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2007 May 16 — Why Now?
On-line Opinion Magazine…OK, it's a blog
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No Rest For The Weary

CBS News asks: Are FEMA Trailers Making Residents Sick? Answer: of course. Anyone who has ever owned a travel trailer could have told them that after a week you need to find some place else to be.

The culprit is very well known: formaldehyde.

Most formaldehyde is used in the production of polymers and other chemicals. When combined with phenol, urea, or melamine, formaldehyde produces a hard thermoset resin. These resins are commonly used in permanent adhesives, such as those used in plywood or carpeting. It is used as the wet-strength resin added to sanitary paper products such as (listed in increasing concentrations injected into the paper machine headstock chest) facial tissue, table napkins, and roll towels. They are also foamed to make insulation, or cast into molded products. Production of formaldehyde resins accounts for more than half of formaldehyde consumption.

The problem is that these trailers were designed for occasional use for limited periods and the sealing that takes place in regular construction, doesn’t take place in travel trailers. OSB [oriented strand board / chip board] is replacing plywood as sheathing and it has even more resin than plywood. Normally it is used on the exterior and the fumes vent to the outside. When it is used for the subflooring it is capped by something else to exclude the fumes. Those techniques are not used in travel trailers, and there is little in the way of cross ventilation to exhaust the fumes.

The huge order for trailers after Katrina meant that the OSB had less curing time than normal, and therefore more fumes. The need for air conditioning means the trailers aren’t aired, but are sealed up recirculating the air inside. There is nothing unknown here.

May 16, 2007   4 Comments

Just When You Thought It Couldn’t Get Weirder

First, suspend your disbelief, then go see what Michael found.

He’s in France surrounded by medieval buildings and he finds medieval thinking in the US. Fortunately there was a church nearby where he could undergo exorcism.

May 16, 2007   2 Comments

Lt. Wales Not To Deploy To Iraq

BBC reports: Prince Harry not to serve in Iraq

Prince Harry will not be sent to Iraq, the head of the British Army has said.

General Sir Richard Dannatt said the prince’s deployment would pose an “unacceptable” threat to him and the men who served alongside him.

It had been reported that militant groups had planned to kill or kidnap the young royal.

Clarence House said Prince Harry was “very disappointed” but will not be leaving the Army as a result.


The general said he had reached his decision following a visit to the region at the end of last week.

“There have been a number of specific threats, some reported some not reported, which relate directly to Prince Harry as an individual.

“These threats expose not only him but also those around him to a degree of risk that I now deem unacceptable.”

This is a tough call, but in the end General Dannatt had to come to grips with the reality that Prince Harry represented an increased threat to those around him because of the PR value of killing or capturing him. The family and friends of the Prince’s unit would surely blame any deaths or injuries on his deployment.

It’s too bad he couldn’t have just gone without the announcement of his deployment until after he returned, but that’s not the way the system works.

May 16, 2007   6 Comments

For Sam’s Valet

I’m sure NTodd won’t feel any glee at the news: N.Y. attorney general accuses Dell of fraud

Dell is being accused of making false promises to customers to drive sales, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

The court filing accuses Dell and Dell Financial Services of fraud, false advertising and deceptive business practices, including offering misleading financing, and failing to honor rebates, warranties and service contracts.

The state of New York is asking for an injunction of Dell’s allegedly bad business practices and an order that the world’s second-largest PC maker pay an unspecified amount of damages to customers found to be affected.

Dell spokesman Bob Pearson told CNET News.com that the company will contest the suit. “We are confident that our practices will be found to be fair and appropriate. While even one dissatisfied customer is too many, the allegations in the AG’s filing are based upon a small fraction of Dell’s consumer transactions in New York. We are committed to providing a positive experience to all of our customers every day,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

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May 16, 2007   4 Comments


Steve Bates of Yellow Doggerel Democrat has an software patent update, Background Info On Software Patents, on an earlier post about Microsoft threats.

Stephen Shankland, Staff Writer, CNET News.com, as more on the issue: Experts say Microsoft’s patent quest won’t go far

Microsoft said the Linux kernel infringes 42 Microsoft patents, but [Linus] Torvalds is among those who refuses to investigate whether he’s violating any.

“There are several reasons why engineers should not read other people’s patents, only their own. And it’s not a ‘hide your head in the sand’ issue, it’s a very practical issue of it being a waste of time,” Torvalds said.

For one thing, developing technology without looking at patents lets a person honestly say they developed that technology independently, which helps show that the patent in question doesn’t meet the requirement of a technology not being obvious, he said. And engineers aren’t likely to comprehend patents in the first place: “Unless you have a patent attorney at your side, patent language usually makes no sense.”

He derided Microsoft for spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) rather than tackling the issue forthrightly. “If Microsoft were to actually tell people what patents they claim we violate, we could either laugh in their face and show prior art, or just show them to be obvious, or we could do things differently,” he said.

Microsoft has a long history of using FUD to damage competitors, and it’s about time they really got slammed for their anticompetitive practices. They have not, to date, developed any new or innovative products. They have brought out different versions of existing products and used market share and predatory pricing to destroy the competition. The free software they give you today, will cost you tomorrow.

May 16, 2007   Comments Off on FUD

What A Bloody Mess

Where to begin?

First off the word is spelled TSAR, not CZAR. The Tsars were Russian and that’s how Russians pronounce the word. The Cyrillic letter “Ц” is extremely consistent in its pronunciation.

The title Tsar [Царь] is the shortened version of the Roman family name, Caesar [Цецарь], which was later [John IV the Awesome, 1547] used as a title. The same name was used as the title of the German emperor, Kaiser.

Ellroon’s Rants from the Rookery was the first place I saw it mentioned that the Shrubbery had found someone to accept the “one ring to rule them all”.

While he doesn’t appear to have the reduced physical stature of a Hobbit, Lieutenant General Douglas E. Lute, is a bit short of rank as he has three stars and a date of promotion of 08/16/2006. He has to be among the more junior Lieutenant Generals in the Army. Actually his wife, Dr. Jane Holl Lute, has more rank as the Assistant Secretary-General for peacekeeping operations at the United Nations.

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May 16, 2007   4 Comments