Lawn Tiger Foiled

This little Black Capped Chickadee at first doesn’t notice the lawn tiger peeking out below the lower rail in the deck corner.imgp0069

But that doesn’t last long, lawn tiger is foiled again, better go back to hunting chipmunks.imgp0070

How to get kids to hate your church

Father Ronald Barker has pulled the Harry Potter books from from the St. Joseph Parish School in Wakefield Massachusetts. He’s been there for two years already so, it seems odd he chose to take them out of the library now. I wonder if the recent news had anything to do with it.

According to these quotes from the WCVB web site the reason is:

“I’m in the business of Jesus and this is the enemy camp,” Barker said. “It has sorcery spells and it’s not appropriate.”

The removal, according to Barker, spares those students who are vulnerable to cult practices and sees his decision as no different than protecting students who are allergic to peanut butter.

“What I did is start a spiritual peanut butter ban on Harry Potter,” he said.

Of course he must be basing his decision on actually knowing what is in the books, right?

Barker said he had not read any of the Harry Potter books and had no plans to do so.

Wrong 😦 Watch him start pulling the other fairy tale and fantasy books or banning Halloween Trick or Treats next.

The Catholic church has no formal policy on Rowling’s books.

Well at least the rest of the Catholic Church won’t be getting the kids ticked off at the church.

Update – I noticed a PDF on my desktop after I finished this post. It was the current weekly bulletin for the parish. Father Barker’s writing shows me he is an old school priest (emphasis mine).

It is one of the spiritual works of mercy to pray for the dead. Some of our loved ones are in the process of being purified (Purgatory) and our prayers are able to hasten the process. May we always remember to pray for our loved ones and to also pray for the souls who have no one praying for them. I encourage you to have a funeral Mass for your loved ones when they die, not a funeral service. A funeral service does not provide the graces that your loved ones would receive from a Mass. Sometimes I hear a family member saying that their loved one just wanted a service at the funeral home. I tell them that on the other side the loved one is now screaming to have a Mass, have a Mass.

Yep, old school, scare everybody about what happens after death, great way to comfort the bereaved, NOT.

Hurry up, only a few days left!

OK, what are you waiting for? Get your butt over to Stranger Fruit and click the “donate to my challenge” button on the left just below John’s picture.

I finally got my year end profit sharing check so I made my donation tonight. If you don’t know about DonorsChoose, see my other post on this fine organization or check out John’s posts about the organization and the ScienceBlogs challenges. The challenge ends this month so GO TO Stranger Fruit AND HELP US GET TO THE GOAL, NOW!

P.S. If you stumble on this post after the challenge ends, simply go to DonorsChoose and pick a project yourself.

Please don't avoid vaccinations

Orac pointed me to this story by The Associated Press. Please follow your Doctors advice and vaccinate when appropriate. We don’t want to have an increase in stories like these:

Outbreak of measles among Christian Science students – Missouri and Illinois, 1994

The Largest Outbreak of Measles in the United States during 1999 (PDF)

JAMA — Measles Outbreak in a Boarding School–Pennsylvania, 2003

NEJM — Implications of a 2005 Measles Outbreak in Indiana for Sustained Elimination of Measles in the United States

NewsDaily: Science — Measles outbreak reported at Mich. school

Happy Birthday Wilhelm Weber

Today, October the 24th, is the birthday of Wilhelm Eduard Weber. He was born at Wittenberg, Germany in 1804. I don’t have time to write more about him so I’ll try to write a more detailed post for his birthday next year.

The SI unit of magnetic flux is named the weber to honor his work.

Wilhelm Eduard Weber II

More information:
Wilhelm Eduard Weber – Wikipedia
The Virtual Laboratory People
Weber biography
Encyclopedia of Earth

Some of his books at Google Books (not in English so I can’t read them)
Elektrodynamische Maassbestimmungen
Wilhelm Weber’s Werke

Silence of the Bees on PBS

This sounds like a great season opener for Nature this Sunday night, Silence of the Bees.

The Season 26 opener probes colony collapse disorder the dramatic loss of honeybees in North America and Europe. The honeybee is responsible (via pollination) for one of every three bites of food people eat. Included: long-term ramifications.

The PBS Pressroom has more information and some photos from the show. If you click a picture you will get a new window with a bigger image and a button to download a high resolution version. However, the download requires registration showing you are part of the media. Well, I found that if you just click the picture in the pop-up window, instead of the download button, you get the high resolution image without registration.

Over at ENN they have a good article about the show. I wonder if Bug Girl has heard about this show.

Cold Electricity?

On a mail list the other day, somebody posted links to cold electricity videos on Youtube.

Part 1:

The one mail list reply was funny:

> Part 1:

“believe it of not”

(misspelling from the video)

Wow, RF works differently than DC!

Exactly, read the description of the lab where the experiments are carried out.

Dr. Ronald Stiffler
Laboratory & Environment
Our lab is located in a bioresearch facility build in the mid-nineties. The lab was not constructed with RF or sensitive electronics work in mind, it therefore has no RF shielding or integral grounding bus bars. The lab is located in close proximity to a 50kw AM transmitter operating on a frequency of 1520kHz. Additionally there are high RF levels from an FM radio station in range of 98mHz.

Gee I wonder if the large amount of ambient RF energy at the lab has anything to do with cold electricity. While it is interesting to capture and use the energy from RF transmissions (e.g. crystal radio, RFID tag) it isn’t going to power your house without exceeding safe exposure limits.

Some more links for your entertainment, “cold electricity” – Google Search

A real test of super speaker cables, maybe not

I read in Swift that one of the outrageously expensive sets of speaker wires where going to submit to a real test. There is no rocket science involved in determining if a person can hear a difference between audio products. The ABX Double Blind Comparator System isn’t exactly new technology and when used in a properly controlled test yields excellent results. The problem is that most manufacturers don’t seem to want to do good tests , instead they depend on reviewers and not necessarily applicable technical measurements.

The next week I read about more developments in the process and it was looking like the people making the claim for the big money cable where backing out. However the next section of Swift gave me hope this would go forward. Randi had done something I hadn’t seen before, he changed the wording of his challenge rules to address the complaints of the reviewer, Michael Fremer.

To those readers who are unfamiliar with the JREF challenge here’s a few important points about it. People often make claims for things that have no plausible scientific explanation. The JREF has put up 1 million dollars US as a prize for any person who has made such a claim, has gotten the claim publicly known via the media and can demonstrate the affect to the JREF. The claimant doesn’t have to explain how anything works all they have to do is show that it works. Both the claimant and the JREF have to agree ahead of time on a test that demonstrates the claim. If the claimant passes the agreed upon test the JREF hands over the prize.

For the claims made by this audio reviewer this should be a very simple and straight forward test. The claim is that the reviewer can reliably tell the difference between the ultra-expensive Pear speaker wire and normally priced speaker wire. A simple controlled double blind listening test will be all that is needed to decide the matter. So if the reviewer and manufacturer are truly sincere about their extraordinary claim they will now go ahead and start discussing a simple test.

Sadly this post, BLAKE WITHDRAWS, has just gone up at the JREF. The manufacturer is pulling out before even hammering out a simple test procedure. This says to me that the manufacturer isn’t all that certain of their claim.

Some more reading about audio cables:
The Truth About Cables – AxiomAudio
Interconnect and speaker cable whitepaper
Speaker Cables from Blue Jeans Cable

From Audioholics Home Theater Reviews and News:
Un-Sound Advice About Cables
Top Ten Signs an Audio Cable Vendor is Selling You Snake Oil
AudioQuest Responds to Top 10 Snake Oil Article
Thiel Audio Interview on Cables
Cable Distortion and Dielectric Biasing Debunked
Skin Effect Relevance in Speaker Cables
Speaker Cable Face Off 1
Speaker Cable Reviews – Faceoff 2
Speaker Cable Faceoff 3

Why we need net neutrality

Two posts at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) appear to confirm what many have suspected.

EFF tests agree with AP: Comcast is forging packets to interfere with user traffic

Comcast keeps telling its users that the problems they’re seeing are not its fault. It’s time for Comcast to come clean about what it’s doing and take its users’ reports seriously.

Comcast is also Jamming Gnutella (and Lotus Notes?)

When an ISP starts arbitrarily zapping some of the protocols that its customers use, they instantly endanger the cascade of innovation that the Internet has enabled. Before this kind of traffic jamming, anybody — huge businesses, small start-ups, college students and children in their bedrooms — could build new, innovative protocols on top of the Internet’s TCP/IP platform.

If this type of conduct is allowed to continue, many innovators will have to get active assistance from an ISP in order to have their protocols allowed through the ISP’s web of spoofing and forgery. Technologies like BitTorrent and Joost, which are used to distribute licensed movies and are in direct competition with Comcast’s cable TV services, will be at Comcast’s mercy.

It should also be remembered that in many parts of the United States, Comcast is a duopoly or even a monopoly provider of broadband Internet access. Competition might offer some protection against packet-forging ISPs, but under current market conditions, we can’t depend on it.

The last paragraph is the big problem here, with most citizens having little or no choice in ISP’s I think we need Network neutrality in the United States. If we ever get to a point in the US where most citizens have three or more choices in provider then it won’t matter if one or even two ISP’s are interfering with their customers usage.

Cell Phone Jammer Foolishness

Last weeks edition of The McLaughlin Group had the stupidest debate ever.

Chatter Zapper.

Is it a new wave of technology, or is it an anti-wave? They’re called cell phone jammers, capable of voiding any conversation within 20 feet. This combative technology has been called “revenge tech” or “design noir” or “annoyance tech.”

We’ve all been there. You’re sitting on a sold-out train, a crowded bus. It starts with a cell phone ring, some zany, cacophonous sound. Then the person sitting next to you picks up her cell phone. The agony begins; first the retelling of her day, then it is a round of “He said, she said,” then what’s for dinner.

Unobtrusively you reach over and take out your “revenge tech” device — zap. That takes care of that.

I think it’s a pseudo-problem. It’s a pseudo- problem, because technology will now devise a jam-proof telephone or the chatter will not work.
-John McLaughlin

The reason I call this the stupidest debate ever on the show is that jammers are illegal, period. They have been illegal my whole lifetime and they will remain illegal as long as humans want to have usable radio technology. This is not a new technology, as long as there has been radio there has been radio jamming technology. They are confusing a new product with a new technology and ignoring the reality of the FCC rules.

In case you don’t think jammers will get you into deep trouble, here’s the FCC penalty.

Fines for a first offense can range as high as $11,000 for each violation or imprisonment for up to one year, and the device used may also be seized and forfeited to the U.S. government.

For more information and the rules for other countries see this Wikipedia article.

**** UPDATE ****

More information at this newer post