July 16, 2012 archive

Jul 16

Le Tour de France 2012: Stage 14

The Tour de France 2012, the world’s premier cycling event kicked off last Saturday with the Prologue in Liège, Belgium and will conclude on July 22 with the traditional ride into Paris and laps up and down the Champs-Élysées. Over the next 22 days the race will take its course briefly along the Northwestern coast of France through  Boulogne-sur-Mer, Abbeville and into Rouen then into the mountains of the Jura, Swiss Alps and the Pyrenees.

We will be Live Blogging Le Tour 2012 every morning at The Stars Hollow Gazette starting at 7:30 AM EDT. Come join us for a morning chat, cheer the riders and watch some of the most beautiful and historic countryside in Europe.

Towns of Stage 14: Limoux and Foix

Limoux

Limoux Limoux is a commune and subprefecture in the Aude department, a part of the ancient Languedoc province and the present-day Languedoc-Roussillon region in southern France.

After being developed around its church, the city rapidly developed thanks to its linen and leather industry. Today, Limoux is renowned for its blanquette (sparkling wine), its Toques et Clochers Festival, its carnival, its museums and its gastronomy.

– la blanquette – it is the oldest sparkling wine in the world. Discovered in 1531 its method of wine production was subsequently applied to champagne by Dom Perignon. It makes up the main economy of the town and of the region. You can also include the Anne de Joyeuse cave that produces quality AOC wines.

– Toques et Clochers – this wine auction held in Spring takes place with the aim of raising money for the restauration of the ancient belltowers (clochers). It is followed by a meal prepared by a top chef (Toque).

– the carnival – every winter it lasts nearly three months. It is the longest carnival in the world. Festivities begin 12 weeks before the religious festival of Palm Sunday.

– the museums – the Petiet Museum is dedicated to paintings, there are also museums celebrating the piano, automata, printing and plants at La Bouichère.

Foix

Château de Foix

Foix is a commune, the capital of the Ariège department in southwestern France. It is the least populous administrative center of a department in all of France. The town of Foix probably owes its origin to an oratory founded by Charlemagne, which afterwards became the Abbey of Saint Volusianus in 849.

Right in the heart of the Ariège, at the foot of the Pyrenees, Foix, symbolised by its three towers of its Château Comtal, combines the quality of life of an average town with the advantages of its immediate proximity to a great metropolis, Toulouse, but also with the Pyrenees, Spain and Andorra. Undoubtedly the emblematic monument of the city, the Castle (10th – 15th centuries) stands majestically on its rock and was home to the Counts of Foix, including the brilliant Gaston Febus (1343-1391). A Tour stage town and popular with tourists, Foix combines the authenticity of its ancient medieval centre with the diversity of its businesses and the quality of its beautiful natural environment. This unspoiled environment is perfect for so many sporting activities and outdoor leisure pursuits: cycling and mountainbiking, walking or horseriding, rafting in calm or choppy waters or even paragliding down the valley. Foix is in a privileged spot for discovering the treasures of the Ariege department: middle age castles, Cathar citadels, roman abbeys, prehistoric caves.. or quite simply sublime natural locations.  

Jul 16

On This Day In History July 16

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge

July 16 is the 197th day of the year (198th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 168 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1945, at 5:29:45 a.m., the Manhattan Project comes to an explosive end as the first atom bomb is successfully tested in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Photobucket

If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one…

“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Bhagavad Gita

J. Robert Oppenheimer

Plans for the creation of a uranium bomb by the Allies were established as early as 1939, when Italian emigre physicist Enrico Fermi met with U.S. Navy department officials at Columbia University to discuss the use of fissionable materials for military purposes. That same year, Albert Einstein wrote to President Franklin Roosevelt supporting the theory that an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction had great potential as a basis for a weapon of mass destruction. In February 1940, the federal government granted a total of $6,000 for research. But in early 1942, with the United States now at war with the Axis powers, and fear mounting that Germany was working on its own uranium bomb, the War Department took a more active interest, and limits on resources for the project were removed.

Brigadier-General Leslie R. Groves, himself an engineer, was now in complete charge of a project to assemble the greatest minds in science and discover how to harness the power of the atom as a means of bringing the war to a decisive end. The Manhattan Project (so-called because of where the research began) would wind its way through many locations during the early period of theoretical exploration, most importantly, the University of Chicago, where Enrico Fermi successfully set off the first fission chain reaction. But the Project took final form in the desert of New Mexico, where, in 1943, Robert J. Oppenheimer began directing Project Y at a laboratory at Los Alamos, along with such minds as Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, and Fermi. Here theory and practice came together, as the problems of achieving critical mass-a nuclear explosion-and the construction of a deliverable bomb were worked out.

Jul 16

Sermon On The Beach

Lifeguard’s ordeal is parable about outsourcing

By Steven Pearlstein, Washington Post

Published: July 14

Because they are generally free from union contracts and the unwritten norms of pay equality that exist within any enterprise, contractors are able to pay lower wages and benefits – in many cases, a lot lower. That was certainly the case with Ellis and the Hallandale lifeguards.

The second big advantage that outsourcing firms enjoy is the economies of scale. A firm that specializes in one function and does a lot of it can generally do it at a lower cost simply by spreading fixed costs over a much larger base of business.

Simply by having more experience, a specialty contractor is also more likely to hit upon the most efficient and effective ways of doing things and can quickly adopt those improvements throughout its operations.



There is, however, an important trade-off that is made by outsourcing that contractors reflexively deny but is inherent in any firm that derives its competitive advantage from having carefully constructed systems for doing just about everything.

It is these systems – the rules, the procedures, in effect the operational software – that allow companies to take relatively low-skilled, low-paid workers with relatively little experience and have them do tasks that were once done by people with higher skills, higher pay and more experience. And it is the very nature of these systems that workers are discouraged, if not prohibited, from exercising their own discretion. Their only job is to follow rules, stick to the script and leverage the experience and expertise that are embedded in the system.

That’s why the person in the airline call center in Bangalore can’t do what is necessary to help you catch your honeymoon cruise after your flight has been canceled because a co-pilot failed to show up on time. Her computer simply won’t allow her.



The reason these various systems can deliver reliable service at lower cost most of the time is precisely because front-line workers are willing and able to act like cogs in a machine. So when two of Lopez’s colleagues later told supervisors they would have done the same thing, they were fired as well.

If you want discretion and judgment, if you want workers who really understand and relate to customers, if you want the flexibility necessary to respond to individual needs or unforeseen circumstances, then you can go back to paying twice as much to have your own, longtime employees doing the work. That’s the outsourcing trade-off. It may be a good trade-off – most of the time I suspect it is. But it is an unavoidable trade-off, no matter how good the contractors or their systems.

Jul 16

Cartnoon

During dark weeks The Daily Show and The Colbert Report post mashups.  This group are from The Daily Show on 7/10.

On Topic – Childhood – Food Fight (3:02)

Jul 16

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning


A Thread

Jul 16

Late Night Karaoke

Jul 16

Pique the Geek 20120715: Carbon, the Stuff of Life Part I

There are only a handful of elements that are absolutely essential to all known lifeforms, and carbon is easily the most important.  Certainly hydrogen and oxygen in the form of water and other compounds are also essential, but without carbon there simply would not be life as we know it.  There are many reasons for that, but that discussion is not for tonight.

This time we shall start at the basics and next time we shall work our way into more complex topics.  Since carbon is so essential and important, this will be a multipart series.  I expect three or so, but that depends on how motivated I am to root around for things that will be interested.

Unlike beryllium and boron, carbon, at least 12C, is more common than it should be.  The reason is fascinating, and we shall talk about that tonight.

Jul 16

Cause I Don’t Like It Here Again

I understand the business must survive via the exploitation of long term employees the company has NOT developed and thus have an intelligence level someplace in the junior high school level.  I also understand the company’s need to have nine temp agencies on speed dial to avoid making temp employees permanent thus having to pay the meager, what you call the company benefit package.  I also understand it was bullshit when the 30 something HR ditzqueen with zero technical background cited my “not liking it here” as a premier age discrimination reason to not “bring me onboard”, when I know such an option was not in the cards anyway.   So who am I and what do I know.

Well I have 22 years experience in a directly related scientific field.  I used to design, build, troubleshoot, test, revamp, improve completely automated machines to do what the junior high schoolians are doing right now.  I used to do it with an aim towards a commercial high speed level of production aided by equipment which would not even be a remote concept with this company.  In fact I can testify as to the third world status, maybe even below third world status of this company in regards to equipment, procedures, policy, ISO certifications which are meaningless, green, OSHA, building code violations, low employee morale and obsolete product line and no company cafeteria.

Perhaps they best invest in a factory in Vietnam.  OH, what do I make?  What am I making right now?  The big push right now is parts for those bomb targeting thingies so they can light up Iran after the globalist bankers have their Obamney fake selection process this November.

Yes, I got forced out of Assachusetts for sure and for good.  The Romneycare tax penalty for not having health (crappy watered down) insurance is $2424 for me and the wife.  Now we would like to have it cause she, I worry about a 58 year non-insured old blasting through the woods on horseback like some 25 year old but we also know from past experience that all of these new plans suck to some galactically different degree much like every other avenue of human endeavor we are trying to pursue to ensure sort of the continuation and happiness of our immediate and extended family.  Hey, maybe the sunspots might take out the power grid but today there is peace.  There is hope for a new life in our new locale.  The horses are inside in their new barn.  We are bringing new life to a foreclosed and abandoned paradise against all odds.