Sunday, July 31, 2011

Misc update (psyops)

Click to enlarge

The February 25th, 2011 blog entry 'Much ado?' noted the controversy caused by a Rolling Stone article that claimed that 3-star Lt. Gen. William Caldwell (responsible for the training of Afghan troops) had "... illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in "psychological operations" to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war, Rolling Stone has learned – and when an officer tried to stop the operation, he was railroaded by military investigators..." and went on to try and understand the differences between the terms 'Information Operations', 'Psyops', 'Public Affairs', etc. (which most commentators seemed to used somewhat interchangeably)

Well, following an internal investigation it is reported that the DoD Inspector General has agreed with the investigation's conclusion that the psyops charges were not substantiated... The second allegation, that Lt. General Caldwell retaliated against the Lt. Colonel who pushed back is still open and the subject of a separate investigation...

Another QR/Tag roundup

Picture credit: Custom QR Codes Gallery

Here are more QR code and Microsoft Tag news updates, uses, generators, etc:
Previous QR and Tag entries:
BB QR readers (26 links)
QR codes "in the wild" (12 links)
QR-and Tag-related entries (22 links)

Misc update (mega-tsunami)

An article 'More Than 720 Earthquakes Recorded On El Hierro In One Week' informs us of an earthquake sward in the Canary Islands, on the island of El Hierro situated to the south of the island of La Palma. This is the location of a volcano that some have theorized could create a mega-tsunami at some point in the future... Others feel the possibility is over-hyped, while still others claim it is the work of charlatans... Whether true or false, likely or unlikely, it sure has generated tons of publicity and lurid headlines, and was even featured by this blogger (see below:)

Reprint of OPED25 of 06/24/2002:

In July 1958 in Lituya Bay, Alaska, an earthquake struck measuring around 8 on the Richter scale. This triggered a collapse in which an estimated 40 million cubic yards of dirt slid into the bay, which in turn generated a massive wave that devastated the area. From the height to which all trees were denuded off the slopes it is estimated that the wave was a staggering 1,720 feet high at its highest point.

Some references to Lituya Bay: Mega-Tsunami. Charles L. Mader - Biggest Wave - Lituya Bay Tsunami - Lituya Bay Close-Up

Mega-tsunamis are gigantic waves up to and exceeding 100 feet that can be triggered by similar events. Evidence of past mega-tsunamis exists in various places around the globe. For example, in the Bahamas there are 123,000 year old deposits including boulders weighing up to 2000 tons that are up to 20 meters above sea level and at least half a kilometer inland. These are theorized to have been deposited by a mega-tsunami caused by the El Golfo I collapse in the Canary Islands.

Now, scientists have identified a fault in the Canary Islands that sometime in the future could perhaps cause a mega-tsunami. The Cumbre Vieja volcano is found on La Palma in the Canary Islands. La Palma is one of the steepest islands in the world, as well as being the most active volcanic island in the Canaries. In 1949 an eruption caused a fault to occur on the flank of the volcano, and the entire west flank of the volcano moved 4 meters seaward before stopping. Since then there has been no further movement, but it is anticipated that eventually during future eruptions there will be a collapse. A chunk of the island the size of the Isle of Man will fall into the sea creating a mega-tsunami. Scientists have attempted to computer-model the results... one model suggests that following this event the main wave would travel westwards, reaching the east coast of the Americas six hours later, at which time the wave will still be an estimated 100-150 feet high, causing unimaginable damage.

A few relevant links (a Google search shows hundreds of news reports):
Scientists are monitoring and studying Cumbre Vieja and caution that this should not happen for hundreds or perhaps even thousands of years, but that it will happen eventually. This writer has no idea of the technical issues involved (i.e. if this is a danger or not) but given the massive media exposure these reports were given and the lurid headlines (e.g. see above links) it would be a good idea to keep an eye on the area from a security standpoint in case terrorists try to trigger this event with a nuclear device.

Brief update (Honduras)

Some updates to the 'Mel and Honduras' story: In May all remaining court charges against Manuel Zelaya were dropped, followed swiftly by the signing of an agreement between him and the Honduran government allowing him to return to Honduras. This occurred at the end of May 2011, ending his approximately 16-month stint in exile. "The end of the former cattle rancher's 16-month exile was part of a deal brokered by several Latin American governments that will end Honduras diplomatic isolation and give the government of President Porfirio Lobo access to foreign investment and aid. The ousted former president is returning to lead the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP), a movement formed after the June 2009 coup to challenge a two party system that has dominated Honduran politics since the early 20th century"

Previous blog entries on this subject:
No surprise - November 7th, 2009
Getting to agreement - November 29th, 2010

Help on the way?

The March 30th blog entry, 'The why's of drug shortages', introduced the issue of drug shortages and provided some statistics re how bad the problem has become over the last few years. The issue has been polemicized, with many making arguments based on widely-different views, for example from 'Got Meds? Not Necessarily, Say U.S. Hospitals' ("deeper, more hidden reasons" responsible... implying malfeasance by manufacturers and suppliers) to 'Rx Drug Shortages: Regulation Can Be Deadly' (faulting excessive government regulatory intervention...).

Some of our worthy Senators pop up in the news every time a drug shortage occurs and hits the newspapers, a prime example being Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), see:

Klobuchar asks FDA for solution to chemo drug shortage
Klobuchar seeks to ease medication shortage
Klobuchar Addresses Medication Shortages
Klobuchar Urges FDA to Address Shortage of Shingles Vaccine

... and she has introduced legislation on the subject. S296, the 'Preserving Access to Life-Saving Medications Act'. A number of groups (the American Society of Anesthesiologists, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Hospital Association, Institute for Safe Medication Practices, and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists) also wrote a letter in support of S296.

So what does S296 do? It requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to notify the FDA six months in advance of planned interruptions, disruptions, or discontinuations of drug supplies; and as soon as possible following unplanned ones. The HHS Secretary is mandated to develop the reporting mechanisms and develop monetary penalties for reporting failures; as well as to identify which drugs might have shortages, in which case he/she then also needs to work with the manufacturers to "address" the shortages...

A good question to ask might be if this legislation actually addresses any of the multiple reasons that cause drug shortages... This blogger would argue that the answer is 'no'. While frustrating for practitioners to never know in advance what shortages are impending, the mere addition of possible earlier notifications to the current situation will prove of limited utility, and in many cases will exacerbate the problem (since the reflex action of any hospital's Pharmacy purchasing staff will be to 'advance buy' as much of the drug as possible before it goes on back-order!!)

S296 - ‘‘Preserving Access to Life-Saving Medications Act’’
ASA BRief summary: S.296 - Preserving Access to Life-Saving Medications Act

Random pictures

Source: FOIA'd Air Force ICBM Missile Officer Training documents.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Random charts

Source: A First Step on a Long Journey: How People Define Violence and Justice in Afghanistan (1958-2008)

For purposes of the survey, Afghan history from 1958 to 2008 divided into the following periods:

1. The Monarchy (King Mohammad Zahir Shah) 1958 – 1973
2. The Republic (President Mohammad Dawood) 1973 – 1978
3. The Communist Regime 1978 – 1992
4. The Islamic State (Mujahedin) 1992 – 1995
5. The Islamic Emirates (Taliban) 1996 – 2001
6. Islamic Republic (Karzai) 2001 – 2008

So, let's hear it for Mohammed Daoud Khan (even if he took over via a coup...) and Mohammed Zahir Shah (even if he was a king...)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Source: Photographer Finds Beauty in Lost Places - "A Berlin-based photographer has captured the beauty of forgotten buildings from the communist era" and Detroit's Beautiful, Horrible Decline - "Two French photographers immortalize the remains of the motor city on film."

Alternating Detroit and 'East' German images of ruin and decay....

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bush, Obama, Islam, and Vlad the Impaler

After the bombing in Oslo and the mass murder at the Youth Camp on Utøya Island in Norway, folks are studying up on the perp, one Anders Behring Breivik (a.k.a Andrew Berwick). Apparently he posted a 12-minute video manifesto to the Web, in addition to a 1,500 plus page written manifesto. Although YouTube yanked the video, it is available in a number of locations, including here. The following are some screen captures from his video:

Here are some of his enemies and what he is fighting against... Apparently the Marxists actually won (although the U.S.S.R succumbed to the cold war); the multiculturalists assisting Islam's takeover of Europe include both U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama; and he has a grudge against the media, most especially the BBC!

His heroes apparently include Vlad "The Impaler"...

Were it not for the actions and resulting bloodshed that all this lead to, it could easily have been dismissed as the overwrought ramblings of an immature, fevered mind... No longer.

In the wild - XII

Ah, a QR code in use at the shopping mall. The QR code resolves to a mobile-friendly site, but unfortunately it is not specific enough and you first have to pick your state and the mall that you are at!

OK, once you get past that you are notified re new items and/or specials at some of the mall stores:

This could perhaps be useful... However, all in all not a very successful implementation. Apart from the wasted extra steps of having to choose city and mall (which could have been eliminated oh so easily...), if you also notice the countdown clock ("Time Left To Scan: 03 Seconds") it is because the Smart Screen then cycles through all the offers available. Why bother scanning the QR code and getting the results on your mobile phone's small screen when the large Smart Screen will soon give you the exact same information?

Previous QR and Tag entries:
BB QR readers (26 links)
QR codes "in the wild" (12 links)
QR-and Tag-related entries (21 links)

Random pictures

Source: Windows On The War: Soviet Tass posters at home and abroad 1941 to 1945 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Follow the link for full-sized versions and many more... Note: many of the posters would probably become somewhat "inconvenient" when the U.S. and U.K. were no longer partners but adversaries...

Many of these posters reflect typical themes, as cataloged by "Faces of the Enemy: Reflections of the Hostile Imagination" by Sam Keen, mentioned in a December 3rd, 2009 blog entry.

Brief update (Afghan fauna)

Picture credit: Gallo/Getty. Full picture here...

OPED 13 - Unnoticed victims in Afghanistan, from 2002, observed that "Though you'd be hard-pressed to find it in the news, other things equally devastated by Afghanistan's decades of war are the flora, fauna, and the environment of the country. The problems these face have a direct impact on the future of the country, and their deterioration will complicate and hinder the recovery and rebuilding process..." Among the victims it noted the snow leopard, endangered because their pelts command enormous sums...

A June 27th, 2008 update noted that "... the few remaining mountain leopards left in Afghanistan face another threat -- foreigners involved in rebuilding the war-torn country..."

But now some better news: a report that the Wildlife Conservation Society has found "...a surprisingly healthy population of snow leopards... in northeastern Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor..."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Random charts

Source: Pew Tax Expenditures Database "Tax expenditures are a measure of the government revenue losses resulting from provisions in the tax code that allow people or businesses to reduce their tax burden by taking certain deductions, exemptions, exclusions, preferential rates, deferrals or credits. By reducing the revenue that would otherwise have been collected by the government, tax expenditures are similar to government spending... the sum of tax expenditure estimates rivals discretionary spending in some years."