Category Archives: Uncategorized

More freedom fun from our global friends

Whoa – just when you thought it was safe to go back to the

Iran blogger jailed for Khamenei insult dies

A young Iranian blogger jailed in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison for insulting supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has died, his lawyer told AFP on Thursday.

Mohammad Ali Dadkhah said that although there is not yet an official report about the death on Wednesday of Omid Mir Sayafi, “officials in the prison said that he committed suicide.”

He demanded “an immediate inquiry and an autopsy into why he died.”

Dadkhah said another prisoner in Evin, a Dr Hessam Firouzi, “had warned officials in the jail of the state the young blogger was in.

“Dr Firouzi called me from the jail to say Omid had a slowed heartbeat and he had taken him to the infirmary, but that doctors there did not take this seriously and said he was faking it,” Dadkhah said.

He added Firouzi reported that Sayafi had also been very depressed.

The blogger, aged around 25, was sentenced in February to 30 months in jail for insulting Khamenei and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic.

Sayafi was first arrested in April last year and released on bail after 41 days before being detained again this year.

Iran has launched a crackdown on bloggers and Internet users deemed to be hostile to the authorities and their Islamic values.

This is why these cultures can never be considered our equals.

The Fourth SureFire Flashlight

I never thought of myself as a flashlight whore. Sure, I’ve had my share of Mag-Lites – and I killed them all. I either left in the batteries too long, or some sort of black magic happened that make it so I could no longer open them up to replace the batteries.

I got a StreamLight when they first came out (the first I remember with a Xenon bulb), back when the rest of my friends were still using the old Vietnam-era angle-head flashlights, or worse yet – some no-name off-brand that came from Radio-Shack. It wasn’t tactical per se, but at least it came in OD green and that in and of itself was notable. That light spent a summer or two electric-taped (less residue than duct tape) to my pump-action pellet rifle, but the method of having to twist the lens end to turn it on left something to be desired in speed and style (in retrospect, I would have called this a mark against the flashlight’s “tactical” rating). However, it was waterproof and that always helped.

I also bought the first

Armour for flashlights

Then came the Z2 Combat Light.

The E2L Outdoorsman

The E1L Outdoorsman for Melissa

The LED lens head for the Z2

Hemming and hawing about a weaponlight –

G2 Nitrlon with the weaver adapter

Actor Says Something Political, Raises Eyebrows “Knowingly”

Actor Matt Damon, who’s crossover role in Team America: World Police,

“I played a really smart guy on a movie once,” says Damon. “In fact, Robin Williams was in the movie. And he even played a doctor. He wore a white coat. Doctors are smart, too.”

“If you play in a movie where you are smart, it makes you smart,” he added. “Because my acting skills make me become the smart.”

Here’s the actual video:

Thanks, Hollywood. You always know what’s right.

Link to research –

10 Things to Scratch From Your Worry List

For most of the year, it is the duty of the press to scour the known universe looking for ways to ruin your day. The more fear, guilt or angst a news story induces, the better. But with August upon us, perhaps you’re in the mood for a break, so I’ve rounded up a list of 10 things not to worry about on your vacation.

Now, I can’t guarantee you that any of these worries is groundless, because I can’t guarantee you that anything is absolutely safe, including the act of reading a newspaper. With enough money, an enterprising researcher could surely identify a chemical in newsprint or keyboards that is dangerously carcinogenic for any rat that reads a trillion science columns every day.

What I can guarantee is that I wouldn’t spend a nanosecond of my vacation worrying about any of these 10 things:

1. Killer hot dogs. What is it about frankfurters? There was the nitrite scare. Then the grilling-creates-carcinogens alarm. And then, when those menaces ebbed, the weenie warriors fell back on that old reliable villain: saturated fat.

But now even saturated fat isn’t looking so bad, thanks to a rigorous experiment in Israel reported this month. The people on a low-carb, unrestricted-calorie diet consumed more saturated fat than another group forced to cut back on both fat and calories, but those fatophiles lost more weight and ended up with a better cholesterol profile. And this was just the latest in a series of studies contradicting the medical establishment’s predictions about saturated fat.

If you must worry, focus on the carbs in the bun. But when it comes to the fatty frank — or the fatty anything else on vacation — I’d relax.

2. Your car’s planet-destroying A/C. No matter how guilty you feel about your carbon footprint, you don’t have to swelter on the highway to the beach. After doing tests at 65 miles per hour, the mileage experts at report that the aerodynamic drag from opening the windows cancels out any fuel savings from turning off the air-conditioner.

3. Forbidden fruits from afar. Do you dare to eat a kiwi? Sure, because more “food miles” do not equal more greenhouse emissions. Food from other countries is often produced and shipped much more efficiently than domestic food, particularly if the local producers are hauling their wares around in small trucks. One study showed that apples shipped from New Zealand to Britain had a smaller carbon footprint than apples grown and sold in Britain.

4. Carcinogenic cellphones. Some prominent brain surgeons made news on Larry King’s show this year with their fears of cellphones, thereby establishing once and for all that epidemiology is not brain surgery — it’s more complicated.

As my colleague Tara Parker-Pope has noted, there is no known biological mechanism for the phones’ non-ionizing radiation to cause cancer, and epidemiological studies have failed to find consistent links between cancer and cellphones.

It’s always possible today’s worried doctors will be vindicated, but I’d bet they’ll be remembered more like the promoters of the old cancer-from-power-lines menace — or like James Thurber’s grandmother, who covered up her wall outlets to stop electricity from leaking.

Driving while talking on a phone is a definite risk, but you’re better off worrying about other cars rather than cancer.

5. Evil plastic bags. Take it from the Environmental Protection Agency : paper bags are not better for the environment than plastic bags. If anything, the evidence from life-cycle analyses favors plastic bags. They require much less energy — and greenhouse emissions — to manufacture, ship and recycle. They generate less air and water pollution. And they take up much less space in landfills.

6. Toxic plastic bottles. For years panels of experts repeatedly approved the use of bisphenol-a, or BPA, which is used in polycarbonate bottles and many other plastic products. Yes, it could be harmful if given in huge doses to rodents, but so can the natural chemicals in countless foods we eat every day. Dose makes the poison.

But this year, after a campaign by a few researchers and activists, one federal panel expressed some concern about BPA in baby bottles. Panic ensued. Even though there was zero evidence of harm to humans, Wal-Mart pulled BPA-containing products from its shelves, and politicians began talking about BPA bans. Some experts fear product recalls that could make this the most expensive health scare in history.

Nalgene has already announced that it will take BPA out of its wonderfully sturdy water bottles. Given the publicity, the company probably had no choice. But my old blue-capped Nalgene bottle, the one with BPA that survived glaciers, jungles and deserts, is still sitting right next to me, filled with drinking water. If they ever try recalling it, they’ll have to pry it from my cold dead fingers.

7. Deadly sharks. Throughout the world last year, there was a grand total of one fatal shark attack (in the South Pacific), according to the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida.

8. The Arctic’s missing ice. The meltdown in the Arctic last summer was bad enough, but this spring there was worse news. A majority of experts expected even more melting this year, and some scientists created a media sensation by predicting that even the North Pole would be ice-free by the end of summer.

So far, though, there’s more ice than at this time last summer, and most experts are no longer expecting a new record. You can still fret about long-term trends in the Arctic, but you can set aside one worry: This summer it looks as if Santa can still have his drinks on the rocks.

9. The universe’s missing mass. Even if the fate of the universe — steady expansion or cataclysmic collapse — depends on the amount of dark matter that is out there somewhere, you can rest assured that no one blames you for losing it. And most experts doubt this collapse will occur during your vacation.

10. Unmarked wormholes. Could your vacation be interrupted by a sudden plunge into a wormhole? From my limited analysis of space-time theory and the movie “Jumper,” I would have to say that the possibility cannot be eliminated. I would also concede that if the wormhole led to an alternate universe, there’s a good chance your luggage would be lost in transit.

But I still wouldn’t worry about it, In an alternate universe, you might not have to spend the rest of the year fretting about either dark matter or sickly rodents. You might even be able to buy one of those Nalgene bottles.

We’re back . . .

I hope that everyone has been having a fun and special summer and is looking forward to reuniting with our friends and comrades of the brush and marker. Wow – sounds like an art club . . .

We are going to be trying out a few new things this season:

1. More games involving radios: We have Sport 7/Talkabout radios in our possession and I really want to look into getting these more involved in game play. Two years ago our big spend was on the mortar and bazooka, last year was the new chronograph, this year will be all towards getting some good radios for the team. The ones we have are ok (2 mile range listed on the box – which means about 100 yards in the woods), but I would like to put all of our dues and some other team member’s donations towards getting us some industrial-class radios. This will mean getting an FCC license and having a maintenance fee – but I think it will be worth it for the fun that we’ll have.

2. Tactical day: More details to come on this one, but it will be a day that involves a longer, single scenario that focuses heavily on small unit tactics. If everyone enjoys doing it, we may try to do these more often.

We are going to be having a small skirmish game this weekend (August 18th) down at Miller Ranch. We’ll get started at 9am and then probably play for a couple of hours – and then spend an hour or so afterwards wondering what we were thinking by hanging out in the pool.

Our first official game will be on 9/1.

The schedule for Fall 2007 has been posted to the paintball page.

The Hunter Killer Arrives

Stand aside, Predator drone. Coming soon to a burned-out metropolis near you . . . the first stage of the dark reality we all came to know and love in the 80s.

Who couldn’t imagine themselves crouched behind the dark corner of a dilapidated urban shopping center, running at full-speed towards the converted El Camino Technical, blazing plasma rifle in hand?

The new Microdrone – as mentioned on – may not look like much, but the British, always eager to embrace the latest in Orwellian technology, seem to be in a head-long rush towards a dark vision of automated, hovering Big Brothers.

‘Flying saucer’ police spy camera takes to the skies

It looks more like the latest in saucepan technology than the future of crime fighting.

But police are confident that this miniature remote- controlled helicopter will be an invaluable weapon in the war against wrongdoers.

The Microdrone, measuring only 2ft between the tips of its eight rotor blades, was originally designed for military reconnaissance.

Planned targets will be everything from youths riding motorbikes in a park to clashes between rival football fans and armed sieges where it might be unsafe for officers to come too close.

The cost varies depending on the level of equipment – options include thermal imaging cameras to enable night-time filming and a loudspeaker so officers can shout instructions to those on the ground – but ranges from £10,000 to £15,000 per drone.

With its military background, police are confident it will prove yob-proof, and even if someone is skilful enough to take a successful pot-shot it can still limp home with half its rotors disabled.


The British model is susceptible to phased plasma rifles (in the 40-watt range), Ithaca 37 shotguns, and tea time.


Eisenhower’s farewell speech

Ok – so it’s not really on topic, but I spent sometime today looking for a poignant quote for my farewell e-mail at my current job. I’ve been here for almost 10 years and thought I should at least try to say something noteworthy – and not too controversial.

Anyway, I was looking at Eisenhower’s farewell address from 1961 and found some cool lines that I wanted to add to the site. Very relevant for today’s political/socio/economical environment.

It’s a long post, but the highlights are in red:

Throughout America’s adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology-global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle-with liberty at stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research-these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs-balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage-balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between action of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.

The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peace time, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence-economic, political, even spiritual-is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been over shadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

Farewell Radio and Television Address to the American People by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 17, 1961 –

It’s amazing (depressing?) to see how the problems/questions are so similar to today’s landscape, especially considering his direct mention of the longevity and long-term threat of communism. I know it’s no longer popular to fear/blame the Russians – but given all of the recent poisoning weirdness, reports from the FBI about their major uptick in surveillance operations against the US, and oil deals with Iran – I think it’s certainly something keep an eye on.

As for my final work email? What poignant phrase did I leave my former colleagues with?

Keep on Truckin’ . . .