Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wasting taxpayer dollars one byte at a time

The Navy leases out-of-date unreliable equipment for their network from HP.

For anyone familiar with government networks, that's no surprise. Generally, they are out-of-date and slow, all justified in the name of security.

But, as this article on wired.com points out, the security is actually weaker...and much more expensive...than anyone would expect to pay today.

The net net of this - poor performance, frequent failures, and an insecure network. The cost - $3.3 billion.

But hey...it's just the Navy. It's not like they're defending our shores or anything.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Breakthrough with Tony Robbins, part 1

I'm not a fan of motivational speakers. This is different. Well worth the watch but over on 4 September.

Breakthrough with Tony Robbins, part 2

I'm not a fan of motivational speakers. This is different. Well worth the watch but over on 4 September.

Breakthrough with Tony Robbins, part 3

I'm not a fan of motivational speakers. This is different. Well worth the watch but over on 4 September.

Breakthrough with Tony Robbins, part 4

I'm not a fan of motivational speakers. This is different. Well worth the watch but over on 4 September.

Breakthrough with Tony Robbins, part 5

I'm not a fan of motivational speakers. This is different. Well worth the watch but over on 4 September.

Breakthrough with Tony Robbins, part 6

I'm normally not a fan of motivational speakers...I find inspiration in other places. This is an exception to that rule. The opportunity to watch for free ends 4 September.

The Cove on television

This is a major movie and deserves even more exposure. See it starting Sunday, 29 August at 9PM ET/PT on the Animal Planet.

Friday, August 27, 2010

JJ Grey and Mofro - New album

JJ Grey and Mofro are the essence of swamp rock. Happiness is knowing they just released a new album (Georgia Warhorse). The video below is just one small example of their music. Ignore the intro...it's short...and hear what Southern Rock should sound like.

If you can't see the video, go to http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/ and see everything.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Iranian dog persecution

Iran has a lot of problems. They have a dictatorial government. They have folks embargoing them. They have a president named I'm-a-nut-job who believes there are no gay folks in Iran. They also have Israel about to missile them into sawdust around the site of their nuclear fiasco.

Now there a new problem.

The Ayatollahs (pronounced I'm-a-toilets) have declared a fatwah banning dog ads. Seriously.

To fundamentalist (means semi-nuts when applied to any religion), dogs are unclean. Their is no reference to dogs in the Koran but there's a belief that Mohamed verbally called them unclean.

Moreover, police in Tehran are supposed to keep the citizens from walking dogs in public or driving with their pets - even when the dog isn't driving.

All of this happened in spite of the growing popularity of dogs in the populace.

This is final proof - Iran is in trouble.

Now I'm not an Iran-basher. From all accounts, it's a beautiful country with excellent mountains for snowboarding. The people are great with a terrific culture. So maybe this dog fatwah will be the last straw and they'll send the freaks packing. We can only hope.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bugs eating the BP oil spill?

Some scientists are saying that the BP oil spill is being reduced - well, nearly eliminated - by a newly discovered strain of bugs...er, oil-eating microbes.

The authority on everything, Wikipedia, says that microbes are tiny organisms too small to be seen by the human eye. Yes, I had to look that up.

The scientists that believe this seem to believe that the microbe may have adapted over time because there's always some oil in the Gulf.

Other scientists say this isn't correct.

I, personally, want to believe it. After all, the Gulf is my ocean. I grew up on it and still love it. If somehow the oil will just go away, great.

I admit, however, that I remain a skeptic, as other scientists recently reported that there was lots of oil still there. I guess the results depend upon who sponsors the study. That's not very original.

However, I have other concerns - remember you heard it here before Stewart, Cobert, Leno, Letterman, etc tell this on their shows.

If the microbes are now getting more oil than ever before, won't they evolve?

Maybe they'll become enormous and we can have our own Godzilla-type monster in Galveston Bay? Coming ashore, they seek oil - not just petroleum but cooking oil. No McDonalds' is safe. Who will save our cheeseburgers? Who will save our fries? Will the microbe monster supersize it?

Okay, I'll take my medicine now.

If you can't see the links on this, go to http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/ and see everything in living color!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Here kitty, kitty, kitty

I've got little doubt that this guy will soon be eaten. Still, this is amazing footage of a man who plays with wild lions. He's certainly braver than me...or dumber.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservancy

Between the salt water, music, and bars lie elements of enlightenment and grand amusement. A chance to see butterflies from around the world is a terrific opportunity not to be missed. If you can't see the video, go to http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/ and see the whole thing.

Boycott Target - FlashMob style

Is Target becoming the new K-Mart? In the movie Rain Main, Charlie teaches Raymond the immortal phrase "K-Mart sucks" and we all repeated it. Now, it seems Target is the one that sucks. Funny but this is making corporate leader Wal-Mart look better and better - especially given their new environmentalism. Please keep in mind - I'm not endorsing Wal-Mart - just saying Target makes them look better by comparison.

Earlier I wrote about this boycott. Target donated money to a right-wing gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota. Several things are upsetting about that:

  1. Corporations shouldn't make contributions to political campaigns. That should be left to people. While I'm not sure of the legislative merit of banning this, I believe pressure can be brought on corporations through public protest and boycott. Nothing ever wrong with empowering people and having a bit less government ;-)
  2. This particular candidate has been aggressively hostile (even donating money to a group threatening violence) toward gay folks. That's covered in the article I referred to above.

Now, there's another tool in the fight - FlashMobs. Check out the video, take the pledge and remember to update your vernacular - now it's Target sucks!

I'm still checking on the rumor that Target is hiring Dr. Laura as their official spokesperson.

If you can't see the video or the links, see everything at http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/

Saturday, August 21, 2010

CNN gets funny

Thanks to http://denverprblog.com for the shot.

The Majestic Plastic Bag

So amphibious, so brave, so persevering, the plastic bag should be inspirational to all of us. Check it out!

I'm reposting this from YouTube but Rocky at http://thegoat.backcountry.com pointed it out to me. If you can?t see this video or any links, check out the full thing at http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/

Friday, August 20, 2010

Don't mess with an angry ibex

Never argue with an Ibex... at least I think this is an Ibex?? I'm re-posting this from YouTube but Rocky at http://thegoat.backcountry.com pointed it out to me. If you can't see this video or any links, check out the full thing at http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Local environmental action works!

What can you do about the environment? Privately funded, local organizations are extremely effective. Check it out below. If you can't see the video, go to http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Japan and whales

Some Japanese argue that Japan has a long-standing history of whaling. While that's a convenient argument, it's a bit disingenuous. Actually, only a few areas in Japan have the history and there's is only of hunting whale in nearby waters. The tradition of whaling to feed the nation began after WWII - hardly a long-standing thing.

Less than 5% of the folks in Japan eat whale with any frequency at all.

For more on whaling and some interesting videos, go here. The whole (origin of this post) story can be found here.

Why the Arctic matters

Why does the Arctic matter?

There are lots of reasons, from the beauty to the environmental effect. Yet, it too is easy to forget. This video may make it easier to remember. Be sure to stay with it until the last part of the story. It's worth it.

Check it out below. If you can't see the video, go to http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/.

Visions of the Arctic WS from Florian Schulz on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Freedom to Roam - local solutions to big problems

Often, my fellow environmentalists and I get flack for being unrealistic. Imagine that! However, here’s a group of folks who get it; they get the problem, the get the solution, and they get that we all need to work together and make some compromise to get things done.

Animals need to roam. This is for migration, for breeding, for eating, and more. Yet, while we have some isolated areas protected for them, often there is no way for them to move from one area to another. Freedom to Roam folks are trying to address that issue.

They’re not saying “No development.” Rather, they’re using tested methods to create corridors for animals to move while improving the lives of those folks living in the area.

Check it out below. If you can’t see the video, go to http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/. A hint: when I watched it, the site was running slow. Let most of the video download before trying to watch it. It’s worth the effort.

Freedom to Roam Multimedia presentation from Freedom to Roam on Vimeo.

Want to see more? Go to http://freedomtoroam.org/about/

Monday, August 16, 2010

The true cost of energy

What does it cost when you turn the light switch on? We know what the bill is at the end of the month but what do other people pay? How much does the coal (for the coal-fired electricity) that use really cost? What do we really pay for our energy?

For me, coal mining evokes images of brave men going below the surface to earn a meager living for their families. That’s the history of West Virginia and Appalachia. However, today’s coal mining often involves mountain top removal and the literal destruction of the valleys below.

We don’t know about it because Appalachia’s not the most exciting place in the world. Living conditions there may, in some cases, approach Third World existence. Now, we’re making it worse with our hunger for cheap energy.

What will our grandchildren say when they see what we’ve left them?

As always, if you can’t see the video below, go to http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/ and see everything.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sea Shepherd and the whales

Saving whales is a noble task. Their intelligence is phenomenal. Their beauty breathtaking. Most importantly, their survival is threaten - at least for many species. So, most nations consider whaling not only wrong but illegal. Sea Shepherd takes the whale far more seriously than most, putting their lives on the line routinely to intervene between whaling ships and whales. I'm a member and contributor.

Below is Captain Paul Watson's appearance on the tonight show. He's pretty persuasive. It's in two parts. As always, if you can't see the videos or the links, go to http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/ and see everything!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Wolves fishing

Seeing wolves fishing is somehow inspirational. The first video is short and a bit grainy. The second one shows a very young wolf learning the technique. Both are worth a few moments for the smile factor.  If you're reading this somewhere and can't see the videos, go to http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/ and see the whole thing!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Winters of my life

This is a new film coming soon...I think. Some say so but enjoy it as it is. Definite info is scarce. It's about Howard Weamer and his life as winter hut keeper in Yosemite for the last 35 years. Jonathan Burhop is the filmmaker.

Weamer's also a terrific photographer and his images can be seen here.

As always, if you can't see the links, go to http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/ and see everything.

Winters of My Life from Jonathan Burhop on Vimeo.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Heroes all

The first one of these videos was so popular, I posted another.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Safety for wolves...at least for now

Friday US District Judge Donald Molloy ruled that that Rocky Mountain Gray Wolves should remain on the Endangered Species List. While no surprise, it's a great relief to many of us and to the wolves.

Amazingly, the judge who first ruled to allow them off the list predicted this. You might ask why he would make a ruling that he knew would be overturned. Lots of taxpayer dollars are lost from this decision and at least 100 wolves were killed.

Idaho said it would ask for permission to have its wolf hunt anyway. There's a few more wasted taxpayer dollars but they're apparently wealthy in Idaho so taxpayer dollars are in good supply.

The handling of the wolf issue is one of my pet peeves against President Obama.  I've written about it before so I'll just say that environmentalists' votes shouldn't be taken for granted. It's not so much that we'd vote against you but it's hard to get out to vote when you feel betrayed.

Wolves are endangered and need the protection. Wondering what you can do? Check out this site and they'll get you started.

Can't see the links? Just go to http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/ and see everything.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Obama, birthers, and the military

By now, it's old news that LTC Terrence Lakin went AWOL. He missed his duty flight to Afghanistan, apparently intentionally, because he said President Obama's birthplace was in doubt.

He said he didn't have to follow President Obama's orders until he saw his birth certificate.

Birthers are rallying around this guy, which is as logical as their entire program.

There is no question of President Obama's birthplace, at least to rational folks. He was born in Hawaii. Both newspapers reported it. The Republican governor of Hawaii has confirmed it.

Yet 27% of Americans believe there is justifiable doubt about this.

I don't believe the president is without his flaws. I've taken him to task on this blog here and here.

I will continue to criticize him when he errs and praise him when he does well. That's my job as a citizen. I did the same thing with Shrub...er, Bush, although there was much more to criticize.

However, if you're making things up just because you wish they were true, you're either eight years old or you need help. Some of these folks are paranoid - they're the children of the people who checked under their bed for Commies. Some of these people are racists and just looking for an excuse. None of these people are showing much sign of logical thought process.

However, in this swarming mass of Fox viewers and conspiracy freaks, there are probably a few folks who are neither paranoid about alien abduction in Southern trailer parks or shadow Klan members.

To those folks I say "Come on out." As long as you hold onto these silly fantasies, no one will ever listen to the potentially rational things you might add to the discourse.

Finally, for those who defend the bizarre actions of LTC Lakin - get a clue. There is no place in the military for this behavior. Disobeying a direct order from your superior is serious business and almost never - not never - almost never justified.

It's also illegal. Being in the military isn't like working at the grocery store. You voluntarily surrender some of your freedoms in order to defend other folks' freedoms. You are pretty much giving up the right to protest until you separate from the military.

That's made very clear to every military member. Certainly an officer and a surgeon understood this. He as much as said so in a Facebook video.

So, he not only went AWOL but he planned it and drew as much attention to it as possible.

Apparently, he wants to be an example. I'd give him his wish and give him jail time...at least a few years.

For the military to function, folks in the military must follow the lawful orders of their superior members. He didn't. If say...oh, I don't know... 27% of the military followed his example, a lot of innocent heroes would be put in danger.

LTC Lakin - you're a surgeon. If you're not there, arguable people may die and definitely they will suffer needlessly. You failed those people. The arrogance of your actions deserve especially harsh punishment. You're not a hero; you're a border-line traitor to both your nation and your fellow military members. You should be very ashamed.

As always, if you're reading this somewhere and can't see links, go to http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/ for the whole story.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Boycott Target

For those not following this, Target just donated over $150,000 to support Rep. Tom Emmer who is an extreme right-winger running for Governor of Minnesota. While I believe that the individual at Target who made this decision has a right to believe anything he wants, I also believe it's time to tell corporations - liberal and conservative - to stay away from supporting political candidates. Better than passing another law, we need to hold them accountable. Emmer biggest sins - supporting Arizona's new immigration laws and donating money to an organization that says executing gay people is acceptable.

That kind of hate speech isn't acceptable to me. I don't want to ban it - I want to make it economically unsustainable. Boycott Target. It will work.

Here's a video of one woman's action.

If you're watching this somewhere and can't see the video, go to http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cell phones and driving

Surely enough has been said about cellphone usage when driving - particularly texting when driving. The culprit isn't just the phone...it's all distractions. After watching this video, I'm driving a lot differently. Be aware - it is disturbing. Thanks Consumer Reports for the link.

If you can't see the video, just go to http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/ to see everything.

Time to go green - corporate style

Recently I reported on an Army attempt to go green here.  It's both funny and tragic.

However, some corporations are starting to go green. The idealist in me wants to believe it's because they really want to make the world a better place. The cynic in me says it's a marketing advantage.

The realist in me says it doesn't matter why they do it - just that they do it. Burt's Bees hasn't been run by Burt in years but they're really trying to do better. Their resolution - nothing goes to the landfill. The result - they're considered the number one "green" brand. That's worth some money and good karma. Read about it here. Amazing how well things work when the private sector takes the initiative.

BTW - I use many of their products and love them.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Eating in Japan

People don't know what to expect when eating in Japan. When you eat Japanese foods, the experience is usually tremendous. The sushi - the first thing folks think of - is incredible and can be had at lower prices than the states. The noodle shops are what really "wow me". Cold soba and udon in the summer and hot soba and udon in the winter. Nothing better!

However, sometimes...oftentimes...Japanese restaurants and eating areas try to emulate Western names and foods. That experience is often funny at best, although I will say the MacDonalds' is far better here than in the U.S.

This weekend we went to a western-flavor mall. Western-flavor malls have lots of stores and restaurants with U.S. names and/or U.S.-sounding names. Naturally, the sizing is still Asian so larger folk can't buy much.

Here's the food court at the mall. I was looking for wax figures of Julia Childs and other folks who had served us so well and gone to the great kitchen in the sky.

A bit nervous we entered and found some excellent Japanese restaurants, the obligatory KFC, and Taco Derio. Taco Bell doesn't exist outside of the bases in Japan (that I know of) but who needs them with Taco Derio. Look at the photo carefully - I apologize for the poor shot but it I only had my cell phone.

The burrito pictured on the right has a weiner in it. Clearly, the tranlation "little donkey" had some role in the design. We ate at a noodle shop. Somehow I doubt the authenticity of this offering.

As always, if you're seeing this somewhere without the photos, go to http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/ to view the...er...whole enchilada.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Shaggy dog story

I'm a sucker for shaggy dog stories. No place has better ones than Rolling Dog Ranch. Check them out here and read about Roo, the newest member.

For more dog stories, go here.

If you're reading this on a site that doesn't show links, go to http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com

BP and oil - where is it?

Suddenly, there's no BP (British Petroleum) oil spill. At least the major part is missing. Where did it go and why does that matter to the environment?

The answer - chemical dispersants.  Why does that matter?

Imagine you're a young man seeking a young woman to be your life-long partner. I apologize for telling this from the straight male perspective. It isn't the best perspective but (alas) it's the only one I have. And, it fits so well.

Do you seek your companion at church? Do you seek the life-long partner at political rallies (assuming something in common)? Do you seek her at clubs (assuming an addiction to Captain Morgan and cola)? Do you seek her at yoga class (assuming some flexibility in life)?

Not if you're the EPA.

They find a femme de noir. While she may not be everything they seek, her makeup covers up the flaws and the pain.

In my long life, particularly the cab driving years, I've known some excellent women of the evening. And, while I knew them as friends and clients, I never forgot the choices they made. I've worked hard, albeit unsuccessfully, to change things so those choices didn't have to be made by others who came later. Still, as nice and smart and funny as some of them were, the simple reality is that after a number of years in the trade, the makeup didn't hide the truth any more. I'm sorry. Sometimes after I took them to their homes and dropped them off, I cried. It was sad. It damn sure wasn't a goal.

Kids, the EPA doesn't get it.

Chemical dispersants hurt sea creatures. They allow damage. But, if you're not looking closely and the light is poor, they hide the truth.

It turns out the EPA has routinely allowed chemical dispersants to be used by BP.

That's both bad science, bad politics,  and against the law.

I take it personally because the Gulf of Mexico is my ocean. I grew up on it. It cured me both physically and metaphorically many times. Now, some jerk is destroying it. Some jerk is killing the dolphins I surfed with, killing the brown pelicans I worshiped, and killing the fish that sustained me.

That's my f***ing ocean. It's bad enough that you keep lying to people but you're killing my ocean.

Now, I find out my government is cooperating. I'm really mad. I'll vote mad and I'll contribute to candidates who share my rage.

Yes, President Obama, I'm mad at you too. I'm mad because you aren't. Step up. I voted for change. I voted for integrity. I even sent money. Please do the right thing and hang these guys out to dry.

Throw Salazar in the pit with them while you're at it.

If you're reading this somewhere that doesn't show links, just go to http://snowboardingjapan.blogspot.com/

Hell, subscribe while you're there and don't miss a single rant...at least those when the medication works well enough for me to type.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

On my Blue Heaven rendezvous

This is a small part of the Blue Heaven  in Key West. Never has breakfast been so glorious! See a bit more on my too cool vacation here and see more on this restaurant here. If you're seeing this without links, just go to http://www.blueheavenkw.com/