Archive for October, 2017

Founder and CEO of Rockmount Ranchwear Jack Weil dies at age 107

Monday, October 30th, 2017

Friday, August 15, 2008

Jack A. Weil, founder and CEO of Rockmount Ranch Wear died on August 13 at the age of 107 in Denver, Colorado. He was the oldest working CEO in the United States. He was also known as “Papa Jack”.

He was born on March 28, 1901 in Evansville, Indiana. In 1946, Weil rented a space at 1626 Wazee Street in Denver and set about trying to create a fashionable yet practical identity for the western ranchers of the region.

I never wanted to be the richest man in the cemetery

Weil was well-known for coining the phrase “The West is not a place, it is a state of mind.” He was the first person to put snaps on Western shirts, patented the saw-tooth pocket design seen on many Western shirts, and was credited with inventing the bolo tie.

In 2001, he told Associated Press, “I learned fast you can’t sell to cowboys; they have no money. You have to appeal to the cowboy in everyone and sell to them.”

Among his customers were Ronald Reagan, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton and Nicholas Cage. More recently, Rockmount shirts were worn by the late Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in the 2005 Academy Award-nominated movie, Brokeback Mountain.

Weil’s wife, Beatrice Baum, died in 1990, followed by his son Jack B. in January 2008.

“I never wanted to be the richest man in the cemetery,” he told his grandson and current president of the family business.

Occupation in London enters fifth day

Monday, October 30th, 2017

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street and other “Occupy” protests, activists set up camp outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London on Saturday, and they plan to remain indefinitely. The protest thus far has been described as “largely peaceful” by a police spokesman.

On Saturday, an estimated thousand or more people attempted to protest in Paternoster Square, the site of the London Stock Exchange, but were blocked by police enforcing a High Court judgment. Julian Assange from Wikileaks also joined the protest to address the activists. A flag flies over the occupation showing the ‘Anonymous’ logo of a headless man in a black suit.

At around 9:30am Wednesday, many campers were still asleep, but around 30–50 people were listening in solidarity to trade union representatives from the National Shop Stewards Network, while 20 to 30 officers from the City of London police watched on. On the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the speakers spoke about a variety of struggles including strikes by electricians that started in August against Balfour Beatty, one of Britain’s largest construction firms. Solidarity was expressed with the travellers at Dale Farm, and speakers described how the media and others were trying to “divide” workers, students and elderly people. One of the speakers said that while today they are occupying the square in London, “tomorrow we will be occupying universities and colleges” and spoke of the suspension of Vik Chechi, the Unison branch secretary who has been suspended by Queen Mary University. By 9:45am, the trade union talks had finished and the sound system was reactivated and reggae music started playing.

After the talks peter out, activity begins to resume on the site: people sorting out tents and serving food, under signs and banners playfully mixing politics (“The London Stock Exchange: Britain’s Biggest Casino”) with Internet memes (a Reddit cartoon man depicted saying “Y U NO JOIN US?”).

Pennsylvania Car Insurance: The Basics

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

By R Daniel Williams

It doesn’t matter where you live, it is important to drive with car insurance. Auto insurance makes sure that you can afford to pay for damages to your vehicle if it is in an accident, replace your vehicle if it is stolen, or pay punitive damages to another person or property if you are in an accident. Like most other states, Pennsylvania car insurance is required by law if you want to operate your vehicle. This is so that you and other people on the road are protected from accidents.

The law requires that Pennsylvania car insurance provide a minimum coverage amount of:

$15,000 / $30,000 limit Bodily Injury Liability

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$5,000 limit Property Damage Liability

$5,000 (PIP) First Party Benefits

Basically, in order to legally operate your vehicle in the state of Pennsylvania, you need to have insurance that provides at least this much coverage. Of course, you can always opt for more, which is usually recommended. In this case, Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage is typically the first to be added on. This is, basically, a supplement to your own coverage so that if you are injured and need medical attention, you can get it even if the other responsible party does not have enough insurance to take care of you.

Bodily Injury Liability provides protection in the event that you or someone else is injured in an accident. This could be from two cars striking each other on the road or you lose control of your vehicle and it hits a pedestrian. Pennsylvania car insurance requires that you have this coverage so that if you are responsible for an accident where bodily injury is the result, you will be able to pay for damages. This could include medical costs for the hospital stay, follow-up consultations with a doctor, medical or surgical procedures, and medications or prescriptions that might have been prescribed as the result of the accident.

The Property Damage Liability stipulation of Pennsylvania car insurance provides the same benefits as Bodily Injury, but is assessed to damage to physical property. When a driver hits your car, for whatever reason, your car will be damaged. Their insurance policy will assess the amount of money it will cost to repair the damages and pay you for it. This might also apply to other forms of vehicles like motorcycles, trucks, and even bicycles. It can also apply to stationary property like your home, detached garage, or shed. It can even apply to other personal property that could have been damaged or destroyed in an accident, such as things you might be hauling in your trunk like a stroller, cooler, or shopping bags with grocery items.

Pennsylvania car insurance Personal Injury Protection, or ‘PIP,’ also helps to pay for ‘reasonable and necessary’ medical expenses for you and your passengers. Bodily Injury Liability only covers the driver and passenger of the other vehicle involved with the accident. This aspect of your policy ensures that you and your passengers can cover the potential expenses of hospitalization and other medical attention you might need too.

About the Author: Univ of Pitt Grad 1984 Started Williams Agency 1986 Providing Better Insurance for Pa & NY residents for Less Money Better Pennsylvania auto insurance for less money email to: dan@williams-agency.net

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Interview with Ton Roosendaal about Elephants Dream and free content movies

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Three days after the Internet release of the free content 3D short Elephants Dream (see Wikinews coverage), we exchanged e-mails with Ton Roosendaal about the reaction to the film, open source filmmaking, and the changes to Blender that resulted from the production. Ton Roosendaal is the lead developer of the Blender 3D rendering and modelling software that was used for the movie. He is also the chairman of the Blender Foundation, a non-profit organization which was formed in support of the software and projects like Elephants Dream.

How much money did the Blender Foundation spend on producing the movie? Has the money been fully recouped by DVD orders and donations?

We still have to finish the final bookkeeping for this project. It has been executed in co-production with the Netherlands Media Art Institute, and we each had our own internal budgeting for the project. When you exclude expenses of pre-production and producer personnel, the total budget was about 120,000 €, of which we covered half. Our contribution was roughly covered half by the DVD sales, and half by European Union support (http://www.uni-verse.org consortium).

One of the most common criticisms of CGI films is focus on technology over content. For instance, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within flopped with audiences, in spite of being an undisputed technical milestone. I’ve seen many reviews that criticized the plot of “Elephants Dream” as too bizarre or confusing. In retrospect, are you happy with the story development process?

Haha, I knew the story and plot would get a mixed acclaim. There’s a couple of reasons I’d like to mention for it.

First of all; the criticism resembles how people witness Blender itself, too. Many people expect that Free Software is an easy accessible mass audience product. We get a lot of complaints by non-artists that they can’t get into the software easily, whilst the complexity of commercial products like Maya or Houdini is perceived as a confirmation of its “quality”. Apparently an Open Movie created similar expectations with the audience.

Luckily we also got many positive reviews of the artistic result of the movie. It is quite abstract, but definitely has many layers of information, inspiring many of the viewers to see relevant real life messages hidden here.

For this project we’ve teamed up with the Netherlands Media Art Institute, internationally renowned as a resource for video art. So for Elephants Dream, we’ve had the luxury to challenge ourselves to create real independent artistic content as well. The artists had a lot of freedom from the start; they were responsible for the concept, story and creative development of the entire movie. This has resulted in a lot of quite personal choices, based on what the artists liked to do themselves. I really cherish such an approach, it has resulted in a very motivated team working crazy hours the last months to get it all realized.

But, most importantly; the main target of our project was not only to create a 3D movie short, but to experiment with ways to improve the efficiency and quality of open source development. On this aspect only, this project was just a huge success, and the main reason for our sponsors (the DVD pre-sale) to support it. I know they might have liked a cartoonish funny movie with furry animals better, but for that you get already pretty well served by the bigger 3D animation studios. 🙂

I’m the first to admit that – looking back especially – certain aspects worked out quite weakly; there’s loose ends and questionable decisions, especially in story development and continuity. That’s just the risk of doing experiments, and nothing I regret really. The five artists from our user community who were invited to make the movie were young people with no professional background in filmmaking. Their personal incentive to participate in this project was also to learn from it, and to create a good portfolio for their future career. I’ve witnessed them grow in competence in the past year enormously, something I’m incredibly proud of.

On the technical level, the only major criticism I’ve seen of “Elephants Dream” is the character animation, especially in the opening scene — many reviewers felt that the movements seemed a bit unnatural. Do you agree with these criticisms? If so, what do you think can be done to improve on that level?

Yeah, the challenge the artists set themselves – to use quite realistic personages – is also something that easily works against you. In many animation movies they introduce characters in the beginning in a way you get used to their specific characteristic movements, so you accept a certain level of non-realism easily. (Check the weird walk cycles in The Incredibles for example). Another aspect is that we’ve started work on the first scenes, and ended with the last scenes. I can clearly see the animation quality increase, and that whilst the ending scenes were done in much less time due to time constraints.

We also didn’t schedule to do 9.5 minutes of animation either…. Originally it was more like 6. But, it’s always easier to look back to define the right decisions, eh? 🙂

I’m very happy with the reviews we got so far; luckily the movie was perceived as a professional quality product, and reviewed based on comparisons with what the big studios come up with. Even when we couldn’t satisfy all these quality demands, it has luckily not been branded as a pathetic presumptuous attempt by amateurs!

Do you think there is hope for a full-length open movie project in the near future? Would the Blender Foundation be interested in such a project, or do you intend to continue focusing mainly on shorts?

I’d like to wait a little while with defining what a next project would look like. Given the constraints of “organizing projects to improve open source development”, we might have not much choice either. It would probably mean to work with a new team each time, so most likely be based on shorts only. On the other hand, there’s also clear signals that this approach works well, and creates excitement and involvement of a lot of people, also from producers and sponsors. That might enable us to set up a next project based on larger targets. For a full-length feature film however, we should involve a sufficient amount of experienced film makers as well, and/or invite the first team to participate again. That would put a lot of pressure on the required budget…. You can’t do that based on a 1000 DVD pre-sale target. Would more be like 20,000 or so…. 🙂

How did the process of making the movie feed back into the development of Blender? Are there major technical changes that were made only or primarily because of the film?

Already during the pre-production phase the artists have defined the key targets for Blender development. This then was coordinated with the online development community too. I’ve done the most crucial (re-)development mostly myself, though. Especially on the character animation tools, on the rendering pipeline and compositing tools.

It is especially the latter I’m most satisfied with. In 3D movie production the compositing stage creates a giant content bottleneck. By transparently integrating this in our render-pipeline, a very efficient workflow has been achieved. And, not to forget, Blender now also offers the first production-level open source compositor on the market!

The current summary you can find in our work-in-progress release notes.

What are the key technical features in Blender you want to add or improve for future movie projects?

Depends on what the movie is about! There’s always hundreds of features you can work on. However, we’ll have to work on that anyway, movie project or not. There’s a lot of professionals using Blender now, and they can’t wait for the Blender Foundation to do movies! Look at this studio for example: http://www.plumiferos.com/

I read that at least one proprietary software package, Reaktor, was used for the sound effects. Is this because no equivalent free software solution exists yet? Will future projects have a “free software only” policy?

We’ve limited the “Open Source tools” requirement to our own Studio Orange only. That was what we could keep in control at least, and I can tell you it was not always easy even… 🙂

For sound and music we’ve decided from the beginning to seek an external sponsor. We have chosen to work with the best quality studio and composer we could find, preferably using open source, but not as a prerequisite.

My own competence is solely within the CG [computer graphics, Ed.] side of movie making. When it comes to music editing, or video encoding and DVD authoring, I could only decide to choose to work with external parties with proven competences in that area. I have to be practical in projects like this, especially to ensure it will be realized.

Hopefully, now we’ve got so much attention world wide, we can involve more non-CG open source next time, too. I will definitely strive for the maximum here, but it will fully depend on the amount of professional support we can get.

Blender itself was originally closed source freeware, until it was “liberated” through a fundraising campaign. If you could choose one proprietary application to “set free” where such a goal could be realistically achieved, which one would it be?

Well, the “realistically achieved” demand makes it quite difficult. 🙂 Looking back at similar cases, like Mozilla and OpenOffice.org, it was always very circumstantial. It just happens sometimes, you can’t organize something like this to happen in advance. The only common denominator is “a company in troubles”… so, who’s in trouble now?

What is your personal favorite computer-animated full-length film?

Uuuh… that differs every week! Probably Ice Age (the first one). Mostly because they didn’t overdo showcasing 3D technology so much, but created truly adorable characters and great funny gags.

US Senate blocks Alaska refuge drilling

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Thursday, December 22, 2005

By a narrow vote late in the evening on December 21st, 2005 the US Senate blocked opening the nation’s oil reserve in National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska . This vote delivers a victory to environmentalists and denies the Bush administration their top energy priority. Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) attached the drilling plan to a measure to fund ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the Senate late last night agreed to pass the defense bill, without the drilling provision.

Two key Republicans, Lincoln D Chafee (R-R.I.) and Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), joined Democrats in opposing the drilling. Senator Lieberman (D-Conn) said yesterday that Stevens was to blame for holding up money for the military. By including the drilling measure in the defense spending bill, it was hoped to twist the senators’ arms into voting for both provisions together in the scramble to finish the important business before the Senate’s Christmas break.

Dennis Ritchie, C programming language creator, dies aged 70

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Friday, October 14, 2011

The C programming language creator and co-developer of the Unix operating system Dennis Ritchie died at home on October 8 after an extended illness, at the age of 70. Former colleague Rob Pike first publicly announced the death, which Alcatel-Lucent then confirmed.

Ritchie, born in Bronxville, New York on September 9, 1941, joined Bell Labs in 1967. There, with Ken Thompson, he helped develop Unix, an operating system on which are based many modern systems such as Linux and Mac OS X. Unix provided the infrastructure that led the creation of the Internet. Between 1969 and 1973 he developed the C, one of the most used programming languages, that influenced many languages like C++, Java, and PHP. After Unix was rewritten, C was key to its portability. In 2007 he retired from his post as Bell Labs’ head of systems software research.

Ritchie and Thompson were awarded the Turing Award in 1983, the IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal in 1990, the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 1998, and the Japan Prize in 2011.

American teenage girl charged with murder of her mother

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Sunday, December 19, 2004

CRAIG, Alaska – Rachelle Waterman, (aka Rachelle Ann Monica Waterman and “smchyrocky”), a 16-year-old girl from Craig, Alaska, USA, has been charged with the first degree murder of her mother.

The case has rapidly received a wide following on the Internet, partly because Waterman kept a public record of her thoughts and activities on LiveJournal, a popular blogging service. The last entry, which has since been removed from public view, was posted on November 18, 2004 and read:

Just to let everyone know, my mother was murdered.

I won’t have computer acess [sic] until the weekend or so because the police took my computer to go through the hard drive. I thank everyone for their thoughts and e-mails, I hope to talk to you when I get my computer back.

A diverse group of users, both friends and strangers, have posted over 5,000 comments on the journal, positive and negative, transforming the case into an Internet phenomenon. Every entry since March 2004 has apparently now been deleted or hidden, but a ZIP archive of the entire weblog, from before the entries were deleted, is available on Deadly Blogging.

Waterman was a tenth-grade honor (A-average) student in her second year at Craig High School. She was also a member of the Academic Decathlon team (ACDC) and sang in the choir, a profile that has left many people questioning her involvement in the killing and asking what motive there might be. At the time police say the killing occurred, Rachelle Waterman was apparently playing in a volleyball tournament in Anchorage, Alaska.

Apart from the online diary Rachelle kept, the case is also unusual because matricide committed by female minors is extremely rare.

Contents

  • 1 Family background
  • 2 The case
    • 2.1 Police investigation
    • 2.2 Arraignment
    • 2.3 The trial
  • 3 Alleged motive
  • 4 Incarceration
  • 5 Aftermath
    • 5.1 Juvenile crime
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
    • 7.1 Rachelle Waterman on LiveJournal
    • 7.2 Police report on the case
    • 7.3 Press reports about the case
    • 7.4 Press reports which mention the case within a larger context
    • 7.5 Scholastic Accomplishments
  • 8 External links

AARP claims US prescription drug prices continue to rise

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Friday, April 15, 2005

The organization formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons released a report claiming that prescription drug prices in the United States rose 7.1% in 2004. Overall U.S. inflation was about 3 percent in 2004.

The study covers 197 of “the brand name prescription drugs most widely used by Americans age 50 and older.” The drug prices are compared on a month-by-month basis, i.e. January of 2004 is compared to January of 2003. Percentages were then averaged to arrive at quarterly and annual figures. According to the report, most of the change occurred in the first quarter of 2004; the average brand-name drug price in the first quarter of 2004 was 3.5% higher than the average price in the same quarter in 2003.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group, faults the AARP’s report. For example, the trade group says medical inflation, which is greater than overall inflation in the United States, would have made a more appropriate comparison.

Three drugs increased by more than 20% in price in 2004, said the study: Premarin, Miacalcin, and Neurontin. The companies that led the way with price increases were Boehringer Ingelheim, Aventis, and Purdue Pharmaceuticals, each with average price increases of greater than 10%. Three companies increased their prices by less than 6%: Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, and Eisai, according to the study.

Genital Surgery For Women: Frequently Asked Questions And Answers}

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

Submitted by: Jeffrey Antoine

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Oil leaking container ship might cause environmental catastrophe

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

Sunday, January 21, 2007

In the United Kingdom, an anti-pollution operation is under way after the stricken ship MSC Napoli started to leak dangerous heavy fuel oil.

The heavy fuel oil that is leaking from the beached Italian ship is extremely dangerous for the environment. Fear of pollution increased after the ship was further damaged during storms last Thursday. MSC Napoli was beached by Devon coastguards after it suffered heavy structual damage in the gale force storms of Thursday, 18 January 2007, that wreaked havoc across Northern Europe. The ship, which contains 160 containers of hazardous chemical substances, is listing at 35 degrees.

The entire 26-man crew was rescued by navy helicopters Thursday after severe gales. Cracks were found on both sides of the ship, but the current oil leak was not expected.

Around 2,400 containers were carried by the 62,000 tonne ship, some of which contain potentially dangerous hazardous chemicals.

The Coastguards have reported that up to 200 of the containers carrying materials such as perfume and battery acid are loose from the ship and they are looking for missing containers. South African stainless steel producer Columbus Stainless confirmed on Friday that there was at least 1,000 tonnes of nickel on board MSC Napoli.

A hole in the ship flooded the engine room and there’s now fears that the ship will break up. Saturday MSC Napoli was towed to Portland when a ”structural failure” forced the salvage team to beach it. As the storms have continued MSC Napoli has been further damaged.

The authorities have warned people about the pollution, which already has reached the beaches at Devon, but many want to see it on their own. Police have closed Branscombe Beach as more than 20 containers have broken up scattering their contents along the beach.

Sky News reported Sunday that the costs of the accident might be very high as thousands of pounds worth of BMW motorbikes, car parts, empty oak barrels and perfume might get lost in flooding containers.