Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I Came Home Yesterday

Still incredibly tired.  Painful, but tolerable.  The wonders of Oxycodone.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Update on Clayton

Hello Everyone!
     Thank you all so much for your well wishes and prayers.  Clay's surgery went fine:  he is now the proud owner of a equine bio-prosthetic aortic valve.  The surgeon said it went well, and now Clay's cantering down the road to recovery (couldn't resist that!)
      I will keep you posted.


Friday, July 26, 2013

PBS On "The Bogus High-Tech Worker Shortage"

I was actually rather surprised to see PBS taking the side of Americans:
Currently, U.S. colleges graduate far more scientists and engineers than find employment in those fields every year -- about 200,000 more -- while the IT industry fills about two-thirds of its entry-level positions with guest workers.

At the same time, IT wages have stagnated for over a decade. We cannot expect to build a strong STEM workforce and encourage domestic innovation by developing policies that undermine the quality of STEM jobs. Before asking government to intervene in labor markets by handing out more guest worker visas and green cards to STEM graduates, we should ask for audits of shortage claims and workforce impacts as a first step toward developing evidence-based policy on this issue, an issue critical to the nation's future.

Asking domestic graduates, both native-born and immigrant, to compete with guest workers on wages is not a winning strategy for strengthening U.S. science, technology and innovation.
The article points out that many of the H-1B visas are for people who are not doing cutting edge work:
There may be highly innovative guest workers, but most are in jobs far away from the innovation frontier. The Economic Policy Institute's Ron Hira found that few of the largest H-1B employers could be considered technology innovators, with most generating very low levels of patents.
Theoretically, H-1B visas are supposed to be for workers with specialized job skills that could not be hired from the pool of U.S. citizens or permanent residents.  I've seen quite few examples of employers advertising for H-1Bs with very generic job skills: five years of object-oriented programming, and I have worked with a few who were grossly incompetent.

Up Bright & Early

I slept very well, but the combination of nervousness and anticipation of improved oxygen flow has me up bright and early.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

High Hopes For Tomorrow

I noticed this evening that my left arm tendonitis problem (including numbness and tingling in my thumb) which has been a problem for a couple of years now gets worse as I increase oxygen demand by increasing treadmill speed.  Perhaps caused by oxygen deprivation from the aortic valve stenosis?

Similarly, I had stopped taking Lipitor a bit more than a year ago because of muscle pain in my legs when treadmilling.  I figured the exercise was more important to cardiovascular health than the Lipitor (a judgment with which my cardiologist agrees).  But what if the real cause wasn't the Lipitor, but oxygen starvation?

Similarly, why has all this exercise resulted in so few pounds lost?  It takes oxygen to burn calories.

I have some hope that once I recover from the surgery, I will be able to actually run on the treadmill, think more clearly, and work a more than I have been able to for the last several years.  That's the ticket: 25 hours a day, 8 days a week!

UPDATE: For those who have been making contributions through PayPal -- they are greatly appreciated.  My copayment on this is probably going to be $2500 or more.

Waste Not, Want Not

I will not be driving for at least two weeks, because I will be in the hospital for a week, and then on pretty serious pain medicines for at least a week after that. For that reason, I'm turning off collision coverage on the Corvette's a little money.

Race & Criminal Justice

If you want to know why so many blacks have responded so bizarrely (at least in your eyes or mine) to the Zimmerman verdict, it's because of history like this: a collection from United States Digest: a Digest of Decisions of the Various Courts 14:492-3 (Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1879):
175. Indians. Negroes. Chinamen. A Chinaman who stated that he did not know the name of the book he was sworn on, but that he believed that if lie should state any thing untrue, the court would punish him, and that after his death he would "godown there," making an emphatic gesture downward with his hand, was htld to be a competent witness. The Merrimac, 1 Ben. 490.
176. In suits between a white man and a free person of color, or of mixed blood within the third degree, where the amount in controversy is under 920, and the former is sworn, the latter has also the right to use his own oath. Jety v. Hardy, 2 Port. (Ala.) 648.
177. The son of a mulatto is incapable, by statute, of being a witness against a white man. Smyth v. Oliver, 31 Ala. 89.
178. A person whose great-grandmother was the daughter of a mulatto by a negress, is not a competent witness for or against a white (Ala. Code, § 2276), although his father, maternal grandfather, and great-grandfather were whites. Dupree v. Slate, 33 Ala. 380.
179. A person whose maternal grandmother was the daughter of two mulattoes, each of whom had a full-blooded black for one parent, cannot testily against a w hite under Ala. Code, § 2276. Heath v. State, 34 Ala. 250.
180. Where colored witnesses for the prosecution, in a criminal case, are put under the rule, and excluded from hearing the testimony of other witnesses, and one colored man remains in court during a part of the testimony, and is nevef.heless put on the stand by the government, the court may in its discretion allow him to be examined, notwithstanding the defendant's objection. Montgomery v. State, 40 Ala. 684.
181. A Chinaman is an " Indian," within Cal. Code, § S94, excluding "Indians" as witnesses. Speer v. Sre Yup Co., 13 Cal. 78.
182. The color of a witness is not, as matter of law, sufficient to show that he is incompetent under the statute ; thus, a dark-colored native of Turkey is competent in the absence of proof as to his descent. People v. Elyea, 14 Cal. 144.
183. Section 14 of the California act, concerning crimes and punishments, creates an exception to the general rule of section 13 of said act; and in a criminal suit against a white man, no black, mulatto, or Indian person, although the injured party, can give evidence. People v. Howard, 17 Cal. 63.
184. The words " white person," in the California act which provides that " no Indian, or person having one-half or more of Indian blood, or Mongolian, or Chinese, shall be permitted to give evidence in favor of or against a white person," refer to the defendant only in a criminal action; and a Chinaman, who is on trial for crime, may introduce Chinese witnesses in his behalf. People T. Awa, 27 Cal. 638.
185. The fact that a Chinaman cannot be a witness against a white man indicted for robbing him, does not change the rules of evidence either as to the admission of evidence or as to the proof necessary to convict. People v. Jones, 31 Cal. 665.
186. Negro testimony is admissible, in Delaware, in a case between negroes, or against a negro. Elliott v. Morgan, 3 Harr. (Del.) 816.
187. In an indictment against a white man for kidnapping, in Delaware, the negro kidnapped is allowed to testify, though there were white persons present participating in the crime. State v. Whitaker, 3 Harr. (Del.) 649; State v. Griffin, Id. 560.
188. As to when negro testimony is in general admissible, — see Slate v. Cooper, 3 Harr. (Del.) 571.
189. A colored person is competent to prove his book of original entries, to make it evidence in a suit, though against a white person. Webb v. Pituirrgrass, 4 Harr. (Del.) 439.
190. Although against a free white person, negro testimony is inadmissible, yet it is competent to state that certain acts were done, in consequence of information received from a negro. Grady v. State, 11 Ga. 253.
191. The color of a witness is no longer an objection to his competency in the courts of Georgia. Clarke v. State, 35 Ga. 76.
192. The declarations of a sick negro to her physician were held inadmissible in evidence, except as to the disease of which he was afflicted at the time of the conversation. Brown v. Lester, Ga. Dec. Part I. 77.
193. Although an Indian is not a competent witness in Indiana, yet the fact that a witness is principal chief of an Indian nation, is, at most, but presumptive evidence that he is an Indian, which, in the supreme court, is rebutted by the fact that he was admitted to testify in the circuit court. Harris v. Doe, 4 Blackf. (Ind.) 369.
194. A negro is a competent witness in behalf of another negro on trial under an indictment. Woodward v. State, 6 Ind. 492.
195. In a suit, wherein one party is white and the other colored, the white party cannot introduce a colored witness, who has one-eighth or more of negro blood, against the other. Graham v. Crockett, 18 Ind. 119.
196. It is the duty of the court to determine the competency of witnesses, and where the objection to the competency of the witness rests upon the allegation that he has such an amount of negro blood as disqualifies him to testify, the court may, upon inspection, determine prima facie his competency; but if his blood is not sufficiently apparent for such mode of determination, then the court may examine other witnesses, either to prove the blood of the witness from reputation amongst those who knew him, or to establish the character of his blood by the testimony of experts. Nave v. Williams, 22 Ind. 368.
197. In what cases negroes were rendered incompetent as witnesses under the Indiana acts of 1853 and 1865, — determined. Turner v. Parry, 27 Ind. 163.
198. The laws of Kentucky in reference to the competency of negroes as witnesses are not affected by the civil rights bill. Bowlin v. Commonwealth, 2 Bush, (Ky.) 5.
199. A free black person was held, in Maryland, to be an incompetent witness in a case where the parties were free white Christians. Rusk v. Sowerwine, 3 Har. & J. (Md.) 97. See Sprigg v. Negro Mary, Id. 491.
200. There are but two cases in which a negro suffers a disqualification because of the presumption arising from his color. One is when he is summoned as a witness in a suit in which a white person is interested, and the other is upon the question of his freedom. Hughes v. Jackson, 12 Md. 450.
201. In Mississippi, an Indian is a competent witness in a suit between white men, and is under no other restrictions than a white person. Coleman v. Doe, 12 Miss. (4 Smed. &M.) 40; Doe v. Newman, 11 Miss. (3 Smed. & M.) 665.
202. Though a negro cannot testify against a white person, in Missouri, a conversation between the prisoner and a negro, if otherwise unobjectionable, may be proved by a white person, but not by the negro. Hawkins v. State, 7 Mo. 190.
203. Evidence that a negro has been reputed free from his childhood is sufficient evidence of his freedom to admit him as a witness. Potts v. Harper, 3 N. J. L. (2 Pen.) 1030.
204. A free black man is a competent witness to prove facts which may have happened while he was a slave. Gurnee v. Denies, 1 Johns. (N. Y.) 608.
205. In North Carolina, on the trial of an issue deoisavit vel non, where a will is propounded by two legatees, one of whom is a colored woman, and the other a white woman, and the caveators are colored persons, the caveators may prove by other colored persons the declarations of the colored woman, one of the parties propounding, in relation to the subject-matter of the issue, liagland v. Huntingdon, 1 Ired. (N. C.) L. 661.
206. N. C. Rev. Code, ch. 107, § 71, which makes persons of color incapable of being witnesses, except against each other, was repealed by the constitution. State v. Underwood, 63 N. C. 98.
207. A negro is not admissible as a witness, in Ohio, against a quadroon, on trial for a criminal offence. Gray v. State, 4 Ohio, 363.
208. A black or mulatto person is not a competent witness, where a white person is a party. Jordan v. Smith, 14 Ohio, 199; Paqe v. Carter, 8 B. Mon. (Ky.) 192. See Motts v. Usher, 2 Iowa, 82.
209. A free person of color is an incompetent witness, in any case, in a court of record of South Carolina. Groning v. Devana, 2 Bailey, (S. C.) 192. See White v. Helmes, 1 McCord, (S. C.) 430; State v. McDowell, 2 Brev. (S. C.) 146.
210. In an action within the summary process jurisdiction brought by one free negro against another, if plaintiff serves interrogatories on defendant, it is the duty of the clerk of the court to swear defendant to his answers, which may then be read in court. Jones v. Jones, 12 Rich. (S. C.) 116.
211. In Tennessee, no person disqualified as a witness by reason of his being a free man of color, or slave, under the act of 1794, eh. 1, § 32, can be a witness, in a state prosecution, for a defendant who belongs to one of the disqualified classes. Jones v. State, 1 Meigs, (Tenn.) 120.
 Ancient history you say?  Yup, I agree.  But there is a reason for this mistrust.

Surgery Friday

It turns out that short-term disability is pretty much useless unless you are going to be out for at least a month, and I won't be out that long (although it might be close).  I'll exhaust my sick pay and vacation pay well before I am back at work, but there is a procedure for allowing other employees to donate unused time under these circumstances, so I am hoping that there won't be too many days unpaid.  Assuming everything goes according to plan, I will be able to teach two classes in the fall semester, which will somewhat make up for all the lost pay and medical expenses.  The good news is that maximum out of pocket expense on our health insurance is $3250 per person, and there is no question that we'll hit this maximum because of the valve replacement.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Disabling ScopeRoller Orders

Because I am pretty confident that this procedure will happen on Friday or early next week, I have disabled ScopeRoller ordering with an explanation. 

Angiogram Results

Good news; bad news; good news.

The angiogram wasn't bad at all; most of the suffering was putting the second IV in low on my forearm.

The good news is that only one of the cardiac arteries was blocked, and that was in a fairly small remote section that feeds the back of the heart, the section of my heart that doesn't seem to be getting any blood according to the nuclear stress test. The other arteries of course all show some hardening of the arteries, as might be expected of someone my age and condition, but nothing terribly dramatic or justifying any immediate procedure.

The bad news is that the aortic valve is a lot smaller when open than the echocardiogram suggested: 0.8 cm² to 0.9 cm², rather than 1.3 cm². Cardiologist says that the longer I wait to get the valve replaced at this level, the harder it is for the heart to fully recover. He therefore suggests not waiting to get the aortic valve done.

The good news is that the heart surgeon explained that they don't actually have to open up my chest; they can do this through a space in the ribs and to the groin, and they've been doing this for a long time. Full recovery should take about four weeks. I am now working on straightening out details with my employer with respect to short term disability. The heart surgeon also says that women who have gone through this procedure say it was less painful than giving birth, and since I know that giving birth is less painful than a kidney stone, this doesn't sound hopelessly bad.

I am told that I will feel substantial improvement in my ability to breathe almost immediately upon recovery from surgery.

Additionally, while there roughly a .25% chance of the procedure ending poorly, I do not have the risk factors that account for most of the bad results.  I am about 20-25 pounds overweight (not obese), I have never smoked, my kidneys are working just fine, and I am reasonably young.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Very Nice Assignment

I found an organization that wants me to find and document every law related to firearms in America before December 15, 1791 (Bill of Rights ratification date) and even better, they are going to pay me to do it.  Of course, it's not a gun rights organization.

I Went For Simple

I left instructions for my wife on how to execute an ftp script that changes one critical  server-side HTML file for ScopeRoller included in all the ordering pages in the event that I am in the hospital longer than a few days.

Nice To Be Quoted

There's a bit more to what I said about racial disproportion and its role in striking down laws, but I can't complain.

Monday, July 22, 2013

When Death Ceases To Scare You...

One of the Army Rangers who was part of the Blackhawk Down disaster in Mogadishu returns, and discusses how he confronted his fears:

Return to Black Hawk Down from Return to Black Hawk Down on Vimeo.

In many of the Nazi extermination camps, the guards didn't do the disgusting work of removing dead bodies from the gas chambers.  After all, they were covered with feces (at death, your anal sphincter stops holding everything in), and who wants to face the evil that they do?  Instead, other inmates did the bulk of the unpleasant work of removing dead bodies, knocking out gold teeth, and then feeding the bodies into the crematoria.   These inmates would be the last victims of the day -- and they had to know that they were unlikely to be allowed to return to the general population with what they had seen.  But the fear of death was enough to get many of them to do this awful work, in the hopes of living a few more hours.

Deadman Switch For Website

I hate to sound morbid, so think of this as possibly a "sitting in a hospital bed, too sick to modify website" switch as well.  If, for any reason, I was too sick or dead to get on the web and modify the ScopeRoller website to indicate that I could not fill orders, I would like for the site to stop accepting orders.  At the same time, I don't want to make the cutoff on the PayPal side of things, because contributions drip in occasionally that way.

Ideally, I would upload a replacement for the part of the ScopeRoller website where the user clicks buttons that place orders so that the buttons were either disabled, or put up a message that said, "Due to illness, this website is not currently accepting orders."  I suppose that I could set up an FTP script to upload a modification to the code shared across all the different pages to do that, and set it up to run every week, but I really only want that to run if I haven't explicitly told my PC, "Hey, I'm still here."  Or should I just leave an FTP script to do this that is simple enough to leave to next of kin to run?

Any suggestions?

Has Anyone Used One Of These?

The Ergotron WorkFit-S, LCD Laptop Sit-Stand Workstation?  Some of my co-workers are using these so that they can sit and work then stand and work.  While there is no budget at work for more of these in the current year, I might buy one for home.  My hope is that by working standing up for part of the time, I might reduce strain on my arms and burn more calories.  (Treadmill computer desks are a bit too expensive, and I am skeptical that I could work while treadmilling.)

Java Mysteries

If you aren't a computer nerd -- you might want to skip this one.

I have started to use the FindBugs plugin for Eclipse, and it is very nice.  It finds many obscure failures that Eclipse or MyEclipse alone does not.  One particular problem it found in the code that I am attempting to brutalize into usefulness was use of == and != operators for doing String compares.  If you program in Java, you immedately recognize that:

    if (strObject == "hello")

is wrong.  String compares are done with

   if (strObject.equals("hello")

But we had almost 200 string compares using == or !=.  So why do we not have more problems?  The always useful StackOverflow explains why this often works, in spite of being wrong.  Java is smart enough to create a single copy of a String if it is a constant and there is another constant of the same content.  As a result, == and != will work if you are comparing two String objects that are both constants.  Thus, the many compares of the form strObj == "" work because the passed in parameter strObj was initialized somewhere to "".  If for any reason strObj is created in some other manner, such as new String(""), or as the result of some concatenation operation, the use of == or != is not going to work correctly.

As a result, in many cases, these really invalid uses of == and != work -- but it is a hazardous practice!

Looking For Frogs in All The Wrong Places

From Sitting at the Foot of the Mountain:
The Lord's Bathtub
This is not the usual place to find a frog:    

Yup.  It's a frog in my bathtub.  I wonder if his fellow frogs could see him, what would they say...    
"If you can get water to come out of that thing, you'd live like a king!"    
"Nice digs, but where are the plants?"    
"I like the minimalist architecture, but a rock here or there would be nice."  
"Kinda Zen.  But...How'd you get in?"     
"What are you thinking!  They have a CAT!"
And yet, the frog seems content with his rather simple landscape.  He has one key advantage:  he has ME.  I will keep the cat from him; I will make sure he is secure while he is in my house.  Eventually, I will place him back into a more secure environment.  I will be careful in handling him, knowing that frogs cannot be handled roughly.  Finally, I care about him.  

The Severe Labor Shortage Is The Reason For Immigration Reform

Mickey Kaus reports on a recent event in which he participated:
New Ricochet Podcast on Immigration: It’s 2 against 1, with me and Mark Krikorian discussing the current state of play with Clint Bolick of the Goldwater Institute. (Bolick and Jeb Bush coauthored Immigration Wars, which proposed a non-citizenship legalization for current illegal immigrants–an idea that seemed out of synch when the book was published but whose time seems to have come again).  The podcase is only 45 minutes. It’s civil. Weeds are gotten into, downs are drilled. Bolick holds up his end (he’s slick!). But his argument rests mainly on the notion that nothing could be worse than not passing a bill, because of the horrible labor shortage crisis currently afflicting the economy. Does that resonate with you? Do Americans get up in the morning and say to themselves, “Damn, this labor shortage!” Or does it seem like we have more workers than jobs? …
Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/07/20/americans-cant-find-jobs-due-to-labor-shortage/#ixzz2Zn6j4gTW
Yeah, that's it!  There are severe, economy damaging shortages of workers.  That's why we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform!

There have been times in the past when that was possibly the case.  Not right now.

The First Communion on the Moon

From July 21, 2013 U.K. Daily Mail:
Former astronaut Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin may have been the second man to walk on the moon, but he was the first - and only - person to celebrate Holy Communion on it.
Inside the lunar module just hours before following Neil Armstrong onto the heavenly body in 1969, Aldrin celebrated the Christian sacrament with wafers and a bottle of wine - a fact the U.S. government reportedly refused to make public at the time.
The Apollo 11 astronaut's plan to broadcast the religious act back to Earth was blocked by NASA after an atheist filed a lawsuit complaining about a previous holy broadcast on the Apollo 8.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2372481/Buzz-Aldrins-secret-communion-moon.html#ixzz2Zn68opSp Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
Quite interesting to consider how dramatic our society has been transformed since then.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

For Those Interested in the Idaho Enhanced Concealed Weapon License

Idaho Concealed Weapon License Class
NRA Personal Protection Handgun Course
Sunday July 21st 2013 Boise, Idaho
Future classes to be held at least once per month, depending upon demand, get on the list NOW
12 hour course 8am - 8pm
Course exceeds Idaho 18-3302K ENHANCED Concealed Weapon License requirement
Certificate recognized by all states as firearms training.
$150 course fee includes NRA handbook, flyers & NRA Course Completion certificate
Classes are small (8 at most).  PAID advance registration is required to reserve your seat. 
Class is open to all citizens who have no felonies or other legal disabler. Liability Release form signature required. 
Course consists of approximately 4 hours classroom, 4 hours on the range, 4 hours legal instruction.
Includes Basic Handgun Safety, Familiarization, Hands-on Firearms Handling, Shooting Skills & Firing Instruction.  
Several hours will be spent on the firing range bringing student skills up to standards.
Personal security & avoiding violent confrontations will be covered in depth.
Idaho State Law and Federal Law regarding firearms, concealed weapons, self-defense and after-event issues will be taught 
by a licensed Idaho defense attorney (who has formerly served as a prosecutor and as a deputy attorney general) 
 A written test will be administered (it is possible to fail this course) Instructor reserves the right to dismiss anyone, anytime, without refund.

BRING: warm jacket & hat (it gets cold and windy at the desert shooting range), eye and ear protection and your handgun  
(if you do not have a handgun, I have a few loaners, and can assist you in choosing an appropriate defense firearm), 
at least 2 boxes of 50 rounds of target ammunition as Idaho law requires at least 98 rounds for training,(2 boxes per 
revolver/auto handgun type for carry in Nevada), a lunch/snacks, a notepad, highlighter, pencil, stickynotes. 

T.Allen Hoover 
(208) 631 3003 
PO Box 6232 Boise ID 83707
        nrainstructor@tallenhoover.com         www.tallenhoover.com  
Group classes, individual lessons available, K-12 Teacher & Principal discounts offered  
DEFEND your Constitutional Firearm Rights, Join the NRA discounted memberships available, CALL ME 
Basic Firearm Courses this Spring & Summer:   
NRA Personal Protection Handgun Course $150, 
NRA Basic Pistol Course   $125,  
NRA Basic Rifle Course  $125, 
NRA Home Firearms Safety Course $50   
 Upcoming Instructor Level Courses: 
NRA (BIT) Basic Instructor Training course $100 
(Instructor Candidates must take BIT course first), 
NRA Home Firearms Safety Instructor Course $125, 
NRA Basic Pistol Instructor Course  $225,
NRA Basic Rifle Instructor Course  $225,   
NRA Personal Protection Handgun Instructor Course $350

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Trying To Get Higher Magnification Pictures

Another prime focus shot, in a different phase:

And some eyepiece projection shots, this with an 18mm eyepiece (about 79x) that came out okay, but probably needs some more processing:

Here you can see Tycho and its rays:

And closer to the terminator:
And here I toned it back a bit on brightness to make the detail come out a bit better:
Here I went to eyepiece projection with the 9mm eyepiece (about 157x with the human eye), and the focus isn't quite as good:
I'll work on these a bit more with GIMP2 and see if I can improve them.

Friday, July 19, 2013


The cardiologist talked to the radiologist, and because it was somewhat ambiguous as to whether there might be a cardiac artery that is blocked, or close, they are going to do an angiogram on the 24th.  If everything is working reasonably well, I'll be at work the next day.  If they find a blockage that requires a stent, I'll be in the hospital overnight.

There's about a 0.1 to 0.3% bad things happen rate to these, but I'm not obese, or diabetic, or with compromised kidney function, so I am not in the group that typically ends up in the dead category.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Cardiologist Called

He is still waiting to talk to the radiologist, because there are some uncertain aspects to the written report he has received.  My ejection fraction (the amount of blood that is pumped out of your heart each beat) is 47%, which is below normal, and indicative of a problem.  There is evidence that one region at the back of my heart is damaged, and not getting blood supply. But the obvious blockage of cardiac arteries is not showing up.

I asked him if I had perhaps suffered a "silent" heart attack -- the kind that damage the heart but you don't know it.  He indicated that might be one explanation, and seemed to think that the evidence of damage might explain the left nerve branch blockage.  It doesn't sound like an immediately worrisome problem, but it does explain why I have been having breathing problems under severe conditions the last few years.

I see encouraging clinical trials like this, but this sounds like it is intended for people with much more serious ejection fraction problems than mine -- and at this point, the gains are pretty small.

On the other hand, there is this encouraging report of how high intensity aerobic conditioning exercise help to restore scar tissue to working status (the British Medical Journal abstract for the article is here):
Dr Richard Godfrey, a Senior Researcher within the Centre, suffered a heart attack in 2007 in the absence of any heart disease, resulting in 16% myocardial scar tissue. The cause was later found to be coagulopathy - a blood clotting disorder.
Dr Godfrey, who was formerly Chief Physiologist at the British Olympic Medical Centre, undertook 60 weeks of high intensity aerobic interval exercise, three times per week. Sessions involved six to 10 exercise intervals of 1 min hard alternating with 1 min easy, designed to take his heart rate just above 90% of maximum.
Cardiac MRI scans before during and after showed a 50% decrease in the amount of scar tissue in the heart - the first time that exercise has been shown to cause cardiac repair.
 UPDATE: Obviously, I am going to check with my cardiologist before I start this, but there are advocates for what is called High Intensity Treadmill Training that seems to be related to the exercise program mentioned above.  It doesn't seem impossible that the body might be able to repair at least some levels of cardiac muscle damage through an aerobic exercise program like Dr. Godfrey used.

Why Teaching Math Matters

The July 18, 2013 Idaho Statesman reports on a problem that gun manufacturers here are having:
Idaho needs to produce more technically adept workers for its $500 million gun and ammo manufacturing sector to expand.
The labor gap was the recurring theme of a Wednesday forum in Boise organized by the Idaho Firearm and Accessories Manufacturers' Association.
Jeff Sayer, director of the Idaho Department of Commerce, told 44 attendees at Boise State University that a representative of one Idaho manufacturer said the business would triple in size if it could hire more machinists and other laborers with the requisite skills.
"The firearms industry needs operators with these skills," Sayer said. "That's not happening. We need to fill that gap."
I hear this from non-gun machining businesses here also -- that so few people graduate high school here with basic competence in algebra and trigonometry that they can't train them to be machinists.  The comments, of course, are a laugh -- left-wing Idahoans either insisting that the real problem is that Republicans want everyone working at minimum wage (hint: machinists, especially CNC machinists, are well paid) or that they don't want those sort of businesses here.

Especially entertaining was the claim in the comments that the average IQ in Idaho is high 70s to low 80s.  Yet, somehow, Idaho ranks fifth in the nation for patent issuance in the period 1977-2004, with almost twice the issuance rate of liberal states like Oregon, and still well ahead of California.

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2013/07/18/2658830/in-idaho-labor-shortage-hurts.html#storylink=cpy

Stand Your Ground Laws & Murder Rates

McClatchy Newspapers published an article on the subject, including a cute graphic that lets you click on states with SYG laws to see what happened to murder rates after passage.  With the exception of Florida: a whole heap of nothing.  In some cases, murder rates fell, in some, it remained unchanged.

Very Impressed With Treasury's Ability to Manage Debt

WorldNetDaily made this disturbing assertion that for 56 days now, the total public debt has remained unchanged, just below the legal spending limit -- in spite of the inevitable changes one would expect from buying and selling securities, spending, etc.  And when I go to the Treasury Department's Daily Statements and look back at Today's total public debt for many weeks back, sure enough.  On July 16, 2013:
Total Public Debt
Subject to Limit       $ 16,699,396
Statutory Debt Limit $ 16,699,421 

On June 24, 2013:
Total Public Debt
Subject to Limit        $ 16,699,396
Statutory Debt Limit $ 16,699,421 
I am so impressed with Treasury's ability to hold the total debt exactly at that level.  Even on May 31:
Total Public Debt
Subject to Limit        $ 16,699,396
Statutory Debt Limit $ 16,699,421 
 Wow!  The total public debt hasn't changed (up or down) by even a million dollars over the last few months!

UPDATE: A reader points out that Total Public Debt Subject to Limit may not be the same as total outstanding debt.

Florida's Stand Your Ground Law: Who Benefits From It?

July 16, 2013 Daily Caller analyzed the data from cases where Stand Your Ground law was invoked in Florida:
African Americans benefit from Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law at a rate far out of proportion to their presence in the state’s population, despite an assertion by Attorney General Eric Holder that repealing “Stand Your Ground” would help African Americans.
Black Floridians have made about a third of the state’s total “Stand Your Ground” claims in homicide cases, a rate nearly double the black percentage of Florida’s population. The majority of those claims have been successful, a success rate that exceeds that for Florida whites.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/07/16/blacks-benefit-from-florida-stand-your-ground-law-at-disproportionate-rate/#ixzz2ZPt2ZoHi
I am not particularly surprised.  Blacks are very disproportionately victims of violent crimes (almost always by black criminals), so disproportionate use of SYG makes perfect sense.

Sold My S&W Stock This Morning

It was having trouble breaking through $11.25 per share, and that's above the current tender price.  Nor does it pay a dividend, so it makes more sense to take the >$3 per share capital gain, and invest it in something that pays a dividend, such as bonds -- which are beginning to move into the realm of being merely disappointing on their yield, instead of effectively zero.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Twelve Years a Slave (2013)

I have been waiting for this film with great anticipation. Avery Brooks made a movie version of Twelve Years a Slave back in the 1980s with an inadequate budget, shot in three weeks, and it showed. This has enormous potential.

Nuclear Stress Test

The cardiologist referred to as an adenosine stress test; the person doing the scheduling called it a nuclear stress test.  The latter sounds so much more impressive, doesn't it?  I'm picturing a little mushroom cloud rising out of my chest while everyone runs away in terror.

UPDATE: I survived, but I will stay away from subways, airports, etc. for a while.  I have Technetium-99 flowing through my bloodstream!  I am a new superhero, Gamma Ray Man!

Yup, It's Obviously Genetic!

July 15, 2013 ABC News reports why George Zimmerman's parents have gone into hiding:
"We have had an enormous amount of death threats. George's legal counsel has had death threats, the police chief of Sanford, many people have had death threats," Robert Zimmerman said."'Everyone with Georgie's DNA should be killed' -- just every kind of horrible thing you can imagine."
Obviously, they are Untermenschen, genetically programmed to evil!  Ah, here it is: Sippenhaft: or kin liability.  To quote Himmler, the ideological counterpart of those doing these threats:
 "When they placed a family under the ban and declared it outlawed or when there was a blood feud in the family, they were utterly consistent.... This man has committed treason; his blood is bad; there is traitor's blood in him; that must be wiped out. And in the blood feud the entire clan was wiped out down to the last member. And so, too, will Count Stauffenberg's family be wiped out down to the last member."

New PJMedia Article

The Race Card: Democracy’s Parasite?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Don't You Hate When the Neighbors Can't Keep Their Pets Out Of Your Yard?

While The 17.5" Reflector Is Being Rebuilt By A Pro...

I have gone back to the 8" f/7 instead.  This is prime focus :

I did an eyepiece projection shot with an 18mm eyepiece along the terminator to try and get the focus right before trying for Saturn:

I didn't have the focus quite sharp enough, and then the smoke from the Bogus Basin fire made Saturn unavailable.  Maybe tomorrow night.

Aortic Valve Stenosis

I am learning so much about this subject!  It appears that a small percentage of the population has a bicupsid aortic valve (BAV) instead of the more common tricupsid form: 1-2% of the population.  But the majority of aortic valve stenosis (AVS) patients 15 to 65 have bicuspid aortic valves, and AVS appears on average two decades younger in BAVs.  It seems to have a similar mechanism to atherosclerosis in how it develops, with calcium deposits eventually stiffening and apparently destroying the valve.

There is a particular mutation associated with the disease, and that isn't surprising, because the BAV issue also seems to be inherited.

My cardiologist decided to do an adenosine stress test, instead of the more typical exercise stress test.  This article from 2001 gives a pretty clear explanation of why:
RESULTS Eight patients developed dizziness during exercise testing but made a rapid and spontaneous recovery. No other complications of exercise testing occurred. Survival curves, with or without the occurrence of end point events for the variables studied, showed significant differences for positive versus negative exercise testing (p = 0.0001) and aortic valve area < 0.7 cm2 v⩾ 0.7 cm2 (p = 0.0021). There was no relation between the end points and transaortic gradient (p = 0.6882). In multivariate analysis, a hazard ratio of 7.43 was calculated for patients with a positive versus a negative exercise stress test. Although asymptomatic in daily life, 6% of the patients (4/66) experienced sudden death; all these had a positive exercise test and an aortic valve area of ⩽ 0.6 cm2.
Yes, 6% of the patients suffering sudden death is an argument against exercise stress testing, I would say.  (Note that it doesn't say that they died during the test, or because of the test, but no previous symptoms and die afterwards is not good.)

There seems to be some evidence that there is an inflammatory response relationship with aortic valve stenosis, and that may be why statins seem to delay (although not reverse) the increasing degradation.

I suspect that when I first started having problems breathing when exercising in cold weather about five years ago that this might have been an early sign that things were not going well with that valve.

Voices You Aren't Hearing on the Mainstream Media Megaphone

From July 15, 2013 WTHR channel 13 Indianapolis:
"I know that a lot of you are upset about what happened last night," explained Reverend Charles Harrison pastor of Barnes United Methodist Church.
Reverend Harrison didn't mince words as he crafted his Sunday sermon around the outcome of controversial trial by suggesting there was no outrage over the recent violence in Indianapolis.
"Are we saying as a community when a black person kills a black person it is acceptable but when a white person kills a black person then it's not acceptable is that what we are saying now? IF we don't value black life then how do you expect the broader community to value black life if we don't value black life," he said.
And then goes on to make the point that if white people make it, is a sign of racism, ignorance, reactionary thinking, etc.: that the collapse of family structure in the black community is a big part of the problem.

I Seldom Comment On Stuff Like This...

But this was too funny.  I saw a piece about man in the street interviews in Indianapolis after the Zimmerman verdict at The Adventures of Roberta X, and I was struck by her self-description:
I'm *mindlessly* fascinating. My internal monologue is like a frog in a blender, swimming like mad to keep ahead of the blades.

Civil Rights Charge Demands

Angry civil rights groups on Sunday were pressing for new criminal charges following George Zimmerman's acquittal on second-degree murder and manslaughter in a Florida courtroom.
The NAACP website featured an online petition -- also posted on the liberal site MoveOn.org -- asking the Justice Department to bring federal charges against Zimmerman in the February 2012 fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin.
"The most fundamental of civil rights — the right to life — was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin," the petition says. "We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights (criminal) charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation."
I think the DOJ should also start to file civil rights violations against every man found innocent of rape in state courts, as well.  After all, rapists are clearly motivated by hatred of women -- a civil rights violation.  And if the victim and defendant are of different races -- well, it might well be motivated by racial hatred, in the style of Eldridge Cleaver's Soul on Ice where he asserts that black men raping white women is a political act.  And if a man accused of rape is found innocent, well, that's just proof that the criminal justice system is broken, and requires more trials. :-)

Health Savings Accounts: No, That Won't Work

I was thinking that I should start saving up money for the aortic valve replacement that will be needed in a few years.  It is apparently more than $50,000 -- which even with health insurance, is going to be $10,000 out of pocket.  (Nope: out of pocket maximum on my current insurance is $3250 per plan year.)  I was thinking that I could open a Health Savings Account, and put $100 a month into it, where interest would accumulate tax-free, and the amounts put in are deductible.  In five years, that would be close to $6500 -- a big chunk of that cost.

But to get the tax-free accrual and tax deductible contribution advantages, you have to have a High Deductible Health Plan.  As long as I work for an employer, I can't get the HSA advantage.

I had hoped at some point to retire and work on stuff that really matters, but I don't think that's going to happen in the next ten years.  Unfortunately, the kind of stuff that I do that I consider important (like this study of state background check laws, or this analysis of Violence Policy Center's "Concealed Carry Killers") are not the sort of things that anyone pays you to do.  I won't be able to retire, nor will I be able to find an employer who would hire me to work on stuff that matters.  I am not happy about this.

UPDATE: An additional frustration is that Obamacare includes a new maximum amount that can be taken out pre-tax for a flexible spending account plan to $2500 per year.  I sure wish that I could meet the people that think Obamacare was such a smart idea -- I mean, besides the big health insurers who are now guaranteed more customers.

UPDATE 2: One of the results of Obamacare (if not an actual goal) will likely be lots of people who have some assets quitting their jobs.  In reading this discussion of the way that health insurance exchanges will work, it turns out that there will be tax credits for those who make 100% to 400% of the federal poverty line to help them buy health insurance.  That means that a couple with an annual income of $62,000 a year will be eligible for this help -- and the plan will have an out-of-pocket maximum (deductibles and copayments) of about $12,700 per year.  No one is saying yet what the premiums are going to be, but my guess from reading this June 28, 2013 Spokesman-Review article is that for a couple, it is going to be less than 600 a month.  (It appears to be $410 a month for a 40-year-old with a family of four.)  This argues that for an older couple with significant job skills, it makes more sense to not work, or only work part-time, so that they can get the tax credit and health insurance.  (You aren't eligible for the health insurance exchange if your employer provides coverage.)  Even worse: it makes sense to sell income-producing assets and pay off a house mortgage, since a lower income gets you tax credits and ability to join these insurance pools.

But who said that there was any value to having anyone working, anyway?

How Stupid Can You Be?

From Nampa KIVI channel 6:
Phillip Bernardino Chavez, 29, of Las Vegas, Nevada has pleaded guilty on Thursday, July 11th 2013, for illegal possession of a machine gun.
According to a plea agreement, in December of 2012, Chavez and his co-defendant, Ronald Alexander, offered to sell an automatic machine gun to an undercover Nampa Police Detective.
An arrangement was made, and Alexander and Chavez sold the gun on December 18th 2012, to the undercover agent at a cost of $3,200 dollars. Chavez presented a Pioneer Arms Corporation 7.62 X 25 rifle and three magazines to the agent and concluded the transaction. Alexander and Chavez were arrested a short time later.
Alexander was already in deep trouble for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

Zimmerman Cleared Of All Charges

There seems to be some question as to whether the Martin family civil suit can go forward.  Several readers pointed out that Florida law prohibits such civil suits if you have been found innocent in a criminal proceeding, but this July 15, 2013 USA Today article, while primarily about the U.S. Dept. of Justice pursuing a civil rights violation charge, also indicates that a civil suit is still possible:
Zimmerman would be immune to such a lawsuit only if he asked for a hearing under Florida's "stand-your-ground" law and a judge found he justifiably used force in self-defense in the face of an "unlawful threat," Reep said.
Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, commented Saturday night on the possibility of suits against his client.
"On the civil aspect, if someone believes that it's appropriate to sue George Zimmerman, then we will seek and we will get immunity in a civil hearing.
"We'll see just how many civil lawsuits are spawned from this fiasco."

Weakest Solar Maximum in a Century

From July 15, 2013 Fox News:
This year's solar maximum is shaping up to be the weakest in 100 years and the next one could be even more quiescent, scientists said July 11.
"It's the smallest maximum we've seen in the Space Age," David Hathaway of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., told reporters in a teleconference. [Solar Max: Amazing Sun Storm Photos of 2013]

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/07/15/sun-2013-solar-activity-peak-is-weakest-in-100-years/#ixzz2Z7yQVhAO
This may explain why there has been no global warming for a decade now.  A prominent German environmental scientist -- and former global warming believer -- has a book out on the subject, which is now appearing in English:
Amazon is now showing that Fritz Vahrenholt’s and Sebastian Lüning’s controversial book Die kalte Sonne (The cold sun), released in German last year, is now coming out worldwide in English.
The title of the English version: The Neglected Sun, and the publisher is Stacey International in London.
Their book created quite a stir in Europe, especially in Germany. The warmist establishment pretty much had seizures over it.
Fritz Vahrenholt, chemistry professor, is also the author of the 1986 book “Seveso ist überall” (Seveso is everywhere), a book on the deadly risks of chemical pollution. That book made him one of the fathers of Germany’s modern environmental movement. Until just a couple of years ago Vahrenholt was a big believer in anthropogenic global warming, and accepted the IPCC gloomy reports as the final word on the subject – until one day he began taking a closer look at the real data. He couldn’t believe some of the shenanigans going on in the science, and so together with geologist Dr. Sebastian Lüning, he co-authored Die kalte Sonne.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Corel VisualStudio X5 SP2 Crashes For Me...

As soon as I installed Service Pack 2, VisualStudio fails on startup with a very useless message that says to email the dump file to customer support...but doesn't give you an email address.  I'm hoping support@corel.com does the trick.  In the meantime, I would not install SP2.

Very Offensive Asian Insults From KTVU in the Bay Area

Michelle Malkin's blog has the screenshot of what KTVU in Oakland claimed were the names of the four pilots on the Asiana flight that crashed.

Say them out loud, although not on radio or television.  They claim that the National Transportation Safety Board provided the names.  Yeah, right.

UPDATE: Amazingly enough, NTSB did provide those names.  The intern responsible, one guesses, has another job now.  Perhaps chief of protocol for the State Department.

Heard From The Cardiologist This Evening

The problem is the aortic valve is narrowed, which prevents the heart from pumping enough blood, and back pressure into the alevoli is what is causing the breathlessness.  The good news is that it isn't severe enough to require replacement immediately.  He explained that this is one of the few surgeries where getting older is an advantage, because the older you are, the longer bioprosthetic valves last.  Young people that need the aortic valve replaced get mechanical valves that last forever, but require them to take blood thinners for life.  He also indicated that the steady improvements in bioprosthetic valves mean that if I can put this off for a few more years, what they put in may actually be lifetime.

The downside is that this is an open your chest up surgery -- but there is a new procedure called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) where they install the new aortic valve rather like the way that they do angiograms and angioplasty -- through an artery.  This sounds like it is roughly equivalent to replacing the valves in your engine by going up the tailpipe, through the exhaust manifold, and then through the open valve!  The downside of TAVR is that while they don't have to open up your chest, it is currently about three times more likely to cause a stroke than the traditional approach.  He also says that only about 10,000 of these TAVRs have been done so far, and he would feel more comfortable that the procedures and tools have been perfected when they reach the million operation mark.  Yet another advantage of being able to put off this operation.

In the meantime, he wants to do an adenosine stress test so that they can run radioactive dye through my heart and see which arteries seem to be blocked or restricted.  This is apparently a first step to figure out if you have blockages bad enough to justify the considerably more intrusive angiogram, which would lead perhaps to an angioplasty to clean out any blockages.  He doesn't have much hope that an arterial blockage is the cause of my left nerve branch block, but he admitted that it was possible that the electrical failure was caused by lack of blood supply.  At a minimum, it would be good to make sure that there are not any cardiac arteries that might suddenly preempt the need for aortic valve replacement in a few years.

It could be worse.  It could be better.  In the meantime, he encourages me to stay at the treadmill.  He doesn't believe that it could actually help the aortic valve narrowing, and he even finds it hard to imagine that the improvement that I am feeling on the breathlessness symptoms could be related to improved cardiovascular fitness, because the improvement is too quick.  But it won't hurt me, and the more fit I am, when surgery is required, the better I will recover.

Is The Ammunition Insanity Finally Coming To An End?

Cheaper Than Dirt has 124 grain 9mm FMJ (50 rounds per box) in stock for $19.19.

These still aren't great prices, compared to five years ago, but they aren't quite as silly as I was seeing a few months ago.

Last Night's Treadmill Experience

It seems that the more exercise I get on the treadmill, the less serious the breathlessness symptoms become.  I spent 65 minutes on the treadmill last night, and the breathlessness problem was of a shorter interval at each speed than the previous night.  I ended up at 3.1 mph, with no real problem.

I am really beginning to wonder if whatever this problem is can be attributed to the prolonged high blood pressure spike caused by the kidney stone, surgery, and recovery.  Perhaps I can exercise my way back to health.

Solar Power Calculator

A reader pointed me to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory PVWATTS 2 calculator, which uses your local weather information to calculate likely power output, including adjusting from nominal DC output to AC (because of inverter losses).  I ran the data for a nominal 1 KW system (four of those Westinghouse panels), using the default inverter efficiency, and our current 7.8 cents/KW-h.  I also assumed a fixed tilt array.  (Changing the angle four times a year helps, but not dramatically.)  I am not assuming that I will get my proprietary improvements working.

"Station Identification"
"Lat (deg N):", 43.57
"Long (deg W):", 116.22
"Elev (m): ", 874
"PV System Specifications"
"DC Rating:"," 4.0 kW"
"DC to AC Derate Factor:"," 0.770"
"AC Rating:"," 3.1 kW"
"Array Type: Fixed Tilt"
"Array Tilt:"," 43.6"
"Array Azimuth:","180.0"

"Energy Specifications"
"Cost of Electricity:"," 7.8 cents/kWh"

"Month", "Solar Radiation (kWh/m^2/day)", "AC Energy (kWh)", "Energy Value ($)"
1, 2.88, 276, 21.53
2, 4.16, 359, 28.00
3, 4.93, 463, 36.11
4, 5.77, 507, 39.55
5, 6.12, 542, 42.28
6, 6.47, 541, 42.20
7, 7.05, 582, 45.40
8, 6.93, 587, 45.79
9, 6.40, 536, 41.81
10, 5.30, 481, 37.52
11, 3.48, 313, 24.41
12, 2.80, 272, 21.22
"Year", 5.20, 5459, 425.80

I should point out that the 7.8 cents is for the 0-800 KW-h consumption rate -- Idaho Power actually charges us more than that above 800 KW-h per month.  Sixteen of those panels would cost $9600 plus shipping; I am going to have to pay something to my electrician to put in a 20 amp breaker to connect this to the main bus.  I will also have to spend some money and time build a support system to position these on the hillside that allows me to change angle four times a year.  Still, it is hard to imagine that this plus shipping will exceed $600.  A $10,000 investment thus takes 23 years to pay for itself, ignoring rising electricity prices and leaving out the 30% tax credit from the federal income tax return and the relatively trivial tax deductions on the state income tax return.  It also does not include the inevitable drop in output over the life of the panels.

This is beginning to make less and less sense.

UPDATE: Of course, if the cardiologist calls me back next week and says that I need an angioplasty, all of this will need to be delayed.

UPDATE 2: This isn't California.  Idaho Power's net metering program is somewhat limited:

Is there a limit to the size of generation from the customer? 
Yes. For residential and small commercial customers, generation is limited to 25 kilowatts of nameplate generation or less.
I am guessing that they mean 25 KW-h per month.  Not a problem; I can't imagine investing that much capital in solar panels.
Is there a limit to how many Idaho Power customers can participate in Net Metering? 
Yes. At this time Idaho Power limits the total amount of customer-owned generation to 2.9 MW. The actual number of systems will vary depending on the size of the individual installations. 
I have no idea if they are at limit yet; I've put in a call to their office to find out.  Worst comes to worst, we skip net metering and just settle for wasting the extra energy. Perhaps this would encourage not putting in more panels than I would likely use at any given moment.  Or it might make sense to look at using excess power to charge batteries for use after dark.

UPDATE 3: Details on Idaho's alternative energy tax incentives are here.  You are allowed to deduct 40% of the purchase price of the system in the first year from your income taxes, and 20% in the following three years.  Idahoans who can afford to consider alternative energy are going to be in the 8% marginal state income tax bracket, so a $3000 investment means a $1200 reduction in your taxable income, or about a $96 tax reduction the first year, and $48 tax reduction for the next three years.  The website previously linked isn't very clear on how the $5000 maximum incentive per year, $20,000 maximum incentive total, works; Idaho Code 63-3022C gives the details.  It appears that you are not allowed to take more than $5000 of deduction in any year.  The Idaho Code says nothing about a $20,000 maximum incentive.

If you are a greenie, Idaho law is a sign of what a backward, primitive, stingy state we are.  If you are anyone else, they are a sign that Idaho legislators like the idea of alternative energy, but didn't drink the green Kool-Aid.  The incentives are so tiny that they are essentially a sop thrown to greenies to make them think that Idaho cares about Mother Earth.