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Week of 13 September 2010

Latest Update: Sunday, 19 September 2010 11:17 -0400

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Monday, 13 September 2010
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08:12 - Costco run yesterday with Mary and Paul, followed by dinner. Mary's shiny new black BMW 325 was parked in the garage when we picked them up. She's gotten no speeding tickets, yet, but she did say she'd found herself driving 90 MPH on the Interstate without realizing she was speeding.

I thought Mary looked tired. No surprise there, as it turned out. She's in training for a Marathon she plans to run in Baltimore, and had run 17 miles that morning and then done the weekly house cleaning. Just being around Mary makes me feel exhausted.

15:24 -
 Boy, this pisses me off. It's bad enough that a nice young woman killed herself, apparently because she'd lost her job as a lab tech. Talk about a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It's worse that she killed herself with potassium cyanide. Despite how the movies represent it, death by cyanide poisoning is neither quick nor easy. This young woman's final minutes were hell. After swallowing the cyanide salt, she would have spent the next several minutes in agonizing pain, thrashing uncontrollably as she slowly suffocated, and voiding her bowels and bladder.

So now we have the authorities calling for tighter controls on "dangerous" chemicals that might be used by terrorists. They just don't get it. Tighter controls on chemicals do absolutely nothing to stop or even mildly inconvenience terrorists and drug makers. They just make it harder for hobbyists to pursue their perfectly legitimate hobbies.

When I was a teenager, I used sodium and potassium cyanide in my basement darkroom. Cyanide salts were actually the original "fixer" used in photography, before the safer sodium thiosulfate came into use. And cyanide salts were cheap and easy to obtain back then. You could still find them in some hardware stores, where they were sold for poisoning hornet nests and similar purposes, and they were cheap and easy to mail-order. Even so, I made them myself, because the precursor chemicals were even cheaper and easier to obtain.

So, let me tell you what a terrorist needs if he wants to make, say, a kilo of sodium cyanide. No, on second thought I won't. Not because a terrorist needs any help to make sodium cyanide, but because it might help some 10-year-old kid do it. Suffice it to say that the raw materials needed to produce a kilo of sodium cyanide can be purchased for a few dollars in any hardware store, and that the synthesis is trivially easy. Any first-year chemistry student should be able to figure out how to do it. Terrorists are evil. They're not stupid.


Tuesday, 14 September 2010
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07:55 - Okay, someone pointed out by email that a simple list of the materials needed to make sodium cyanide couldn't hurt, and he was right. So, here's what you need from the hardware store to synthesize sodium cyanide: (1) washing soda, (2) fine steel wool, and (3) charcoal briquettes. You'll also need a propane torch, a couple of bricks, and an empty coffee can. That's it. That's sufficient to produce crude NaCN. If for some reason you want the pure stuff, you'll also need a bottle of sulfuric acid drain opener, a bottle of sodium hydroxide drain opener, some plastic tubing, and a couple of empty 2-liter soda bottles. Good luck to the authorities trying to stop anyone who wants to from producing sodium cyanide by the kilo.

10:40 - I just finished filling out my state and federal estimated tax vouchers and writing checks. As I did, I wondered why, if Obama and congress really wanted an economic stimulus, they didn't just waive collection and payment of federal income and social security taxes for the year. Talk about a wide-ranging economic stimulus. Or, if entirely waiving them would have cost the Treasury too much, why not waive, say, the first $2,500 for individual or $5,000 for couples? Instead, our moronic government spent a trillion dollars or so propping up auto makers that were failing (and deserved to fail) and giving gigantic windfalls to Wall Street banks.

I'm seriously hoping that every politician who voted in favor of any of this crap, which is to say nearly all of them, is voted out of office come November. Actually, I'd rather see them hanging from lampposts, but that's probably not realistic.


Wednesday, 15 September 2010
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08:49 - Here's another of those hexadecimal short stories I enjoy so much. You might want to grab a copy for yourself and send it to all your friends. As I was writing this, I checked Google and found only 280 copies indexed. The excellent plotting and dialog of this story should earn it much wider distribution. There should be millions upon millions of copies scattered across the Internet. Let's make sure it lives forever.


This is a forty times forty element matrix of fifty-six bit hexadecimal numbers.

To generate a source key, take a forty-bit number that (in binary) consists of twenty ones and twenty zeroes; this is the source KSV.

Add together those twenty rows of the matrix that correspond to the ones in the KSV (with the lowest bit in the KSV corresponding to the first row), taking all elements modulo two to the power of fifty-six; this is the source private key.

To generate a sink key, do the same, but with the transposed matrix.

6692d179032205 b4116a96425a7f ecc2ef51af1740 959d3b6d07bce4 fa9f2af29814d9
82592e77a204a8 146a6970e3c4a1 f43a81dc36eff7 568b44f60c79f5 bb606d7fe87dd6
1b91b9b73c68f9 f31c6aeef81de6 9a9cc14469a037 a480bc978970a6 997f729d0a1a39
b3b9accda43860 f9d45a5bf64a1d 180a1013ba5023 42b73df2d33112 851f2c4d21b05e
2901308bbd685c 9fde452d3328f5 4cc518f97414a8 8fca1f7e2a0a14 dc8bdbb12e2378
672f11cedf36c5 f45a2a00da1c1d 5a3e82c124129a 084a707eadd972 cb45c81b64808d
07ebd2779e3e71 9663e2beeee6e5 25078568d83de8 28027d5c0c4e65 ec3f0fc32c7e63
1d6b501ae0f003 f5a8fcecb28092 854349337aa99e 9c669367e08bf1 d9c23474e09f70

3c901d46bada9a 40981ffcfa376f a4b686ca8fb039 63f2ce16b91863 1bade89cc52ca2
4552921af8efd2 fe8ac96a02a6f9 9248b8894b23bd 17535dbff93d56 94bdc32a095df2
cd247c6d30286e d2212f9d8ce80a dc55bdc2a6962c bcabf9b5fcbe6f c2cfc78f5fdafa
80e32223b9feab f1fa23f5b0bf0d ab6bf4b5b698ae d960315753d36f 424701e5a944ed
10f61245ebe788 f57a17fc53a314 00e22e88911d9e 76575e18c7956e c1ef4eee022e38
f5459f177591d9 08748f861098ef 287d2c63bd809e e6a28a6f5d000c 7ae5964a663c1b
0f15f7167f56c6 d6c05b2bbe8800 544a49be026410 d9f3f08602517f 74878dc02827f7
d72ef3ea24b7c8 717c7afc0b55a5 0be2a582516d08 202ded173a5428 9b71e35e45943f

9e7cd2c8789c99 1b590a91f1cffd 903dca7c36d298 52ad58ddcc1861 56dd3acba0d9c5
c76254c1be9ed1 06ecb6ae8ff373 cfcc1afcbc80a4 30eba7ac19308c d6e20ae760c986
c0d1e59db1075f 8933d5d8284b92 9280d9a3faa716 8386984f92bfd6 be56cd7c4bfa59
16593d2aa598a6 d62534326a40ee 0c1f1919936667 acbaf0eefdd395 36dbfdbf9e1439
0bd7c7e683d280 54759e16cfd9ea cac9029104bd51 436d1dca1371d3 ca2f808654cdb2
7d6923e47f97b5 70e256b741910c 7dd466ed5fff2e 26bec4a28e8cc4 5754ea7219d4eb
75270aa4d3cc8d e0ae1d1897b7f4 4fe5663e8cb342 05a80e4a1a950d 66b4eb6ed4c99e
3d7e9d469c6165 81677af04a2e15 ada4be60bc348d dfdfbbad739248 98ad5986f3ca1f

971d02ada31b46 2adab96f7b15da 9855f01b9b7b94 6cef0f65663fbf eb328e8a3c6c5d
e29f0f0b1ef2bf e4a30b29047d31 52250e7ae3a4ac fe3efc3b8c2df1 8c997d15d6078b
49da8b4611ff9f b1e061bc9be995 31fd68c4ad6dc6 fd8974f0c506dd 90421c1cd2b26c
53eec84c91ed17 5159ba3711173b 25e318ddceea6a 98a14125755955 2bb97fd341cea2
3f8404769a0a8e bce5c7a45fb5d4 9608307b43f785 2a98e5856afe75 b4dbead4815cac
d1118af62c964a 3142667a5b0d14 6c6f90933acd3d 6b14a0052e2be4 1b1811fda0f554
12300aa7f10405 1919ca0bff56ea d3e2f3aad5250c 4aeeea5101d2ec 377fc499c07057
6cb1a90cdb7b11 3c839d47a4b814 25c5ac14b5ec28 4ef18646d5b9c2 95a98cc51ebd3b

310e98028e24de 092ffc76b79f44 0740a1ca2d4737 b9f38966257c99 a75afc7454abe4
a6dd815be8ccbf ec2cac2df0c675 41f7636aa4080f 30e87b712520fd d5dfdc6d3266ac
ee28f5479f836f 0bf8ee2112173f 43ae802fa8d52d 4e0dffd36c1eac 3cbda974bb7585
fb60a4700470e3 d9f6b6083ef13d 4a5840f02d0130 6c20ef5e35e2bf dad2f85c745b5b
61c5ddc65d3fc9 7f6ec395d4ae22 2b8906fb3996e2 e4110f59eb92ac 1cb212b44128bb
545afda80a4fd1 b1ffea547eab6b fac3d9166afce8 3fe35fe17586f2 9d082667026a4c
17ffaf1cb50145 24f27b316acfff b6bb758ec4ad60 995e8726359ef7 c44952cb424035
5ec53461dbd248 40a1586f04aee7 49ea3fa4474e52 c13e8f52c51562 30a1a70162cfb8

ccbada27b91c33 33661064d05759 3388bb6315b036 0380a6b43851fb 0228dadb44ad3d
b732565bc37841 993c0d383cfaae 0bea49476758ac accc69dbfcde8b f416ab0474f022
2b7dbcc3002502 20dc4e67289e50 0068424fde9515 64806d59eb0c18 9cf08fb2abc362
8d0ee78a6cace9 b6781bd504d105 af65fab8ee6252 64a8f8dd8e2d14 cb9d3354e06b5b
53082840d3c011 8e080bedab3c4c e30d722a455843 24955a20397c17 82495c1c5114e8
656e71c31d813d 1f0a6d291823a1 6327f9534353fa b89529c2f034fb 70e9b12205c7b3
a06c87969407a2 520bfa2fe80f90 da1efc3d345c65 313936ec023811 a8cc87128be2fa
4cd0e8645ee141 be7975519e2b63 9543d23113c2a8 3d87b0da033f22 df0464c704e9d4

7e1a30947e867e 014ae464b37935 5c4babf689fa4e c4aec0cb01cc35 328c0e4a0230e4
fdacb93b419594 26deefc8a553e6 6e75a2d790cb55 2c4554518f7396 94b77184cb145d
95f883f620a8bb edff42866a2783 7b4ee6304b711d ed56e077a4b9fb c4e60e687ff6c3
0cbf144b8f64d5 023dd10a35eddd beaa3323e999c6 d2e016b31c38c4 8d2917a888f799
18c3abd28e736b 8d38e69b4966cc 624db0143dd2e7 5e2fa510f632b7 ee6e64d45b139a
a1c6d852e74be7 429843b9e6bb7e db9ab07c8dc267 9efa092299f071 dcca9e0e61e960
94406fac95f1d8 d19122f3f88782 1b11a662e9c83f d161fd6fb7f032 89f7d984da9d48
a3583fea45fe58 885e2c4839e254 47e87235f713b1 f4732e05b71aee ae026d063f4349

0a481d2db197af abfce1039d4ac0 4a6b89d2d1aeac 0842eb7178cc53 b82ce2835f1937
3b4002ca21d6b6 e64a78a78abb27 8bd6142ad04526 e035dacb23624a 4cf80110135771
7a52fafc92745e efa28a290ea782 735617cd8b0221 b095e9f4b286a5 021e9ba0727645
3e58e9ec16ed1c d7732bb5ba99a6 374bde43fa89a9 cb83e5ef2e4d04 1da4f73566d134
e01da194625c25 d62018764d7473 64643721313d24 5a01badd970941 481c9578781414
a4d3faa92d1fef bd4b247d37862a 5332a7ca3c2ca6 393ee51989d5a9 01a6e564040d37
390c472ee27892 f0217fe009e9b4 5d3f04da415b35 612ecd5b8e4eac 757e27d2169f2d
92853b737b7526 9ac837c86476df e956c2b45ebd5e d4fa6da687ac39 60f4343669ddd3

64b8d778e72e78 f86cd55efe92b8 a9adbf2e728440 966c8282cee1f9 ea195972b883f4
46ac03b37e7f24 744df253954ae5 22e3f9a0adbc58 6add7c7d8a2961 ba963e4912d17c
2840ac28fcfad9 8d8ec3ad6dfc32 a3c788dd094910 e65ebb61dabb5f b50e906b28c881
003b11eb83e6a9 a2fac0595b138d 3d55a28f915330 c343bd1849a085 54c786629d2b42
1d465cb22ccbc2 d8f87fd52aded1 ecb34f46656b71 b4cbe50f839f2c 2df6a553cc3698
40b2dd25f26d51 492f3c5c6fa566 f80dd453864548 d4be786d8735d9 e364511a0fb62d
3c2df64d6d1c9f f640e4ef4186be 41773025d6ff57 6147e75d7df3f5 49809548639d16
01067ef6034247 4e7c1b20deb154 3f8172a6b98ea0 b0691d4b575801 136a88607a3e5b

0180058ca8742e 972bc2ca1c4cb6 7b05bbc57e63df 5f01049697eaa2 c537f3121384dc
edb1fa0b34f132 689b1374cafe25 802d7bca5c6674 f8e01e75e9eb3d a59c2d9126d85d
f10f603f8c4fd9 d5a358aa84b2d5 f8320f2a3bd078 019bcf0dabb5c3 43dd8dd5e173f0
45169f788a0233 d62daee0e9839c 7d673cf77a53d2 008730faf272d0 3c08080778ae8d
920e40fad87d7e bf118230ffb194 692baf40b951b4 83549affe4e382 68e172f86a40b3
aa5e2c1b74636d c3d7809ac68aae 33c344fd9bcc33 6e6057dc7d71f0 bceef547db57fa
ec91cc1056e4b5 8153f00c8ef4f8 a2ca943ab03915 079a070121782d d592dcec23dd3f
44ba5fe5078279 e6f8ed790ffa59 e7877e834b4391 d1ca3db32bccd7 b382e35bff1ba1

96cb3b9ef8671e 70342fff9216a5 d635530148dcc6 bf40909f72ba4b e3697761ac11f1
f2a77a5f435c5c a57729bb9aaf37 14f78a30f9bf6f 1a7fe7f0271b01 0b224bc83ef07b
0d409ce2157473 adefa793287d48 a6b13ce8e00a7f 74d735fd54a00b e2dc16285d1b5a
8b3d55371ce703 bb3909153586b6 03c8c622aa53e9 89ee3322e069aa 325ce41fbd0175
2cd1326421cd83 3c47eed2daadda 87c2177de0c63f 39b496d688c971 179359349f5e0e
3cfa9ea9345dbc 47b1948cbfe45f 2a13b18cf3a0d1 00b03fc13e6cde 656ef26757f5d1
7c584630c27fb2 02f2e14ca8a67e fcfec527978154 4ec09910379625 e90fc0a898a5b7
5beb0f3ee5d03a 2383832708cfb7 6905747e27453e 1714e418f0f0a3 53bcdef0965e8d

2c9b5813b90c3c bb9a20c8ebb80e 045e04f3d57918 6fe6ffb0718731 201760abf11c27
e289872adda7e1 233e7ef2b2c83b 423b4c0ba711db 334b15e5bd4c01 034d1e41bff0e8
58a436cce28ea3 e6ef4d94b49962 ec8728db63716b 8c8ffc95c21b06 0beb50502d9acb
c1eb732268091a e45e0c30cfed36 31d58c384bc3e4 8a26ae8b7a5c60 83991e11e8a21e
e4f193c0183e07 691fbbf9ccb4c2 4e5214fae905d8 2052c969e9699d f6cea5a6157de3
fd84477a6bad8e 04f37758724bc3 a491d0fd8f084e 19933cec5f51f0 93794e76e1f29b
ebd1f1c057b30c 7ec220fa6d31d9 867d711c9a7674 a700cf5f177e37 cf3fae5da3ddc4
4e8030990c7917 553a5ce2abaaa4 c2296c42e2dcea 19ae4f9b654581 66d5fff1163703

bb5085e0e7d595 12605df8a35f9f 35c6d572c28ea5 5099437e5f5595 fb45cdaa8872f1
6e012db5feedc3 1ba0e5515be76f b793b687fbf1dd 9d2c01063d4ca1 c2e6fde5bc3a1c
c17b11e1a33418 436fcacef170c5 e4c3cbc3066618 2063665d2a1b84 a8b5b4f2e58850
ce74bcbc892d71 b312d96806cdc8 82d9c95678fff1 5d8a0120206c3c 621f13db39bd6e
4a5db4815f181d 8dae6e596cebd5 1b8b1681dd4918 1dbcbd79f8e5ff 135064b0968c4e
d81e91507c1e96 ce08e072644e54 e1648d32befadc d0b7f41fca118d 7b9291b680b18a
10ab9a2fb4f9a0 9f462d2370dd03 bb453f4b48b2ea b3c3e6d63c2559 be4aa3d8e8f129
90af78e01d25c9 2e06a8715063da 988dbf792de669 17eabe5b043c41 b1f700946e4ad2

e329ae8a66581e 4a5bda0ff2a313 79577080aaac8c 0dd34f4f929df3 0f5e87f82b9b1f
1ead67333c42d5 ebac8fb8797375 dc26965e625abb 953ce074d8c84c 2edd54991b2104
a45196065c2bca 98f56533f328bf 8560a1a390e921 37d2506aff3d7b f88576a47d273e
562b7c9592ffdc 2d0ff0ba59787b 4dd89971bd39a6 7a4a778d69a4cc 58bad18bf5fc74
5cac8d53dcc72c ba7e9c7a2b57d7 ff544acc98f08f 1d22f503712081 cf868290f04def
ba48ab7c61a8ab 3ca439f055f713 2401e3a43338e0 b7c4b19cf1edc8 37db6b0d8991a7
10ede95c9c35e6 a8f021fc870126 6e5909a7f3217b 33772e647266ff a5c8fd0c786e0f
04f0bb34025c67 cc33c6a49bf101 45c563f33f807d 6e95e9c2b5e349 3a0e55d42d44b7

611138d0e928dd 24d7958e8e6149 c66faf12b50f45 eaa5eb19337961 e68c81cb35d5d3
ed1fe1f1b8d443 612ca593de8afe 6c15ee22ffb8b0 c27152ca5a1e77 0133b8165e3ed1
608c9c1a6ca4aa df5272bd1b6425 6f7efc5b2bbfa0 b49b5f0c67ee30 f4ef0e7ed820cb
4b14d077b672ce 3a60f2386c0218 9e8d6e5f6caddf a53ccecbae8684 d3183beeba0cef
4cd21e6afc08e8 5db41995d15a93 6afe570246af77 d0994bc305b27f 2de99a0885c909
1629a47aaa161f 0f6b6d45ff8967 cfc4e83f5b469c cc22586cab3936 29e6b3f94d122e
83f00e419d8980 bb282b6f3efdef 30d80463fb25e0 1846f8f1b935d3 3c03ed5243b7b4
cb6b0e6e4c770f 8bc2856390163a 73a332bc2ebabd b3aeafedbc8c08 74ff7726398cd4

0071d5d3644b97 45dd1ae0369e9a c1f518cd384512 b933bc25cb3402 9377c50007d647
e609eb009c9245 7d99fff828ba6e 9f0adcca6cd0a9 5c5cf8366b699f f00f513ad9e29d
7c2ecfdb5afe40 1f131691f0677b 30e1df0cce8710 f3c52df030e941 b2bb6b650cf2d7
012a5a2d11f1b4 4699b78e898918 977b2e06972b36 674e2619e6be97 93007948f99eee
af2b5b80b81bb3 417446ac93bc16 14fb20c6ab0e24 3ffc77d1672771 36580afea2edec
48942ed95911c5 fa312a7aca8f83 992e36a47ef1db 3937ff39b1a9b5 2af79ef5c48c64
6c88d58111a0b7 b6fa6dc5f7c8dc b1acc64f2b083d 332baac65b4feb e58dae530ad4af
0fbdb072d0ba36 e2607b065b6fe4 f803ae22cb2a6c 9b639dd91166cc f5e430b9cece8c

687c1dc2ac5898 b429122b168f1c 4248f91ae51605 1c24d7f1578ba6 1dec5a6c003598
e3c04b01a812a7 2df7909352cece de31efaffdd0d4 e4a7f11873ec87 4768f7b8d77583
23b6f7bae4521f 8fbf571e568d5a 577ad8b71f3721 718b68ac1ada36 e10689cc83ea91
43f73798b295f7 6e2b078c8d68e5 613c3bb265ca36 d25d07032b8c80 843fe3783b5959
e918f7789f0d33 afac1cb1534684 0fb3c6c442a94b 167f58645b56c2 76132472470129
590ae9be533d39 75adfeba5e6230 30dea290d933d7 08cc4d30a4af39 09bc69be193a2f
f7f8ff9f03af3b 3ad1a453e9dde4 a534709b6e15c7 c6ce7d4efd42e9 5e947977595b68
ca674d0c7541e9 97f178a43b6057 137a6483c7653a 49f1eec3082cc7 70824eb5bebf04

cf95519563f7c7 cef140efdaa431 4f8ddc5fb70009 27710736a485cd 41b05dfead9e7a
dcbf8e83a3a89a 23e46b5a421a08 84f0fb922099a4 120b226eedd549 cf4706582b36f4
e3b718cabb9c11 03db1daab9520a 3a29a8c65c45f6 0219e82dbeb36b b351c498a8dda8
0ba2a5607f3bf6 0b95be14721f63 62d3b4d2b1fc16 f46a95de23a55e b70c2f136e83eb
a0b215f5837e73 d76368870bd5bc 0372cf15e7ff03 c992d958598014 1fb03e9712f2c4
a73b9107699fb2 239ad1d706b5f3 3623dab66fefc1 8b5e04ac40e7ed 77eaadd7c4d35c
b3ba11dde839a2 621e7ab334235d 29f2ed9f1990d9 e0d731952272a4 d31f58d8cfad64
57690ff74579fe e78fb0fe43c6cf b127e3c5c7da88 1765c8883fcd01 dc0028f618172d

07d8f79c0e5b79 bdff41e18ee3b3 0990bd1c710888 b0ef52eb6da5bd b790ff7419e17d
22ab4221d42b9a 35bec4ded01a53 6a2f35fd63b686 db66f3c21b9291 165a5fd321d034
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Thursday, 16 September 2010
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10:25 - We changed vets yesterday. We'd been going to a vet whose office is near our home, but I'd never been entirely happy with him and Barbara has come to share my opinion. So we're back to Sue Stephens, who's been a personal friend for 20 years or more. She's also the best vet I've ever known. In particular, her diagnostic skills are superb. The other vet missed testicular cancer in Duncan. We called Sue to get a second opinion, and described the symptoms. Sue didn't even need to examine Duncan. She diagnosed testicular cancer over the phone, and sure enough that's what it was.

A decade or so ago, Sue sold her practice and signed a non-compete agreement. We continued using her old practice until it changed hands and we were unhappy with the new vet. At that point, Sue was working part time at a vet hospital out in Clemmons, which is quite a drive for us. Duncan by that time was terrified of car trips, because the only time he ever went on a car trip it was to the vet. Malcolm was maniacal in the car, bouncing off the seats, doors, and roof (literally). So we decided to try the new vet, who'd just opened his practice near our home.

Although the antibiotics seemed to clear up Malcolm's UTI, he was still having leaking problems. There are all sorts of possible causes for that, so we decided to take him to see the vet. I suggested that we take Malcolm out to see Sue in Clemmons and just change to her as our regular vet. Malcolm behaved surprisingly well during the trip out and back, so as it turns out that won't be the problem we thought it would be.

Malcolm appeared to enjoy the whole outing, including even the exam. He met a new friend, Stacey, the vet tech. She's 18, and loves to talk. We know more about her personal life after spending half an hour with her than I know about the lives of some long-time friends. Malcolm simply loved her. She let him slurp her face.

Sue examined Malcolm and told us what the possible causes were, none of which came as any surprise. She thought the amoxicillin dosage I'd used (an initial loading dose, followed by 250 mg T.I.D. for two days and then 250 mg B.I.D. for a week) was too light. She suggested continuing the amoxicillin but bumping it up to 750 mg B.I.D. for the next ten days, so we started Malcolm on that dosage last night. If he's still having incontinence problems after that, she suggested trying phenypropanolamine (which I didn't realize was no longer available OTC) for a week or so. If the problem persists, she'll do an ultrasound to rule out a tumor.

As I configure this microchemistry kit, I'm constantly thinking about cost. Dollars really matter, but even pennies matter. I want the kit to contain everything necessary, but at the same time I want to keep the cost (and price) as low as possible.

I want to include phenolphthalein test paper and cobalt chloride test paper. I can buy vials of 100 strips of each, but that's many more than needed, and each of those vials increases the kit price by a dollar or so. I suppose I could split vials and include 10 or 20 strips of each in each kit, but yesterday a better solution occurred to me.

I can simply get a pack of 50 9x12" sheets of white construction paper for a couple of bucks, run it through the printer to put a matrix of "phenolphthalein" or "cobalt chloride" labels on each sheet, soak the sheets in the appropriate solution, hang them up to dry, cut them into 3x4" pieces--roughly the same surface area as 40 or 50 standard strips--and include one piece of each in the small parts bag of each kit. Total materials cost would be maybe $10 and total labor maybe an hour to produce enough of both types of test paper to make up 225 kits. That'd be roughly $450 worth if I included the vials in the kits rather than individual sheets of test paper.

If you're one of the few people who don't know who Jackie Evancho is, check out this YouTube video. Her performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Pie Jesu runs from about 1:30 to 3:35. If Jackie sung professionally, her voice would be merely magnificent. At age 10, it's simply stunning, incredible in the original sense of "not believable". I wonder if Juilliard accepts 10-year-old girls. If not, I'll bet the North Carolina School of the Arts would, and it's no farther from her Pittsburgh home than New York City is.


Friday, 17 September 2010
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08:04 - Intel has confirmed that the HDCP master key is real. Not that there was ever much doubt about that.

It's interesting to watch the damage control efforts. One story actually claimed the HDCP crack would have little or no effect because it would have to be implemented in hardware. Wrong. Any time now you can expect to see device drivers that mimic HDCP-compliant devices, which means they'll be able to pass a decrypted stream to a video capture/processing application. So, for example, a media center PC will be able to mimic an authorized HDCP device and capture any video stream from a cable or satellite box, including pay-per-view streams.

Of course, one of the major uses of this crack will be to allow non-HDCP devices, such as earlier generation large-screen TVs, to display HDCP-protected streams. That will usually be done with hardware, probably most commonly in the form of an HDCP stripper sitting between the source device and the non-compliant display, but that hardware should be inexpensive and pretty readily available despite DMCA issues.

The morning newspaper had the results of a new poll that says Americans trust pretty much nobody, which is as it should be. The only three groups that are trusted by at least 30% of Americans are the military, small businesses, and scientists. Very few people trust lying weasels like the government, news media, churches, or large corporations, which again is as it should be.


Saturday, 18 September 2010
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12:34 - Sometimes, I like an actress so much that I'll watch just about anything that she's in. There aren't a lot of those. Diana Rigg, Emma Thompson, and Helen Baxendale are the only three that come to mind. All British, which may or may not signify.

But now I've added a fourth, and she's Canadian. After watching Emily VanCamp through almost 90 episodes of Everwood, I've added her to my must-watch list. My reason for watching all of these actresses has nothing to do with them being attractive, although all of them are. (Barbara probably won't believe that, but it's true.) The real reason I watch them is that their acting is exceptional.

So now I've added every Emily VanCamp disc I can find to my Netflix queue. Today, Carriers is supposed to show up. It's a short post-apocalyptic indie film, in which Ms. VanCamp plays a coldly logical, ruthless character, about as unlike her role as Amy in Everwood as I can imagine. I also have Lost and Delirious in the queue. It's a girls' school drama with a lesbian theme, and it's her first theatrical movie, filmed when she was 14 years old. Black Irish, a 2007 theatrical release, is also in my queue.

Also, after watching just a dozen episodes of True Blood, I may have to add Rutina Wesley to my must-watch group, once she starts making other stuff. Like the others in my group, Ms. Wesley can do more with a raised eyebrow than most actresses can do with a soliloquy.


Sunday, 19 September 2010
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11:17 - The pope's visit to the UK, funded by British taxpayers the vast majority of whom have no interest in listening to his lies, is finally over. The pope is obviously a desperate man. Europe in general and the UK in particular is rapidly becoming largely secular, and the pope is struggling mightily to preserve the malevolent power of his perverted church.

Most of the media coverage has concerned the pope's frantic attempts to shift blame for the institutionalized child rape sponsored and encouraged by his church, along with his nasty attempt to recast Nazism as a product of atheism and so-called Darwinism, despite the fact that Adolph Hitler was a lifelong devout member of the Roman Catholic church. Hitler spoke often in support of Christianity in general and the Roman Catholic church in particular. Nazi Germany enjoyed close and friendly relations with the Vatican, which helped many leading Nazis escape prosecution after the war. Far from supporting evolution and Darwin, the Nazi regime banned and burned Darwin's books, along with those of many other scientists. Nazi laws encouraged church attendance and made it a crime to criticize or ridicule Christianity. Atheists were shipped to death camps and murdered for their crime of not being Christian.

Of course, no reporter dares to ask the pope any of these hard questions lest those questions expose the pope as the evil liar he is.


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