30 June 2012

Scam for the day

From: "Miss Agnes Nnedi"
To: agnesnnedd@kimo.com
Please, let me know your willingness to this project so that I can furnish you with all details needed because I am sincerely seeking for your assistance in investing a huge amount into industry sector or Real Estate in your country.
After the successful transfer to your account, I will relocate to continue my education in any good university over there.
Miss Agnes Nnedi

History repeating itself

Rico says the current cover of Wired reminds him of a prescient series of cartoons, drawn by his friend Kelley, that were commissioned when Rico worked for then-Electronic Warfare magazine (now reabsorbed into the Association of Old Crows and published as the Journal of Electronic Defense). The cartoon series was called Bugs, and featured small, flying electronic spies...

Chris Anderson (canderson@wired.com), editor in chief of Wired, who started DIY Drones and cofounded 3D Robotics. has an article in Wired on the subject:
At last year’s Paris Air Show, some of the hottest aircraft were the autonomous unmanned helicopters— a few of them small enough to carry in one hand— that would allow military buyers to put a camera in the sky anywhere, anytime. Manufactured by major defense contractors, and ranging in design from a single-bladed camcopter to four-bladed multicopters, these drones were being sold as the future of warfare at prices in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In May, at a
different trade show, similar aircraft were once again the most buzzed-about items on display. But this wasn’t another exhibition of military hardware; instead, it was the Hobby Expo China in Beijing, where Chinese manufacturers demo their newest and coolest toys. Companies like Shenzhen-based DJI Innovations are selling drones with the same capability as the military ones, sometimes for less than a thousand dollars. These Chinese firms, in turn, are competing with even cheaper drones created by amateurs around the world, who share their designs for free in communities online. It’s safe to say that drones are the first technology in history where the toy industry and hobbyists are beating the military-industrial complex at its own game.
Look up into America’s skies today and you might just see one of these drones: small, fully autonomous, and dirt-cheap. On any given weekend, someone’s probably flying a real-life drone not far from your own personal airspace. (They’re the ones looking at their laptops instead of their planes.) These personal drones can do everything that military drones can, aside from blow up stuff. Although they technically aren’t supposed to be used commercially in the US (they also must stay below four hundred feet, within visual line of sight, and away from populated areas and airports), the FAA is planning to officially allow commercial use, starting in 2015.
What are all these amateurs doing with their drones? Like the early personal computers, the main use at this point is experimentation: simple, geeky fun. But as personal drones become more sophisticated and reliable, practical applications are emerging. The film industry is already full of remotely piloted copters serving as camera platforms, with a longer reach than booms as well as cheaper and safer operations than manned helicopters. Some farmers now use drones for crop management, creating aerial maps to optimize water and fertilizer distribution. And there are countless scientific uses for drones, from watching algal blooms in the ocean to low-altitude measurement of the solar reflectivity of the Amazon rain forest. Others are using the craft for wildlife management, tracking endangered species and quietly mapping out nesting areas that are in need of protection.
To give a sense of the scale of the personal drone movement, DIY Drones— an online community that I founded in 2007 (more on that later)— has 26,000 members, who fly drones that they either assemble themselves or buy premade from dozens of companies that serve the amateur market. All told, there are probably around a thousand new personal drones that take to the sky every month (3D Robotics, a company I cofounded, is shipping more than a hundred ArduPilot Megas a week); that figure rivals the drone sales of the world’s top aerospace companies (in units, of course, not dollars). And the personal drone industry is growing much faster.
Why? The reason is the same as with every other digital technology: a Moore’s-Law-style pace where performance regularly doubles while size and price plummet. In fact, the Moore’s Law of drone technology is currently accelerating, thanks to the smartphone industry, which relies on the same components— sensors, optics, batteries, and embedded processors— all of them growing smaller and faster each year. Just as the 1970s saw the birth and rise of the personal computer, this decade will see the ascendance of the personal drone. We’re entering the Drone Age.
What exactly do we mean by 'drone'? The definition has changed over the years, but today it refers to aircraft that have the capability of autonomous flight, which means they can follow a mission from point to point (typically guided by GPS, but soon this will also be possible through vision and other sensors). This differentiates them, on the one hand, from radio-controlled aircraft, which need to be manually piloted, and on the other from uncontrolled vehicles like balloons or ballistic rockets. Usually drones— also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or unmanned aerial systems (UAS), to include the ground-station components— also carry some sort of payload, which at a bare minimum includes cameras or other sensors as well as some method to transmit data wirelessly back to a base.
That definition fits a $140 million Global Hawk drone, circling over Afghanistan and transmitting video to Air Force intelligence analysts in California. But it also describes the $500 foam plane that my children fly on weekends. Both have sophisticated computer autopilots, high-resolution cameras (we’re partial to GoPros), wireless data connections for video and telemetry, ground stations with heads-up displays and real-time video (my kids were disappointed at a recent tour of the Oshkosh air show to see that today’s military drone pilots have worse ground stations than they do), step-by-step mission scripting, and the capability to play back footage of the mission in full. The main difference between the two drones is that the Global Hawk can fly at sixty thousand feet for thirty hours and our craft can fly at four hundred feet for thirty minutes. (What we lack in high-altitude optics we make up in proximity: we can easily read license plates from the air.)
The key ingredient in a drone is the autopilot, a technology that first came into use as a flying aid in the 1930s. Initially, all that autopilots did was keep the aircraft level. A combination of a barometric-pressure meter, a compass, and mechanical gyroscopes (motorized flywheels with analog electrical outputs) allowed a pilot to set a heading and altitude and take a nap, knowing that the aircraft would continue to fly straight ahead until told otherwise. Starting with commercial jetliners, pilots could set waypoints and the autopilot would fly an entire route. By the early 1990s, aerospace technology could automate an entire flight, including takeoff and landing (though FAA rules still require that commercial pilots handle takeoffs manually).
The sensors needed to make an autopilot are now radically smaller and cheaper. Today, all the sensors required to make a functioning autopilot have become radically smaller and radically cheaper. Gyroscopes, which measure rates of rotation; magnetometers, which function as digital compasses; pressure sensors, which measure atmospheric pressure to calculate altitude; accelerometers, to measure the force of gravity—all the capabilities of these technologies are now embedded in tiny chips that you can buy at RadioShack. Indeed, some of the newest sensors combine three-axis accelerometers, gyros, and magnetometers (nine sensors in all), plus a temperature gauge and a processor, into one little package that costs about seventeen dollars.
Meanwhile, the brain of an autopilot— the “embedded computer,” or single-chip microprocessor, that steers the plane based on input from all the sensors— has undergone an even more impressive transformation, thanks to the rise of the smartphone. Once Apple’s iPhone showed that fluid and fast visual interfaces on touchscreens were what people wanted, the same insatiable demand for computational power that kicked in with the graphical user interface of desktop computers came to phones. But unlike the desktop, these mini supercomputers also needed to use as little power as possible. The result was a shift to the hyperefficient “reduced instruction set computing” architectures— led by British chip designer ARM, which now dominates the single-chip industry— driving the performance gains of our smartphones and tablets. As it turns out, these chips are also perfect for drones: fast and power-efficient processors mean that they can go beyond simply following a preprogrammed mission and start to think for themselves.
And the smartphone-drone connection goes far beyond the processors. These days, a standard smartphone has a full suite of sophisticated inertial sensors to detect its position, a feature that’s integrated into everything from games to maps and augmented reality. The demand for higher-quality cameras in phones has launched a similar revolution in image-capture chips, which are used in drones. The need for smaller, better GPS in phones has brought the same technology to drones, too, such that GPS performance that cost tens of thousands of dollars in the 1990s can be had for as little as ten dollars in a thumbnail-sized device. The same goes for wireless radio modules, memory, and batteries.
In short, this new generation of cheap, small drones is essentially a fleet of flying smartphones. More and more, autopilot electronics look just like smartphone electronics, simply running different software. The technical and economic advantages of coattailing on the economies of scale of the trillion-dollar mobile-phone industry are astounding. If you want to understand why the personal-drone revolution is happening now, look no farther than your pocket.
Every industry has its garage-creation myth. Here’s mine, on the start of the personal-drone movement. One sunny Friday afternoon in March 2007, I started planning what I’d hoped would be a deliciously geeky weekend with the kids. In the usual stack of products that had come into the Wired offices that day to be reviewed, there were two that seemed especially promising: a robotics kit and a ready-to-fly radio-control airplane. I settled on a schedule: we would build robots on Saturday and fly planes on Sunday. Awesomeness would surely ensue.
By midmorning on Saturday, things were already going wrong. The kids were happy enough to open the robotics kit (from Lego’s Mindstorms line) and assemble the starter bot, a three-wheeled rover. But once we powered it up, they could barely hide their disappointment. Hollywood, it turns out, has ruined robotics for kids, who now expect laser-armed humanoid machines that also transform into trucks. Back in the real world, after an hour of assembly and programming, the rover could only roll forward and bounce feebly off a wall. Online, we could see that hobbyists were doing amazing things with Mindstorms: robotic Rubik’s Cube solvers, working photocopiers, and more. We wanted to invent something like that, but it was impossible to see how. The kids lost interest after lunch.
Okay, but at least we still had the plane. On Sunday, we took it to a park, and I promptly piloted it into a tree. The kids just looked at me, appalled not merely by my lack of ability but also by the yawning gap between the promised coolness of the plane itself and the actual experience of flying it. I threw sticks at the plane to try to dislodge it from the tree as my mortified children pretended not to know me. My geek-dad weekend was an utter failure. I was annoyed at myself for getting it so wrong and annoyed at my kids for being so unappreciative. I went for a run to let off some steam.
While on the run, I started thinking more about the impressive range of sensors that Mindstorms had. There were accelerometers (“tilt sensors”), electronic gyroscopes, a compass, and a Bluetooth link that could connect to a wireless GPS sensor. It occurred to me that those were exactly the same sensors you’d need to make an airplane autopilot. We could solve both problems at once: build something cool with Mindstorms that had never been done before and get the robot to fly the plane! It was sure to be a better pilot than me. The moment I got home, I prototyped a Lego autopilot on the dining room table, and my nine-year-old helped write the software. We took some pictures, posted them, and our project was on the front page of Slashdot by that evening. We put it in a plane— the world’s first Lego drone, I think— and took it out a few weekends later. It almost-kinda worked, staying aloft and steering on its own, albeit not always to the places we told it to go.
With a few weeks more of tinkering, I developed a Lego autopilot that had most of the functionality of a professional device, if not the performance. But it became clear that Mindstorms, for all its charms, was too big and expensive to serve as the ideal platform for homemade drones. Looking for a better way, I decided to conduct my search for answers online in public, sharing what I’d done and found. Instead of setting up a blog, I registered DIYDrones.com and established a social network for people who were experimenting with autonomous aircraft.
Feature by feature, amateurs can now match pricey aerospace electronics. That distinction— a site created as a community, not a one-man news and information site like a blog— turned out to make all the difference. Like all good social networks, every participant— not just the creator— has access to the full range of authoring tools. Along with the usual commenting, they can compose their own blog posts, start discussions, upload videos and pictures, create profile pages, and send messages. Community members can be made moderators, encouraging good behavior and discouraging bad. Open to anyone who chose to participate, the site was soon full of people trading ideas and reports of their own projects and research.
Initially, members would just post code and design files for their own projects, showing off for each other in a form of nerd braggadocio. But over time we set up more-organized systems of collaboration, including version control systems and file repositories, wikis, mailing lists, and formal team assignments. I was blown away by what people in our community were doing with sensors from mobile phones and chips that cost less than a cup of coffee. Feature by feature, they were matching— or besting— aerospace electronics that had cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars just a decade earlier. It felt like the future of aviation: Just as the PC emerged from the Homebrew Computer Club hobbyists and eventually overturned mainframe-based corporate computing in the 1980s, I suddenly saw how the same sort of movement would bring robots to the skies.
For me, it’s become not just a hobby but a second career: I cofounded a company, 3D Robotics, to make the open source hardware that the DIY Drones community was designing, and we’ve already shipped more than ten thousand autopilots and countless other drone parts. By our estimates, 3D Robotics’ customers alone are flying more drones than the total number operated by the US military (7,494 today, according to a recent congressional report). And there are dozens of other companies making drone technology for the “hobby” market, including Hoverfly, DJI Innovations, MikroKopter, Droidworx, and uThere.
But, really, I do this because I love exploring the boundaries of what’s possible with the technology. This summer I’m planning to tinker with the ultimate “personal droid” idea: an autonomous plane that can film your own activities at the press of a button. For example, if you’re into extreme sports, such as kite surfing, you’re always looking for better ways to document your exploits. The best vantage point to do this from is the air, about thirty feet above and behind you. That’s a perfect job for a drone. Just imagine if you could touch a button on your iPhone or Android phone, and it would summon a quadcopter to position itself above you, keeping its camera on you as you perform your stunts then flying back to shore when its batteries got low. We’ve already assembled a module that contains a GPS sensor to record your position and a wireless module to communicate with the drone; porting it to a waterproofed smartphone is the next step. Your personal cameradroid awaits!
Drones in pop culture have gotten something of a bad reputation. In novelist Daniel Suarez’ new techno-thriller, Kill Decision, clouds of killer drones are programmed to swarm like weaver ants, and they attack everything from people to entire container ships. The gun-carrying quadcopters arrive by the thousands and hurl themselves at windows and walls until they break through, sacrificing themselves in countless numbers so that others of their kind can advance. They are entirely autonomous and make their own decisions about where to go and what to shoot. They are single-use, like ammunition, and mass-produced, like cheap cell phones— a vision of drones as a disposable commodity modeled after insects, not planes.
There’s no reason to believe that cheap drones will usher in a weaponized hellscape any more than the invention of helicopters did. Even on privacy issues, there are existing laws that cover most of the concerns people have about personal drones. But in its vision of flying robots that are mass-produced like cheap toys and smart enough to think for themselves, Suarez’s fiction is closer to reality than most people think. Indeed, he was inspired not by military drones but by the Parrot AR.Drone, a quadcopter toy you can buy on Amazon and control with your smartphone, complete with dual cameras transmitting real-time video streams to your screen. Although it’s not autonomous— you still have to fly it yourself— that’s simply a matter of design choice. For less than thirty dollars, you can buy a little circuit board that can connect it to an autopilot.
People are already dreaming of what companies could do with drones over America, from playful speculations like the Tacocopter, a meal-delivery service, to real game changers such as FedEx fleets that use hyperefficient aircraft designed from the start as drones. A switch to unmanned operation would transform the entire concept of air cargo: aircraft would be free of the design constraints— pressurized cabins, tube-shaped bodies— necessary to accommodate humans, and flocks of such drones could fly in a V-formation like birds to employ efficient aerodynamic drafting.
What we will do with our personal drones? That question is just as unanswerable— but just as tantalizing— as the same question about personal computers back in 1977. When the Apple II came out, the answer was not much more than “Program it!” But, over time, as regular people found uses for PCs in their own lives, they came up with better answers: word processors, spreadsheets, videogames, email, and, eventually, the web. Today we know what personal computers are for, but it took the liberation of the technology to show us.
So, too, for personal drones. Remember, the military created the Internet, but the people colonized it and created the web for their own purposes. The amateur UAV community is hoping to do the same with drones— demilitarize and democratize them so they can find their full potential. There will be good uses and bad ones, but the same is true of any tool, from a crowbar to an ultrasound machine. Ultimately the way society best figures out how to think about a powerful new technology is to set it free and watch where it flies.
Rico says that an armed Tacocopter could provide a way for amateurs to inhibit people from crossing borders illegally; with night-vision television, they could even do it in the dark. (Not that Rico is proposing that people take the law into their own hands, of course...)

New comment

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Apple for the day

Brian Chen has an article in The New York Times about the iPhone:
Friday was the fifth anniversary of the sales debut of the iPhone, the phone that changed everything. Love it or hate it, Apple’s touch screen handset has made an impact on some aspect of your life, whether it’s how you work, communicate with friends, plan your day, or read the news.
What follows is a quick reflection on the two major markets that the iPhone disrupted:
The phone industry: Perhaps Steve Jobs’ most significant feat was somehow persuading AT&T to let Apple design the iPhone (both its software and hardware) without even letting the carrier touch it. That was a break from the old tradition, in which carriers issued specific instructions to manufacturers and software makers about what would be on a phone. By asserting its authority over the iPhone, Apple was able to design a handset for the customer, not the carrier. It delivered a miniature Internet-enabled computer that was extremely easy to use.
The iPhone originally cost five hundred dollars with a two-year contract, which made some people, like Microsoft’s leader, Steven A. Ballmer, laugh at it. But when the handset’s price dropped to two hundred dollars, people began taking it more seriously. Google and its hardware partners soon introduced handsets with Android software, which had a web browser and touch screen interface similar to the iPhone’s. Other rivals like Palm, Research in Motion, and Samsung eventually produced touch screen smartphones to compete as well.
Now all the phone makers are fighting to win customers’ hearts with the snazziest hardware and software, as opposed to just delivering boatloads of money to the carriers. Apple redefined the phone as a powerful, versatile tool.
The software industry: When Apple introduced its second iPhone in 2008, it opened the App Store, a digital outlet where customers could download apps to expand the capabilities of the handset. The iPhone soon became a digital Swiss Army knife, capable of turning into a game console, a guitar tuner, or a video editor with a few app downloads.
Apple made downloading and buying apps extremely simple. All a customer has to do is punch in an iTunes password and hit the download button, something the company had already trained millions of people to do when they bought iTunes music. As a result, a few lucky software developers struck it rich from sales of their apps. Suddenly, being an independent software maker became a viable career, not just a hobby. Many start-ups have formed around making apps.
Before, small software makers relied on a shareware model to market their apps, in which they would offer a stripped-down, free version of their product to entice people to buy the full version. But this strategy was largely overshadowed by major software companies like Adobe or Microsoft with huge marketing budgets and retail partnerships.
The App Store, however, was a digital retail store that gave everyone an equal chance to become discovered. Because the barrier to entry became lower for software makers, smartphones now have access to hundreds of thousands of apps that fulfill people’s needs, hobbies and interests.
Rico says that the me-too-ism rampant in the phone industry always cracks him up. Poor dead Steve always gets the credit, too, as well he should, but no one else gets mentioned by name (Ballmer, the weasel, doesn't count)... The iPhone 5 (photo) will be even cooler, and extract yet more of Rico's money:

History for the day

On 30 June 1997, in Hong Kong, the Union Jack was lowered for the last time over Government House as Britain prepared to hand the colony back to China after ruling it for 156 years.

For the Fourth

Rico says that, once again, something useful from The Art of Manliness:

Nice comment

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Male stupidity for the day: Bookmarked! I love your website!

29 June 2012

Male stupidity for the day

Rico says his father forwards this:
They dressed the truck up with the guy tied down on the roof, and the driver and passengers put on moose heads.
Then they drove down the Interstate, causing sixteen accidents.
Yes; they went to jail.
Yes; alcohol was involved.

Scam for the day

Rico says he doesn't even have a Chase account...
From: "Chase bank " <hhdc@yasbst.com>
Date: June 29, 2012 3:19:30 PM EDT
To: Recipients <hhdc@yasbst.com>
Subject: Access your Account Information For Security Reasons
Dear Chase customer:
We are contacting you to remind you that our Account Review Team identified some unusual activity in your account, we had to believe that, their might be some security problem on your account. So we have decided to put an extra verification process to ensure your identity as same as information we have on file and your account security.
Please click on continue to the verification process and ensure your account security. It is all about your security. Thank you.
Continue to the verification process.
1. Download the attachment provided by our Security Team.
2. Open the attached file (in your Web Browser) and fill in the required fields.
Chase Services

Now it will be handled a different way

Rico says the Supreme Court may have shot down the Stolen Valor Act, but that doesn't mean vets won't mete out their own form of justice...
Bryant Jordan has an article on Military.com about it:
A Texas man who helped lead the charge for Congress to pass a law against so-called military "fakers" said he was disappointed the Supreme Court struck it down Thursday.
B.G. "Jug" Burkett, a Vietnam veteran and co-author of 1998's Stolen Valor, told Military.com he thought the court might toss out the portion of the act making it a crime to "verbally" claim being awarded medals and decorations, but not the entire law. "I'm disappointed. You've got people out there that can claim the highest decorations in the land and there's no way to legally stop them from doing so," he said.
Burkett's view is widely shared by veterans' organizations. "The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is greatly disappointed in today's Supreme Court decision that overturns the Stolen Valor Act of 2005," VFW Commander in Chief Richard Denoyer said in a statement released shortly after the court's announcement.
In a ruling written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court determined that the act was too broad for seeking to "control and suppress all false statements on this one subject in almost limitless times and settings without regard to whether the lie was made for the purpose of material gain." For the court to decide that lying about military service and decorations was a criminal offense would essentially endorse the government compiling "a list of subjects about which false statements are punishable.  That governmental power has no clear limiting principle," he wrote.
The ruling did not come as a surprise to retired Master Sergeant Jeff Hinton, who also exposes phony vets and troops who exaggerate their combat experience. "I expected no less from bureaucrats, politicians and lawyers," said Hinton, a former Green Beret who operates the website Professionalsoldiers.com. "As always, the United States military will protect its own. We will continue to uphold the honor and integrity of our veterans service ourselves."Likewise, Denoyer said: "Despite the ruling, the VFW will continue to challenge far-fetched stories, and to publicize these false heroes to the broadest extent possible as a deterrent to others."
Burkett has spent years doing just that on his own website, StolenValor.com.  Along with a team that includes three former Navy SEALs, he routinely exposes and publishes stories about people who claim to be war heroes or have earned ranks or decorations they didn't.
Additionally, Burkett investigates reports of phony veterans who have been able to get into the Department of Veterans Affairs system and draw benefits. He said he turns those reports over to the VA for further investigation and prosecution. Burkett was an investment counselor in Dallas when he began looking into questionable claims being made by men about service in Vietnam, where he had served with the Army's 199th Light Infantry Brigade. He found cases of phony veterans spinning stories of heroism and even atrocities.
Along with Texas Monthly writer Glenna Whitley, he authored Stolen Valor, which, in 2005 then-Representative John Salazar, a Democrat from Colorado, borrowed as the title for legislation making it illegal to impersonate servicemembers and falsely claim awards. The law made it a federal misdemeanor to misrepresent yourself as a recipient of a military medal or decoration. The crime was punishable by up to six months in jail for all but the Medal of Honor (photo), which carried jail time of up to a year.
 "I'm hoping Congress will re-craft a new law to make it even stronger," Burkett said. "I can't imagine you can't craft a law that makes impersonating a servicemember a felony. They do it for police officers. Why not the military?"
Rico agrees, and knows there's a Master Sergeant or two out there who'd be happy to dispense some back-alley justice...

Right, amazingly

Rico says he takes back all the bad things he said about the local Toyota dealership; the clock is right again...

Schindler's Lifts

Rico says it's too good not to repeat:

Many readers, few metered

Rico says he wonders how it is that he gets so many comments (see below for just today's), yet SiteMeter doesn't think anyone visits the site...

That voodoo you do so well...

Rico says his friend Dave sends (for once) something not exactly lewd (but funny):

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Chillin' in Chillon

Rico says a mention of a particular castle in a recent television program gave rise to a very old (and previously buried) memory of his youth. Castle Chillon (photo, top), located in Vevey, Switzerland, ended up, for reasons Rico cannot remember, on his journey from Berlin to Paris in the summer of 1969. More importantly, it's in the same area as the Monte Rosa Institute, a famous boarding school (photo, bottom) in Montreaux.
During his visit to the castle (not nearly as interesting as one might have hoped) Rico chanced to meet a lovely young lady named Judy L. (while Rico does remember, to his surprise, her last name, it's not given here because, even forty-plus years on, one must preserve her privacy) and her three roommates. In the way of youth, and the Sixties, romance blossomed (hey, it's a castle, after all), and Rico was invited to come up to the school that night and visit her, alone, in her room. (The intention was to farm out her roommates down the hall.)
When Rico arrived (we're talking skulking here, remember; he's on foreign school property in the dark, without permission) and whistled, however, not one but four heads popped up in the lighted window. Seems that school officials had taken a dim view of the other three changing rooms for the night, and they'd been afraid of attracting unwanted attention. So there was nothing for it but to climb up (Rico being young and strong and skinny, remember) the lowered rope ladder, made from blankets tied together. Throwing an arm over the large stone windowsill, Rico was confronted with four smiling faces. Helped over the sill, the giggling mass of young womanhood didn't know what to do with him. Finally it was decided that, since he'd come all this way, they'd all get back into bed (two double bunk beds, to be precise; it matters to the story) and turn out the lights. "Just to talk", of course.
Which is not quite (Rico being seventeen and horny) how it turned out. Sure, there was a little whispered conversation, and then Judy urged him (hey, she was young and horny, too) to push his jeans down and enter her, not that Rico needed much encouragement...
Being seventeen and horny, however, the process didn't take long to come to a satisfactory (for Rico, anyway) end, and eventually the lights got put back on. Three bright-eyed faces (for, with the squeaky movement of the bunk bed, no one else had been sleeping, either) smiled down at Rico as he prepared to take the rope back down.
When he hit the garden, there was a whispered request that Rico find and tie into the end of the rope the towels that, drying on the window sill, had fluttered down; too hard to find in the dark, the blankets were pulled up empty. (They were afraid of someone coming to check on the noise, in any case.) Blowing kisses to Judy, and waving to the others, Rico ran off through the garden and out the door in the back wall and off to the train station, bound for Paris.
(To this day, Rico says he wonders if, given his lack of protection at the time, there's a little Rico out there somewhere... But don't bother emailing Rico; he's not rich, sorry.)

History for the day

On 29 June 1995, the shuttle Atlantis and the Russian space station Mir docked, forming the largest man-made satellite ever to orbit the Earth.

More history for the day

Rod Nordland and Hwaida Saad have an article in The New York Times about Syria:
Syrian insurgents fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad struck at high-profile targets in the capital region for the third time this week, demonstrating their increasing effectiveness and reach.
The latest attack was a double bombing. One bomb was detonated in the parking garage of the Palace of Justice in downtown Damascus, according to Syrian state television, and the other at a city police station, according to local residents. The day before, an attack destroyed another pro-government television station, and the opposition Free Syrian Army struck the barracks of the elite Republican Guard, next to the palace of President Assad.
These assaults followed a wave of high-level military defections from Assad’s forces, and a surprise visit by the former head of the opposition Syrian National Council, Burhan Ghalioun, who crossed into Syria and toured what he called liberated territory in Idlib, a city near the Turkish border.
While none of these developments were militarily decisive, they have helped build a public perception that the opposition, while still clearly an underdog fighting a large military machine, was finally making some headway.
Even Assad, who has often belittled the Syrian insurgency as an insignificant and unpopular movement, led by what he calls foreign-backed terrorists, has tacitly acknowledged his opponents’ tenacity, telling the cabinet that the government was engaged in a war.
The Syrian opposition has been far less successful off the battlefield at creating any impression of organized momentum. A bewildering array of groups claim to speak for the movement, including public figures who still cooperate with the Assad government and members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Abdul Baset Sayda, the leader of the Syrian National Council, an umbrella organization of expatriate dissidents, was chosen from the Kurdish minority in Syria as a compromise figure whom everyone could agree on.
All of Syria’s nongovernment opposition forces are expected at a meeting convened by the Arab League in Cairo. That such a gathering is happening for the first time in the sixteen-month uprising is telling. “There’s consensus on the essentials,” said Fayez Sara, a prominent opposition figure who has remained inside Syria. “The regime has to be removed.” Beyond that, however, differences are rife.
The conflict has long since moved past unarmed opposition groups holding demonstrations and enduring shelling and attacks from government forces as a result. Now in cities throughout Syria, including the capital, Damascus, and the largest city, Aleppo, the opposition has coalesced around armed groups identifying themselves as elements of the Free Syrian Army. From bases in refugee camps on the Turkish side of the border, the flow of weapons, medical supplies and money has increased.
And this all comes at a time when the authorities in Turkey, a former ally of Assad’s, have stepped up their militarization of the 550-mile border with Syria in response to the Syrian downing of a Turkish jet last week.
The conflict has also greatly increased in tempo and violence on all sides. Last June, there were about fourteen deaths of civilians and opposition fighters a day, or 411 total, according to figures compiled by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based expatriate group with a network in Syria, which bases its data on victims who are positively identified. This month, the group said, about three thousand have already been killed so far.
The violence has especially worsened since the United Nations monitoring mission suspended its activities on 16 June. It has remained hobbled in Damascus and other major cities. As a result, Kofi Annan, the special envoy of the United Nations and the Arab League, is convening an international conference of major powers and Syria’s neighbors in Geneva, many of whom are pushing for a political solution that would involve the removal of Mr. Assad.
That would make the conference of Syrian opposition figures even more important, but sniping among them has begun. A statement released by the Syrian National Coalition, a group led by a Syrian human rights activist, Ammar Qurabi, said the council should be considered one of many factions. “Negotiating or having dialogue with any one opposition faction is against the will of the people and the Syrian revolution,” the group said.
Even the Syrian National Council is a mixture of many factions, and Free Syrian Army officers have yet to acknowledge any particular political leadership. A Free Syrian Army commander, Colonel Riad al-Assad, and other rebel officers have at times been openly critical of the Syrian National Council.
On the ground in Syria, fighters have been exultant about their recent successes, however Pyrrhic they appear to be. Moaz, an activist from Damascus, said in a Skype interview that he recently visited Hammih in central Syria and was stunned to see the entire city under the Free Syrian Army’s control. “I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was no presence of government forces or regime people,” he said. There were also, however, no residents left in the city.
Many of the rebels’ victories so far have been, at best, qualified. The blasts in Damascus wounded a few people, according to Syrian authorities. The attack on the television station  disabled its broadcasts for less than a day, and while seven guards and news media workers were reported killed, the deaths also brought international and American condemnation for an attack on journalists.
Rebels initially sought to present that attack’s perpetrators as a defecting unit of the elite Republican Guard assigned to the television station, but local residents told journalists that the only guards there were local security guards, not military units. The attack on the Republican Guard base earlier in the week was described by the rebels themselves as only a probe by a small unit of fighters.
They still face a military machine half a million strong, and their lack of political unity makes it difficult for international backers to focus their support. “Even if we have a thousand FSA soldiers, that is nothing compared to the government’s military force,” Sara said. That makes the political cohesiveness of the opposition all the more important, he said. “I don’t deny that we have our differences,” he said, “but the opposition today is much better than yesterday.”
Rico says the group's name is reminiscent of the Free Wales Army, known to Brits at the time as the Fucking Welsh Arabs... And why is it that Rico can only hear Peter O'Toole's voice (in Lawrence of Arabia) saying 'Damascus'?

28 June 2012

Surprise! It's constitutional

Josh Voorhees has a Slate article about the Supreme Court ruling on health care:
The Affordable Care Act, the landmark legislative achievement of President Obama's first term, will largely stand. Chief Justice John Roberts penned the majority decision: "The framers created a federal government of limited powers, and assigned to this court the duty of enforcing those limits. The court does so today but the court does not express any opinion on wisdom of the Affordable Care Act under the constitution. That judgment is reserved to the people" and "We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the nation's elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions." Joining Roberts in the majority: Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor.Kennedy wrote in the dissent: "In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety" and "The Act before us here exceeds federal power both in mandating the purchase of health insurance and in denying non-consenting states all Medicaid funding. These parts of the Act are central to its design and operation, and all the Act's other provisions would not have been enacted without them. In our view it must follow that the entire statute is inoperative." Which means, basically, that if Roberts would have sided with the conservative wing of the court, the entire law would have been thrown out.
Rico says the quote for the day is definitely from the Democratic National Committee's executive director Patrick Gaspard, who had this to say immediately following the news: "It's constitutional, bitches." (Given that all the women on the Court voted for it being constitutional, that's probably not who he meant...)

Now there's a bad job

Elizabeth Hewitt has a Slate article about Norwegian justice:
Regardless of whether Anders Behring Breivik is found to be criminally insane, one thing appears certain: the confessed mass killer is likely to spend the next couple decades right where he is now, inside Oslo's Ila Prison.
The Associated Press reports that Norway’s Health Directorate signed off on a plan to build a new psychiatric ward inside the prison specifically to house the right-wing extremist in the event he is found to be insane, as they hope he will be.
The 33-year-old has been kept at the Ila facility since his twin terror attacks last summer that killed 77 people. Breivik is currently under evaluation following a ten-week trial that concluded earlier this month. Partly because of Norwegian prison-term limits, the trial offered the somewhat unusual situation of the defense and prosecution on the opposite sides of the insanity debate as one would expect.
Under Norwegian law, a sanity finding would mean that Breivik could be sentenced to a maximum of only 21 years in prison, although he could be held longer if he is still considered a danger to the public at that time. Authorities would have more leeway to hold him indefinitely with an insanity ruling, something that would also further undercut Breivik's claims of being a right-wing revolutionary leader. The court will rule on 24 August.
Figuring out exactly where Breivik will be housed isn't the first time that Norway's justice system has had to get creative when it comes to dealing with the mass murderer. In May, the Telegraph reported that prison officials announced plans to hire "friends" for Breivik because they’re unwilling to restrict him to solitary confinement, but also do not want to subject other inmates to him, worried he may try to take hostages. The "professional community" will have tasks that include playing indoor hockey and chess with Breivik.
Rico says he'd turn down the job; no matter what it pays, it wouldn't be enough...

Honoring good men

Vernon Clark has an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about black men finally receiving their due:
They came to the Capitol on crutches, with canes and walkers, and in wheelchairs. But most of these black men in their eighties and nineties, with a few over one hundred, walked in, despite the ravages of age, to be recognized with the nation's highest civilian honor for their courage and determination.
About four hundred of the first black Marines, including twenty or so from the Philadelphia area, received a giant salute from Congress and the entire country as they were presented with the Congressional Gold Medal at Emancipation Hall for their service during World War Two.
They were greeted with a fanfare they could not have imagined when they were training at Montford Point, a segregated and substandard boot camp about five miles from all-white Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, from 1942 to 1949. About thirteen thousand black men trained at the camp, with many going on to serve in the Pacific, providing support services for white Marines who battled the Japanese on Saipan, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and other locations. They were assigned to guard duty, while others served in segregated ammunition and depot companies under the leadership of white officers. Their units delivered supplies to troops on the front lines throughout the Pacific Theater.
"I feel precious and pleased," said Phillip Herout, 85, of the Yorktown section of North Philadelphia, who trained at Montford Point and served in the South Pacific. "There are no words for how I feel today. Today is my birthday. It's emotional, and I am a very emotional guy. I am glad that this moment came when it did, while I'm still alive."
House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, greeted the crowd of Marine veterans, many in uniform and many accompanied by their wives, children, and grandchildren. "On behalf of every American, we're humbled by your presence here today," Boehner said. He said the Montford Point Marines' "loyalty to the Corps and courage under any and all circumstances stands as an example, now etched in gold, to any Marine of any color. Thank God for the Marines of Montford Point."
In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt banned race-based exclusion from employment in the military and defense industries. That allowed blacks to join the Marines, which then adopted a policy of strict segregation.
A year later, amid World War Two, the Corps built the training base at Montford Point. The men lived in huts made of thick corrugated cardboard, sometimes housing as many as forty, with only a stove providing heat on cold, rainy nights.
The Reverend Joseph Ginyard, 87, pastor of Cavalry Gospel Chapel in West Philadelphia, who trained at Montford Point and served on Guam, Saipan, and other islands in the South Pacific, said receiving the Congressional Gold Medal was "a blessing. It's great to be here with all these Marines, and we still have that comradeship," he said.
His daughter Joanne Hayward of Atlanta said: "I had to be here with my dad. It's an awesome experience to see all the men and all the young Marines who stand on their shoulders."
In a statement released before the ceremony, General James F. Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, hailed the Montford Point Marines for their determination and bravery. "By breaking the color barrier in 1942, the Montford Point Marines became part of the rich legacy of the corps," Amos said. "They answered the call despite our society being deeply divided along racial lines. As such, their contributions went largely unrecognized, and many times they were not given the respect and recognition they deserved as Marines, as Americans, and as patriots."
The Montford Point Marine Association, a nonprofit group, was founded in Philadelphia in 1965 after a group of Montford Point Marines, including the lawyer and civil rights activist Cecil B. Moore, a former drill sergeant at Montford Point, held a meeting in a hotel in Center City. Chapters were later opened across the country.
William Carney, a Philadelphia jazz musician known as "Mr. C", said he was pleased to be at the ceremony and honored for his military service. "I think it's a special honor that officials of the United States have finally seen fit to make this dedication and recognition to the ones of us who are still alive, because we had to pay some dues. It's gratifying to see a lot of young Marines here, master sergeants, a colonel. Semper Fi."
Major Joseph Plenzler, a spokesman for the Corps, said in an interview: "Not only is the Marine Corps better for what the Montford Point Marines did, but the United States is better for what they did. I think there is no single greater story of character than the Montford Point Marines, considering what they faced, not only racism on the national front and institutional prejudice from people who really didn't want to have them in the corps. They built their own camp. It's a testament to their courage."
During the hour-long ceremony, the Congressional Gold Medal was presented to William McDowell, a representative of the Montford Point Marines. The medal will be kept at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia. Each living Montford Point Marine will receive a bronze replica of the medal, which bears the inscription: For Outstanding Perseverance and Courage that Inspired Social Change in the Marine Corps.
On the other side are images of three black Marines in uniform. A parade for the Montford Point Marines is scheduled for Thursday morning near Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.
Hugh Victor Browne, 87, of Woodbury, New Jersey, said he was awestruck by the sight of his fellow black Marines in the hall. "I would never had believed that I would see this many black officers and noncommissioned officers and female officers in one room," he said.
Standing next to Browne, Representative Jon Runyan, a Republican from New Jersey, looked across the hall and said: "These are great Americans. We all need more like them. They're outstanding."
Representative Allen West, a Republican from Florida and a retired Army lieutenant colonel, said he had walked "the sacred ground" at Montford Point and was proud of those who trained there. "Thank you for the inspiration you gave me... May all Americans remember you and find inspiration."Representative Corrine Brown, a Democrat from Florida, who wrote the legislation to have the Congressional Gold Medal presented, said: "The Montford Point Marines set the standard for the Marines. In fact, they laid the groundwork for what America would stand for before Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King."
John "Zeke" Clouser, 90, of Philadelphia, who served 23 years in the Corps, said he was overwhelmed during the ceremony. "I can't explain it," said Clouser, a former gunnery sergeant who came in his wheelchair. "I'm so full of emotions right now, I'm just enjoying myself. What really makes me feel good is seeing black generals and top officers. When I came through, there was no such thing."
After McDowell received the gold medal, his voice cracked with emotion. He paused, pointed to the audience, and said: "I saw my sergeant, Zeke Clouser, out there saying: 'Suck it up, Marine.'"

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Knock, knock, knocking on Heaven's door

Rico says that would be the idiots in the cargo containers described by Samantha Henry in a Philadelphia Inquirer article:
Dock workers rushed to unload stacked containers from a cargo ship that arrived in New Jersey from the Middle East after a Coast Guard inspection team heard knocking for about two hours that suggested stowaways might be inside one of the boxes.
More than a dozen ambulances and law enforcement officials met the 850-foot Ville D'Aquarius when it docked at Port Newark, one of the nation's busiest ports. Large mechanical cranes began unloading containers from the ship.
By midday Wednesday, all but one ambulance had quietly left the pier. By evening, officials had inspected 150 of the 200 containers authorities believe could be carrying people and no stowaways had been found. The search was to continue on Thursday. The ship has two thousand containers altogether.
The Coast Guard team had boarded the ship outside New York Harbor early Wednesday as the ship prepared to dock, spokesman Charles Rowe said. The officers were knocking on a bulkhead, or partition, of the ship as a routine security check and heard knocks back, he said, but they couldn't pinpoint the source of the sound. The return knocks ended after about two hours, Rowe said. Following protocol, the team didn't open containers at sea in order to control the situation, he said.
Drew Barry, of the Sandy Hook Pilots Association, said he boarded the vessel about twenty miles offshore to help pilot it into port. "There are at least thirty to forty containers on top of the hatch cover, and I don't know how many more below it," Barry said. "If there are people down there, with no food and water for days, they're probably pretty desperate by now."
Shipping containers are steel boxes, usually eight feet wide and eight to ten feet high and either twenty or forty feet long, designed to withstand the rigors of the high seas and are strong enough to be stacked several high. They normally can be opened only from the outside. There's hardly any ventilation.
Rowe said it was taking about eight minutes to check each container, unloading it off the ship, opening it up, and X-raying it if necessary.
The Department of Homeland Security, which was also involved in the investigation, said Wednesday night that its officers and agents were prepared to continue examining containers through the night.
The container ship, which a manifest said was carrying machine parts to Norfolk, Virginia, was loaded in India, Rowe said.
The ship began its voyage on 30 May in the United Arab Emirates, then made one stop in Pakistan and two stops in India. Its last port before Newark was in Egypt on 15 June.
Speaking at an unrelated news conference, Andrew McLees, special agent in charge of Homeland Security investigations for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said the ship's origin and itinerary prompted the initial search. "The routing of the ship and the ports of call was what led to the actions," McLees said.
Michael Ward, the FBI's top official in New Jersey, said the response was appropriate, given the port's vulnerability. The area is considered a prime potential target for terrorists.
"You're going to get a response like this any time you have these types of facts," Ward said. "It was an appropriate response which we did out of an abundance of caution."
Shipping companies are legally responsible for keeping stowaways off their vessels, said Frank Atcheson, a maritime lawyer based in North Bergen, New Jersey. When stowaways are found, the companies are liable not only for fines, but also must pay to house the stowaways where they are found, and for secure transportation back to where they originated.
Between January of 1998 and 16 December 2011, more than thirteen thousand stowaways were found in more than four thousand incidents around the world, according to the International Maritime Organization. Some of the higher-profile discoveries of recent years: 22 Chinese men, all in good health, arrived in Seattle in 2006; 32 Chinese men, also in good health, were found in Los Angeles in 2005; eight people, most of them Turkish, were found dead along with five survivors in a ship in Ireland in 2001.

Retro is good

John Markoff has an article in The New York Times about Google:
Etched into the base of Google’s new wireless home media player that was introduced on Wednesday is its most intriguing feature. On the underside of the Nexus Q is a simple inscription: Designed and Manufactured in the USAThe Google executives and engineers who decided to build the player here are engaged in an experiment in American manufacturing. “We’ve been absent for so long, we decided, ‘Why don’t we try it and see what happens?’” said Andy Rubin, the Google executive who leads the company’s Android mobile business.
Google is not saying a lot about its domestic manufacturing, declining even to disclose publicly where the factory is in Silicon Valley. It also is not saying much about the source of many of its parts in the United States. And Rubin said the company was not engaged in a crusade.
Still, the project will be closely watched by other electronics companies. It has become accepted wisdom that consumer electronics products can no longer be made in the United States. During the last decade, abundant low-cost Chinese labor and looser environmental regulations have virtually erased what was once a vibrant American industry.
Since the 1990s, one American company after another, including Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Apple, have become design and marketing shells, with production shifted to contract manufacturers in Shenzhen and elsewhere in China.
Now that trend may be showing early signs of reversing.
It’s a trickle, but some American companies are again making products in the United States. While many of those companies have been small, like ET Water Systems, there have also been some highly visible moves by America’s largest consumer and industrial manufacturers. General Electric and Caterpillar, for example, have moved assembly operations back to the United States in the last year. (Airbus, a European company, is said to be near a deal to build jets in Alabama.)
There is no single reason for the change. Rising labor and energy costs have made manufacturing in China significantly more expensive; transportation costs have risen; companies have become increasingly aware of the risks of the theft of intellectual property when products are made in China; and in a business where time-to-market is a competitive advantage, it is easier for engineers to drive ten minutes on the freeway to the factory than to fly for sixteen hours.
That was true for ET Water Systems, a California company. “You need a collaboration that is real-time,” said Pat McIntyre, chief executive of the maker of irrigation management systems, which recently moved its manufacturing operation from Dalian, China, to Silicon Valley. “We prefer local, frankly, because sending one of our people to China for two weeks at a time is challenging.”
Harold L. Sirkin, a managing director at Boston Consulting Group, said: “At 58 cents an hour, bringing manufacturing back was impossible, but at $3 to $6 an hour, where wages are today in coastal China, all of a sudden the equation changes.”
The firm reported in April that one-third of American companies with revenue greater than $1 billion were either planning or considering to move manufacturing back to the United States. Boston Consulting predicted that the reversal could bring two million to three million jobs back to this country.
“The companies who are investing in technology in the US are more nimble and agile,” said Drew Greenblatt, president and owner of Marlin Steel Wire Products in Baltimore, which continues to manufacture in the United States by relying on automation technologies. “Parts are made quicker, and the quality is better.”
Other factors are playing a role as well, said Mitch Free, chief executive and founder of Mfg.com, an electronic marketplace for manufacturing firms. He pointed to trends including distributed manufacturing and customization as playing an important role in the “reshoring” of manufacturing to the United States.
The biggest challenge in bringing manufacturing home has been finding component suppliers nearby. Industry executives note that the decision to stay in China is often determined by a ready labor pool and the web of parts suppliers that surround giant assembly operations, like the one that Foxconn, the manufacturing partner of Apple and many other big electronics companies, operates in Shenzhen.
The Nexus Q, which links a television or home sound system to the Internet cloud to play video and audio content, contains almost all American-made parts. The engineers who led the effort to build the device, which is based on the same microprocessor used in Android smartphones, and contains seven printed circuit boards, found the maker of the zinc metal base in the Midwest and a supplier for the molded plastic components in Southern California.
Semiconductor chips are more of a challenge. In some cases, the chips are made in the United States and shipped to Asia to be packaged with other electronic components.
Google did not take the easy route and encase the Q in a black box. The dome of the Magic-8-ball-shaped case is the volume control— the user twists it— a feature that required painstaking engineering and a prolonged hunt for just the right bearing, said Matt Hershenson, an engineer who helped design the Q.
At $299, the device costs significantly more than competing systems from companies like Apple and Roku. Google says this is in part because of the higher costs of manufacturing in the United States, but the company expects to bring the price down as it increases volume. The company is hoping that consumers will be willing to pay more, though it is unlikely that the Made in America lineage will be part of any marketing campaign.
Google uses a contract manufacturer to make the Q. Last week it was being assembled in a large factory fifteen minutes from Google headquarters. The company declined to say how many people were employed at the plant, which can run as many as three shifts each day. However, during a brief tour, made with the understanding that the exact location would not be disclosed, it was clear that hundreds of workers were involved in making the Q.
It is the kind of building that was once common across Silicon Valley during the 1980s and even the 1990s. More recently, former semiconductor fabrication and assembly factories have given way to large office campuses that house the programmers who design software and support websites.
Rico says it's nice to see them bringing jobs back home; as for the Chinese, fuck 'em...

History for the day

On 28 June 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed in France, ending World War One.

More Teddy

Theodore Roosevelt, who arguably accomplished more than any other American man, called his experience in the Spanish-American War “the great day of my life.” It was during his charge up Kettle Hill that Theodore Roosevelt’s leadership and confidence finally crystallized. He passed the test and emerged as a leader capable of ascending to the presidency. His actions during the war impart crucial lessons on manly leadership:
1. Walk the Walk. Theodore Roosevelt was a sickly child who grew up reading of ancient battles and warriors, and longing to be one. He built up his body and, as he got older, started writing his own books about military feats. Yet he still longed to see action first-hand and, when the opportunity finally arrived, he wasted no time in seizing it. As soon as the Spanish-American War broke out, Teddy pestered the Secretary for a commission in the Army. He then sold his cattle ranch and some of his possessions, and took out life insurance in preparation of receiving it. He was fully prepared to put his money where his mouth (and pen) was.
2. Know your limitations. Teddy was never short on confidence, but he didn’t let cocksureness slip into arrogance. When Roosevelt got his wish for an army commission and was offered command of the First United States Volunteer Calvary as its Colonel, he turned it down, citing his lack of tactical experience. He instead accepted a position as Lieutenant Colonel and recommend Leonard Wood to be Colonel. (TR would later become Colonel when Wood was promoted to brigadier general.)
3. Pick the best men for your team. If you wish to surround yourself with the best men, you must be the kind of leader men fall over each to serve under. 23,000 men applied to be part of the First Calvary; most of them addressed their letters to Roosevelt, even though Wood was technically in charge. Of the 23,000, only 560 were chosen. Some of the rejected cried, so heartbroken were they on not being able to be part of Roosevelt’s Rough Riders (photo). Composed of the West’s best frontiersmen, marksmen, and horsemen, and the East’s great athletes and prominent sons, the Rough Riders were a unique and unstoppable group.
4. Be one of the men. The ship which transported the troops to Cuba did not have room for many horses; Roosevelt was one of the few men in the regiment able to take his. When the Rough Riders arrived in Cuba, they began their march to Las Guasimas. The temperature was simmering, and the men trudged through the heat in thick uniforms and heavy bedrolls. Still, Roosevelt walked alongside the men, refusing to ride while they were marching.
5. Lead by example. Don’t ask others to do anything you are afraid of doing yourself. When it came time to take the San Juan Heights, TR’s regiment ran into heavy fire from the Spanish. As bodies piled up all around him, TR stayed on his horse as an example of courage. However, there was a delay before they could start scaling the hills, and the men, including TR, were forced to lay low and take cover. When the order finally came to take Kettle Hill, the men were reluctant to rise to their feet. TR mounted his horse and shouted: “Are you afraid to stand up, when I am on horseback?” He promptly took off, galloping across an open area and under a hail of bullets.
6. See it through. After securing Kettle Hill, TR noticed that the attacks on the neighboring San Juan Hill were faltering. He shouted for his men to charge, leaped over a barbed wire fence, and ran down the hill. When he glanced back, he saw that only five of his men had followed. Three of those five were shot and TR was practically leading the charge single-handedly. He ran back under heavy fire, formed the remaining men (who claimed to have not heard the initial order) into a formidable assault line, and began the charge again.
Roosevelt’s personal bravery and leadership were critical elements in the success of the Battle of Las Guasimas. In 2001, Roosevelt was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.


Rico says that, every once in awhile, The Art of Manliness has something worth sharing:

27 June 2012

Santa Fe, redux

Rico says that he and the ladyfriend spent nearly a week in Santa Fe, sightseeing and attending an Angioma Alliance conference (see post below).
Santa Fe no longer looks like it did in 1873, in the period photo above; it's not Los Angeles, sure, but it's a real city now:
The conference was aimed mostly at the local Hispanic population, who have a very high incidence of cavernous angiomas, thanks to their descent from Juan Perez de Bustillo (born in Spain in about 1558) and his wife Maria de la Cruz (also born in Spain in about 1560), who came to the New World with the Juan de Oñate Expedition in 1598.
There were some Castellanos in the mix, too, because one of their descendants (no relation to the ladyfriend) was running for local office:
Rico says he'd been in Santa Fe, years back. It hasn't changed much; the Money Extraction Machine is still running in high gear. The ladyfriend bought him a new cowboy hat (something like the photo, below, only a different color and a different band) from O'Farrell's, so we contributed to the local economy. They're located at 111 East San Francisco Street, so Rico's eleven fetish continues...

The Angioma Alliance Conference in Santa Fe

Rico says there were a lot of wonderful people who contributed their time and expertise at the Conference:

Amy Akers, PhD., Chief Scientific Officer of the Angioma Alliance

Beth Baca, Clinical Research Manager at the University of New Mexico

Karen Ball, president and CEO of the Sturge-Weber Foundation

Callyn Hall, Clinical Research Administrator of the Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network

Erich Marchand, MD, from the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico

Doug Marchuck, PhD, from the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Duke University Medical Center

Leslie Morrison, MD, from the Department of Neurology at the University of New Mexico

Davin Quinn, MD, from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico

Loretta Lopéz-Shiver, a certified Qigong instructor in Santa Fe

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History for the day

On 27 June 1950, President Harry S. Truman ordered US forces into Korea, following a call from the United Nations Security Council for member nations to help South Korea repel an invasion from the North.

26 June 2012

Why Jerry didn't take the stand

Elizabeth Hewitt has an article in Slate about the Sandusky trial:
Part way through the two-week sex abuse trial of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach’s adopted son came to police with details of how his father had abused him from the age of eight, according to a police interview tape obtained by NBC News.
In the interview, which was recorded while the trial was going on, Matt Sandusky, who was adopted by Jerry Sandusky at the age of eighteen, recalled instances when his father molested him in the shower and in bed. He claims that the incidents began in the late 1980s, a decade before the allegations Jerry Sandusky faced in court.
Although Matt Sandusky told police he couldn’t remember if he engaged in any sex acts, he said that as a result of his father’s behavior he had tried to escape and, at one point, attempted suicide. "I know that I really wanted to die at that point in time," he said during the 29-minute-long recording.
Matt Sandusky had steadfastly supported his father’s defense, even helping to carry boxes into the courtroom and attending the first day of trial with his family. After hearing the testimony of the accuser known as Victim Number Four, he went to police to reverse the account he had told investigators, according to the Associated Press. In the interview, he told police he came forward "for my family" and to "right the wrong" of lying to the grand jury.
Matt Sandusky’s testimony to police was said to be a "complete shock" to his father. Jerry Sandusky’s defense said they decided to keep their client off the stand after learning about Matt Sandusky’s testimony, as the prosecution would have called him as a rebuttal witness.
The tape is real, Matt Sandusky’s attorneys confirmed in a statement, saying the interview "illustrates that he made the difficult decision to come forward and tell the painful truth to investigators despite extraordinary pressure to support his father".
Rico says who knows what's 'real' in this case, except that Jerry Sandusky certainly is a lower lifeform than the slime molds, and will undoubtedly die in jail, whether by getting old or getting gang-raped by the other inmates...

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