princton VF723 15″ 1280×1024).

Load more