Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Big Sis Is In Town.

Yep, I'm the ugly duckling in the family. That's ok, I can drink her ass under the table.....Picture taken at Mafioza's on 12th avenue south, after eight too many Jagers...I do love my family to pieces.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Dumb, Dumber and Joel Stein

Perhaps you've heard of the latest kerfuffle involving one LA Times columnist, Joel Stein, and his recent editorial entitled "Warriors and wusses". In the column Mr Stein explains to us that he does not support the US Military and the troops who serve in it. Here are some of the jaw-droppingly ignorant reasons for his position.

I've got no problem with other people — the ones who were for the Iraq war — supporting the troops. If you think invading Iraq was a good idea, then by all means, support away. Load up on those patriotic magnets and bracelets and other trinkets the Chinese are making money off of.

But I'm not for the war. And being against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken — and they're wussy by definition. It's as if the one lesson they took away from Vietnam wasn't to avoid foreign conflicts with no pressing national interest but to remember to throw a parade afterward.

Blindly lending support to our soldiers, I fear, will keep them overseas longer by giving soft acquiescence to the hawks who sent them there — and who might one day want to send them somewhere else. Trust me, a guy who thought 50.7% was a mandate isn't going to pick up on the subtleties of a parade for just service in an unjust war. He's going to be looking for funnel cake.
Joel thinks that if we support the troops then this will give the approval to the "hawks" in the administration to keep them there longer. Or perhaps even send them somewhere else where they might be (gasp!) expected to do what our military does extremely well- kill people and break stuff. Now, obviously our military does a whole hell of a lot more than this, as our relief efforts in the Asian tsunami or the Pakistani earthquakes demonstrate, but primarily our military is designed to kill people and break stuff more efficiently and accurately than any other fighting force in the history of our planet. Many people believe, myself include, that the reason our military is as efficient as it is today is because it is a volunteer force. Because the soldiers are there willingly they are more committed to the missions set forth for them than if they were conscripted.

Joel believes that these volunteers are "ignoring their morality".
But blaming the president is a little too easy. The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they're following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying. An army of people ignoring their morality, by the way, is also Jack Abramoff's pet name for the House of Representatives.
Inefficiency would be the least of the military's problem if each member made choices according to their own moral agenda. I would be suprised if they could learn how to do anything together. That's the point of an organized militia. They work together towards a common goal, not what each individual persons goal may be.

The next quote is one that exposes not only Mr. Stein's misunderstanding of the military and what it does, but the history of our military engagements as well.
But when you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know you're not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada. So you're willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism, for better or worse. Sometimes you get lucky and get to fight ethnic genocide in Kosovo, but other times it's Vietnam.

And sometimes, for reasons I don't understand, you get to just hang out in Germany.
"Get Lucky"? My cousin Charlie served for about three years in Bosnia, and I can tell you that at no time did he feel lucky. In fact, he explained to me that he felt very frustrated when the people who lived there explained to him that even though they were happy to see UN and US troops there to stop the fighting, they knew that once they left it would just start all over again.

And Joel, the hanging out in Germany part? There was this conflict perhaps you've heard of called WWII. Something to do with Nazi's and such. Might want to look that one up.

Hugh Hewitt interviewed Mr Stein on his radio show today to let him further explain his views. Here's the transcript.

Here's probably the most telling exchange of the intellectual beating Hewitt administered to Stein-
JS: I honor police service. I honor military service. Any...I just think that...

HH: You do honor military service?

JS: Yeah. No, I'm grateful for people that serve in the military.

HH: But you don't support our troops?

JS: I don't...I don't believe in supporting the troops in an action that you don't believe in.

HH: And so, that would be everything I've named thus far. So I guess...did you support and honor the troops in the Pentagon on 9/11?

JS: Sure, yeah.

HH: All right.

JS: All the troops that are here to defend our country, I'm very, very grateful for. I'm grateful for the police...

HH: Provided they don't leave the country?

JS: Yeah, provided they don't fight in wars that I think are endangering them for no reason.

HH: And the moment they do, you stop honoring them?

JS: The moment I do, I think it's a poor idea to show support for them and prolong that engagement.
So Mr Stein supports the troops as long as they are only fighting people in the United States. Once outside the states he dumps them like used toilet paper. Apparently Mr Stein has a thing for Kosovo though, because he said he would support them then. Personally I don't think that Mr Stein has a fucking clue what he's talking about at all. How a guy this ignorant gets a high paying job writing for a major newspaper like the LA Times should give you an idea of how pathetic the majority of the major media is these days. I mean, someone actually edited this piece and told the print guys to run it. Simply amazing.

Jeff Goldstein sums up what those of us who not only support the troops but the wars they are currently engaged in thusly-

For my part, I support the troops because they are our countrymen and women, they have signed up willingly to serve the nation, and we are in no way, shape, manner, or form figthing a war that is objectively evil or even objectionable from ethical standards that include a resistance to tyranny and a promotion of peace and democracy.

Which is why it is easy for me to look at Stein’s pseudo-philosophical bit of puffed-up provocateurism and call it what it is: the nadir of the me generation, and the ultimate passing of the buck.

I managed to scrounge up a picture of our esteemed columnist Mr Stein, but unfortunately the picture doesn't quite give the full profile so apologies to Mr Stein in advance.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Monday Night Cocktails..

Just another night with a great bartender and a quality bar

Friday, January 20, 2006

Testing the Cellphone post..

This is where I die a little each day

NFL Championship Game Predictions and The Gift That Keeps On Giving

It's that time of year again folks, The AFC and NFC Championship games are upon us. Last year I split on my predictions, but did pick the eventual Super Bowl winner.

Before I get to my picks for this weekend, I have to write a little bit about what I call "the gift that keeps on giving", namely the monstrous choke job that the Indianapolis Colts pulled in last weeks divisional round. Those who know me know that as a Titans fan I despise the Colts and more importantly Peyton Manning. They seem to get fawned over every year by the media and fans alike only to get completely spanked come playoff time, not to mention the last three years have bitch-slapped my Titans repeatedly. Peyton has never won a state, college or pro championship football game in his life, yet is already annointed as "best QB ever". After the Steelers attempted to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in last weeks game, the Colts had a chance to send it to overtime and sure enough the choke went from "minor choke job-got outplayed, but didn't really choke" to "major choke job-had the game gift wrapped and couldn't seal the deal". Everyones favorite "idiot kicker" Mike Vandershank missed the game tying field goal by about three miles and sent the Steelers to Denver for Sundays AFC Championship game.

After the game, the giving started. First, you had Peyton calling out his O-line for "having some protection problems". Hey Peyton- maybe if you didn't move slower than my three year old nephew the O-line wouldn't have had that many problems. And calling out your team after a loss is how you become a disrespected loser with talent as opposed to a champion calibre winner like Tom Brady. How many times when the Pats lose do you hear Tom say "well, my receivers couldn't catch the ball, that's why we lost." Never. Even McNair, win or lose, puts the responsibility on himself. That's what true champions do. After the game Vandershank also added "I guess God wasn't on our side". Um, what? So I was right that Satan has been in the Colts locker room all this time? Man what an idiot.

Like I said, the gift that keeps on giving.

So to Peyton and Colts fans I leave you this photoshop obtained today from's best headline of the day-

Indianapolis Colts raise prices of tickets, presumably to cover the cost of heimlich maneuver classes

Heh. Yes, the gift that keeps on giving. On to my picks....


I've recently been changed in to a Jake Plummer believer thanks to Jeff Goldstein from Protein Wisdom. Jeff is convinced that Jake is consistently underrated as a QB, and has been one of the NFL's best for the last couple of years. Until his game last week against the Pats, I wasn't really sold. But then Jake made this TD pass in the second half while rolling to his right that was an absolute rope, splitting two defenders and hitting the receiver on the numbers so hard he fell over. It was dare I say- Elway-esque. Jake did a decent job of managing that game, and with a coach like Shanahan, all he has to do is stick with the game plan. I don't think that the Steelers can go blitz happy against Plummer because he is actually a better QB when he gets flushed out of the pocket, and the Steelers secondary is WEAK. The other problem for Pittsburgh is they are dependent on the running game to keep Big Ben clean enough to pick apart a defense, and no one has been able to run against the Broncos this year. Add that up to the two pro bowlers in Lynch and Bailey in the Denver secondary and you get a long day for Steelers fans.

Final pick: Denver-28, Pittsburgh-10.


Much as I hate to admit it, Seattle (and ex-Titan) cornerback Andre Dyson is about to get served on a platter this weekend by the most dangerous football player on the field Sunday in Carolina wideout Steve Smith. Chicago inexplicably left Smith single covered during the majority of last weeks game, and Smith made them pay repeatedly. While I don't think that the Seahawks will make the same mistake, I don't think they have enough talent in the secondary to stop Smith. He's a stronger Marvin Harrison with blazing quickness and a fearless attitude over the middle. Just about anywhere they line him up he's a threat. As crazy as this sounds, Jake Delhomme has the most big game experience out of all of the QB's left in the playoffs. Seattles offense has a Jekyl and Hyde mentality, and I'm not sure which one shows up this weekend. The Titans couldn't stop Alexander when we played them this year, but the Titans still should have won that game. I have no faith at all in Seattle's QB Hasselback, as he made some cover-your-eyes-awful, Kordell Stewart-esque decisions in last weeks game against the Redskins. I think Carolina wins this going away.

Final score: Carolina- 34, Seattle 14.

Should be some good games, looking forard to it....have a good weekend everyone!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

According to NASA, Our Mission To Pluto Is More Important Than Asteroid Mitigation

Perhaps you've heard of the recent mission to Pluto, "New Horizons(PKB)", which is designed to "characterize the global geology and morphology of Pluto and its moon Charon, map their surface composition and characterize Pluto's neutral atmosphere and its escape rate." The projected cost of the mission is "planned to be under $550 million".

$550 million. To visit Pluto.

$4 million a year is spent out of NASA's budget tracking asteroids. Nothing is spent towards developing a mitigation program capable of protecting us if a threat is discovered. As I mentioned in an earlier post the planetary scientist Don Yeomans has stated that in regards to who handles mitigation if the threat is discovered "NASA does not have the charter to look at that, nor does anyone else," he said. "That's the point - no one does at the moment."

So creating a program to pro-actively develop a department or charter that would be the lead in handling mitigation procedures is not important at all to NASA, but taking pictures of rocks on Pluto is.

Perhaps the most advanced and potentially feasible project that has been proposed at this time is the Gravitational Tractor. Proposed by Ed Lu and Stan Love of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, the tractor would hover some tens of meters from a spinning asteroid. Only the force of gravity would connect the two.

Careful control of the tractor's thrusters would keep the craft close to the asteroid as it slowly pulled the rock off its collision course. Given enough lead time, it would take just a year for a 20-ton spacecraft to drag a 200-meter-wide asteroid weighing about 60 million tons away from Earth's path, Lu and Love calculate in the Nov. 10 Nature Magazine (subscription required for access to link).

Someone explain to me why NASA is spending half a billion dollars to take pictures of rocks on Pluto, yet won't spend a single dime researching ways to mitigate asteroids. I'm not suggesting we scrap every existing NASA program to concentrate ONLY on mitigation (although really, what's the point of all the other programs if we discover a serious NEO threat?), but at least raise the level of priority of asteroid mitigation from zero-to-none to say, above Pluto's rocks. Is this really that unreasonable? Is it too much to ask to be pro-active towards this issue as opposed to head-in-the-sand denial?

NASA has a yearly budget in the range of $16 billion. Spending half a billion on Pluto and NOTHING on NEO mitigation is an irresponsible and negligent use of my tax dollars.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Is It Ever A Bad Day To Make Fun Of The KKK?

I certainly don't think so.

Well, life decided to imitate the Chappelle show. Perhaps some of you remember the skit from the Chappelle show where Dave played a blind black man who joins the KKK and hilarity doth ensue. It was pretty damn funny.

Sometimes truth is funnier than fiction, exhibit a.-

Black sergeant was 'loyal Klansman'

By Deborah Bulkeley
Deseret Morning News

About 25 years ago, Ron Stallworth was asked to lead the Ku Klux Klan chapter in Colorado Springs. Stallworth carries his KKK membership card as a memento. Problem was, the outgoing Klan leader didn't know that Stallworth is black. "He asked me to take over the lead because I was a good, loyal Klansman," said Stallworth, who had been in constant phone contact with the Klan leader while leading a yearlong Colorado Springs police investigation into the Klan. Stallworth later moved to Utah, where he recently retired after nearly 20 years as an investigator for the Utah Department of Public Safety. He says he's amazed that no one ever caught on to the investigation he led starting in 1979. After he was offered Klan leadership, he quietly disappeared. As a memento Stallworth still carries his Klan membership card — signed by David Duke."It was one of the most fun" investigations, he said. "Everybody said it couldn't be done." Stallworth communicated with Klan leaders using the telephone. A white officer posing as Stallworth went to the meetings. "The challenge for me was to maintain the conversation flow," Stallworth said. At the same time, Stallworth also led an undercover investigation into the Progressive Labor Party, a communist group that protested at Klan rallies. Stallworth, of Layton, worked 30 years in law enforcement in four states. Stallworth's undercover experience and research led him to become a nationally known expert on gang culture. He calls the Klan investigation "one of the most significant investigations I was ever involved in because of the scope and the magnitude of how it unfolded."

Classic. Read the rest of the story, as Mr. Stallworth seems like quite an incredible guy.

Man I hate bigots. I do love making them look unbelievably stupid though, that's pretty fun. Can you imagine how hard it was for Stallworth to keep from laughing while on the phones with these morons? He desreves some kind of Chappelle award for this or something.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Good Lord Is This A Good Album

One of the many excellent Xmas gifts my mom got me this year was the Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall [LIVE] CD. My mom usually steers away from buying me music for Xmas, but this year she took the plunge.

Well, this CD, recorded at Carnegie Hall on November 29th, 1957 is simply amazing. According to reports, this album was accidentally discovered in an unmarked box by a Library of Congress engineer early in 2005. Before this recording was found there have only been three studio tracks that the two worked on together. The live sound quality is fine for me since I'm not much of an audiophile, and I always love hearing the size of the crowd based on their applause at the end of the tracks. It always makes the music seem more real.

Monk and Coltrane simply scorch through the set, and the duets between them are like finely woven silk for the ears. The way that each player seems to push the other after each solo exemplifies what makes great Jazz improvisation. Reading a little further in to this historic night, one learns that the other groups on the bill for the show (a benefit for the Morningside Community Center) were Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie's orchestra, Ray Charles, and Sonny Rollins.....

....Um, yeah, you could say it was a decent night at Carnegie. If you are a fan of Jazz, Monk, Coltrane or all three, this is must have for your collection. There is absolutely no way you will be disappointed by this recording.

Thanks again Mom!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

What Should Be More Important? Colonizing The Moon Or Mitigating Asteroids?

Seems a simple enough question. I can imagine that those five of you who read this blog would already know MY answer (hint: it ain't no frickin mooncamp). But what does NASA think?

Before we get to that answer let's break down the question a little further.

In terms of NASA's engineering priorities, budgetary decisions, and manpower- what truly is more important to the well being and survival of the human race?

Here is NASA's mission statement.

NASA Mission Statement

To advance and communicate scientific knowledge and understanding of the earth, the solar system, and the universe.
To advance human exploration, use, and develoment of space.
To research, develop, verify, and transfer advanced aeronautics and space technologies.
And here is NASA's "Vision Statement".
NASA Vision NASA is an investment in America's future. As explorers, pioneers, and innovators, we boldly expand frontiers in air and space to inspire and serve America and to benefit the quality of life on Earth.
Before I get in to full rant mode, I want to take time to say that every person I have met or corresponded with that is involved with NASA was extremely dedicated and serious about the aforementioned statements. The time and effort it takes to put together a mission like Deep Impact for instance is mind-boggling. Their efforts are truly honorable.

There is also the matter of odds concerning an asteroid impact. It is less likely that an impact causing either regional or global devastation will happen within the next hundred years than say a flu pandemic or a terrorist nuclear strike. However, this doesn't mean we shouldn't be preparing for it. A year ago yesterday Richard Posner had this to say about "the Economics of Catastrophic Risk"-
The fact that a catastrophe is very unlikely to occur is not a rational justification for ignoring the risk of its occurrence........A dramatic example of neglect of low-probability/high-cost risks concerns the asteroid menace, which is analytically similar to the menace of tsunamis. NASA, with an annual budget of more than $10 billion, spends only $4 million a year on mapping dangerously close large asteroids, and at that rate may not complete the task for another decade, even though such mapping is the key to an asteroid defense because it may give us years of warning. Deflecting an asteroid from its orbit when it is still millions of miles from the earth is a feasible undertaking. In both cases, slight risks of terrible disasters are largely ignored essentially for political reasons.

In part because tsunamis are one of the risks of an asteroid collision, the Indian Ocean disaster has stimulated new intereset in asteroid defense. This is welcome. The fact that a disaster of a particular type has not occurred recently or even within human memory (or even ever) is a bad reason to ignore it. The risk may be slight, but if the consequences should it materialize are great enough, the expected cost of disaster may be sufficient to warrant defensive measures.
Keeping in mind the NASA budget numbers again- A $10 billion budget, and only $4 million a year spent on mapping asteroids (never mind mitigating them)- let's now turn to a recent conversation between Planetary scientist Don Yeomans and Alan Boyle, Science editor for MSNBC. During this conversation, Yeomans talks about the efforts of NASA to track Apophis, and also the current responsibilities of NASA in terms of dealing with the mitigation os Apophis-

"We shouldn't be going hard over and devoting a lot more resources than what we have now, perhaps," he said. "But the modest level of spending that NASA is doing now - about $4 million a year - is probably appropriate, at least for the time being, for the insurance that we get as a result of tracking these objects into the future. We don't get the giggle factor nearly as much as we once did."

Although the study of near-Earth asteroids has come a long way in the past decade, one big question still hangs in the air: Who takes over if Yeomans and his colleagues actually spot an asteroid or comet heading our way?

At least officially, it's not NASA. True, NASA identifies and tracks potentially threatening near-Earth objects, and NASA does have plans to respond to Apophis if necessary. However, dealing with an actual threat is not part of the space agency's job description, Yeomans said.

"NASA does not have the charter to look at that, nor does anyone else," he said. "That's the point - no one does at the moment."

Um, hello?

If not NASA, who? Name me any space program that has the experience and tools needed to actually even BEGIN to work on a mission to mitigate an asteroid besides NASA.

Yeomans goes on to discuss further about this bizzare denial of NASA to get involved with mitigating a deep space threat-
I've been warned, and warned, and warned again by NASA Headquarters not to sign NASA up for any mitigation responsibilities - because NASA does not have that responsibility at the moment. So I'm not to say anything on that.

Q: What would have to happen to make those sorts of studies? Rusty [Schweickart, of the B612 Foundation] has said that there should be an agency designated to protect Earth from near-Earth objects and address some of these mitigation measures - whether it's a national or international agency, or set up under an international treaty. Is there a range of political scenarios for that?

A: What would have to happen, of course, is that the policy makers and Congress would have to direct NASA or the Department of Defense or someone to take responsibility for this, and then they would begin the studies necessary to come up with those options. As I mentioned, NASA does not have the charter to look at that, nor does anyone else. That's the point - no one does at the moment.

Q: The charter that NASA has is to identify those objects.

A: Identify and track. But not mitigate, and not deflect. They're really sensitive about that.
I am having a difficult time understanding why NASA is so "sensitive" about being given the responsibility to head up an agency designated to protect Earth from near-Earth objects and address some of these mitigation measures. Why is this? Going back to NASA's "Vision" statement that "NASA is an investment in America's future", shouldn't they be in charge of making sure that there will even BE a future for America and the world for that matter?

What scares me is that the reason why NASA may be so "sensitive" about this is that certain individuals are protecting their own pet projects. If suddenly congress demanded that NASA go from being simply a "tracking only" program in terms of Asteroids to mitigation as well, it would cause funding to be shifted from other NASA programs. This means that for instance perhaps a moon landing may have to be shelved for another decade or two. The proposed amount to send men back to the moon by 2018 has been reported at $104 billion. That's big money, most likely involving many kick backs to various industries who stand to get a piece of that $104 billion.

Could it be that the reason NASA doesn't want to get serious about asteroid mitigation is simply greed? I'm all for going back to the moon, but not at the expense of our ability to protect the planet from mitigating asteroids.

I fear that this mentality will continue until we get whacked again with another Near Earth Object. I leave you with this, the 1908 Tunguska Impact, which felled an estimated 60 million trees over 2,150 square kilometers. Look at the following map and you'll see that the rotation of the earth would have put this impact close to downtown Moscow had it landed a few hours later.

Again, it's not a question of if, but when folks. The moon is cool and all, but c'mon.

And if not NASA, who?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hello Again Dear Readers!

Recovery from this years New Years festivities is ongoing, and things are slowly returning back to (somewhat) normal. I am told that I had a very good time at the party I attended on New Years, for once the combination of Beer, Wine, Jager, Vodka, Champagne, Top Shelf Tequila, and more jager were fully digested things became a bit -erm- hazy. However, seeing as how my plan was to get steenking drunk for New Years so that I would avoid any unnecessary drama with certain people you could say, well, mission accomplished.

Here's me and my buddy Cody after the clock struck the bewitching hour. Cody plays in a kick ass band called Keating, go check out the link to hear some of their stuff. They rule.

Hope you and yours had a spectacular New Years as well. 2006 looks to be yet another year full of fun and excitement. I have some posts in the works concerning NASA's recent work with NEO's, some more Titans news (Leinart anyone?), and the ongoing saga that is the Boston Red Sox. I look forward to getting all five of you to read them soon, and I hope you do come back for some more Tman prose...