Sunday, February 28, 2010
In 1986 I moved to Bath Maine. I lived in this house which was not a Bed and Breakfast house at the time. I packed sardines at Stinson Canning Company and walked to work on nice days. This house is on Front Street which dead ends into Bowery St. which is where Stinson Canning was located. Very strange when I google it you can see the Stinson Canning Company...but when you zoom in to street level it vanishes. Apparently Stinson Canning Company burnt in 2007. Pretty fishy...
Saturday, February 27, 2010
I worked for Stinson Canning Company in Bath Maine 1986. It was a great experience and I treasure the memories of the sardine factory. I am saddened that a company that is 100 years old is unsustainable.
After century of business, former Stinson seafood plant closing
GOULDSBORO, Maine — Workers were shocked Wednesday when they were told that the last remaining sardine cannery in the United States would close down for good on April 18, ending more than 100 years of local history.
Bumble Bee Foods, which acquired the former Stinson Seafood plant in 2004, made the announcement Wednesday afternoon to employees at the facility in the village of Prospect Harbor. With the closure, 128 people are expected to lose their jobs.
“It’s devastating, for lack of a better term,” Dana Rice, the town’s first selectman, said about the news. “It’s like somebody died.”
Melody Kimmel, a spokesperson for the San Diego-based Bumble Bee Foods, confirmed the announcement Wednesday. Kimmel said a reduction in the federal limit on herring was the main reason behind the company’s decision.
In 2004, the federal limit on Atlantic herring was 180,000 metric tons, but this year it is only 91,000 metric tons, she said. With such catch restrictions, the plant is no longer economically viable, she said.
“Where it stands now keeps us from production levels that would ensure the plant’s long-term viability,” Kimmel said.
Workers who are losing their jobs are expected to receive severance pay and job placement counseling from Bumble Bee, according to Kimmel.
The plant has been operating in Prospect Harbor for more than 100 years, Kimmel said. She said there are other seafood processing plants in the country that can herring — which are called sardines after being processed and canned — but that this facility is the last one in the country that deals solely in sardines.
“It’s been a very difficult decision,” Kimmel said of the closure. “We’re caught between a rock and a hard place.”
Kimmel said that, as a result of an anti-trust case brought against Bumble Bee predecessor Connors Bros., which bought the plant in 2001, Bumble Bee inherited a consent decree with the state that required the company to keep the plant open through the end of 2010. She said that, given the state of the herring quota, the company was asking for a waiver from that agreement.
Despite concerns about the reduced herring quota and the overall state of the economy, workers at the plant and residents said they were surprised by the news, which is the second significant closure of a local employer in the past decade. In 2002, after it had been announced years before, the Navy closed a base in Gouldsboro and at nearby Schoodic Point where at one point 1,000 military personnel and their families were stationed and where more than 100 civilian employees had jobs.
Workers outside the plant late Wednesday afternoon said the announcement hit hard when Bumble Bee officials broke the news to employees. Some were reduced to tears, they said.
“It’s bad,” said cutting room employee Crecenciano Herrera, 39 of Milbridge, who added he’s worked at the plant for four years. “In this area, there’s not much else [for work].”
Reinaldo Perez-Chamarro, 35, of Gouldsboro, who spoke little English, was visibly upset by the news. A six-year veteran of the cannery, he held up a piece of paper from Bumble Bee that said the company may have other positions available at plants in California, Puerto Rico and New Jersey. He said he didn’t want to move.
“I have two babies, payment on car, payment on house,” Perez-Chamarro said.
Eric Deacon, 31, of the village of Corea, said he took a full-time job at the plant about a year ago so he could get away from seasonal work. He said he doesn’t have a family to support, but that many employees at the plant come from families with parents and grandparents who worked at the plant before they did.
“Everyone’s extremely worried about their finances,” Deacon said. “I’m very concerned with finding another job. It’s definitely going to damage the area [economically].”
Rice, the town’s first selectman, said that the eventual closing of the plant was inevitable, given the current economy and the slow disappearance of the once-common sight of sardine canneries in Maine and elsewhere. But he said the news Wednesday still came as a shock.
“I thought I was better prepared for it,” he said, sitting in front of the television in the den of his home. “Generations of people have worked there. It’s been there for more than 100 years.”
It’s not just the employees at the plant whose finances will be affected, according to Rice. Several businesses on the Schoodic Peninsula counted daily on plant employees to be their customers. For the town, the plant closure likely means a loss of about $125,000 in annual property tax revenue, he said.
“It’s going to have a huge impact on all these things that make up a community,” Rice said.
A lobster dealer by trade, Rice said that the reduction of the annual herring quota by the New England Fishery Management Council surely deserves much of the blame for the plant’s demise. But even if federal regulators reversed their decision, as they recently did with a proposed tightening of scallop restrictions, it would be too late to save the plant.
“There are no other sardine companies to buy it,” Rice said. “It is the end of the sardine canning industry in the United States.”
Gov. John Baldacci and U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe released separate statements Wednesday saying they would work to provide state and federal assistance to the laid-off workers. Snowe said she had received assurances from Bumble Bee last fall that the company planned to keep the cannery open.
“This sudden reversal of that commitment without any advance notice or effort to work with us to help steer this situation toward a more favorable outcome is inexcusable,” Snowe said in the statement.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Blogroll Me!I am going to try to get a hold of this book and blog some of the ideas.
Created by a Parsons design graduate who’s obsessed with navigating the intersection of art and technology, here are 62 ingenious projects that are irresistibly geek-chic. An iMac Terrarium—how cool is that? A laptop Digital Photo Frame. The impressively green Scanner Compost Bin. Plus a power strip Bird Feeder, Walkman Soap Dish, My First Squiggle Bot, Qwerty Hair Tie, Flat-screen Ant Farm. Each project has complete, step-by-step instructions, is rated by difficulty—in a thorough first chapter the author covers all the tools and skills needed to take apart electronics safely—and is arranged by use, from stuff for the house, to fashion, toys, arts and crafts, items for pets, and more.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
This is an example of why I hate strip malls. James Howard Kunstler calls this type of a appendage "natures band aid" Notice how the only green space in this whole concrete and pavement area is littered with cigarette butts. It is just a subliminal example of how "mankind" has subjugated nature and continues to treat her like trash. You gotta wonder why they even bothered with this installation. Perhaps it was an attempt to hide the handicapped ramp by diverting our attention to the lone bush
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Here is another example of architecture in Newark Ohio worth saving. I spent a week in this old jail when I was 15 years old and had run away from home. They didn't have a youth shelter then...come to think of it they don't have one now either. They probably transport their run aways to Lancaster these days. I think it is office space now. You have to wonder if the old cells are still in use. What a hell hole that place was!
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Billy Milligan most famous for his 24 personalities was born William Morrison. It was his step father who gave him the name Milligan. I think he looks like Jim Morrison. I think they might be related. No one has seen Billy Milligan for a long time. He has some money coming to him if he ever resurfaces.
Monday, February 22, 2010
You remember Billy...24 personalities.
This is art therapy history. There is even a book called The Minds Of Billy Milligan. I am going to check it out at the library. I will let you know what I find out.
This painting is on sale right now on Craigslist.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Blogroll Me!Joe Stacks suicide note was taken off the internet by the FBI. But unless they shut down the whole internet, it will matter very little. Some of us saw it, and we read him loud and clear. I am re posting it here because I trust that you can make up your own mind and do not need big brother to decide what you can read and what you can't.
If you’re reading this, you’re no doubt asking yourself, “Why did this have to happen?” The simple truth is that it is complicated and has been coming for a long time. The writing process, started many months ago, was intended to be therapy in the face of the looming realization that there isn’t enough therapy in the world that can fix what is really broken. Needless to say, this rant could fill volumes with example after example if I would let it. I find the process of writing it frustrating, tedious, and probably pointless… especially given my gross inability to gracefully articulate my thoughts in light of the storm raging in my head. Exactly what is therapeutic about that I’m not sure, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
We are all taught as children that without laws there would be no society, only anarchy. Sadly, starting at early ages we in this country have been brainwashed to believe that, in return for our dedication and service, our government stands for justice for all. We are further brainwashed to believe that there is freedom in this place, and that we should be ready to lay our lives down for the noble principals represented by its founding fathers. Remember? One of these was “no taxation without representation”. I have spent the total years of my adulthood unlearning that crap from only a few years of my childhood. These days anyone who really stands up for that principal is promptly labeled a “crackpot”, traitor and worse.
While very few working people would say they haven’t had their fair share of taxes (as can I), in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind. Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.
Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.
And justice? You’ve got to be kidding!
How can any rational individual explain that white elephant conundrum in the middle of our tax system and, indeed, our entire legal system? Here we have a system that is, by far, too complicated for the brightest of the master scholars to understand. Yet, it mercilessly “holds accountable” its victims, claiming that they’re responsible for fully complying with laws not even the experts understand. The law “requires” a signature on the bottom of a tax filing; yet no one can say truthfully that they understand what they are signing; if that’s not “duress” than what is. If this is not the measure of a totalitarian regime, nothing is.
How did I get here?
My introduction to the real American nightmare starts back in the early ‘80s. Unfortunately after more than 16 years of school, somewhere along the line I picked up the absurd, pompous notion that I could read and understand plain English. Some friends introduced me to a group of people who were having ‘tax code’ readings and discussions. In particular, zeroed in on a section relating to the wonderful “exemptions” that make institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church so incredibly wealthy. We carefully studied the law (with the help of some of the “best”, high-paid, experienced tax lawyers in the business), and then began to do exactly what the “big boys” were doing (except that we weren’t steeling from our congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of God). We took a great deal of care to make it all visible, following all of the rules, exactly the way the law said it was to be done.
The intent of this exercise and our efforts was to bring about a much-needed re-evaluation of the laws that allow the monsters of organized religion to make such a mockery of people who earn an honest living. However, this is where I learned that there are two “interpretations” for every law; one for the very rich, and one for the rest of us… Oh, and the monsters are the very ones making and enforcing the laws; the inquisition is still alive and well today in this country.
That little lesson in patriotism cost me $40,000+, 10 years of my life, and set my retirement plans back to 0. It made me realize for the first time that I live in a country with an ideology that is based on a total and complete lie. It also made me realize, not only how naive I had been, but also the incredible stupidity of the American public; that they buy, hook, line, and sinker, the crap about their “freedom”… and that they continue to do so with eyes closed in the face of overwhelming evidence and all that keeps happening in front of them.
Before even having to make a shaky recovery from the sting of the first lesson on what justice really means in this country (around 1984 after making my way through engineering school and still another five years of “paying my dues”), I felt I finally had to take a chance of launching my dream of becoming an independent engineer.
On the subjects of engineers and dreams of independence, I should digress somewhat to say that I’m sure that I inherited the fascination for creative problem solving from my father. I realized this at a very young age.
The significance of independence, however, came much later during my early years of college; at the age of 18 or 19 when I was living on my own as student in an apartment in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. My neighbor was an elderly retired woman (80+ seemed ancient to me at that age) who was the widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from big business and the union that, for his 30 years of service, he would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement. Instead he was one of the thousands who got nothing because the incompetent mill management and corrupt union (not to mention the government) raided their pension funds and stole their retirement. All she had was social security to live on.
In retrospect, the situation was laughable because here I was living on peanut butter and bread (or Ritz crackers when I could afford to splurge) for months at a time. When I got to know this poor figure and heard her story I felt worse for her plight than for my own (I, after all, I thought I had everything to in front of me). I was genuinely appalled at one point, as we exchanged stories and commiserated with each other over our situations, when she in her grandmotherly fashion tried to convince me that I would be “healthier” eating cat food (like her) rather than trying to get all my substance from peanut butter and bread. I couldn’t quite go there, but the impression was made. I decided that I didn’t trust big business to take care of me, and that I would take responsibility for my own future and myself.
Return to the early ‘80s, and here I was off to a terrifying start as a ‘wet-behind-the-ears’ contract software engineer… and two years later, thanks to the fine backroom, midnight effort by the sleazy executives of Arthur Andersen (the very same folks who later brought us Enron and other such calamities) and an equally sleazy New York Senator (Patrick Moynihan), we saw the passage of 1986 tax reform act with its section 1706.
For you who are unfamiliar, here is the core text of the IRS Section 1706, defining the treatment of workers (such as contract engineers) for tax purposes. Visit this link for a conference committee report (http://www.synergistech.com/1706.shtml#ConferenceCommitteeReport) regarding the intended interpretation of Section 1706 and the relevant parts of Section 530, as amended. For information on how these laws affect technical services workers and their clients, read our discussion here (http://www.synergistech.com/ic-taxlaw.shtml).
SEC. 1706. TREATMENT OF CERTAIN TECHNICAL PERSONNEL.
(a) IN GENERAL – Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978 is amended by adding at the end thereof the following new subsection:
(d) EXCEPTION. – This section shall not apply in the case of an individual who pursuant to an arrangement between the taxpayer and another person, provides services for such other person as an engineer, designer, drafter, computer programmer, systems analyst, or other similarly skilled worker engaged in a similar line of work.
(b) EFFECTIVE DATE. – The amendment made by this section shall apply to remuneration paid and services rendered after December 31, 1986.
“another person” is the client in the traditional job-shop relationship.
“taxpayer” is the recruiter, broker, agency, or job shop.
“individual”, “employee”, or “worker” is you.
Admittedly, you need to read the treatment to understand what it is saying but it’s not very complicated. The bottom line is that they may as well have put my name right in the text of section (d). Moreover, they could only have been more blunt if they would have came out and directly declared me a criminal and non-citizen slave. Twenty years later, I still can’t believe my eyes.
During 1987, I spent close to $5000 of my ‘pocket change’, and at least 1000 hours of my time writing, printing, and mailing to any senator, congressman, governor, or slug that might listen; none did, and they universally treated me as if I was wasting their time. I spent countless hours on the L.A. freeways driving to meetings and any and all of the disorganized professional groups who were attempting to mount a campaign against this atrocity. This, only to discover that our efforts were being easily derailed by a few moles from the brokers who were just beginning to enjoy the windfall from the new declaration of their “freedom”. Oh, and don’t forget, for all of the time I was spending on this, I was loosing income that I couldn’t bill clients.
After months of struggling it had clearly gotten to be a futile exercise. The best we could get for all of our trouble is a pronouncement from an IRS mouthpiece that they weren’t going to enforce that provision (read harass engineers and scientists). This immediately proved to be a lie, and the mere existence of the regulation began to have its impact on my bottom line; this, of course, was the intended effect.
Again, rewind my retirement plans back to 0 and shift them into idle. If I had any sense, I clearly should have left abandoned engineering and never looked back.
Instead I got busy working 100-hour workweeks. Then came the L.A. depression of the early 1990s. Our leaders decided that they didn’t need the all of those extra Air Force bases they had in Southern California, so they were closed; just like that. The result was economic devastation in the region that rivaled the widely publicized Texas S&L fiasco. However, because the government caused it, no one gave a shit about all of the young families who lost their homes or street after street of boarded up houses abandoned to the wealthy loan companies who received government funds to “shore up” their windfall. Again, I lost my retirement.
Years later, after weathering a divorce and the constant struggle trying to build some momentum with my business, I find myself once again beginning to finally pick up some speed. Then came the .COM bust and the 911 nightmare. Our leaders decided that all aircraft were grounded for what seemed like an eternity; and long after that, ‘special’ facilities like San Francisco were on security alert for months. This made access to my customers prohibitively expensive. Ironically, after what they had done the Government came to the aid of the airlines with billions of our tax dollars … as usual they left me to rot and die while they bailed out their rich, incompetent cronies WITH MY MONEY! After these events, there went my business but not quite yet all of my retirement and savings.
By this time, I’m thinking that it might be good for a change. Bye to California, I’ll try Austin for a while. So I moved, only to find out that this is a place with a highly inflated sense of self-importance and where damn little real engineering work is done. I’ve never experienced such a hard time finding work. The rates are 1/3 of what I was earning before the crash, because pay rates here are fixed by the three or four large companies in the area who are in collusion to drive down prices and wages… and this happens because the justice department is all on the take and doesn’t give a fuck about serving anyone or anything but themselves and their rich buddies.
To survive, I was forced to cannibalize my savings and retirement, the last of which was a small IRA. This came in a year with mammoth expenses and not a single dollar of income. I filed no return that year thinking that because I didn’t have any income there was no need. The sleazy government decided that they disagreed. But they didn’t notify me in time for me to launch a legal objection so when I attempted to get a protest filed with the court I was told I was no longer entitled to due process because the time to file ran out. Bend over for another $10,000 helping of justice.
So now we come to the present. After my experience with the CPA world, following the business crash I swore that I’d never enter another accountant’s office again. But here I am with a new marriage and a boatload of undocumented income, not to mention an expensive new business asset, a piano, which I had no idea how to handle. After considerable thought I decided that it would be irresponsible NOT to get professional help; a very big mistake.
When we received the forms back I was very optimistic that they were in order. I had taken all of the years information to Bill Ross, and he came back with results very similar to what I was expecting. Except that he had neglected to include the contents of Sheryl’s unreported income; $12,700 worth of it. To make matters worse, Ross knew all along this was missing and I didn’t have a clue until he pointed it out in the middle of the audit. By that time it had become brutally evident that he was representing himself and not me.
This left me stuck in the middle of this disaster trying to defend transactions that have no relationship to anything tax-related (at least the tax-related transactions were poorly documented). Things I never knew anything about and things my wife had no clue would ever matter to anyone. The end result is… well, just look around.
I remember reading about the stock market crash before the “great” depression and how there were wealthy bankers and businessmen jumping out of windows when they realized they screwed up and lost everything. Isn’t it ironic how far we’ve come in 60 years in this country that they now know how to fix that little economic problem; they just steal from the middle class (who doesn’t have any say in it, elections are a joke) to cover their asses and it’s “business-as-usual”. Now when the wealthy fuck up, the poor get to die for the mistakes… isn’t that a clever, tidy solution.
As government agencies go, the FAA is often justifiably referred to as a tombstone agency, though they are hardly alone. The recent presidential puppet GW Bush and his cronies in their eight years certainly reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings equally true for all of the government. Nothing changes unless there is a body count (unless it is in the interest of the wealthy sows at the government trough). In a government full of hypocrites from top to bottom, life is as cheap as their lies and their self-serving laws.
I know I’m hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn’t limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at “big brother” while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue; I have just had enough.
I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. I would only hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are. Sadly, though I spent my entire life trying to believe it wasn’t so, but violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer. The cruel joke is that the really big chunks of shit at the top have known this all along and have been laughing, at and using this awareness against, fools like me all along.
I saw it written once that the definition of insanity is repeating the same process over and over and expecting the outcome to suddenly be different. I am finally ready to stop this insanity. Well, Mr. Big Brother IRS man, let’s try something different; take my pound of flesh and sleep well.
The communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.
Joe Stack (1956-2010)
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Digital doomsday: the end of knowledge - tech - 02 February 2010 - New Scientist
Blogroll Me! I confess this has been on my mind as I edit my documents and pictures.
"IN MONTH XI, 15th day, Venus in the west disappeared, 3 days in the sky it stayed away. In month XI, 18th day, Venus in the east became visible."
What's remarkable about these observations of Venus is that they were made about 3500 years ago, by Babylonian astrologers. We know about them because a clay tablet bearing a record of these ancient observations, called the Venus Tablet of Ammisaduqa, was made 1000 years later and has survived largely intact. Today, it can be viewed at the British Museum in London.
We, of course, have knowledge undreamt of by the Babylonians. We don't just peek at Venus from afar, we have sent spacecraft there. Our astronomers now observe planets round alien suns and peer across vast chasms of space and time, back to the beginning of the universe itself. Our industrialists are transforming sand and oil into ever smaller and more intricate machines, a form of alchemy more wondrous than anything any alchemist ever dreamed of. Our biologists are tinkering with the very recipes for life itself, gaining powers once attributed to gods.
Yet even as we are acquiring ever more extraordinary knowledge, we are storing it in ever more fragile and ephemeral forms. If our civilisation runs into trouble, like all others before it, how much would survive?
Of course, in the event of a disaster big enough to wipe out all humans, such as a colossal asteroid strike, it would not really matter. Even if another intelligent species evolved on Earth, almost all traces of humanity would have vanished long before.
Let's suppose, however, that something less cataclysmic occurs, that many buildings remain intact and enough people survive to rebuild civilisation after a few decades or centuries. Suppose, for instance, that the global financial system collapses, or a new virus kills most of the world's population, or a solar storm destroys the power grid in North America. Or suppose there is a slow decline as soaring energy costs and worsening environmental disasters take their toll. The increasing complexity and interdependency of society is making civilisation ever more vulnerable to such events (New Scientist, 5 April 2008, p 28 and p 32).
Whatever the cause, if the power was cut off to the banks of computers that now store much of humanity's knowledge, and people stopped looking after them and the buildings housing them, and factories ceased to churn out new chips and drives, how long would all our knowledge survive? How much would the survivors of such a disaster be able to retrieve decades or centuries hence?
Even in the absence of any catastrophe, the loss of knowledge is already a problem. We are generating more information than ever before, and storing it in ever more transient media. Much of what it is being lost is hardly essential - future generations will probably manage fine without all the family photos and videos you lost when your hard drive died - but some is. In 2008, for instance, it emerged that the US had "forgotten" how to make a secret ingredient of some nuclear warheads, dubbed Fogbank. Adequate records had not been kept and all the key personnel had retired or left the agency responsible. The fiasco ended up adding $69 million to the cost of a warhead refurbishment programme.
In the event of the power going off for an extended period, humanity's legacy will depend largely on the hard drive, the technology that functions as our society's working memory. Everything from the latest genome scans to government and bank records to our personal information reside on hard drives, most of them found inside rooms full of servers known as data centres.
Hard drives were never intended for long-term storage, so they have not been subjected to the kind of tests used to estimate the lifetimes of formats like CDs. No one can be sure how long they will last. Kevin Murrell, a trustee of the UK's national museum of computing, recently switched on a 456 megabyte hard drive that had been powered down since the early 1980s. "We had no problems getting the data off at all," he says.
Modern drives might not fare so well, though. The storage density on hard drives is now over 200 gigabits per square inch and still climbing fast. While today's drives have sophisticated systems for compensating for the failure of small sectors, in general the more bits of data you cram into a material, the more you lose if part of it becomes degraded or damaged. What's more, a decay process that would leave a large-scale bit of data readable could destroy some smaller-scale bits. "The jury is still out on modern discs. We won't know for another 20 years," says Murrell.
Most important data is backed up on formats such as magnetic tape or optical discs. Unfortunately, many of those formats cannot be trusted to last even five years, says Joe Iraci, who studies the reliability of digital media at the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa, Ontario.
Iraci's "accelerated ageing" tests, which typically involve exposing media to high heat and humidity, show that the most stable optical discs are recordable CDs with a reflective layer of gold and a phthalocyanine dye layer. "If you go with that disc and record it well, I think it could very well last for 100 years," he says. "If you go with something else you could be looking at a 5 to 10 year window."
Gone in a flash
The flash-memory drives that are increasingly commonplace are even less resilient than hard drives. How long they will preserve data is not clear, as no independent tests have been performed, but one maker warns users not to trust them for more than 10 years. And while some new memory technologies might be inherently more stable than flash, the focus is on boosting speed and capacity rather than stability.
Of course, the conditions in which media are stored can be far more important than their inherent stability: drives that stay dry and cool will last much longer than those exposed to heat and damp. Few data centres are designed to maintain such conditions for long if the power goes off, though. A lot are located in ordinary buildings, some in areas vulnerable to earthquakes or flooding. And if civilisation did collapse, who knows what uses the resource-starved survivors might find for old hard drives?
The physical survival of stored data, however, is just the start of the problem of retrieving it, as space enthusiasts Dennis Wingo and Keith Cowing have discovered. They have been leading a project, based at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, to retrieve high-resolution images from old magnetic tapes. The tapes contain raw data sent back from the five Lunar Orbiter missions in the 1960s. At the time, only low-resolution images could be retrieved. The tapes were wrapped in plastic, placed in magnetically impervious metal canisters and remain in pristine condition. "It is a miracle from my experience with similar commercial tapes of a similar age," says Wingo.
But to get the raw data off the tapes, the team first had to restore old tape drives saved by a former NASA employee. That was the biggest challenge, says Cowing. "There was a lizard living inside one of them." Once they began to retrieve the raw data, converting it into a usable form was only possible after a three-month search uncovered a document with the "demodulation" equations.
If today it takes a bunch of enthusiasts with plenty of funding many months to retrieve the data from a few well-preserved magnetic tapes, imagine the difficulties facing those post-catastrophe. Even with a plentiful supply of working computers to read hard drives, recovering data would not be easy. Much data nowadays is encrypted or readable only using specialised software. And in a data centre left untouched for 20 or 30 years, some drives would need disassembling to retrieve their data, says Robert Winter, a senior engineer with Kroll Ontrack Data Recovery in Epsom, Surrey, UK, which in 2003 rescued the data on a hard drive from the space shuttle Columbia.
Indeed, rescuing data if things go wrong can be tricky even in today's fully powered world. Last year, for instance, after some servers malfunctioned, it took Microsoft many weeks to recover most of the personal data of users of Sidekick cellphones.
Post-catastrophe, the lack of resources - of people, expertise, equipment - might be a far bigger obstacle than the physical loss of data. And resources are likely to be scarce. Restarting an industrial civilisation might be a lot harder the second time round, because we have used up most of the easily available resources, from oil to high-grade ores.
Would the loss of most of the data stored on hard drives really matter? After all, much of what we have inherited from past civilisations is of little practical use: the Venus Tablet of Ammisaduqa, for instance, consists largely of astrological mumbo jumbo. Similarly, an awful lot of what fills up the world's servers, from online shops to the latest celeb videos, seems dispensable too.
Even the value of much scientific data is questionable. What use would it be knowing the genome sequence of humans and other organisms, for instance, without the technology and expertise needed to exploit this knowledge? With some scientific experiments now generating petabytes of data, preserving it all is already becoming a major challenge. The vast quantity of material will be a problem for anyone trying to recover whatever they regard as important: while it is relatively easy to find a book you are after in a library, there is usually no way to be sure what's on a hard drive without revving it up.
Top of the pops
What's more, what is likely to survive the longest from today's digital age is not necessary the most important. The more copies - backups - there are of any piece of data, the greater the chances of its survival, discovery and retrieval. Some data is much copied because it is so useful, like operating systems, but mostly it is down to popularity.
That means digital versions of popular music and even some movies might survive many decades: Abba might just top the pop charts again in the 22nd century. However, there are far fewer copies of the textbooks and manuals and blueprints containing the kind of distillation of specialised knowledge that might matter most to those trying to rebuild civilisation, such as how to smelt iron or make antibiotics.
Perhaps the most crucial loss will occur after half a century or so, as any surviving engineers, scientists and doctors start to succumb to old age. Their skills and know-how would make a huge difference when it comes to finding important information and getting key machinery working again. The NASA tape drives, for instance, were restored with the help of a retired engineer who had worked on similar systems. Without expert help like this, retrieving data from the tapes would have taken a lot longer, Cowing says.
A century or so after a major catastrophe, little of the digital age will remain beyond what's written on paper. "Even the worst kind of paper can last more than 100 years," says Season Tse, who works on paper conservation at the Canadian Conservation Institute. The oldest surviving "book" printed on paper dates from AD 868, he says. It was found in a cave in north-west China in 1907.
A century or so after the power goes off, little will remain of the digital age except what's on paper
Providing books are not used as a handy fuel, or as toilet paper, they will persist for several hundred years, brittle and discoloured but still legible. Again, though, the most popular tomes are the most likely to survive. Imagine risking your life exploring dangerous ruins looking for ancient wisdom only to find a long-hidden stash of Playboy magazines.
It is not just what survives but the choices of those who come after that ultimately decide a civilisation's legacy, however. And those doing the choosing are more likely to pick the useful than the trivial. A culture of rational, empirical enquiry that developed in one tiny pocket of the ancient Greek empire in the 6th century BC has survived ever since, says classicist Paul Cartledge of the University of Cambridge, despite not being at all representative of the period's mainstream culture.
As long as the modern descendant of this culture of enquiry survives, most of our scientific knowledge and technology could be rediscovered and reinvented sooner or later. If it does not survive, the longest-lasting legacy of our age could be all-time best-sellers like Quotations from Chairman Mao, Scouting for Boys and The Lord of the Rings.
Store it for millennia
The current strategy for preserving important data is to store several copies in different places, sometimes in different digital formats. This can protect against localised disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes, but it will not work in the long run. "There really is no digital standard that could be counted on in the very long term, in the scenario that we drop the ball," says Alexander Rose, head of The Long Now Foundation, a California-based organisation dedicated to long-term thinking.
Part of the trouble is that there is no market in eternity. Proposals to make a paper format that could store digital data for centuries using symbols akin to bar codes have faltered due to a lack of commercial interest and the challenge of packing the data densely enough to be useful.
Perhaps the only data format that comes close to rivalling paper for stability and digital media for data density is the Rosetta Disk. The first disc, made in what its creators call 02008, holds descriptions and texts of 1000 languages.
The nickel discs are etched with text that starts at a normal size and rapidly shrinks to microscopic. At a size readable at 1000 times magnification, each disc can hold 30,000 pages of text or images. The institute is considering creating a digital version using a form of bar code.
If we did have a way to store digital data long-term, the next question would be what to preserve, and how to keep it safe but easily discoverable.
Tom Simonite is a technology news editor at New Scientist
Friday, February 19, 2010
I went to a free workshop at the Woodcraft store on Bethel Road here in Columbus last week. The topic was the bandsaw, which I spent the whole summer trying to buy one used, and get it running and I had many problems along the way. The workshop lasted a little more than an hour and I learned how to change the blade, and adjust it so that it will run at a 90 degree angle. I was fortunate to attend and I feel confident that my band saw troubles are in the past.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Thanks Deb D. for giving me the link to this story. Like every town and city in the US, Newark needs to re tool and restructure. Some of the architecture is worth saving. The last time I was in downtown Newark this building was an ice creme parlor. I can remember being in the upstairs part of this building and it was delightful. I don't have much faith in Newark City Government. I would watch this building if I were you. Hopefully it will be saved. A town that has no public transit is probably doomed to become a ghost town. For me the town of Newark is already full of ghosts. This building was originally a bank and the architect was Louis Sullivan. The location is primo in the sense that it is right on the corner of the town Square. Perhaps a move to revitalize the downtown would turn this back into a thriving piece of real estate.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
A proposed law would require new homes, larger developments and some redevelopments in Los Angeles to capture and reuse runoff generated in rainstorms.
The ordinance approved in January by the Department of Public Works would require such projects to capture, reuse or infiltrate 100% of runoff generated in a 3/4 -inch rainstorm or to pay a storm water pollution mitigation fee that would help fund off-site, low-impact public developments.
The fairly new approach to managing storm water and urban runoff is designed to mitigate the negative effects of urbanization by controlling runoff at its source with small, cost-effective natural systems instead of treatment facilities. Reducing runoff improves water quality and recharges groundwater.
Board of Public Works Commissioner Paula Daniels, who drafted the ordinance last July, said the new requirements would prevent 104 million gallons of polluted urban runoff from ending up in the ocean.
Under the ordinance, builders would be required to use rainwater storage tanks, permeable pavement, infiltration swales or curb bump-outs to manage the water where it falls. Builders unable to manage 100% of a project's runoff on site would be required to pay a penalty of $13 a gallon of runoff not handled there -- a requirement the Building Industry Assn. has been fighting.
"The Building Industry Assn. is supportive of the concept of low-impact development and has invested a lot of time and energy in educating our members on those techniques and advancing those technologies," said Holly Schroeder, executive officer of the L.A.-Ventura County chapter of the association.
"But when we now start talking about using LIDs as a regulatory tool, we need to make sure we devise a regulation that can be implemented successfully."
Schroeder said that some building projects, such as those in downtown L.A. or areas where the soil is high in clay, would have difficulty with the 100% retention rule and that the $13-a-gallon mitigation fee is too high. A one-acre building on ground where runoff could not be managed on site, Schroeder said, could pay a fee as high as $238,000.
"We're seeking flexibility to reflect the site circumstance," she said.
At the urging of business groups opposed to an earlier draft, the Board of Public Works has acquiesced on some points.
"We worked out something with the business community that they can release the runoff if they first run the water over a high-efficiency bio-filtration system," Daniels said. "In other words, they have to clean it first."
The board also decreased the per-gallon mitigation fee from $20 to $13. The mitigation fees would fund public low-impact developments, such as the Oval Street project planned for Mar Vista, where 24,000 linear feet of parkway will be retrofitted with porous pavement, bio-retention basins and other water infiltration strategies designed to capture 2 million gallons of storm water that would otherwise flow to the ocean.
The ordinance next moves to the Energy and the Environment and the Planning and Land Use Management committees of the City Council, before going to a council vote and the mayor.
Daniels said she hoped the ordinance would be approved in the next six months and go into effect by 2011.
"I don't want to waste another rainy season," she said.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. -- A new Delray Beach business may have a heart defibrillator, dialysis machine and CPR classes, but it's not a hospital or a clinic. It's a sports grill.The bedpan full of cheese chest pain fries is just one of several medical-themed dishes on the menu at Heart Stoppers Sports Grill.Anyone who weighs 350 pounds or more gets a free meal.
Monday, February 15, 2010
I am sure having fun making things this winter in my wood shop. These are a pair of drum sticks for a Djun drum for a friend of mine who lost her sticks at First Night. Two years ago we took a Taiko drum workshop at Capital University and these giant sized drum sticks were a requirement. I remember paying about $17 for a pair from Columbus Percussion. They were imported of course. These took me a few minutes and cost me less than $3. It is hard for me to sustain the myth that it is cheaper to outsource our everyday items to other countries. It is also much harder for me to wait for my country to start doing the right thing and start making things here again. Me making my own tools and building a woodworking shop is just the next, best, first, right thing to do.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Saturday, February 13, 2010
It is always so difficult to hear about a friend dying. I am still here but in so much pain. I sure hope Laurie didn't suffer. I will miss you Laurie. I was trying to find you, but you left the planet before I could. Hopefully I will see you someday in the great beyond.
Friday, February 12, 2010
I grew up in Licking County and occasionally visit relatives who still live there.
I can attest that there is NOTHING humane about the local animal shelter. It is my hope that folks with cameras and conscience will prevail in hell holes like Licking County. Most of my Columbus Ohio friends do not know how backwards and dangerous Licking County is. The "shelter" is just the tip of the iceberg. It is not a safe place for people either. But I will write more about that at a later time. Ironically my friend Bob Bueler was murdered just a few yards away from this "shelter". His murder has never been solved.
This from Bonnie Mansfield who has taken on the task of whistle blower untill they can figure out how to silence her.
This letter is in response to Sean Ahern’s letter in last week’s Beacon:
I think it is sad that you feel compelled to defend your long-time friend, Jon Luzio (the guy using the gas chamber) by quoting Hitler and then trying to discredit ME by making up BIG LIES. How pathetic that you don’t even know what you’re talking about. My rescue has not received one red cent because of this. I did not create that video as part of my rescue. We do not take monetary donations nor have we been offered any based on this video. You are only regurgitating the mistruths that Luzio is feeding you. You need to do your own public records request. Here are the FACTS:
• Licking County Animal Shelter (LCAS) is closed to the public except for 24 hours a week. I don’t care if any other county offices are open for business on Saturdays. We’re talking about the one that is taking care of live animals…perhaps someone’s lost pet!
• LCAS holds dogs for a minimum of 72 hours and then they can be gassed to death, ESPECIALLY if Jon Luzio deems them aggressive which he often does. In FACT, the day Channel 6 was there, Luzio killed 2 frightened pups by gassing them to death. They were frightened – not aggressive!
• LCAS has a VERY HIGH euthanasia rate (probably 60-70%) if you factor in what would be killed if rescues didn’t take them and the hundreds and hundreds of cats that are killed annually due to the overpopulation at the pound!
• LCAS does NOT have an aggressive adoption policy and their Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. adoption hours should prove that!
I don’t know of any “national” organization that Luzio is a member of but I do know that he is a member of the Ohio Dog Wardens Association which appears to be an organization comprised of GOB’s (Good Ole Boys). I don’t believe they are involved with setting standards or procedures of any kind! In FACT, Luzio doesn’t even follow his own policies and procedures! LCAS office manager John Silva, former Cuyahoga County Dog Warden, and newly hired part-time dog warden Shelley Hufman, former Reynoldsburg City Dog Warden, are part of this GOB club. I believe John Silva still officially resides in Cuyahoga County, but claims to be living in Newark at a Luzio relative’s home. (Just wanted the Licking County voters to know that their commissioners are giving jobs to out-of-county residents at top pay. In fact, Silva just got a $1,000 raise and he hasn’t even been here a year. So he now makes $47,000 per year and doesn’t have to be at the pound to make this money. He can be at the State House lobbying against legislation that would reduce the number of unwanted animals!)
Regardless, Luzio’s personnel file contains training certificates from the HSUS (Humane Society of the United States). HSUS sets guidelines for the humane treatment of animals. Their guidelines state that “Carbon Monoxide (CO) gas is without question, an unacceptable method of euthanasia in states where shelters can legally obtain and administer sodium pentobarbital.” In addition, they also say “it is ALWAYS UNACCEPTABLE to use CO gas for euthanasia of animals who are geriatric; under the age of 4 months; sick or injured; or pregnant.” But on September 4 (the day of the video), Luzio GASSED four dogs that BY HIS OWN RECORDS were in “poor health.” Also according to their own records, one dog had a “large tumor on its throat.” One dog was “very old - had trouble walking.” How HUMANE is this treatment coming from our county dog warden who is also our HUMANE officer?
Mr. Ahern, your letter is nothing short of BS, but I find it repulsive that you think “LCAS runs a “cat rescue operation.” Here’s the FACT about that: LCAS has a freezer where they store pet food with dead bodies. Dead bodies of cats are stored in barrels and sold to research for $1.50 each. Does that sound like a cat rescue organization?Jon Luzio might be able to fool some of the people some of the time, BUT he can’t fool all of the people all of the time. The jig is up! The gas chamber needs to go and so does Jon Luzio!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
The American Psychiatric Association is editing the DSM IV (their Bible) and removing Bi Polar Disorder for CHILDREN. Gee do ya suppose all those children that have been misdiagnosed could get some of their life back? How about the parents who had to purchase the Anti Psychotic medications for them? What about the kids that have been incarcerated...will they be released or given back the time they were detained? Will their records be edited or expunged? Do ya suppose there could be other disorders that should be chucked as well...perhaps some of the adult diseases? I have been alive long enough to remember when Bi Polar replaced Manic Depressive Disorder and when homosexuality was removed from this despicable document. I can remember when cigarette smoking was added. Not in time of course to save any of my family. What a useless piece of crap (DSM) that only serves to line the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry and its drug dealing physicians! Perhaps when the medical system gets overhauled these crooks can be exposed for the lying frauds they are and the DSM 1,2,3,4,5, can be used for kindling. Until then I wouldn't put too much stock in psychiatry or psychology. It is about the most unscientific science I have ever witnessed. Put these quacks out of business, and keep your laws off of our kids! The DSM V is scheduled to come out in 2013. Plenty of time to get ready for some malpractice lawsuits!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Monday, February 8, 2010
Yesterday I posted a photo of a sticker on a library door, for The Wingless Angels, a secret society in Granville Ohio that has been active for over 100 years. I have been told repeatedly there is no such group and my experiences in Granville were my imagination. For my loyal readers I will print at least one article about them that makes me feel better about all that happened to me (jailed and institutionalized) and my hypothesis that they may have been involved in murdering my friend Bob Bueler who worked as a pizza delivery man in Granville in 1987. This is from The Denisonian February 5, 2008 written by Gail Martineau. One can only assume it was right on time for Black History Month!
Secret college societieshave existed longer than many U.S. universities.
For example, Yale's Skull and Bones society was founded in 1832 and touts an impressive group of alumni that include George W. Bush and John Kerry.
But despite their long and colorful histories, little is known about these mysterious and mystical organizations that rule the underground realms of campuses.
The Wingless Angels, Denison's own attempt at the ivy-league tradition, have been around for over a century, founded in 1905 with roots in the Ku Klux Klan.
But during those years, there has only been a handful of information collected about the group (literally, three manila folders worth) that says they exist to "right the wrongs of Denison."
Associate Professor of English Fred Porcheddu has made the elusive group a hobby ever since he graduated from Denison in 1987.
Over the years, he's gathered information from the archives as well as from students and alumni who give him memorabilia.
His extensive research and intrigue has led Porcheddu to be able to speculate on the past, present and future of the Wingless Angels.
A general profile of the Wingless Angels consists of anywhere from 6 to 15 men. Most, if not all, members were white and members of fraternities such as Beta Theta Pi, Phi Gamma Delta or Kappa Sigma, Porcheddu infers from his research.
He also said that the group is traditionally made up of seniors and one junior, who continues the tradition for the following year.
When the Angels do make an appearance, they tend to wear hooded sweatshirts and masks. One member of the group usually wears a different color sweatshirt, which Porcheddu suggests is the Wielder of the Knotty Knob, the leader of the group.
Much of this is known, because the Angels used to reveal themselves each year in the school yearbook. They stopped doing this in 1984.
In a five-page fact sheet Porcheddu has put together for others interested in the topic, he posits there are three different "classes" of the group. Each class can be characterized by their morals and actions, and each is quite different from the others.
Class two, existing from 1947 to 1984, had the longest reign and also was the most like other secret societies of its kind. This group concentrated on playing pranks on other students, especially women. The men involved were upstanding citizens of the Denison community, Porcheddu said.
But the third class is what got the English professor interested.
As a student during the time of this particular reign (starting in 1984), he said he was fascinated by the idea that a historically docile group could turn bad, even evil, some may say.
Classified by hateful and violent attacks, the third class staged attacks on faculty members and other students in the Denison community. They were a group to be feared, Porcheddu said.
"I've tried to figure out why it happened, but for whatever reason the chief goal of the group changed substantially in about 1984 from pranks to abuse," he said in his fact sheet.
Porcheddu said he thinks it's frightening that a person could be one way during the day, and another way with a mask on.
"It makes me so angry that someone could have two sides like that," he said.
But now, Porcheddu said he thinks the tide may be changing - again.
"I think we're staring a fourth class," he said. "The past is consciously being undone. It's too early to say for sure."
This fourth class, he said, seems to be trying to rectify the wrongs of the past members during the 1980s and early 1990s.
In the last few years, the group has let pigs loose in a dining hall, burned their logo into a Denison field and published numerous pamphlets.
It is also speculated that they released a letter during the protests last November applauding the students and deriding the administration for inaction. The letter was not signed.
Though he may be interested, Porcheddu said he is definitely not impressed by the group, that he said does not even begin to compare with secret societies at other universities such as Yale.
"It's amateurish," he said. "You show me one positive change they've made. Show me one wrong that they've righted."
Perhaps "amateurish" is not a strong enough word for people who commit hate crimes and possibly even murder.