Saturday, April 27, 2013

Operation Plowshare


 Crater from the 1962 "Sedan" nuclear test as part of Operation Plowshare. The 104 kiloton blast displaced 12 million tons of earth and created a crater 320 feet deep and 1,280 feet wide. (Look to the size of the roads in the bottom-right of the picture, and the observation deck at the lower-right edge of the crater, for a sense of scale)

Let's see, what can we use nuclear weapons for:
Project Plowshare was the overall United States term for the development of techniques to use nuclear explosives for peaceful construction purposes. The phrase was coined in 1961, taken from Isaiah 2:3–5 ("And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more"). It was the US portion of what are called Peaceful Nuclear Explosions (PNE).
There were many negative impacts from Project Plowshare’s 27 nuclear projects. Consequences included blighted land, relocated communities, tritium-contaminated water, radioactivity, and fallout from debris being hurled high into the atmosphere. These were ignored and downplayed until the program was terminated in 1977, due in large part to public opposition, after $770 million had been spent.Proposed uses included widening the Panama Canal, constructing a new sea-level waterway through Nicaragua nicknamed the Pan-Atomic Canal, cutting paths through mountainous areas for highways, and connecting inland river systems. Other proposals involved blasting underground caverns for water, natural gas, and petroleum storage. Serious consideration was also given to using these explosives for various mining operations. One proposal suggested using nuclear blasts to connect underground aquifers in Arizona. Another plan involved surface blasting on the western slope of California's Sacramento Valley for a water transport project.
Project Carryall, proposed in 1963 by the Atomic Energy Commission, the California Division of Highways (now Caltrans), and the Santa Fe Railway, would have used 22 nuclear explosions to excavate a massive roadcut through the Bristol Mountains in the Mojave Desert, to accommodate construction of Interstate 40 and a new rail line. At the end of the program, a major objective was to develop nuclear explosives, and blast techniques, for stimulating the flow of natural gas in "tight" underground reservoir formations. In the 1960s, a proposal was suggested for a modified in situ shale oil extraction process which involved creation of a rubble chimney (a zone in the oil shale formation created by breaking the rock into fragments) using a nuclear explosive.  However, this approach was abandoned for a number of technical reasons.
 I came across this bit of history in the book, The Big Roads.  Wow, what a crazy and terrible idea.  

Friday, April 26, 2013

Returning To Normal

Ian Crouch wants to know when Yankees fans and Red Sox fans will get back to hating one another:
There was hope that the N.B.A. playoff series between the Knicks and the Celtics would help gin up some regional sports tension, but barring a miraculous offensive renaissance by the Celtics, that now seems unlikely. Still, it shouldn’t be too hard to turn folks back against us. The Bruins might clobber their way deep into the playoffs. Maybe the Red Sox will outpace expectations and lead the American League East into the summer. And so by late July, when Tom Brady debuts a new hairstyle at Patriots training camp and coach Bill Belichick says some brusque and gnomic thing, the sports world will have spun back onto its proper axis. D├ętente will give way to all the normal taunts, and fans from New York and beyond will be forced to admit what they’ve been thinking for months: that Boston sports are, well, still kind of insufferable. And Boston fans will be there, still crowing about the unique spiritual grandeur of our hometown teams, and giving as well as we get.
At the end of a lousy baseball summer last year, I wrote about my lasting memory of the 2012 season: I was sitting in the outfield bleachers for a game against the Yankees, another loss in a string of them for a Red Sox team that had disgraced itself. In the middle of the eighth, “Sweet Caroline” came on the loudspeaker, and as it reached its first chorus, some heedless Yankee fan in the stands sang his own modified lines at the top of his voice, mocking the crowd: “Last place never felt so good. So good! So good!” I thought of that glorious jerk this weekend as I listened to all the good vibes from Fenway on the radio. When the Yanks come to Boston for the first time this season in July, I hope that he or his brethren are in the house, rooting hard against the Red Sox. And the chase begins again.
This reminds me of one of my 9/11 complaints: why are we still playing "God Bless America" every Sunday in Cincinnati.  That was never played before September 11, 2001, and it should be retired.  Same deal with the Yankee-Red Sox love fest.  Yes, it was nice last week, but it is time to move on.

The King is Gone, and so are You

RIP Geroge Jones:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Stay Away From The Smoking Hole In The Sidewalk

Just a tip:



Of all the urban phobias, fear of the sidewalk exploding beneath you seems like one of the most irrational.
True, it very rarely happens. But when it happens, it's awful. And when it happens with some frequency, as in Rio de Janeiro, the fear spreads -- there's even a word for it (kind of): manholia.
Londoners beware: the phenomenon has arrived in your neck of the woods. Check out this terrifying video of a man inspecting a hole in the sidewalk in Pimlico on Thursday morning.
Again, just a piece of advice: if you come across a giant smoking hole in the sidewalk, give it some room.

Bush Library Opens

I sure as Hell hope that this banner is there:


Also, this:


An Ugly Looking Storm



Tennis ball-sized hail? Fuck that! I don't want to see that cloud out the window.

Richie Farmer Is In Big Trouble



Washington Post:
Former Kentucky agriculture commissioner and University of Kentucky basketball star Richie Farmer was accused of misusing state funds and abusing his position in a federal indictment unsealed Monday.
The indictment charges him with using his state position from 2004 to 2011 to obtain thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts, hotel rooms, clothing and computers. It also alleges he hired friends who did little or no work for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
“Throughout his tenure, Farmer wrongfully used public funds and KDA resources to obtain goods and services for himself and his family,” the 13-page indictment said.
Farmer, 43, plans to plead not guilty when he is arraigned April 30, attorney J. Guthrie True said. He is charged with four federal felony counts of misappropriating state funds and one count of soliciting goods. The counts carry a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine....
Farmer, a homegrown athlete from impoverished Clay County, remains one of the biggest names for fans of one of the country’s most successful college basketball programs. He was a shooting guard for the University of Kentucky’s Wildcats basketball team from 1988 to 1992, a team known as “The Unforgettables.”
His jersey hangs in the rafters of Rupp Arena alongside those of Dan Issel, Pat Riley, Kenny Walker and Sam Bowie.
For those who don't remember Richie Farmer, he was part of the senior class of 1992 at UK, when they were coming off of a two year ban from the postseason because of Eddie Sutton's recruiting violations:
The 1991–92 Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team represented the University of Kentucky in NCAA competition in the 1991–92 season. Coached by Rick Pitino, the Wildcats were, then as now, a member of the Southeastern Conference and played their home games at Rupp Arena.
This season's team is one of the most fondly remembered in UK's long basketball history. The Wildcats were coming off a two-year postseason ban due to major recruiting violations committed during the tenure of Pitino's predecessor Eddie Sutton, although the NCAA found Sutton was not personally liable. The violations mainly centered around alleged cheating by former player Eric Manuel on the ACT college entrance exam and cash payments to the guardian of another former player, Chris Mills.
The team's four seniors, three of whom were Kentucky natives, had remained loyal to the program throughout its probation, and would enter Kentucky basketball history as "The Unforgettables". They were:
Although the seniors were the heart and soul of the team, its biggest star was sophomore Jamal Mashburn, who would go on to become a consensus first-team All-American the following season and have a successful 12-year NBA career; he is now an NBA analyst for ESPN.
The Wildcats' run in the NCAA Tournament would end in a regional final against Duke that is often cited as the greatest college game ever played. The heavily favored Blue Devils survived an overtime thriller on Christian Laettner's last-second shot at the buzzer.
The legacy of "The Unforgettables" at UK was great enough that the UK program decided to retire their jerseys (but not their numbers) almost immediately after that game. While jersey retirement is not uncommon, it is rare for a school to bestow this honor so soon after a player's career ends.
Now that the Republican party is so dominant in many rural areas, it has become a cesspool of corruption.  My own county has been finding out how dirty the party is.  Looks like Richie Farmer might be doing some hard time.  Back in high school, we called one of my classmates Richie Farmer because he had a similar moustache.  I think it grew out of a basketball game when an opposing player came out of the game and told the guy coming in that he had to cover Richie Farmer.

Oh, and this is how they exited the tournament ( I will agree with UK fans that Christian Laettner is a scumbag):



I was in the Edison Hotel off Times Square watching that shot. We were on a senior class trip to the Big Apple.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Ice Man

The Ice Man from Alex Horner on Vimeo.

Is Gaelic Making A Comeback With Unionists?

There is some hope the revitalization of the language might bring with it sectarian reconciliation:
Few here have forgotten the Troubles, the brutal, bloody battle between the Protestant unionist and Catholic nationalist communities over the North's constitutional status, which caused what seemed like an irreconcilable schism and spanned almost 40 years, ending with the "Good Friday" Agreement in 1998.
Here, street signs are written in Gaelic and streetlights are topped off by Irish tricolors--a stark contrast with the Protestant region, Newtownards Road, which lies on the other side of the Strand. There, the block loyal to the Queen is accoutered with Union Jacks and vibrant murals that recount the days of the Ulster Freedom Fighters. The immediate overload of unionist imagery, painted in now-chipped bright reds and deep blues, is the Protestant response to the strong Catholic presence.
But on this same street is a budding movement to unite the two sides and tap into a shared heritage. Protestants and Catholics alike are reviving the Irish language--a piece of culture on the brink of extinction in Northern Ireland--in a move to depoliticize a tongue typically associated with the nationalist perspective and forge an identity that transcends religion.
"The Irish language has been used in a divisive way," says Linda Ervine, Irish development officer of the East Belfast Mission on Newtownards Road. "But to me, it has the potential to unite us."
Ervine, a Protestant who grew up in the area where the segregated religious communities meet, or the Interface, helped launch Irish language classes at the mission two years ago after she realized her own ancestors spoke Irish. Since 1985, the mission has served as a Protestant outpost that helps those who live in the inner city, regardless of background or faith.
I wouldn't count on this being a huge boon to cross-cultural understanding.  I would say the cruel fact of demographics will more likely bring about partnership.  At least eventually.

Breaking a Head for Breaking the Confessional Seal

From Slate:
The Daily Mail brings us the story of Antonio Incandela, an unemployed Sicilian man who became angry with his priest's alleged habit of taking sins that were confessed in the privacy of the confessional and repurposing them as anecdotes for his sermons. According to the Daily Mail, Father Michele di Stefano had a bad habit of peppering his homilies with stories of his parishioners' transgressions, often barely bothering to conceal the sinners' identities.
It is impolitic at best and wildly unethical at worst for a priest to breach the privacy of the confessional like that—especially in a small town, where everyone knows everyone else—and I can certainly understand why churchgoers would get upset if this happened. But Incandela reportedly took his anger a bit further than that, breaking into the rectory and bludgeoning the priest to death with a hoe.
The alibi: Incandela claimed that Father di Stefano’s death was unintended. He says he only wanted to teach the priest a lesson by thrashing him about the legs a bit. But apparently it was very dark, and Incandela aimed high when he should've been aiming low.
Why this is a bad alibi: Because it makes no sense. If you want to teach someone a lesson, you push him into a pond or let the air out of his tires. Sneaking into someone’s house in dark of night to attack them with a blunt instrument is the sort of thing you do if you want to teach them a lesson they won’t laugh about later.
That is a bad excuse for how you killed a guy.

Chart of the Day

From Pew, via Ritholtz:


Conflict of Cultures In Public Education

Benjamin Wallace-Wells looks at a battle over a public school system between Hasidic Jews and other members of the community (h/t nc links).  I found this interesting:
There are other problems that are more complicated, embedded more deeply in the way the community has grown, and residents are preoccupied by one in particular: special education. Whenever I spent time with community leaders, we were often interrupted by Hasidim coming up and asking for help on behalf of a disabled child. “A nephew, a grandson, a friend,” says Yehuda Weissmandl, a Hasidic homebuilder who is vice-­president of the East Ramapo School Board. “I hear it every day.” He himself has a niece with a rare, debilitating chromosomal disorder called cri du chat. “It’s French for ‘the cat’s cry,’ ” he told me. “When she was born, she yelped like a little pussycat.”
There are many recessive genetic diseases to which Ashkenazi Jews are prone, biological traces, in a way, of the community’s history of isolation and persecution. No precise epidemiological studies have been done to determine whether Hasidic communities have more genetically disabled children than average, but Yaniv Erlich, who studies the genetics of the ultra-Orthodox at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, points out the obvious: that an isolated and highly procreative community will provide ample opportunities for these traits to express themselves.
For years, the custom among Hasidic parents of severely disabled children was to hide them—“to put them in a home somewhere,” says Feivel Mashinsky, a diamond dealer who runs the Monsey charity Kupath Ezra. When so much depended upon marriage prospects, a disabled child was a bad advertisement for his siblings, and a source of shame. But over the past generation, that has changed dramatically.
I would expect there might be similar developmental disability issues amongst the Amish.  The whole article is fascinating, including a claim that the per capita income in one Hasidic group is $6570 (they do have very large families). 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

At Any Price

Doesn't look much like the home place.:




Well that frame is bound to get a few clicks.

It's National Park Week

Henry Grabar highlights National Park Week, and a great ad:
It's not often you hear folks complain about the high cost of visiting national parks.
But if it's the price of admission that's been keeping you in front of the television instead of enjoying America's natural splendor, this is your lucky week: it's National Park Week, which means that entry to the nation's 401 National Parks is free until Sunday. That includes everything from the Grand Canyon ($12 per person, $25 per vehicle) to Antietam ($4 per person). There are plenty of National Parks in cities, too. Here's a map where you can look for parks near you.



That ranks up there with this great video for the census of agriculture.

Massive Landslide Closes Bingham Canyon Mine

Tim Heffernan (via nc links):
Bingham is an open-pit mine—a gigantic hole in the ground. The landslide, in effect, was the collapse of one of the pit walls. (For scale, the pit is a bit less than three miles wide and a bit more than three-quarters of a mile deep, and as you can see, the collapse stretches halfway across it and all the way from top to bottom.) Kennecott Utah Copper, the subsidiary of the mining giant Rio Tinto which runs Bingham Canyon, has a spectacular Flickr set here. Check ’em out.
The landslide went off at about 9:30 in the evening on Wednesday, April 11. It was expected: like most modern mines, Bingham has redundant sensor systems (radar, laser, seismic, GPS) that measure ground movement down to the millimeter and give plenty of warning when a collapse is imminent. The mine was evacuated about 12 hours before the landslide, and nobody was hurt.
But the scale of the landslide was a surprise. Approximately 165 million tons of rock shifted, causing a highly localized earthquake measuring 5.1 Richter. It damaged or destroyed roads, power lines, and other infrastructure, and a number of the giant shovels and dump trucks that move ore and waste rock out of the pit. (For gearheads, the shovels are P&H 4100s and the trucks are Komatsu 930Es. Bingham’s fleet includes 13 of the former and 100 or so of the latter. Here’s a fun picture showing the scale of a 4100’s scoop)
The lost equipment was worth tens of millions of dollars, but much more significant is the fact that the landslide has shut Bingham Canyon down for an as-yet undetermined length of time. Much more significant because Bingham Canyon is not just another copper mine. Physically, it is the largest in the world, and it is among the most productive. Each year it supplies about 17 percent of U.S. copper consumption and 1 percent of the world’s.
Wow.

Lie Detection and Attachment Anxiety

According to a recent study, people who are worried about being lied to have good bullshit detectors:
Across a pair of initial studies, dozens of men and women answered questions about their attachment style before watching video clips of two women chatting or one person telling a story. In some of the conversational clips, one of the women told a lie, a fact that could be detected through a subtle objective clue in the clip. In the story clips, the events described either happened to the story-teller or were fabricated (there no were objective clues in these clips).

People who scored high in attachment anxiety (for example, they agreed with statements like "I worry about being abandoned" and "My desire to be very close sometimes scares people away") tended to be better at spotting lies and made-up stories. This wasn't just because they were simply more liberal at labelling utterances as lies. Also, the lie detection link with attachment anxiety was specific. General state and trait anxiety did not correlate with lie detection skills. "It appears that anxiety from separation and abandonment, which relates to hyper-activation of an innate psychobiological system  (i.e. the attachment system) that promotes survival, is what is driving people's ability to detect deceit," the researchers said, "and not an overall sense of tension."

To see if the lie-detection skills associated with anxious attachment have any benefit in real life, Ein-Dor and Perry recruited 35 semi-professional poker players, assessed their attachment style and then observed their performance in a local poker tournament. Each participant was allocated at random to join in with a group of seven other players at the event. As they predicted, the researchers found that the participants who scored higher in anxious attachment tended to win more money in the tournament (on average, a one-point higher score in anxious attachment was associated with winning an extra 448 chips). Social anxiety did not have this association with tournament success.
I would say that previous experience makes me somewhat distrustful of what folks tell me.  I don't know if that qualifies as attachment anxiety, but I know I'm not very good at poker.  One of the reasons for that is that I'm not very patient, especially playing cards.  Also, one time I was playing cards, a guy I generally believe to be full of shit kept staying up, and I assumed he had to be bluffing.  Every time I called him, he had the cards.  As soon as he cleared me out of the game, he quit getting the cards.  While I might not be good at cards, it takes me just about one minute to believe some crook is running a scam.  I think it is just the too good to be true nature of the presentation.  I have a hard time understanding how other people fall for those schemes. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dynamic Pricing is Bullshit

I went to the Reds game today.  It was a beautiful day to be at the game.  I was teaching my friend's son to throw the peanut shells on the ground, and I got in trouble for that infraction.  I told my friend that that is the beauty of going to the stadium, because you are allowed to throw things on the ground.  He said, "you mean as opposed to your house or car." I said that that was the beauty of living where I do, I just open up the door and throw the peanuts in the yard.  He told his son, "uncle [farmer] lives in a stadium, don't do things like him."

The main takeaway from the game is that when it is a nice day, and the Reds think they can make some money, they will.  They have this "dynamic" (meaning fucking over people who didn't buy their tickets ahead of time) pricing system.  Today, they jacked the cheapest tickets up 40%, and the ones we were in 16%.  I'm sorry, but that just seems rapacious to me.  So much for treating the fans well.

Angelfish

ANGELFISH - Short Film from Michael Tyburski on Vimeo.

NASA Photo of the Day

April 17:

Mt. Hood and a Lenticular Cloud
Image Credit & Copyright: Ben Canales
Explanation: What kind of cloud is next to that mountain? A lenticular. This type of cloud forms in air that passes over a mountain, rises up again, and cools past the dew point -- so what molecular water carried in the air condenses into droplets. The layered nature of some lenticular clouds may make them appear, to some, as large alien spaceships. In this case, the mountain pictured is Mt. Hood located in Oregon, USA. Lenticular clouds can only form when conditions are right -- for example this is first time this astrophotographer has seen a lenticular cloud at night near Mt. Hood. The above image was taken in mid-March about two hours before dawn.

New Solar Breakthrough Potential

Scientific American:
Solar cells are picky. If an incoming photon has too little energy, the cell won’t absorb it. If a photon has too much, the excess is wasted as heat. No matter what, a silicon solar cell can never generate more than one electron from a single photon. Such harsh quantum realities severely limit the conversion efficiency of photovoltaic cells, and scientists have spent decades looking for work-arounds.
Now, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Excitonics have published a compelling case that the key to greater solar efficiency might be an organic dye called pentacene. In today’s issue of Science Daniel Congreve, Jiye Lee, Nicholas Thompson, Marc Baldo and six others show that a photovoltaic cell based on pentacene can generate two electrons from a single photon—more electricity from the same amount of sun. Scientists have suspected for some time that this might work; today’s paper is proof of concept.
The key is a phenomenon called singlet-exciton fission, in which an arriving photon generates two “excitons” (excited states) that can be made to yield two electrons. Previous researchers had accomplished similar tricks using quantum dots (tiny pieces of matter that behave like atoms) and deep-ultraviolet light. “What we showed here,” Baldo says, in addition to using visible light, “is that [this process] works very, very effectively in organic materials.”
Why it works is still not particularly clear, and for now, the pentacene cell works only with an extremely narrow band of visible light.
You gotta love when a story says that why it works is still not particularly clear.

More On Fertilizer Safety and Use

Austin American-Statesman:
Anhydrous ammonia is a relatively cheap fertilizer, and dry fertilizer was a longtime standard, but nowadays Central Texas farmers are more likely to use liquid fertilizer for a variety of reasons.
Thin, coarse soil, especially in the Hill Country, works against anhydrous ammonia, a fertilizer that can escape through the soil in its gaseous state, according to Jimmy Duecker, owner of Allied Agricultural Services in Stonewall.
And then there’s the safety issue. Liquid fertilizer typically contains ammonium nitrate but in a nonvolatile form.
“I won’t use it,” Duecker said of the anhydrous ammonia and the ammonium nitrate because of the safety and permitting issues. “You can weld on one of my tanks” — which he said store a different type of liquid fertilizer — “and it won’t explode.”
Liquid fertilizer has become common, said Benton Floerke, owner of Agro-Tech Service of Lampasas, a fertilizer mixing and sales company, because “it’s so much easier to handle because of the safety and flexibility of the liquid.”
Though ammonium nitrate might have been a culprit in the West blast, it’s a common fertilizer ingredient, especially in areas where pastureland is common, said Tim Herrman, the Texas State chemist, whose office tracks fertilizer storage.
The chemical is useful because it doesn’t break down as quickly as other fertilizers. That’s handy if, say, a farmer spreads the fertilizer anticipating a rainfall to carry it into the soil, but then it remains dry. Ammonium nitrate would hold for a while longer where other fertilizers would break down, Herrman said.
Yet ammonium nitrate also can be used in the manufacture of bombs, such as the explosives used by Timothy McVeigh to blow up the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. For that reason, it is more tightly regulated than other farm chemicals — though as a security threat, not as an unusually unstable chemical.
I wondered why they would have that much ammonium nitrate around.  Pasture fertilizer makes sense for Texas.  Not that it might not be better to go another route, like encapsulated urea, but that would be more expensive.  Safety-wise, it is a no-brainer.

Big Oil vs. Big Ag

The Des Moines Register looks at the battle over the Renewable Fuel Standard:
The steadily growing Renewable Fuel Standard requires the blending of advanced biofuels, cellulosic biofuel and ethanol made from corn. By 2022, 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels are required to be part of the nation’s fuel supply. While most gasoline contains E10 — a mix of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline — the government has approved a blend with 15 percent ethanol (E15) in newer vehicles, but it has been slow to be adopted by fueling stations.
Not surprisingly, the bills to change or repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard have come from lawmakers representing states with little agriculture or parts of the Midwest where ethanol is not as big a part of the farm economy.
Legislation introduced this month would essentially eliminate the Renewable Fuel Standard. It would end corn-based ethanol targets requiring a specific number of gallons made from the crop to be included in the fuel supply. The amount of the renewable fuel allowed in gasoline also would be capped at 10 percent — rather than the 15 percent now allowed — and annual targets for cellulosic ethanol use would have to be set at a level reflecting what the market can realistically produce. The Environmental Protection Agency has been criticized for being too aggressive in setting production levels for the nascent industry in an effort to foster growth. Another bill would order the EPA to withdraw its approval of the 15 percent ethanol blend.
Any success in significantly altering the Renewable Fuel Standard would likely thwart the ethanol industry’s long-term plan of expanding the use of its fuel in gasoline and diesel. More important, it would likely stymie the rollout of the next wave of renewable fuels known as cellulosic ethanol, which is made with crop residue, grasses, wood chips and other materials. Cellulosic fuels have advanced more slowly than envisioned, but they are viewed by the industry as a critical source of growth.
Really, this is a battle between two huge bloated industries trying to profit from fighting the inevitable change to our way of life.  Big Oil wants to get the subsidized ethanol industry crushed, and farmers are trying to keep the false and counterproductive demand for their crops, which is supporting the bubble in ag and farmland prices.  The RFS is misguided and has to be changed, cellulosic ethanol is likely to be a pipe dream for many more years, shale oil is postponing the sunset of our automobile economy, but in the end, we need to change our way of life.

How Cameras Broke the Marathon Bombing Case

Wired:
As of this writing, police, FBI agents, National Guardsmen and state troopers are still combing the streets of Watertown, trying to find 19-year old University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth student Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. His older brother, Tameran, a former boxer, lies dead after a chaotic pre-dawn chase with police. But they might never have been identified so rapidly, the ex-investigators tell Danger Room, had investigators not decided that their best resource wasn’t in their own pockets. It was in everyone else’s.
“The great advantage here is the number of cameras out there,” Rolince says. “Without the cameras, I don’t know where we are.” The cameras were everywhere. It wasn’t just the surveillance cameras looming on the tops of buildings at Copley Square. Bostonians and out-of-towners who came to the Marathon, one of the most celebrated civic events in the city, pulled their phones out throughout the race to feed their Instagram addictions and keep their Flickr pages current. It would become a reminder that the public enthusiasm for documenting their lives can outpace even the vast surveillance apparatus of the government.
On Monday, the FBI-led investigation had little more than a crime scene, one that had just been trampled by thousands of people attempting to flee Copley Square after the twin bombs detonated. An intact, pristine crime scene is something investigators desperately want and too rarely find. “Twenty thousand people milling around screws it up,” says Juliette Kayyem, a former homeland security adviser to Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Yet first responders very rapidly cleared the square of people.
The area was filled with clues. One of them would be crucial: the remnants of a dark backpack near the blast scene. The day after the bombing, FBI Special Agent in Charge Rick DesLauriers made a critical decision. He and his team called for “assistance from the public” to submit any and all types of media taken by Marathon spectators. The team set up a website for tip submissions. DesLauriers confessed that it would “take some time” for leads in the case to develop. DesLauriers might have wanted to level with the public, but the statement raised some anxieties that the investigation was far behind the curve.
If so, the call for public assistance helped get it over the hump. Within two days, DesLauriers received what he would describe as “thousands” of photos and videos, showing different vantage points of the Copley Square spectators. Once investigators arranged them by the time they were taken, they could piece together a mosaic of the scene, allowing them to check behavior they considered suspicious — and apply imaging tools to focus the accumulation of data.
Like I said before, I have to remember cameras are everywhere.  Even just doing slightly embarrassing things could make a big fool of myself.  It is a scary world out there in public.  One of my regular watering holes has a number of cameras around.  If I ever tick off the owners, there may be hours of film of me being an idiot out there.  God help me if they have any audio capability.

Fear and Cowardice

ABC News:
Now that authorities have captured Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old believed to be the second suspect in the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday, federal law enforcement officials are invoking the public safety exception regarding his Miranda rights, a senior Justice Department official told ABC News.
The exception, according to the FBI‘s website, “permits law enforcement to engage in a limited and focused unwarned interrogation and allows the government to introduce the statement as direct evidence.”
“Police officers confronting situations that create a danger to themselves or others may ask questions designed to neutralize the threat without first providing a warning of rights,” according to the FBI.
Anticipating that Tsarnaev may be in a condition to be questioned, expect the activation of the president’s High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG).
The group, set up in 2009, is made up of agents from the FBI, CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency. They have been on standby waiting for the moment the suspect was taken in.
According to the FBI, the HIG’s “mission is to gather and apply the nation’s best resources to collect intelligence from key terror suspects in order to prevent terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies.”
Geez, what the hell?  Just read the guy his rights, treat him well while he receives medical treatment, remind him of his rights, then ask him why he and his brother did it.  If it is real religious/political terrorism, he'll probably tell you.  What the fuck good is getting sent to jail for the rest of your life if you don't let folks know why you did it.  As for gaining information about a larger number of terrorists, I don't think you are going to get much from him, whether he is read his rights or not.  These guys may have talked to a few other people about how to do this stuff, but they most likely got all the information they needed from the internet.

When we overreact to such events, and restrict basic civil liberties, we are slowly whittling away the rights of everyone.  If we get a wave of gang killings, will suspects be interrogated without having their rights read to them and that be justified by the public safety exception?  Our society is robust enough to withstand the tiny risk of slightly increased terrorist activity without throwing away our civil liberties.  Just look at the last week.  Two bombs went off in the crowd at the Boston Marathon and killed three people and injured over 100, plus the suspects shot and killed a police officer before being apprehended (with significant help of ever-present security cameras, which everyone should keep in mind while in public) after most of the metro area was shut down for a day.  Meanwhile, a number of events, many of which we still aren't sure of, led to a fire and explosion probably fifty times the size of the Boston bombs in West, Texas, and killed at least 14 people.  Even assuming there are thousands of potential terrorists in this country (a number I think is ridiculously high), how many fertilizer plants, propane plants, fuel depots, chemical plants, gas stations and other facilities are there which could potentially blow up and do much more damage than those potential terrorists.  I'm not exactly scared of all those facilities mentioned above, but I think we majorly overestimate the risks of terrorism.  In this case, I see no reason to not read the suspect his rights and treat him as an average criminal.  That's what he is.

Texas-Oklahoma Water War Heads to Supreme Court

Weekend Edition Sunday:
On Tuesday, Oklahoma and Texas will face off in the U.S. Supreme Court. The winner gets water. And this is not a game.
The court will hear oral arguments in the case of The case pits Oklahoma against Texas over rights to water from the river that forms part of the border between them. Depending on how the court decides, it could impact interstate water-sharing agreements across the country...
"All of the locations — watershed locations — close by have been tapped for us," says Linda Christie, government relations director for the Tarrant Regional Water District. The district is the water authority for an 11-county stretch of north Texas that includes Ft.Worth. "So now we're going to have to go 200, 300 miles. And most of it would be water that is being pumped uphill."
The Red River, less than 75 miles from Fort Worth, seems like an ideal solution to the Tarrant Water District's problem. Fed by the Rocky Mountain snow pack, the river runs southeast on its way to the Gulf of Mexico.
Texas and Oklahoma already have a formal agreement on how to share water from the Red River. In 1980, Congress ratified the Red River Compact, giving the two states — along with Arkansas and Louisiana — an equitable apportionment of water from the river and its tributaries.
But what's "equitable" is arguable. And that's what the Supreme Court case is all about.
The Red River lies entirely within the state of Oklahoma. Texas argues that it can't get its share of the Red River watershed from the Texas side of the river, so it needs to reach across the river into southeastern Oklahoma to get it....Texas has tried to buy Oklahoma water from the state, its cities and towns, and its Native American tribes. But Oklahoma lawmakers have blocked those efforts with a string of laws restricting out-of-state water exports.
The view in Texas is that Oklahoma isn't even using its full allocation of Red River water. Oklahomans respond that Texas hasn't gotten serious enough about conservation.
"Our poor, poor thirsty people in Dallas, Texas," muses state Sen. Jerry Ellis, a Democrat who represents southeastern Oklahoma. "There's nobody thirsty in Dallas, Texas."
Ellis authored some of those protectionist laws that restricted out-of-state water exports. He also distributes bumper stickers he had printed that read, "Don't Sell Oklahoma Water." When it comes to water, Ellis says every state is out for itself, especially in a drought. He doesn't believe Texas will be a good neighbor.
"It's like giving Jack the Ripper a set of hunting knives on his promise to only use them at the dinner table. I'm telling you, right now it's not going to happen," Ellis says.
You gotta love when folks in one state are comparing folks in the other state to Jack the Ripper.  I guess they didn't want to violate Godwin's Law and go with Hitler.  Current lack of growth in population, along with abundant water continues to make the future look better than the present for the Rust Belt.