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Archive for June 10th, 2010

Pentagon buys enough spare parts to arm the whole world

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Bernie Sanders – looking askance!
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

A Pentagon agency buys over $7 billion worth of spare parts every year the Defense Department ends up not needing, a practice one senator decried as an “unbelievable” waste of taxpayer money.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found in a new report…that the Defense Logistics Agency had no use for parts worth $7.1 billion, more than half of the $13.7 billion in equipment stacked in Defense Department warehouses on average from 2006 to 2008.

The waste of taxpayer dollars is unbelievable,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent and Senate Budget Committee member who requested the study.

“At a time when the country has a $13 trillion national debt and is struggling with huge unmet needs, it is outrageous that the Defense Department continues to waste huge sums of money for spare parts that the military doesn’t need.”

The report also showed that more than $700 million in parts for U.S. troops at war were not available when they were needed, Sanders said.

Pentagon procurement specialists like this are guaranteed terrific jobs working for the corporate suppliers they fed after their retirement. Then, they go to work as object lessons on how to do it to a new generation of patent leather bureaucrats.

The Killer Klowns in charge of the logistics side of the American military are about as useful to a modern army as a spare appendix on your large intestine.

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Written by Ed Campbell

June 10, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Real music in the house!

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Around a northern Georgia home sporadically illuminated by fireflies and distant lightning, music rises as darkness falls. A couple dozen smiling guests, glasses of sweet tea or white wine in their hands, settle onto sofas or lean against doorposts.

It’s time for the magic to begin.

This is a house concert, a growing phenomenon in which musicians perform in private living rooms for a small but attentive paying audience.

The connection between performer and patron is almost palpable

Audience members “are here for the music,” Ladd said. “They’re not here to find a date or to cruise around the bar and talk.”

And artists appreciate not having to compete with billiard games or blaring televisions.

“There’s this intimacy to it where, as a storyteller and an acoustic musician, the subtleties of that kind of craft can come across,” Jonathan Byrd said. “When you’re in a really big place with a lot of people, it’s harder to get the subtlety of acoustic music, the dynamic range of it.”

That intimacy is just as valuable to a big-voiced R&B singer like Kira Small. She and husband-bassist Bryan Beller have been performing at house concerts for about a year, most recently in Bill and Teri Hooson’s tightly packed living room in Covington, Georgia.

“We just love being able to connect with everybody this closely,” said Small, standing barefoot behind her electronic keyboard not 10 feet from the first row of seats…

Concert hosts usually ask guests to make a $15 to $30 donation; they don’t call it an admission charge because that would make the venture a business and raise zoning issues, said Fran Snyder, who runs ConcertsInYourHome.com, one of several sites that help match performers with home venues.

RTFA. This has always been part of the history of performing arts – and especially music.

I did a lot of this decades ago when I was performing. Always a favorite way to connect my music with people.

Of course, in our uptight society, the people who believe in governing behavior above all else will try to find some way to make it illegal.

Written by Ed Campbell

June 10, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Italian Pic of the Day

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Wow!

Written by Ed Campbell

June 10, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Local Pic of the Day

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On one of our morning walks, I had to snap a photo of this yucca in full bloom.

These critters only blossom every 2 to 5 years. Most of those here on Lot 4 are red yuccas, white blossoms tinged with red edges. This critter has a uniform creamy color.

Delightful sign of the transition from spring to summer in New Mexico.

Written by Ed Campbell

June 10, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Nuns busted for holy smoke!

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Police in Masaka, Uganda, have arrested two nuns for allegedly participating in growing marijuana.

The two nuns, who had declined to reveal their identities to the Police, were picked from Bwanda Convent in Masaka district, where the Police found a banana plantation full of the illegal crop…

However, there was a scuffle when Sister Nanteza attacked the Police, accusing them of entering the convent without permission.

“You bypassed us without saying anything. What if you got a problem here, whose fault would it be?” Sister Nanteza asked Byaruhanga and other Police officers.

The officers said they were fully armed and expected less resistance from the religious women…

Sister Rita told Byaruhanga that the marijuana was not for sale, but for treating farm animals, particularly pigs.

Pork – the other, uh…I forget.

Written by Ed Campbell

June 10, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Gang leader busted in Mexico – gangs block roads in retaliation

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An alleged leader of one of Mexico’s most powerful and violent drug cartels has been arrested.

Hector Raul Luna Luna is said to be the head of the Los Zetas gang in the north-eastern city of Monterrey, Mexico’s third largest city. Officials said on Wednesday he was captured by soldiers in a suburb of the city, which is a key industrial hub.

In response, gunmen hijacked cars and temporarily set up at least 10 roadblocks in Monterrey.

Convoys of armed men also attacked police stations, according to local reports…

The arrest brings to light the presence of organised crime in a city that used to be known as one of the safest in Latin America, the BBC’s Julian Miglierini in Monterrey reports…

Residents fear that the city – capital of Nuevo Leon state – has been drawn abruptly into the country’s drugs conflict, our correspondent adds.

And I add – where the frack are all the Mexican police and soldiers we hear about – patrolling the streets of Mexico?

These gangbangers steal cars, trucks and buses, block roads, fire on police stations with impunity. The corruption of Mexico is characterized by cowardice and complicity as much as anything else.

Written by Ed Campbell

June 10, 2010 at 9:00 am

AT&T website leaks iPad 3G email addresses

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Black hat hackers have exploited a security flaw on AT&T’s web servers which enabled them to obtain email addresses from the SIM card addresses of iPad 3G users.

The breach, profiled in a report by Gawker, described the event as “another embarrassment” for Apple and outlined a variety of high profile individuals whose email addresses were obtained by automated script attacks on AT&T’s web server based on their iPad 3G SIM addresses (ICC ID).

Why is this an embarrassment for Apple? Is Gawker fueled entirely by sophistry?

The publication claimed that the identifying information meant that thousands of iPad 3G users “could be vulnerable to spam marketing and malicious hacking,” while also pointing out that many users have actually already published their iPad ICC ID numbers in Flickr photos. Presumably, many of them also have public email addresses and therefore already receive spam like the rest of us.

The attack on AT&T’s web servers resulted in at least 114,000 iPad 3G users’ emails being leaked to the hackers, who were coy about wether or not they were planning to enable others to access the data. The security leak, which returned a user’s email address when their ICC-ID was entered via a specially formatted HTTP request, has since been patched.

No other information was discovered

RTFA.

Aside from predictable whines – and an icy dagger pointed straight at the heart of of dimwits at AT&T who apparently skipped the class about online security – it really does appear that the threat to iPad owners tethered to AT&T contains nothing more than an incremental increase in spam.

Written by Ed Campbell

June 10, 2010 at 6:00 am

World’s oldest leather shoe found

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The world’s oldest known leather shoe…struck one of the world’s best known shoe designers as shockingly au courant. “It is astonishing,” Blahnik said via email, “how much this shoe resembles a modern shoe!”

Stuffed with grass, perhaps as an insulator or an early shoe tree, the 5,500-year-old moccasin-like shoe was found exceptionally well preserved—thanks to a surfeit of sheep dung—during a recent dig in an Armenian cave.

About as big as a current women’s size seven (U.S.), the shoe was likely tailor-made for the right foot of its owner, who could have been a man or a woman—not enough is known about Armenian feet of the era to say for sure…

“The hide had been cut into two layers and tanned, which was probably quite a new technology,” explained Ron Pinhasi, co-director of the dig, from University College Cork in Ireland.

Yvette Worrall, a shoemaker for the Conker handmade-shoe company in the U.K., added, “I’d imagine the leather was wetted first and then cut and fitted around the foot, using the foot as a last [mold] to stitch it up there and then.”

The end result looks surprisingly familiar for something so ancient—and not just to Blahnik…

Footwear of this age is incredibly rare, because leather and plant materials normally degrade very quickly.

But in this case the contents of a pit in the cave, dubbed Areni-1, had been sealed in by several layers of sheep dung, which accumulated in the cave after its Copper Age human inhabitants had gone.

Of course, the pecorino poop requires studying, as well.

Written by Ed Campbell

June 10, 2010 at 2:00 am

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