Wednesday, December 28, 2005

NYC Trip Pictures....More to come...

12-27-2005-13, originally uploaded by Tman In TN.

Christmas In NYC........

Here's the slideshow...I'll post more as I get them...

Friday, December 23, 2005

Live From New York- It's Tman!!

Yep, I'm here in the heart of the evil empire visiting my sister before we drive up to Boston to see my mom for Christmas, and I have yet to run to Johnny "traitor" Damon. If I do sportsfans, it won't be pretty. Guiness has a tendency to remove my inhibitions and there is not shortage of that lovely black elxir here in the Big Apple.

On the Damon front, I received a link from my buddy Adam which has a picture documentary entitled "My Sensible Reaction to Johnny Damon Signing with the Yanks". If nothing else it shows the maturity and pose that Red Sox fans like myself have shown in the days since that traitorous bastard decided to leave the path and follow the dark side. Ahem.

Anyways, I may hate their baseball teams, but damn do I love visiting this city. I did the tourist stuf today with my sister- breakfast at Arties, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, etc. We even braved a relatively short line to get to the top of the Empire State building. And by "relatively short" I mean less than an hour. I can't imagine what it's like when it gets busy at that place. After that we went for one of these- at Katz Deli in the Lower East Side. I dare say there is not a better sandwich on the planet.

After that we did a little stroll through the village with a stop at Magnolia's for a cupcake, which was recently immortalized beyond NYC through the genius of Chris Parnell and Andy Samberg's "Lazy Sunday" on Saturday Night Live. Mr Pibb + Red Vine= Crazy Delicious bitches.... Tonight it's off to Rolf's for dinner and drinks. Pictures to follow when I get home..

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye.

Farking Traitor.

Yankees add Damon to potent lineup
NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees grabbed center fielder Johnny Damon away from the rival Boston Red Sox, reaching a preliminary agreement Tuesday night on a $52 million, four-year contract.

Details of the deal were still being negotiated and Damon must pass a physical, a baseball official said on condition of anonymity because negotiations were not yet final.

Damon's contract with the Yankees includes a partial no-trade clause, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney reported.

Moving from Fenway Park to Yankee Stadium will mean a change of style and scenery for the long-haired, bearded Damon -- a fan favorite in Boston for his scrappy play and scruffy look. But New York owner George Steinbrenner bans beards and long hair.

"Sad to say bye to some of the greatest fans in the world. Unfortunately they had to see this day, but it's time for me to move forward," Damon told WBZ television in Boston. "They were coming after me aggressively. We know George Steinbrenner's reputation.

Reportedly, the Sox offered Damon 4 years at $40 million, and this wasn't enough for Damon. He wanted the 5 at $52 million the Yanks offered. So much for being one the good guys. Tom Brady took pay cut after pay cut to help the Patriots get more depth so they could compete more. So did Steve McNair for that matter. Johnny just proved he is a me-first hired gun, so he'll fit in just fine in New York with the rest of the Spankee Mercenaries.

Look at this ridiculous figure from last night on Sportscenter-

The salaries of the first six in that lineup are almost equal to what last years entire salary for the World Series Champion Chicago White Sox was for the entire team.

Screw Steinbrenner, Screw Cashman, Screw the Chokees, and finally Screw that traitorous rat-bastard Johnny Unfrozen Caveman Damon. May the lord guide those double AA's thrown from the Fenway Bleachers next year directly to your sizeable useless melon.

Johnny, you are dead to me.Further thoughts from The Soxaholix...Bitter? Me? Nah...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Yet Another Amazing Photo Of Saturn From The Cassini Probe

Check out the storm on the surface too. The storm itself is bigger than the earth.

Storm Down Under
December 20, 2005

An oval-shaped feature, wider than Earth and with streamers extending out to the east and west, swirls in Saturn's southern hemisphere. Like the rainbands of a Southern Hemisphere hurricane on Earth, the streamers spiral into the feature in a clockwise direction. Unlike Earth's hurricanes, this storm probably contains no liquid water.
The planet's equatorial rings cut across the top of the image.

The image was taken in wavelengths of polarized infrared light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Oct. 30, 2005, at a distance of approximately 324,000 kilometers (202,000 miles) from Saturn. The image scale is 32 kilometers (20 miles) per pixel.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Spirit Of America: Operation Snapshot Successful

Yes, yes, I know. Iraq is a quagmire. According to Dean and the democrats, we can't win, it's Vietnam all over again, blahblahblah. Idiots. All of them.

Here's some of the latest news from Spirit of America. You remember them, right? Of course you do. I mean the New York Times has them on the front page like every other day, right?


Here's a refresher for those just tuning in-

Mission and Objectives
Spirit of America's mission is to extend the goodwill of the American people to assist those advancing freedom, democracy and peace abroad. We provide support to those on the front lines: American military and civilian personnel and people who call to Americans for help in their struggle for freedom and democracy.

Our objectives include:

Increase the reach, scale and impact of the informal humanitarian activities that take place on the front lines in troubled regions.
Contribute charitable goods that can have a positive, practical and timely impact in the local communities where American personnel are involved.
Establish connections and strengthen bonds between the American people and those in countries struggling for freedom and democracy.

The latest success story from Spirit of America is Operation Snapshot: LtCol Jeff Vold of the 1st Marine Division writes, "Many teams report that they have been able to open many doors and break down many barriers with something as simple as a Polaroid picture." So, Spirit of America sprung in to action and boom!- 40 polaroids shipped over to Iraq immediately.

Here's the result-
Operation Snapshot: A Picture IS worth a thousand words
Cost of 40 Polaroid Cameras sent to the troops in Iraq: $400.00

Seeing the faces of Iraqi children enjoying their photos: Priceless

You have to think that if mass media could read more emails and see pictures like these, we'd hear more news stories of the good things that our troops are doing in Iraq. These photos and update on the success of Operation Snapshot make it all worthwhile:

Thank you so much. I was completely amazed. I am always thankful to get out of this office and out into the field. This, by far, was the greatest adventure yet.

We convoyed out and drove to a local Iraqi Army Station, from there the IA Soldiers took on us a foot patrol out to a local school not far from their area.

Yes, it was a little tense, but once we arrived at the school the children started to come from everywhere. The team I was with was delivering backpacks and I toted along with my backpack full of Polaroids and film.

The pictures were the hit of the day. I showed the Iraqi Soldiers how to take pictures and just let them go with it.

Again, thanks for all your support.



I have another question for the defeatists who say we cannot win in Iraq despite the improvements of the Iraqi Security Forces, successful elections and the rule of law without a dictator- how many of you heard of the following stories?

All taken from the Spirit of America site-

Children’s Books Destined for Libraries Arrive in Baghdad
Soccer Equipment Delivered to Eastern Afghanistan
Backpacks for Kids Shipped From Iowa to Ramadi
An Email from Sgt Charity Lewis
Carpentry Program in Baghdad
Celebration for Ramadan in Baghdad
Sports Fans Provide Classroom Comfort for Children
Letters & Donations from Iraqi Children in Basrah to the Children of hurricane Katrina

We now return you to your regularly scheduled quagmire programming.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

If Israel Destroys Iran's Nuclear Facilities, How Can Anyone Blame Them?

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, has made some statements recently concerning what is every Arab controlled nations favorite pastime-destroying Israel- that shouldn't leave out much room for misinterpretation.

Stuff like-

Wednesday, October 26, 2005-

ABC News: Iran Leader Calls for Israel's Destruction

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran’s hard-line president called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” and said a new wave of Palestinian attacks will destroy the Jewish state, state-run media reported Wednesday.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also denounced attempts to recognize Israel or normalize relations with it.

“There is no doubt that the new wave (of attacks) in Palestine will wipe off this stigma (Israel) from the face of the Islamic world,” Ahmadinejad told students Wednesday during a Tehran conference called “The World without Zionism.”

“Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury, (while) any (Islamic leader) who recognizes the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world,” Ahmadinejad said.

Ahmadinejad also repeated the words of the founder of Iran’s Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who called for the destruction of Israel.

“As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map,” said Ahmadinejad, who came to power in August and replaced Mohammad Khatami, a reformist who advocated international dialogue and tried to improve Iran’s relations with the West.

And, as Mark Steyn eloquently describes-
"Good news! On Thursday (December 11th), Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, who recently called for Israel to be wiped off the map, moderated his position. In a spirit of statesmanlike compromise, he now wants Israel wiped off the map of the Middle East and wiped on to the map of Europe.

"Some European countries insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces," Ahmadinejad told Iranian TV viewers. "Although we don't accept this claim, if we suppose it is true," he added sportingly, "if European countries claim that they have killed Jews in World War II, why don't they provide the Zionist regime with a piece of Europe? Germany and Austria can provide the regime with two or three provinces for this regime to establish itself, and the issue will be resolved. You offer part of Europe, and we will support it."

Big of you. It's the perfect solution to the "Middle East peace process": out of sight, out of mind. And given that Ahmadinejad's out of his mind, we're already halfway there."

So this is the president of Iran? A holocaust denying nutball who has made himself perfectly clear that he intends to send Israel "back to where they got killed in WWII" either dead or alive?

Should anyone be surprised that Israel is taking Iran at their word?

"Israel readies forces for strike on nuclear Iran".

Many people these days seem to have historical amnesia about the middle east and Israel. The Jewish people have lived there for over 3700 years. The've had every type of misguided culture attempt to eradicate Israel and the Jews with them since then. And in the last century, you have the Balfour Declaration of 1917; the League of Nations Mandate, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration; the United Nations partition resolution of 1947 and Israel's admission to the UN in 1949 to further educate everyone that Israel was here to stay.

Israel has backed this up militarily for the last century by suviving repeated attacks from every available Arab nation. And all have gone away empty handed. Israel is not going anywhere. Larry Miller, the comedian/actor/editorialist describes the situation in terms that are unavoidably clear-

"Chew this around and spit it out: Five hundred million Arabs; five million Jews. Think of all the Arab countries as a football field, and Israel as a pack of matches sitting in the middle of it. And now these same folks swear that if Israel gives them half of that pack of matches, everyone will be pals. Really? Wow, what neat news. Hey, but what about the string of wars to obliterate the tiny country and the constant din of rabid blood oaths to drive every Jew into the sea? Oh, that? We were just kidding."

Israel has had to "renovate" the nuclear facilities of Arab nations in the past. Just ask Saddam how much better the Osirak Nuclear facility near Baghdad looks as a smoking crater with a few walls left standing as opposed to that French nuke factory it used to be.

What if your neighbor started building a big cannon -that he didn't really know how to build, but seemed to have plenty of people helping him- and then suddenly walked in to the street and told everyone in the neighborhood that he planned to blow up your house "somehow" as soon as he was able to.

How long do you ignore him?

How long should Israel?

I can't blame them. And I'd wager a bet that there would be a surprisingly large number of Iranians who wouldn't blame them either.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Saddam: 'I Am Not Afraid of Execution'

"Oh wait, maybe I am afraid of execution....can we have a do-over?"

The trial of Saddam is quite interesting to me, mainly because there hasn't been such a blatantly guilty dictator on the bench in quite some time. I'm surprised that it's taken this long, but hey- for reasons I outlined in this earlier post, they better get this one right. Hania Mufti and the entire Iraqi people deserve no less.

In the interests of science, I've decided to post the following poll to your right (above the blogroll) to see what you, dear readers, think should be the method of Saddams inevitable execution.

I suggest reading some of the various Iraqi blogs for reactions to the trial. Iraq the Model is always a good place to start.

Friday, December 02, 2005

There Are Cars, And Then There Is - Are You Freaking Kidding Me?

The Bugatti Veyron.

It's out.

I can't afford it, without robbing a bank, but I really really really want one.

Just one.

For $1.7 million, I want a luxury car with a 16 cylinder engine that does this-

1001 horsepower equip the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 with a level of acceleration unheard of in the sports car segment, propelling it from 0 to 60 mph in just three seconds and past the 200 mph mark in a mere 14 seconds. Thanks to its 923 lb-ft, the Bugatti Veyron 16.4’s enormous propulsive power is not exhausted until it reaches 252.3 mph (406 km/h): the maximum speed for which chassis and drive train have been designed. Any further performance escalation is limited by current design and construction.

I swear that I will never break the law in car like this..

Yes, I know, you could feed an Ethiopian village for the cost of one of these cars, but maybe I can feed that same Ethiopian village faster if I have one of these...

Come on, you know you want one.........

Thursday, December 01, 2005

It's Time For Another Installment Of DEEP SPACE NEWS!

Some cool stuff too.

First up we have the latest release from the Cassini-Huygens Mission. The folks at NASA and the European Space Agency have put together some of the data obtained from the Huygens Probe that landed on Titan last January. One of the cool things they did was put together 2 Quicktime movies of the Landing site and an artists conception of what the landing on Titan would have looked like.

Huygens Landing Site Movie
This movie shows a quick succession of multiple products of Titan's surface from the Cassini orbiter and the European Space Agency's Huygens probe. It shows Cassini imaging science sub-system images, radar images and visual and infrared mapping spectrometer images of the Huygens probe landing area. The rest of the movie consists of mosaics from the descent imager/spectral radiometer. The camera system on the Huygens probe mimics the descent profile of the probe starting at about 144 kilometers (89 miles), looking eastward throughout. It displays the Titan surface in true color. The sequence ends with a true-color surface image. The radar images of the Huygens landing site were taken by the Cassini orbiter radar instrument during the Titan flyby on Oct. 28, 2005.
Huygens Descent Sequence
The artist's concept shows the European Space Agency's Huygens probe descent sequence. The animation shows the Huygens probe's entry, descent and landing, with the descent imager/spectral radiometer lamp turned on at the end.
The probe was delivered to Saturn's moon Titan by the Cassini spacecraft, which is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. NASA supplied two instruments on the probe, the descent imager/spectral radiometer and the gas chromatograph mass spectrometer.

Here's a picture of the real surface at Titan-

And from Japan, we have the latest news on the Hayabusa Asteroid Probe, which successfully landed on the asteroid Itokawa, scooped up a sample of the asteroid and is now on its return flight home. Here's a journal entry from Yasunori Matagowa -Asscociate Executive Director of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency- JAXA.

The Longest Day of “HAYABUSA”

November 27, 2005
Asscociate Executive Director, JAXA

We are sure that Hayabusa has accomplished the great feat to collect sample soils from a celestial body other than moon. I am heartily proud of those brilliant youths of this country. Below is a live coverage of “The Longest Day”.

That day, November 20th, I was studying the data from Hayabusa that flew as far as100km away in safe hold mode from ITOKAWA just like dreaming a nightmare. But Hayabusa team was not even allowed time to dream a nightmare. It took them a whole week by restless work to get it back to the original gate position.

At around 10:00 pm, Nov. 25th, Hayabusa started descending from 1km in altitude. The climax was coming for the 5th time. Each job done was not a joy any longer. They were not in that kind of mood any more. The goal for them was nothing, nothing but to get sample from the surface. The control room was filled up with their determination to fulfill the mission task. Each operation job sensitively swinging from joy to sorrow on each event until only yesterday was being just calmly carried on. No doubt, Japanese space exploration has entered the new stage just in a few days-----was my vivid feeling I had at that moment. Around 6:00 am, Hayabusa, under guidance by optical navigation system so far, was switched to vertical descent phase to maneuver Hayabusa sent down to “MUSES Sea” along with the direction of the gravity. Entering this phase, remote control from ground basically did not work any longer as scheduled. Hayabusa operates itself on its own. Well, this ability was originally given to the vehicle by human beings, though........

Read the rest here.

Pretty cool, huh?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Reason #874,558 Why The Entire UN Should Be Dumped In The East River...

(via McQ at QandO)

The UN is at it again fighting tirelessly against Human Rights Abuses, and seeing as how they've been so successful in places like Cuba, Saudi Arabia or Darfur, it's time to turn their attention on the big prize. You guessed it, The United States.

This headline is just so incredibly ridiculous I don't know where to begin-

Racial Poverty Gaps in U.S. Amount to Human Rights Violation, Says U.N. Expert

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 29 (OneWorld) - Despite enormous wealth and various federal and social welfare schemes at work, the United States is failing to help millions of its people trying to get out of poverty, according to an independent United Nations rights expert.

"Resource constraints have limited the reach of the assistance programs and social discrimination has aggravated the problems in many situations resulting in poverty clearly seen as a violation of human rights," Dr. Arjun Sengupta declared after visiting the United States last month.

"If the United States government designed and implemented the policies according to human rights standards much of the problem of poverty could be resolved," he added.

Dr. Sengupta, an expert on human rights and extreme poverty of the world body's Commission on Human Rights, said he chose to visit the United States because he wanted to illustrate that extreme poverty was not only prevalent in developing countries, but a phenomenon that is found in most nations in the world, according to U.N. officials.

"The case of the United States was particularly interesting as it presented an apparent paradox: as the wealthiest country on Earth, with higher per capita income levels than any other country, the United States has also had one of the highest incidences of poverty among the rich industrialized nations," Dr. Sengupta said.

Good lord. Human rights violations? Someone explain to me where in the Constitution it says that "all citizens will be provided free healthcare and no one will ever go hungry".

Is there extreme poverty in the US? Without question, yes. There are areas of the country where the jobs have evaporated and people were stuck with no immediate ways out, thus things are horribly bleak. Certain parts of West Virginia or Kentucky come to mind as examples. But to say that these people are without any assistance from the government or private charities and thusly are victims of Human Rights Abuses is beyond ridiculous. Here's a little list of How "Poor" are America's Poor-

* 38 percent of the persons whom the Census Bureau identifies as "poor" own their own homes with a median value of $39,200.

* 62 percent of "poor" households own a car; 14 percent own two or more cars.

* Nearly half of all "poor" households have air-conditioning; 31 percent have microwave ovens.

* Nationwide, some 22,000 "poor" households have heated swimming pools or Jacuzzis.

"Poor" Americans today are better housed, better fed, and own more property than did the average U.S. citizen throughout much of the 20th Century. In 1988, the per capita expenditures of the lowest income fifth of the U.S. population exceeded the per capita expenditures of the median American household in 1955, after adjusting for inflation.1

Better Off Than Europeans, Japanese
The average "poor" American lives in a larger house or apartment than does the average West European (This is the average West European, not poor West Europeans). Poor Americans eat far more meat, are more likely to own cars and dishwashers, and are more likely to have basic modern amenities such as indoor toilets than is the general West European population.

"Poor" Americans consume three times as much meat each year and are 40 percent more likely to own a car than the average Japanese. And the average Japanese is 22 times more likely to live without an indoor flush toilet than is a poor American.

The Census Bureau counts as "poor" anyone with "cash income" less than the official poverty threshold, which was $12,675 for a family of four in 1989. The Census completely disregards assets owned by the "poor," and does not even count much of what, in fact, is income. This is clear from the Census's own data: low income persons spend $1.94 for every $1.00 in "income" reported by the Census. If this is true, then the poor somehow are getting $0.94 in additional income above every $1.00 counted by the Census. Indeed, the gap between spending and the Census's count of the income of the "poor" has grown larger year by year till, now, the Census measurement of the income of poor persons no longer has any bearing on economic reality.

You want Human Rights Abuses that are worthy of international condemnation? How about this?

Horrific conditions and suffering make it the last worst place on Earth

By Jack Rendler
May 15, 2005

There are 23 million people living in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), and all of them – men, women and children – suffer every day under the heel of the most repressive regime on Earth. Their plight has been abandoned and ignored by most of the world for nearly 50 years. But there is now new hope and opportunity to restore their freedom and dignity.

The suffering of the North Korean people does not benefit from the drama that attends well-publicized human rights crises such as Iraq and Darfur. Even when hunger and starvation killed as many as 2 million North Koreans in the mid-1990s, the world took little notice. And the greater toll is the continuing long-term day-to-day grinding down of the hearts, minds and souls of all North Korean people.

The North Korean government may be unique in all the world in its ability and willingness to both starve its people and oppress them, to deny them basic civil rights as well as access to food and health care. The government in its showcase capital Pyongyang does not permit international inspection, does not respond to inquiries, and does not fulfill its United Nations obligations. Officials concentrate on keeping the world from North Korea and Koreans from each other.

The regime does not tolerate opposition of any kind. Those who are assumed to be less than loyal are arrested, imprisoned, starved and executed. Entire families are detained or "resettled" because of the supposed political deviation of one relative. Under the concept of "collective retribution," children are punished for the political sins of their parents, denied education and socially ostracized.

Hundreds of thousands are held in a system of prison and labor camps.

Any unauthorized assembly or association is regarded as a "collective disturbance" that is punishable. There are reports of severe repression of people involved in public and private religious activities, through imprisonment, torture and executions. Many Christians are reportedly being held in labor camps.

Someone please explain to me again why the UN is still in New York. Because I am at a loss to see how this organization is anything more than soapbox for dictators and socialists.



Update: A little less than a year ago, I wrote about Reason #874556 Why The Entire UN Should Be Dumped In The East River......A world without the UN.......Hmmmmmm...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Truth In Headlines...........

Do you remember that Christmas commercial wherein: the Mom and Dad are arguing at like three in in the morning, on Christmas Day, about where the directions are for the new bicycle that Mopsie the seven year old or whomever got for Christmas? Then Mopsie hears Mom and Dad arguing at the top of the stairs about said bicycle and so she promptly dials up the website that has a PDF of the instructions for assembling the bicycle, which she then prints out (using the proper print settings of course) and then innocently drops through the railing to fall magically in front of Dad while he looks away? And then he turns around and finds the directions- Christmas is saved!

This headline made me think of that commercial.

"The Next Generation of video-game consoles will have a parental lockout feature, which allows kids to keep their parents from playing inappropriate games"

This is the actual headline-

Parents can control new generation video games

Mm-hmm..Considering most parents have had the kids set the VCR for the last twenty years...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

More Stuff Worth Reading-Recent Additions to Ye' Olde Blogroll

Attention K-mart shoppers!

(Sorry, just felt like saying that.)

I have been remiss for not adding the following folks to my blogroll for all five you who read this site to check out. They are all excellent writers and are most worth of a click or two.

First is John from Wuzzadem, who does the whole picture-with-caption-conversation thingy really well. Some of my favorites of his are the "Blogging With Clippy" series- you know clippy, he's that annoying paperclip cartoon included with Microsoft Outlook to help assure you that you are most definitely PC-illiterate. I've linked his "Disaster Porn" series before as well, both hilarious.

Next is The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, a canadian nanny with a major in English and Cultural Anthropology. She's a huge Simpsons fan, rants well at moonbats and if that's her picture she's pretty frickin cute, so there's that. Read her FAQ for more.

Moving on we have the SobekPundit, he of the wacky and zany faux-interviews. He rants well and does a good job of pretending to be other bloggers. His faux-interview with John from Wuzzadem was pretty damn funny.

And wrapping it up we have Hubris, self described as "navel gazing at its finest". If you are a fan of Roadhouse, the movie, then you owe it to yourself to read his take. Easily the best revision of Roadhouse I've ever seen, even though it's really the only revision of Roadhouse I've ever seen. Just shut up and read it ok? You'll enjoy it trust me.

Roadhouse Revisited:Parts-
I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, and of course-
Road House Revisited: The Final Chapter

Aren't you glad I read the internet and find you all this good stuff? Of course you are. Enjoy the links folks. It's almost the Guinness hour for me! Hoo-Ray!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Slappy McBlueLips Doesn't Deserve the AL MVP

That should go to Big-Papi. Everyone knows that Slappy wasn't even the MVP of his own team, never mind the entire AL.

I present to you a picture editorial for my argument.

You would choose this-

Over this?

Yes, I'm biased. But still, without Ortiz, the Red Sox wouldn't have made the playoffs. Without A-Rod, the Spankees might actually have made it to the ALCS.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Thank You All For Your Service......

Hopefully, I will get to see some of my friends tonight who just got back from Iraq so I can buy them a beer or three for their service. If you happen to run in to either a veteran of a soldier currently serving, I suggest offering them a round as they most definitely deserve it.

Taken at the New Korean War Memorial in Washington-

Once again our brave men and women are answering the call of duty right now and working to help those that they do not know, simply because they believe it is the right thing to do. For this they deserve our gratitude.

Thank you for your service, Men and Women of the United States Armed Forces.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The B612 Foundation Is Getting Nervous.

And that makes me VERY nervous.

For those who don't know, the B612 Foundation "consists of a group of professionals, primarily scientists and other technical experts, who are involved in and concerned about the current lack of action to protect the Earth from the impact of near Earth objects (NEOs)."

They recently have had a discussion with NASA about the asteroid Apophis, concerning the future close fly-by's of this asteroid and the need to take it seriously enough to begin planning for not just a scientific/transponder mission to Apophis, but also a mitigation/deflection mission. In October 2005, NASA provided its formal response to B612 in a letter from Dr. Mary Cleave, Associate Administrator for Science Mission Directorate, and an appended detailed analysis by Dr. Steven Chesley (NASA/JPL).

The entire letter can be found at the following link here, but I will list the main points from the article.

In summary NASA's conclusions are:

1) Both a deflection mission (of the type required for Apophis) and a scientific/transponder mission to Apophis can be performed sequentially, if required, between the key radar apparition in 2013 and the Earth close approach in 2029. There is therefore no need for a scientific/transponder mission to refine the Apophis orbit at this time.

Note: B612 assumed that 10-12 years would be required (end to end) to plan and execute the first asteroid deflection mission. NASA's 7 year estimate allows a potential pre-deflection transponder mission to be delayed until after the anticipated 2013 radar acquisition.

2) In 2021 when a deflection decision would have to be made, the size of the 2029 error ellipse (even without a transponder mission) will yield a maximum impact probability of about 20% (one chance in five), sufficient to justify launching a deflection mission if required.

Note: NASA agrees with B612 that a precursor transponder mission is appropriate prior to mounting a deflection mission. Nevertheless NASA also concludes that by the time a deflection decision would have to be made in 2021, the error ellipse will have been reduced sufficient to yield a maximum impact probability of 20%, twice the required minimum assumed by B612. This conclusion assumes that the Arecibo radar will be available and successfully acquire Apophis at each opportunity through 2021.

NASA also states that these conclusions do not preclude scientific missions to Apophis at an earlier time, and that in fact the specific characteristics of the 2029 Apophis encounter provide a unique opportunity to investigate NEOs. Any such proposals would be handled via the existing Discovery program, according to NASA.

The tone of NASA and JPLS's response leads me to believe that the issue concerning future impacts has now gone from a fringe concern to a mid-level detail. Their comments seem to call for even bolder action than what the B612 Foundation was proposing, for instance sending a deflection mission at the 2029 encounter instead of simply tracking it at that time. Considering the agreed impact percentage for 2029 is around 20%, they quite accurately state that this will be "sufficient to justify launching a deflection mission if required".

That's the good news. Now for the bad news.

B612 observations and general comments:

1) Radar tracking plays an extremely important role in being able to rationally determine the future likelihood of a NEO impact and potentially in planning for a deflection mission when required (as evident in the Chesley analysis). Yet the availability of NEO radar capability in the future is highly uncertain, even precarious. This is especially true of the most valuable NEO radar facility, Arecibo.

For those who are unaware, ARECIBO is the enormous Radar observatory located in Puerto Rico. The huge "dish" is 305 m (1000 feet) in diameter, 167 feet deep, and covers an area of about twenty acres. The surface is made of almost 40,000 perforated aluminum panels, each measuring about 3 feet by 6 feet, supported by a network of steel cables strung across the underlying karst sinkhole. The funding for Arecibo is currently back to full operational mode, thanks to Cornell University, but there was time that Arecibo was in danger of being shut down due to the fact that NASA was not willing to be the only one funding the operation any longer. Back in 2001 the story was- NASA Trims Arecibo Budget, Says Other Organizations Should Support Asteroid Watch. The B612 Foundation rightly points out that the availability of NEO radar capability in the future is highly uncertain, and this is a big problem.

2) The Apophis potential impact is a highly unusual, even unique case. Due to its close encounter with the Earth in April 2029, and its Earth-like orbit, a relatively inexpensive low-technology deflection technique will suffice to divert it from an Earth impact in 2036, should that condition eventuate.

3) In the typical NEO impact scenario however, a much more sophisticated, costly and advanced technology mission would be required. Moreover, a low cost, quick mission to place a transponder on such an object would not be a viable option. Apophis is not typical of the NEO impact threat and should not be seen as such.

Meaning, we won't need to completely turn this one around, possibly just nudge it a little. But this is not going to be the standard by any means for future NEO's.

4) All parties to this exchange of ideas acknowledge having learned a great deal in the process of working through the issues. However, absent B612 Foundation raising the question, the current understanding of the Apophis circumstances might not have developed. This is not an acceptable scenario. If instead, a specific US Government agency were assigned the responsibility of protecting the Earth from catastrophic NEO impacts, that agency would perform such an analysis as a routine matter for all potential NEO impactors.

There is no good reason whatsoever to fund future Space Exploration without solving the mitigation and detection of NEO's first. That it took the B612 Foundation to finally push NASA to start getting serious about it is a problem.

B612 Foundation therefore recommends:

1) That reliable NEO radar capability be assured in order to support early warning of pending NEO impacts and rational deflection mission planning. (National Science Foundation)

2) That the development of advanced space power and propulsion technology capable of providing access to and deflection of the general NEO population be initiated. (NASA)

3) That the responsibility for protection of the Earth from future NEO impacts be assigned to a capable US Government agency. Such responsibility should include, inter alia, early warning capability, deflection capability and related policy development authority. (US Government)

I realize that a Flu-pandemic is a bigger more pressing issue than NEO deflection in terms of large scale potential disasters. And it is far more likely that the human race will have to deal with a pandemic or a major terrorist strike before it will have to deal with a potential NEO impact. But this is no reason not to begin preparing for it.

As has been stated before, everyone who knew even a little bit about Hurricanes and New Orleans knew that it was only a matter of time until one inflicted the type of devastation we saw with Katrina. We have the same understanding of NEO's.

Evidence like this-

Barringer Meteorite Crater:Diameter (km): 1.186- Click Here for Barringer Crater Environmental Effects Page

One would hope that we have learned our lesson from Katrina. The present Bush administrations efforts to prepare for the possibility of a Pandemic are good signs. We need to take the same approach with NEO's, and Apophis is as good a target as any with which to begin.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I Can't Decide If This Guy Is Insane Or Just Incredibly Brave.....

I've never seen anything like this before. This diver is petting a great white shark on the nose like it's a big puppy dog.

Here's the video (warning:large file)

"whoseagoodboy? Hmm? whosedaddysfavoritemaneater? Hmm?"

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

And I'll Never Get Tired Of Hearing It

I stayed up late tonight to watch the end of Game Three of the World Series against the Chisox and The Astro's, hoping the Astro's would lose so that I could hear Joe Buck state my favorite baseball statistic of all time.

....Ahem.....(clears throat)...

"No team has ever come back down three games to none in a best of seven baseball playoff game EXCEPT for last years WORLD CHAMPIONS, THE BOSTON RED SOX...."

I will never, ever, ever get tired of hearing that stat brought up in any playoff game in any sport in which one team is down 0-3. And it's for two wonderful reasons as a Bosox fan.


Gave we Bosox Fans the following........

Monday, October 24, 2005

Do You Want To Know What It Sounds Like Around Saturn?

The planet, not the cars.

The Cassini-Huygens site has a collection of various recordings from both the Cassini and Huygens probes gathered during the exploration of the Saturnian system.

To play the sounds and for more information about them, click on the links below.
Sounds of Enceladus (QuickTime 678 KB)
Radar Echoes from Titan's Surface (Wav file 400 KB)
Speeding Through Titan's Haze (Wav file 400 KB)
Bizarre Sounds of Saturn's Radio Emission (Wav file 127 KB -- 13 seconds)
Eerie sounds of Saturn's Radio emissions (Wav file 718 KB -- 73 seconds)

Wait, Neo-Nazi Olsen Twins? Are You Serious?

Um, what?

Young Singers Spread Racist Hate

Duo Considered the Olsen Twins of the White Nationalist Movement

(ABC News)
Oct. 20, 2005 — Thirteen-year-old twins Lamb and Lynx Gaede have one album out, another on the way, a music video, and lots of fans.
They may remind you another famous pair of singers, the Olsen Twins, and the girls say they like that. But unlike the Olsens, who built a media empire on their fun-loving, squeaky-clean image, Lamb and Lynx are cultivating a much darker personna. They are white nationalists and use their talents to preach a message of hate.

Known as "Prussian Blue" — a nod to their German heritage and bright blue eyes — the girls from Bakersfield, Calif., have been performing songs about white nationalism before all-white crowds since they were nine.

"We're proud of being white, we want to keep being white," said Lynx. "We want our people to stay white … we don't want to just be, you know, a big muddle. We just want to preserve our race."

Lynx and Lamb have been nurtured on racist beliefs since birth by their mother April. "They need to have the background to understand why certain things are happening," said April, a stay-at-home mom who no longer lives with the twins' father. "I'm going to give them, give them my opinion just like any, any parent would."

April home-schools the girls, teaching them her own unique perspective on everything from current to historical events. In addition, April's father surrounds the family with symbols of his beliefs — specifically the Nazi swastika. It appears on his belt buckle, on the side of his pick-up truck and he's even registered it as his cattle brand with the Bureau of Livestock Identification.

"Because it's provocative," explains April of the cattle brand, "to him he thinks it's important as a symbol of freedom of speech that he can use it as his cattle brand."

Songs like "Sacrifice" — a tribute to Nazi Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy Fuhrer — clearly show the effect of the girls' upbringing. The lyrics praise Hess as a "man of peace who wouldn't give up."

Poor old Rudolf. He just wanted peace.

And dead jews. See how fabulous homeschooling can work out? What a wonderful way to teach children about the holocaust.

Rudolph just wanted peace kids, see?

Oh, those? Those were just, em, er, heating dens. It gets very cold in Germany in the winter!


And just look at the precious little young'ns-

Aren't they sweet? Dontchyaknow that these two talented Naz-er-Nationalists gave some big time charity donations to the victims of Hurricane Katrina-well, at least the white victims.

Yeah, Wow. That's what I said too.

If you feel like observing the shallow end of the gene pool, you can head over to the Prussian Blue website, where you will find the "Prussian Blue Forum", which I'm sure you can imagine is filled with pages upon pages of Nazi-loving, fearmongering racist garbage.

Hoo-Ray for diversity!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Saddam Hussein Better Recognize.....

Cox and Forkum are simply the BEST when it comes to political cartoons in this day and age.

I present to you the Recognition of Saddam Hussein-

Even Jay Pinkerton got in on the Saddam train-of-pain...

I think Mohammed at Iraq the Model may have spelled it out the best-
"Does he deserve a fair trial?" this was the question that kept surfacing every five minutes…he wasn’t the least fair to his people and he literally reduced justice to verbal orders from his mouth to be carried out by his dogs.
Why do we have to listen to his anticipated rudeness and arrogant stupid defenses? We already knew he was going to try to twist things and claim that the trial lacks legitimacy or that it’s more a court of politics rather than a court of law, blah, blah, blah…

"Why do we have to listen to this bull****?" said one of my friends.
"I prefer the trial goes like this:
Q:Are you Saddam Hussein?
Then take this bullet in the head."

It's interesting to observe the evolution of justice in Iraq through the trial of Saddam. Start at Iraq the Model and surf your way around the Iraqi blogosphere during the trial. It's like you're watching Jews from the mid-40's get to try Hitler. Truly fascinating.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Mahmoud Abbas Lives On Another Planet.

Once again highlighting the fact that Palestinian society is deep doo-doo if it expects someone this clueless to turn things around in Palestine, Mr Abbas, the president of the Palestinian National Authority, was allowed some inkspace today in the Wall Street Journal on the editorial page. (here's the link)

The entire article basically consists of Abbas complaining that its Israel's fault for the lack of peace in the region, and the inability of both nations to reach a compromise. He lays out some extreme fallacies that I will examine below.

Mr Abbas writes-
Since my democratic election as president of the Palestinian Authority in January, my government has done all in its power to advance the Road Map and live up to our commitments: My government has initiated serious reforms of our governing institutions; we have consolidated the official security agencies; we have declared a policy of non-violence and negotiations and we have worked hard to secure and maintain a cease-fire to which all factions signed on.

Really Mr Abbas? What about this- Palestinian Gunmen Abduct 2, Make Threats.-GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - A shadowy Palestinian militant group on Tuesday said it has abducted two alleged collaborators with Israel and threatened to carry out additional kidnappings.

The announcement by the group calling itself the “Knights of the Storm” was latest sign of chaos and lawlessness in the Gaza Strip following Israel’s withdrawal from the area last month. The group said it abducted the two men in the southern town of Khan Younis on Monday after Palestinian officials refused demands to arrest them.

Several masked militants posed for pictures in front of the men, who were kneeling on the floor of an empty room with their faces against a wall.

The gunmen said they are affiliated with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction, which controls the Palestinian Authority.

Or this- Three Israelis killed in Gush Etzion shooting attack.Three Israelis were killed Sunday afternoon and three were wounded, one seriously, when Palestinians opened fire on a hitchhiking station at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank, south of Jerusalem, the Zaka rescue service said.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, affiliated with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ ruling Fatah movement, took responsibility for the attack, Israel Radio reported.

Bang up job with that cease fire agreement you have been doing there sir.

Mr. Abbas continues-

Unfortunately, Palestinians cannot pursue the Road Map alone. Implicit in the idea of the Road Map is that Israel and the Palestinians are partners in the journey to peace. Yet the Israeli government has not fully cooperated with my government, created obstacles in the face of a full and unconditional return to the negotiating table, and acted as if Israel can resolve the Middle East conflict unilaterally. In addition, the Israeli government has taken steps that undermine the Road Map.

For example, during Israel's Gaza disengagement, my government was asked to ensure that Israel's evacuation took place peacefully and without disruption. I am proud to say that we succeeded: not a single Israeli settler or soldier was attacked or fired on. We were told that our behavior would be a "test," and that if we did our part, Israel would reciprocate by allowing Gazans to breathe the air of freedom and begin rebuilding their shattered lives.

Ummm, Mahmoud, they left Gaza. You get to "breathe the air of freedom" now. Might be helpful if you would stop shooting rockets at Israel. Just a suggestion.

Yet, this has not happened: Gaza's airport and crossing point to Egypt remain closed; its waters are off-limits to our fishermen; its borders are completely sealed and movement into or out of Gaza is virtually impossible; and no safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank exists. Because investors rightly fear that without access to the outside world, Gazans will not be able to rebuild a functioning economy, they have been slow at investing.

Rrriiigghhtt....It's because their isn't any "access to the outside world" that investors are reluctant to move in to the Gaza strip. I'm sure that it has nothing to do with the lack of security or occasional spontaneous combustion that goes on from time to time in Gaza. And um, by the way, you might want to ask Egypt about their end of the Gaza border. If you know, Hamas would stop trying to blow it up first.

This is not the vision that President Bush and I had for the Gaza Strip back in May: We wanted to see a free Gaza Strip, open to the rest of the world, where Palestinians can be free and where our economy can prosper. But as long as Israel maintains its stronghold over the borders, water and airspace of the Gaza Strip this will never come to pass.

Similarly, this is not the vision that we have for the West Bank. Palestinians have been assured that "Gaza first" would not be "Gaza last." We were told that we would soon enjoy an expansion of our freedom in the West Bank. We were told that Israel's evacuation of the Gaza Strip would not come at the expense of deepening the settlement activity in the West Bank. Instead, Israel has accelerated its settlement expansion in the Palestinian heartland. In fact, the 26 months since Israel announced its plans to disengage from Gaza have witnessed the highest rate of West Bank settlement construction in all the occupation years. Israel has also continued construction of the Wall -- deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice -- depriving more and more Palestinians their freedom and livelihood, and closed off access to East Jerusalem, Palestine's religious, cultural and political capital.

Look Mahmoud, the deal was you guys stop killing Jews, Israel leaves the occupied territories. Well, Israel left Gaza, and you are still killing Jews. Not only that, but Hamas is claiming victory for the suicide bombers. Is this an indication to you that the suicide attacks will cease? Are you really this delusional? The security wall that Israel has built has been the only thing that has slowed down the terrorist attacks. It certainly isn't because the Palestinians have disarmed. Jerusaelum is not going to be turned over to the Palestinians. Get over it. Especially not when Hamas continually claims that until they take back ALL of Israel, the attacks will continue.

This last bit is just ridiculous.

I am not afraid of the Palestinian people. On the contrary, I have abiding faith that my people will pursue the path of tolerance and peace -- indeed, poll after poll shows that a majority of the Palestinian people wants a negotiated two-state solution to our conflict with Israel. I have managed, in the nine months since my election, to create a climate of peace and not a climate of violence amongst Palestinians.(??????WHAT???-ed.) Yet this climate of peace needs the help of the U.S. and the international community: For without sustained pressure on the Israeli government to sit down and negotiate, Israel will only bolster those within Palestinian society who do not share the majority's desire for peace. Every time Israel launches a violent attack on our cities, commits a political assassination, or confiscates more Palestinian land, the voices for peace grow weaker. By refusing to negotiate with my government and by insisting on pursuing unilateral actions, the Israeli government is nourishing that minority within Palestinian society that sees violent struggle as the only answer.

It's pretty simple Mr Abbas. Stop killing jews, and you will have peace. Keep letting Hamas and the Al-Aqsa martyrs brigade randomly kill innocent Israeli's at will, and you will not get an independent state. It's up to you. Israel is not going to roll over and let the terrorists destroy Israel, and this is something you will have to deal with on your end first. Because if you don't stop terrorists from attacking innocent Israeli's, you leave Israel little choice.

Ball's in your court Mahmoud. What are you gonna do with it?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Former And Current Astronauts Speak Out On Impact Hazards

The Association of Space Explorers have posted a letter from their recent congress concerning the urgency needed for nations to act now to mitigate future impacts while we still have time. This issue needs to be continually raised whenever the discussion concerning funding for space exploration is brought up. As is stated repeatedly on this blog, THERE IS NO REASON WHATSOEVER TO SPEND A SINGLE DIME ON ANYTHING ELSE RELATED TO SPACE EXPLORATION UNTIL WE HAVE ADDRESSED THE MITIGATION ISSUE IN A TRULY SERIOUS AND PRO-ACTIVE SENSE.
Open Letter of the Association of Space Explorers 19th Annual Congress, Salt Lake City, UT 14 October 2005

The Association of Space Explorers (ASE), meeting in its annual congress in Salt Lake City, Utah from October 10 - 16, 2005, has taken special note of the series of unusually devastating natural disasters that have occurred around the world during the past year. While natural disasters of many types cause death, destruction and disruption of society around the world every year, the Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004, hurricanes Katrina and Rita in September 2005 and the Pakistan earthquake in October 2005 have been unusually devastating. These unusually large events have, in our opinion, spotlighted the inadequacy of societal preparation for and response to these large natural disasters. In most cases it is clear in retrospect that the mitigation measures were inadequate not due to lack of understanding, but due to failure to effectively act based on well understood fore-knowledge of the disaster potential.

Yet we astronauts and cosmonauts are particularly concerned by a far more threatening natural disaster for which the world is totally unprepared; namely the future impact of a near-Earth object (NEO) with the Earth. While such cosmic impacts between NEOs and the Earth are infrequent their magnitude is often far greater than any other natural disaster, with an upper bound resulting in global, rather than local or regional devastation. Historically the largest of such cosmic impacts have lead to the virtually instantaneous extinction of a majority of the species alive on the planet at the time of impact.

In other NEO News, Russell L. Schweickart and Clark R. Chapman of the B612 Foundation have published an article in The American Scientist concerning another problem with Asteroids- ones that are less than 1 KM in diameter but still pose a very large threat.

NASA has been spending about $4 million a year to meet a 1998 Congressional mandate to chart (by 2008) at least 90 percent of the near-Earth asteroids that are more than 1 kilometer in diameter. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been overseeing the effort, called the Spaceguard Survey, which has to date discovered more than 790 of an estimated 1,100 or so of these huge, rocky objects. The impact of a 1-kilometer asteroid would release the same amount of energy as 70,000 megatons of TNT or, equivalently, as 1,400 of the largest thermonuclear weapons ever detonated. The subsequent Sun-dimming pall of debris lofted high into the atmosphere would envelop our planet for months, threatening all of human civilization.

The need to be on the lookout for such an immense catastrophe is clear enough, as more than one Hollywood blockbuster has made widely known. The capability of the current search effort, however, is inadequate to address the danger posed by the far more populous cohort of smaller near-Earth asteroids, those down to about 100 meters in diameter. Such objects can cause serious local or even regional destruction. The impact of a 100-meter-diameter body would release the equivalent of an 80-megaton bomb and thus could devastate an area the size of a large city, for example. And a several-hundred-meter body could cause a tsunami rivaling or exceeding last year's horrific Indian Ocean event.

Objects in this range of diameters are discovered only incidentally today by the modest equipment that has been dedicated to finding their larger siblings. A recent addition to the list of small asteroids that have a small but real chance of striking the Earth is a 330-meter-diameter asteroid named 99942 Apophis (formerly known as 2004 MN4). It has a 1-in-32,000 chance of impacting in April 2035 and a 1-in-12,000 chance of striking in April 2036. So there's no need to become alarmed at this stage. Yet one of these smaller asteroids is far more likely than their larger counterparts to constitute a danger in the foreseeable future. They are also easier to deflect away from Earth using space technology. The problem is that today astronomers have discovered such a low percentage of the smaller near-Earth asteroids that a strike with no warning whatsoever is far and away more likely than our having enough time to undertake an effort at deflection.

The authors go on to further discuss the shelving by NASA of the technology that will be needed to help possibly mitigate asteroids in the future.

First, consider the technology-development front. It happens that NASA was, at least until recently, headed in just the right direction for building hardware that could deflect an object away from a collision with Earth. Prometheus is a NASA program to develop cost-effective deep-space propulsion capability by utilizing high-performance ion or plasma engines powered by a small nuclear reactor—just what would be needed to give a menacing asteroid the necessary shove. The nuclear-electric propulsion portion of the program now seems to be on hold with priority shifted toward developing a small reactor for future work on the lunar surface.

Just prior to the arrival of Michael Griffin as the new NASA Administrator, an asteroid-deflection mission was in the final throes of consideration as the first operational test of the Prometheus technology. This mission would have demonstrated the use of an "asteroid tugboat" to deflect near-Earth asteroids, a concept that we and two other members of our group spelled out in Scientific American in November 2003. However, this proposal, along with the Prometheus program, was put into limbo in a reshuffling of NASA priorities.

We need to demand a reshuffling of priorities for NASA until this issue is resolved.

Monday, October 17, 2005

EXTREMELY COOL Picture from the Cassini Probe at Saturn...

I am having trouble digesting this one, it's just so incredibly vivid. Via the Cassini-Huygens Mission page-

Speeding toward pale, icy Dione, Cassini's view is enriched by the tranquil gold and blue hues of Saturn in the distance. The horizontal stripes near the bottom of the image are Saturn's rings. The spacecraft was nearly in the plane of the rings when the images were taken, thinning them by perspective and masking their awesome scale. The thin, curving shadows of the C ring and part of the B ring adorn the northern latitudes visible here, a reminder of the rings' grandeur.
It is notable that Dione, like most of the other icy Saturnian satellites, looks no different in natural color than in monochrome images.

Images taken on Oct. 11, 2005, with blue, green and infrared (centered at 752 nanometers) spectral filters were used to create this color view, which approximates the scene as it would appear to the human eye. The images were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera at a distance of approximately 39,000 kilometers (24,200 miles) from Dione and at a Sun-Dione-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 22 degrees. The image scale is about 2 kilometers (1 mile) per pixel.

Speeding toward pale, icy Dione, Cassini's view is enriched by the tranquil gold and blue hues of Saturn in the distance. The horizontal stripes near the bottom of the image are Saturn's rings. The spacecraft was nearly in the plane of the rings when the images were taken, thinning them by perspective and masking their awesome scale. The thin, curving shadows of the C ring and part of the B ring adorn the northern latitudes visible here, a reminder of the rings' grandeur.
It is notable that Dione, like most of the other icy Saturnian satellites, looks no different in natural color than in monochrome images.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Fark Photoshop Brilliance.

I do love me some quality photoshop threads over at Fark, but sometimes they go above and beyond. Today is one of those days.

The theme is: Redesign a movie poster so that it more accurately portrays the actual film...

Update: I have changed my favorite. It used to be this one, but I'm going with the above shown. The reason for this is because the movie Independence Day has so many freaking holes in it that it officially belongs on the "too unbelievable, even for Hollywood" list. The movie inspired the following essay from the QQQ Files-

"Things I did not know until I saw ID4"
(courtesy of Perry O'Grady)

A few excerpts-

*Alien spacecraft the size of Australia can be taken out with one
well-placed sidewinder missile

*Most PowerBooks are configured with interfaces powerful enough to override
the communications systems of the most sophisticated futuristic

*Despite the fact that they wear biomechanical body armor that can only
be removed with a scalpel and the fact that they possess hyper-developed
brains that allow them to destroy their enemies simply by thinking about
it, alien fighter pilots have a glass jaw and can be knocked unconscious
for hours with one punch

*The correct military honor for a hero who saves the world by
sacrificing his own life by flying directly into the alien death ray is
to clap and cheer wildly in front of the hero's family immediately after
he perishes.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Evolution To Guinness, and A Time Lapse Video of a Drive From L.A. to New York.

Yes, both very cool videos. The Guinness one is BRILLIANT!

The Evolution to Guinness.."Good things come to those who wait..."

And for your viewing pleasure, Time Lapse Video of a Drive From L.A. to New York. In a convertible no less.

The Wall Street Journal Takes A Swing At Creationism.......

Some people (*cough*New York Times Bleeding Heart Liberals*cough*) like to denigrate the Wall Street Journal for being an unabashed pro-capitalism-conservative-leaning newspaper. Some others take it a step further and claim the WSJ is a republican-Bush/Rove-talking-point memo for the far right masses. The second group obviously doesn't actually READ the WSJ newspaper.

Yes, the WSJ is a pro-capitalism-conservative-leaning newspaper, their specific motto is "Free Markets,Free People". Nothing to be ashamed of there. But to take the next big step and say that it is some christian-coalition talking point regurgitation means that one is simply not paying attention.

Case in point. Yesterdays right page WSJ editorial listed below is a major swing at those who pray at the altar of intelligent design/creationism. The simple fact that the bird-flu virus that people in Washington are so worried about is dangerous is BECAUSE IT IS EVOLVING. It is not necessarily evolving intelligently, nor with a "grand purpose", it simply is evolving, period.

I'm going to post the whole article and hope that the Dow Jones company decides not to sue me (because they could). The reason will be in bold at the end.

There's Something
Catching in Washington
October 12, 2005; Page A17

Be afraid. Be somewhat, slightly afraid.

Last week's panic over bird flu skipped right past the current fashion of intelligent design. Senate Major Leader Bill Frist minced no words in blaming natural selection for the impending deadly human contagion: "It's like pulling the lever on a Vegas slot machine over and over again. If you pull enough times, the reels will align and hit the jackpot. But in this case, the jackpot is a deadly virus to which humans have no natural immunity."

Well, yes. The virus would have to mutate in its animal host to develop the possibility of casual human-to-human transmission. It would have to survive and reproduce until it reached a human host. It would also have to retain the virulence of bird flu in the few humans that catch it today, yet somehow not snuff out its own spread by killing its carriers.

This does indeed amount to a giant long shot. Jeffrey Taubenberger, a civilian Army pathologist who recreated in a lab the 1918 Spanish flu, says today's bird flu would have to accumulate specific mutations on each of its eight RNA segments. Presumably a powerful selective pressure would be required to drive the virus down this path. If so, it's hard to imagine the virus not also discovering the adaptive benefit of less human lethality, which would aid its spread.

For this, we can give thanks to the Lord for a nature that operates on principles of unintelligent design.

How a catastrophe with low probability of occurring became a focus of Washington's attention can be explained in one word: Katrina. Unlike the universe, politicians operate on psychological principles. George Bush gave the press conference last week he wished he'd given in the year past about the danger of New Orleans being submerged in a hurricane. He even cited John Barry's book about the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic -- the same Mr. Barry whose earlier book on the 1927 Mississippi flood was widely cited in the aftermath of the New Orleans debacle.

You're seeing an administration more than usually needy to get its "I told you so" chits in hand. HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt has stated, quite accurately, that the U.S. is unprepared for a worst-case pandemic. But when pressed on the odds, he said, "From all I hear from scientists and physicians it is relatively low, but it is not zero."

Declared Julie Gerberding, head of the Centers for Disease Control, in more interviews than you can count last week: a global pandemic is "not a matter of 'if' but 'when.'" But note that she was speaking of any flu pandemic, not the mega-killer of recent Washington scenarios.

Her own experts say a medium-severity bird flu outbreak would kill, at most, 207,000 Americans. In a normal year, flu kills 36,000. The 1918 flu, which is now believed to have been derived from bird flu, killed nearly 700,000 in a population one-third the size of today's, but notice that many of its victims died of secondary bacterial pneumonia that now are treated with antibiotics.

Yes, it's just conceivable that a virus could evolve that spreads easily and kills in the tens of millions -- though it's far more likely that an easy-spreading virus would be one that had evolved not to kill. Bird flu, in the first place, is carried hither and yon in ducks because it doesn't make them sick. Cataclysms of many kinds are always possible. But the principle of unintelligent design gives us comfort that such cataclysms are vanishingly rare because otherwise we wouldn't be here. The universe defaults to order because non-order is too unstable to persist. Why don't the creationists give God for credit for that?

In his book "Catastrophe," Richard Posner, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago, writes: "The number of extreme catastrophes that have a more than negligible probability of occurring in this century is alarmingly great and their variety startling."

This is a delicious invitation to worry about everything. In all likelihood, however, each of us will die of something mundane, and in any case we'll all die. Very few policies recommend themselves as the answer to worst-case disasters, except perhaps a policy of space exploration to make sure mankind is not forever dependent on this planet and this solar system.

Panic is certainly not a sustainable response. Mr. Bush didn't tell families to stock up on Dinty Moore and Parmalat, enough to hunker down for an eight-week flu siege. After the duct tape and plastic sheeting nuttiness in the wake of the al Qaeda attacks, this suggests he's learned a lesson about using signals to help Americans put given risks in a realistic perspective.

Instead, stuck for something to do, Washington is turning bird flu into an opportunity for overdue progress on the vaccine industry's lawsuit problem. And China is being pressured to cooperate on disease control. Its agricultural sector, wedged weirdly between peasant husbandry and agribusiness, has become a hothouse for virus mutation. Progress here really might someday stop a global plague.

Almost everything about last week's flu panic goes to show why "intelligent design" simply makes a bad argument -- because it relies on the baseless assumption that complexity is evidence of design, a notion belied by everyday experience. Our economy achieves its complexity precisely because no one is in charge. Our politics creates order for 300 million contentious citizens in ways more supple and efficient than any authoritarian could impose.

That's why we're likely to get a policy response to the flu panic that's more rational, and less extravagant, than the scary talk that gives rise to it.

To repeat-

Almost everything about last week's flu panic goes to show why "intelligent design" simply makes a bad argument -- because it relies on the baseless assumption that complexity is evidence of design, a notion belied by everyday experience. Our economy achieves its complexity precisely because no one is in charge. Our politics creates order for 300 million contentious citizens in ways more supple and efficient than any authoritarian could impose.

Free markets, Free people. Don't let anyone tell you that the WSJ is some uber-rightwing talking point memo. Show them this column for proof.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Worst. Merger. Ever.

I'm pretty much scratching my head over this one. The Serbian automobile producer Zastava, famous for its production of the always dependable Yugo, is merging with FIAT (famous for the faux acronym-"Fix-It-Again-Tony!"). I am assuming they are doing this to see if they can make the least dependable, most unsafe at any speed car to grace the roadways of our fair planet.

My dad had a fiat when I was growing up, it looked like this- And when I say looked like this I mean to say looked like this because it isn't moving. My dads fiat probably made it out of the driveway a grand total of eight times in as many years if I remember correctly.

I actually got pretty excited to possibly be the beneficiary of said Spider the closer I got to being old enough to drive. Can you think of a cooler car to drive in High School? A convertible Spider? Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. Ironically enough, a twenty-something Serbian next door bought the car from my dad, proceeded to get it up and running in a matter of hours and then wrapped it around a tree a few days later. With this went my dreams of cruising in a convertible during high school. But those dreams were probably shortsighted anyways considering the fiat never ran for an extended period of time.

I simply cannot imagine how one could make a car that would be worse than a cross between a Yugo and a Fiat....unless maybe a Pinto and a Fiero decided to create the ultimate death trap..Any other ideas for the worst company merger? This one has me stumped.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Apocalypse Watch Is Over

All seems right with the world again. The Red Sox choked in October, the Braves won the division but lost in the first round of the playoffs (albeit in dramatic fashion-18 Innings!) and THE MIGHTY TITANS HAVE WON AGAIN...

Three notes on the Titans win- Jeff Fisher received his 100th career victory, Steve McNair became the second player in franchise history and the 49th player in the NFL to reach 25,000 passing yards, and Jarret Payton, son of the late great Walter Payton rushed for his first career touchdown. Many reasons to celebrate, despite the fact the Titans were playing the sack prone Houston Texans. I'll let the following picture give you an idea of how the day went for David Carr, QB for the Texans...

This weekend I also had the pleasure of watching the Nashville Predators defeat the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in an exciting overtime shootout, which is part of the new rules for the NHL. This, I very much liked. Both teams were physically exhausted by the end of regulation, so the five minute overtime went quickly. The new rule is after the five minute overtime, you have a shootout to see who wins. This particular shootout ended with the newly acquired big gun Paul Kariya filling the basket for the win. Overall it was very exciting and left us wondering why the NHL waited so long to implement this in the system. GO PREDS!!

Yes, life is (somewhat) back to normal..

Friday, October 07, 2005

There Is No Joy In Red Sox Nation Tonight...........


For the mighty BoSox have struck out. The lack of a number one ace pitcher or decent bullpen combined with mediocre defense and ridiculously sad runners-left-on-base numbers equals an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the very beatable Chicago White Sox. So for me, baseball season is officially over. Yeah, it would be nice to see the New Yokr Spankees get beat down by whomever else is left, but hey, it would only be a consolation prize this year. I still have my 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox Schwag, which will always be dear to me, but it looks like this was the last gasp of air from the Original Cowboy Up! Idiots. Manny will likely be gone, as well as Renterror, Johnny Caveman, Millar and probably Wells too. I won't be surprised if there are barely any left from the 2004 squad by next season.



Have a good weekend folks.........I'll be drowning my Red Sox Nation sorrows at Jacksons.....look for the drunk one at the little bar pounding Jager and Guiness...

Monday, October 03, 2005

Is There Anything Better On TV Right Now Than Family Guy?...


Methinks not. For your viewing pleasure I give you the Gorilla Masks archive of clips from this seasons Family favorite so far might be the Cookie Monster Goes to Rehab, priceless..

I also have updated the blogroll list to your right to include a few of my favorite humor spots on the web for your surfing enjoyment. The phat phree is my latest favorite, check out their list of the NFL's All Criminal Team, ex-Titan Samari Rolle even made the cut.

Yeah, I don't wanna talk about the Titans right now. Sunday was simply embarrassing to be a Titans Fan...

But how 'bout dem RED SAWX!!!! Wild card winners in the AL again, the Bosox will take on the Chicago WHITE Sox for the chance to move on to the ALCS. I think this is the best draw for the Bosox, and it seems inevitable that they will face the evil empire again in the ALCS. Can they repeat and bring yet another championship back to the bay state? Stay tuned sports fans....

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Sorry Saddam, But I Don't Think So...........


Lately I've been reading a little bit about the upcoming trial of former dictator of Iraq and general all-around evil bastard Saddam Hussein. There's an article by William Langewiesche in the March 2005 issue of the Atlantic -The Accuser- which chronicles the work of one Hania Mufti, a member of the Human Rights Watch staff who has been gathering the evidence against Saddam for decades. Ms Mufti has been working on this case against Hussein since 1984, and has developed an extensive list of indictments against the former dictator.

Some excerpts of these atrocities from the article-

As a foretaste of what was to come, in July of 1983 government forces entered Kurdish resettlement camps and arrested 8,000 men and teenage boys of a prominent and rebellious clan known as the Barzanis. The prisoners were chosen not for what they had done but simply for family association and gender. They were loaded into trucks and driven south into the vastness of the Iraqi desert, where, it is presumed, they were machine-gunned to death and buried. Not one of them was ever seen again.
An Iraqi doctor of medicine testified to Amnesty International in 1984 that he witnessed and was forced to participate in the taking of blood from prisoners which resulted in their death. According to his testimony, he was aware of approximately 1000 such operations having taken place during 1982 and 1983. The operations are reportedly directly controlled by Security Headquarters (Ri'asat al-Mukhabarat) in Baghdad, and carried out with the co-operation of a prison director and personnel of the Blood Bank Institute in Baghdad. [The bleeding process is then described.]
Amnesty was in a position to understand that this was no longer just another repressive Middle Eastern government at play.
It took another several years for the truth to come out: what the Turkish doctors had seen (and Mufti had just missed) was evidence of one of the great crimes of the late twentieth century - an Iraqi counterinsurgency campaign that had exceeded all bounds, and indeed had gone quite insane. That campaign was the Iraqi equivalent of the Final Solution - a carefully planned "cleansing" operation, known in Arabic as the "Anfal" (a Koranic reference meaning "spoils of war"), whose purpose was to eliminate the rural population from which the Kurdish rebels were drawn, and to empty the most troublesome valleys, by killing or arresting the inhabitants, razing their villages, and creating permanent free-fire zones where not even livestock would be allowed to live. It lasted for seven months, from February through September of 1988, and was led by Saddam's special envoy, Ali Hassan al-Majid, who during its course earned his name as Chemical Ali.
Altogether, Human Rights Watch estimated that 50,000 to 100,000 Kurds were killed in the Anfal operations, including many women and children.
This... from a Kuwaiti doctor:

"On average, five or six new bodies were brought to the hospital each day. All were males and most were in their 20s. Many bore marks of torture. Judging by the bodies that I personally saw, the methods of torture being used included the extinguishing of cigarettes on the body; burning of the skin with heated metal rods; application of electricity; cutting off of the tongue and ear; gouging out of the eyes and the breaking of limbs. In most of these cases, the immediate cause of death appeared to be a single shot in the back of the head or, in a few cases, a shot in the ear or mouth... Some of the victims had also had their fingernails extracted, and others had swollen feet with pockets of pus as a result of being subjected to falaga [severe foot beatings] for prolonged periods. Some had marks around their ankles, consistent with having been suspended upside down..."

According to the information that Mufti was able to gather, the abuses were systematic. In addition to the techniques of torture described above, the investigators heard stories of other methods - of boring a hole in the leg with a drill; of castration; of tying a string around the penis and tightening it; of hammering nails into hands; of inserting bottle necks, sometimes broken, into the rectum; of pumping air into the anus, particularly of young boys; of extinguishing cigarettes in eyeballs; of burning and blinding people with acid and caustic substances; of subjecting people to extremes of heat and cold and thirst; of various forms of mock execution.

Nice fellow, this Hussein guy. In what one could consider complete insanity, we read of the latest from Saddams lawyers about his chances-via Dan Senor at the Weekly Standard-

SADDAM'S LEGAL STRATEGY, as explained to me by a leading member of the defense team--Abdul Haq al-Ani, retained by Saddam's daughter--is fourfold:

* Argue that the war that overthrew Saddam was illegal under international law and, hence, Saddam is still legally president. If he's still president and his regime still sovereign, then the Saddam-era Iraqi Constitution--which gives him full immunity--must prevail.

To al-Ani, it is meaningless that millions of Iraqis voted for a new post-Saddam government last January, and that the newly-elected government has been recognized by the U.N. Security Council. "The Security Council does not have the authority to breach the charter that created it," he told me in his home. And a correct reading of that charter, he says, would interpret as illegal the war that preceded post-Saddam Iraq.

* The second pillar is to argue that the alleged crimes committed by Saddam are no different from President Bush's response to the September 11 attacks. Responding to insurrection--whether for Saddam in Halabjah or Bush in Afghanistan--had to be swift and overwhelming. If innocents are killed, that's analogous to Bush's wars, too, he claims. Of course, al-Ani fails to distinguish between accidentally killing civilians in pursuit of terrorists and intentionally targeting innocents to permeate fear in a population.

* The third pillar will be to call Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush to testify, just as Gen. Wesley Clark was called to testify at the Hague. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is expected to be singled out, too, as the embodiment of the alleged support that the U.S. gave to Saddam in the 1980s during his use of chemical weapons.

* By airing the dirty laundry of America's foreign policy over the past several decades, Saddam's lawyers believe that they will embarrass the Bush administration into abruptly ending the trial and figure out a way to cut a deal with Saddam, which will include returning him to power. Seriously. How likely is this? According to al-Ani, odds are better than 50 percent that it could happen within a year. Yes, he truly believes that Saddam or, as the defense team refers to him, "President Hussein," could be back running Iraq by this time next year. (ed.-my emphasis)

Unbelievable. President Hussein? Are farking kidding me? Say what you want about Bush Jr., Clinton, Bush Sr., Reagan, or even Carter for that matter and their involvement with Middle Eastern politics, but there is only one person responsible for the acts of Saddam Hussein, and that is Saddam himself. Yes, appeasement was the US's political strategy during the Cold War that in retrospect helped make things easier for heartless lowlifes like Hussein, but those days are over. And No One in the US is "responsible" for Saddam.

Since Cox and Forkum are on a roll these days, it only seems right to end this post with one of their many excellent cartoons about The Saddaminator.