Monday, June 29, 2009

Manure to Methane...Great Idea!

From Conrad...

One of my favorite scientists who likes to play God is J. Craig Venter. His team found a bacteria that produces an enzyme that can turn coal into methane. This could mean the end of mountain removal mining. Instead, those microscopic bugs could be injected into the coal deposits, and the methane could be pumped out. Natural gas has a smaller carbon footprint than coal, and does not release the heavy metals, spread the radioactive dust, or pose the disposal problem of slag. This is not as carbon free an energy source like solar or wind, but it is greener than business as ususal.

{Use link above to continue reading]


Friday, June 26, 2009

More on Vic Villalpando's new book: "The Illicit Americans"...

Here's a follow up on Dr. Villalpando's book, "The Illicit American" via feedback from readers:

"Stunning and riviting. I couldn't put it down until I read the last page."---Gary Simpson, San Diego

"Dr Villalpando's writing style is dynamic and captivating, and I hope that Mr. Archuleta has him write the sequel if one is planned."---Dannez Hunter, Los Angeles

"Other than gasp from the shocking drama, I also laughed hysterically at the humorous repartee of the callous, but rather heroic and lovable smugglers."---Frank Huttlinger, Orange County

"Villalpando's writing talent made Archuleta's horrific epic into a compelling read that not only entertained me, it also stirred my conscience on current immigration issues."---Guadalupe Castanos, Yuma

"The Hispanic vernacular is right-on! It's the best I've read."---Al Velasco, San Diego

"Gripping...Panoramic...A tour de force." ---Janet Keller, La Mesa


No question about it...I have to have this book. And seems to me that since he's decided to deal with immigration before the end of this year, Obama needs to read it too.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This Week's Choices of Books Coming....

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:



Alicia Bessette's ALL COME HOME, in which a young widow forms an
unlikely friendship with a 9-year-old biracial girl who lives next door,
and the two embark on winning a celebrity chef's first annual Desserts
that Warm the Soul baking contest, to Erika Imranyi at Dutton, in a
pre-empt, for publication in 2010, by Laney Katz Becker at Folio
Literary Management.


Alan Goldsher's PAUL IS UNDEAD: The British Zombie Invasion, the
humorous chronicle of the zombified Liverpudlians' rise to fame, to
Jaime Costas at Pocket, for publication in June 2010, by Jason Allen
Ashlock of Movable Type Literary Group (world).


Robert Newcomb writing as Robert J Barclay's IF WISHES WERE HORSES, in
which a grieving Florida horse rancher decides to reinstate his late
wife's equine therapy program for troubled teens but when the widow of
the drunk driver who killed his family unexpectedly begs him to admit
her young son to the program, he is forced to examine the true natures
of love and forgiveness in ways he could have never imagined, to Lucia
Macro at William Morrow, in a pre-empt, by Marly Rusoff
of Marly Rusoff & Associates (NA).


Paula McLain's THE GREAT GOOD PLACE, written from the perspective of
Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley Richardson, set during the five
years they lived in Paris as part of the Lost Generation along with Ezra
Pound, Gertrude Stein and the Fitzgeralds, as well as their time spent
in Toronto where their son was born, to Kristin Cochrane at Doubleday
Canada, in a pre-empt, by Julie Barer at Barer Literary.

Screenwriter, director and actor of PBS's The Newsroom Ken Finkleman's
first novel NOAH'S CRIME, about the murder of a literary rival by an
unemployed TV writer, pitched as a darkly comic cross between Martin
Jennifer Lambert at Harper Canada, in a nice deal, by Chris Bucci at
Anne McDermid Associates.


Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt's THE DAY I SHOT CUPID, exploring the new
landscape of modern dating and offering a wide range of practical tips,
from text-flirting and IM-ing to what men and women really want, and how
to start over after a breakup, to Gretchen Young at Voice, with Sarah
Landis editing, by Kirby Kim at Endeavor (world).


Conservative historian and author of RIGHT TIME, RIGHT PLACE Richard
Brookhiser's JAMES MADISON, a major new biography of the politician,
philosopher, and president who fought in the revolution, led the country
through the War of 1812, and lived long enough to fear the Civil War, to
Lara Heimert at Basic, by Michael Carlisle at Inkwell Management (NA).

D.T. Max's biography of David Foster Wallace, about "why he matters and
what he tried to teach us," to Paul Slovak at Viking, at auction, by Elyse Cheney at
Elyse Cheney Agency.


MIT economist Simon Johnson and his Baseline Scenario co-founder James
Kwak's THE COUP, expanding on their Atlantic magazine story, which draws
the parallel between the emerging market crises of the 1990s (when
Johnson was the chief economist at the IMF) and the meltdown of the last
year, arguing that the crisis is one of politics as much as economics
and meanwhile the "oligarchs" of Wall Street continue to pull the
strings, to Erroll McDonald at Pantheon, at auction, by Rafe Sagalyn of
The Sagalyn Agency (NA).


Dick Van Dyke's memoir, spanning his entire career in show business, to
John Glusman at Harmony, for publication in fall 2010, by Dan Strone at
Trident Media Group and manager Jeff Kolodny at Luber/Roklin


Emmett Rensin and Alex Aciman's TWITTERATURE: The World's Greatest
Books, Now Presented in Twenty Tweets or Less, a humorous retelling of
works of great literature in Twitter format -- written by two 19-year
old University of Chicago freshmen, to John Siciliano at Penguin, by
Brian DeFiore at DeFiore and Company (NA).

Jennifer "Kasey Bomber" Barbee and NPR host Alex "Axles of Evil" Cohen's
celebration of the explosive sport, to Denise Oswald (aka "Princess
Die") in her first acquisition at Soft Skull, by Ted Weinstein at Ted
Weinstein Literary Management (World).


Author of NYT Bestseller How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist
Jonah Lehrer's IMAGINE: The Science of Creativity, in which he
introduces us to jazz musicians, furniture designers, and avant-garde
chefs to show how we can use the latest neuroscience to be more
imaginative and design our everyday lives, our cities, our companies,
and our culture to be more conducive to creativity, to Amanda Cook at
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for publication in Spring
2012, by Sarah Chalfant at The Wylie Agency (US).


Former WWE superstar Mick Foley's COUNTDOWN TO LOCKDOWN, centering
around the author's arrival to TNA and his premiere fight with one of
his greatest rivals -- Sting -- as well as covering other issues such as
leaving the WWE, steroids, and as always, Tori Amos, to Ben Greenberg at
Grand Central, by Matt Bialer at Sanford J. Greenburger
Associates (World English).


Monday, June 22, 2009

Aggravated is an understatement....

Just amazing how much paper stuff has accumulated in my office!

Been going thru stacks and stacks of paper and throwing most of it in the recycling bin. And seeing dust in every crack and crevice.

That's a major problem in a home office unless one develops a system of sorting from the word go. One doesn't and one gets piles of paper that can set there for a year or more.

Had to laugh at a Navy SEAL I know, who has the habit of making little stacks of paperwork around the house. His wife has threatened him with everything but a decent death if he doesn't get rid of them. This he doesn't understand. "But they're very neat!" he says. Which means, of course, that all edges are straight and precise. SEALs are very neat and precise, but in this case, that is not gonna help him one little bit.

I have two desks in here. The one I'm sitting facing now is a real desk and the computer owns it. Then there's a table of the same size behind me that functions as the phone desk. Would that there would be only the phone on it...but no. The phone doesn't take up much space at all, thus other good and useful things have accumulated.

Like a row of books along the back of it, which is up against the bookshelf wall. The shelves go to the ceiling and have been mounted on the wall. More, I don't believe I can fit another book on any of them. Talk about dust collectors! Ah me.

Even worse, there's a shag rug wall to wall on the floor. Sort of a golden color. No vacuum we own can really clean that thing. And it sheds and totally plugs the vacuum. This is not a happy situation.

Got a big club chair in here too. So big it takes two men to move it...and it doesn't go down the hallway until the legs have been removed.

There's a reason this blog's name is Aggravated.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bloggers and Books...

It's Sunday, early evening now. I've just finished reading the latest posts on my favorite site...The Indy Weblogs. Find them at:

They're one hellava good group of very knowledgeable people, with a few exceptions. Very few, actually. "drlaniac" is actually a guy named Lane, who lives in northern California, and he runs all the tech stuff. Founder is another guy named Ralph, who lives in New Jersey. I'm amazed at the day jobs of some of the Indys. They're everywhere, doing everything...scientists, journalists, doctors, lawyers, teachers, gay and straight, male and female, people in DC and all parts of the nation, actually. And they know what they're talking about.

For instance: Firedoglake. Remember the Scooter Libby trial? Well, Marcy of Firedoglake blogged it, was interviewed on TV, etc. They're part of the Indy Weblogs. As is DDay and Calitics...and so many more really top bloggers.

It's a pleasure to read them. Any time I want to know what's going on in the world, I can cruise thru the Indys and sure as hell, someone will have posted on it. You want to know about what's happening in Iran after these probably fraudulent elections? Brian Ulrich knows all about the mideast. At least half a dozen Indys will have posts and many have videos.

Anything happening in Minnesota re. the Franken-Coleman battle over who won the election for Senator several months ago? Well, both claim they won, went to court, and they're still in court. It's been a battle royal. Since this latest court won't be coming to a decision any time soon, it will probably be at least a couple of weeks more before they make their decision known. At the moment, things don't look good for Repub Coleman. And of course the GOP is backing him with cash. Court has decided that Coleman also has to cover Franken's court costs. Now that pleases me mightily.

In any case, I read the Indys regularly. They're a Dem group, almost all political. Really diverse.

Other than the Indys, I'm reading Ken Follet's huge novel, "World Without End". Over a thousand pages. Set in medieval times...and let me tell you, bad as times are now, you wouldn't want to have lived then, though I have ancestors that were very much a part of that world. Glad some of them reached the USA in 1630, for sure, and helped found Boston.

Follet wrote an earlier book set about 200 years before this one and as lengthy: "The Pillars of the Earth". Pillars told the story of the construction of one of the great cathedrals in England. In detail. World is set in the same town and revolves around the same cathedral. And again...200 years later, the cathedral needs some repairs. Enter the architects and builders, the monks, priests, knights, Lords and Ladies, criminals...all the characters and then some of that long ago world.

Those books cause me to have nightmares, but they're both absolutely and totally fascinating. Nothing glamorous about being a Knight, though they did have status. And the Catholic Church is a monster, infected with greed and power. Nothing much has changed there, even now.

Both books are an education in themselves of historical times and peoples, the research impeccable. I absolutely recommend them.

Also, just received an announcement in the mail from one Victor Villapando, who has a second book just published: "The Illicit American". This one deals with the true story of human smuggling in San Diego. There's no way in hell that I'm not gonna read his new book since San Diego is my home town.

Vic, like Follet, knows the territory and is a fine writer and researcher. I can hardly wait to get my hands on it. Will probably order thru Amazon.

And, if you have interest in the Green Berets, Edward Fitzgerald wrote "Bank's Bandits", the true story of the guys who were the original Green Berets. I mesn, the very first ones. So picture this: here they are, training out in the mountains in, I think, North Carolina, and the 32nd Airborne is sweeping those mountains, trying to capture them. They have to make their way to various points just to pick up the air drops of food or they go hungry. And then they discover that every Sunday, the 82nd gets a truck load of live chickens for their Sunday dinner...and these chickens arrive in a truck.

And the truck stops just short of the river crossing so the drivers can park and take a quick swim and cool off in the summer heat. The Green Berets sneak down there and grab a couple cages of chickens and turn the rest loose. I swear, those three chicken chapters are the most hilarious chapters I've ever read in my life. There the guys are, running down the hill with the two cages to cross the stream and run uphill to their camp. But chicken FLOCK and the ones they turned loose are squawking and flapping thru the bushes and staying right with them.... And yes, Bank's Bandits is also available at Amazon.



Wednesday, June 10, 2009

New History of the NSA coming soon....

From Secrecy News:


"The Secret Sentry" by Matthew Aid is a comprehensive new history of the National Security Agency, from its origins in World War II through its Cold War successes, failures and scandals up until the present.

Aid, an independent historian who is also a visiting fellow at the National Security Archive, has synthesized a tremendous amount of research into a narrative that is highly readable and sometimes gripping. All of the familiar stops are there, including the Truman memo of 1952 that established the Agency, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, KAL 007, 9/11 and on to today.

But the book also includes quite a bit of unfamiliar historical material, and almost any reader is likely to discover something new and interesting. I learned, for example, that a few months after seizing the USS Pueblo in 1968, North Korea published a book in French containing the full text of many captured NSA documents, some of which, Mr. Aid says, are still considered to be classified today (p. 142).

What will make The Secret Sentry indispensable to researchers are its nearly one hundred pages of endnotes, which constitute a unique finding aid to the most current archival releases, internal agency histories, and other valuable records. Some of the documents gathered by Mr. Aid in the course of his decades of research later vanished from public stacks at the National Archives, prompting him to realize that some government agencies were silently -- and often improperly -- reclassifying declassified records. Portions of those now inaccessible records have been integrated into this new history.

Inevitably, the book contains some minor errors. Mr. Aid repeats an assertion by the 9/11 Commission that Osama bin Laden was alerted to NSA monitoring of his satellite phone as the result of a 1998 news story that appeared in the Washington Times (p. 383, note 69). But he neglects to note that this assertion has been effectively refuted. (See, e.g., "File the Bin Laden Phone Leak Under 'Urban Myths'" by Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, December 22, 2005.)

The author is generous in his citations to the leading authors in the intelligence field, from David Wise and David Kahn to Seymour Hersh and Jeffrey Richelson and other less celebrated writers -- with one strange and disconcerting exception. There is not a single reference in the entire book to James Bamford, whose 1983 book The Puzzle Palace, among others, blazed the trail that The Secret Sentry follows. Perhaps Mr. Aid felt it was necessary to ignore Mr. Bamford so as not to be constantly agreeing or disagreeing with him, and confirming or disputing his accounts. If that is the case, he ought to have said so.

The Secret Sentry is being published this week by Bloomsbury Press.

Secrecy News Blog:


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Reports From Intel Science Board...

From Secrecy News:


There is "an astonishing number of groups and activities concurrently pursuing the subject" of information sharing, according to a newly disclosed 2004 report (pdf) of the Intelligence Science Board (ISB). But those activities are not well coordinated. "In effect, we aren't even sharing information about information sharing."

The ISB is a little-known advisory panel that addresses intelligence science and technology issues at the direction of the Director of National Intelligence. Almost all of its products are classified, but a few are not.

It's hard to say whether the ISB is influential. But it has performed important and interesting work, most notably on the science of interrogation. Its 2006 report on "Educing Information" (pdf), concluded that there was no scientific evidence to support a belief in the efficacy of coercive interrogation. ("Intelligence Science Board Views Interrogation," Secrecy News, January 15, 2007.)

Now the only other unclassified ISB reports have been released by ODNI under the Freedom of Information Act: "Concept Paper on Trusted Information Sharing" (November 2004) and "What Makes for a Great Analytic Team?: Individual versus Team Approaches to Intelligence Analysis" (February 2005). All of the unclassified ISB reports are available here:


A Selection of Books Coming....

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:



Julia London's THE SECRETS OF HADLEY GREEN, Desperate Housewives set in Regency England featuring love and scandal (and a mysterious narrator) in a small enclave south of London, to Maggie Crawford at Pocket, in a significant deal, in a four-book deal, for publication in fall 2010, fall 2011, by Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency (world).


Giorgio Vasta's TIME ON MY HANDS, about a group of terrorist boys in Italy in the late 70s, to Mitzi Angel at Faber, Lee Brackstone at Faber & Faber, Vincent Raynaud at Gallimard in France, Koen van Gulik at Wereldbiblioteek in the Netherlands, Monica Carmona at Mondadori in Spain, for publication in October 2008, by Lorenza Pieri at minimum fax.


Sarah Prineas's THE CROW KING'S DAUGHTER, featuring faerie lore without the urban setting and without drugs, sex, and angst, to Toni Markiet at Harper Children's, in a three-book deal, by Caitlin Blasdell at Liza Dawson Associates (NA).


Ben Kane's SOLDIER OF CARTHAGE, LEGIONARY, and THE FINAL BATTLE, featuring young Roman and Carthaginian protagonists and is set against the background of the fierce rivalry between the two civilizations, to Rosie de Courcy at Preface, by Charlie Viney at The Viney Agency (World).


NPR Morning Edition workplace correspondent, executive coach and Psychology Today blogger Ben Dattner and Darren Dahl's untitled book on credit and blame at work, offering new insight and solutions to the most difficult manifestations of office politics, including historical and evolutionary explanations for why we are so bad at getting praise for the good things we do and avoiding blame for other peoples' mistakes, to Emily Loose at Free Press, by Esmond Harmsworth and Jennifer Gates at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency (NA).


Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift's THE SPLENDID TABLE'S HOW TO EAT WEEKENDS, follow-up to THE SPLENDID TABLE'S HOW TO EAT SUPPER - personal favorites, iconic ethnic dishes, classic Americana, with history, stories, and tips for home cooks to slow down and enjoy the pure art of cooking, to Emily Takoudes at Clarkson Potter, for publication in Spring 2011, by Jane Dystel at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (World).


University of North Carolina historian Kathleen Duval's INDEPENDENCE LOST, the story of the American Revolution from the perspective of the outsiders -- including slaves, Indians, women, the Spanish, Acadian immigrants, and Loyalists, to Jonathan Jao at Random House, at auction, by Jill Kneerim at Kneerim & Williams.

Helen Rappaport's MEMORIAL - The Day Prince Albert Died, countdown of the final two weeks of Queen Victoria's beloved consort Prince Albert, and how his death set the tone for Victorian period by the author of the acclaimed The Last Days of the Romanovs, to Charles Spicer at St. Martin's, for publication in 2011, by Charlie Viney at The Viney Agency (NA).

Washington Post foreign correspondent Pamela Constable's sweeping account of modern Pakistan, analyzing the country's social alienation, economic inequality, entrenched corruption and religious strife, to Jonathan Jao at Random House, by Jane Dystel at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.


Barbra Streisand's A PASSION FOR DESIGN, an illustrated book featuring up to 50,00 words of text and photos of her Malibu compound and other residences, called the culmination of a lifelong passion for American architecture and designto Clare Ferraro at Viking Penguin, for publication in fall 2010, by Robert Barnett at Williams & Connolly

Suraya Sadeed, with Damien Lewis's DROP BY DROP A RIVER IS FORMED, the true story of Afghan-American Suraya Sadeed, who, moved by the trauma of her husband's unexpected death, set out to rebuild her homeland from a war funded by her American tax dollars; chronicling Sadeed's heartbreaking, nail-biting, and -- at its core -- hopeful journey from Afghanistan to America and back again, to Voice, with Betsy Wilson editing, for publication in Winter 2011, by Jesseca Salky at Russell & Volkening.
UK rights to Little Brown UK, by Felicity Bryan.
Translation: Andrew Nurnberg Associates


International art dealer and BBC Antiques Road Show regular Philip Mould's SLEUTH: Adventures of an Art Detective, tales of forgery and discovery based on the author's own experiences focusing on six paintings, including a fake Norman Rockwell, a would-be Rembrandt and a Winslow Homer that miraculously surfaced on a trash heap in Ireland -- and the eccentric characters behind their dramatic histories -- to be published in conjunction with a multi-part prime time series of the same name, to Joy de Menil at Viking Penguin, in a very nice deal, at auction, by Elizabeth Sheinkman at Curtis Brown UK.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Madder than hell here...

I don't know what's happening elsewhere, but here in San Diego, we're getting ripped off en masse at the grocery stores.

Hadn't gone in one lately, but when I entered Von's a couple of days ago, it took about 3 minutes to send me into a fit. Practically everything they have on their shelves has been minaturized. I mean, they're small. Tiny cans, tiny containers, little slices of name it, it's shrunk something fierce but the prices stayed the same.

But hey...the prices didn't. I was in a state of shock when I walked out. So decided to check Keil's. Same thing!!! What the hell is this?

And gas up to $2.79 9/10's a gallon this morning.

Greed reigns, people.

So gonna now check out the farmer's markets. At least those people earn their money the hard way.


Monday, June 01, 2009

Republicans blocking Dawn Johnson for OLC...

From Secrecy News:


The organization, role and operation of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which produces binding interpretations of the law for the executive branch, are usefully described in the Justice Department's FY 2010 budget request (pdf).

"OLC’s mission remains highly critical and urgent as the Department enters into a new era of responsibility confronting national security and intelligence challenges, reinvigorating federal civil rights enforcement, and advising the myriad of agencies involved in responding to the economic crisis," the budget request document states. "The Office is operating at a particularly challenging time, when a number of major legal positions of the United States government are under review or in the process of being changed."

Under the Bush Administration, the OLC notoriously issued numerous opinions -- many of which would later be withdrawn under criticism -- authorizing abusive interrogation, warrantless surveillance, and other departures from established legal norms. The President's distinguished nominee to head the Office, Prof. Dawn Johnsen, still awaits Senate confirmation and she reportedly faces opposition from some Senate Republicans.