Friday, April 27, 2007

Public Service Announcement For NFL GM's Draft Day Tomorrow

Do not listen to a damn thing you've heard from a guy named Merril Hoge.

Exhibit A

We Titans fans would like to take this opportunity to thank the Houston Texans organization passing on #10 last year.

A truly generous gift, thank you Houston!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Listen Folks, Carbon Offsets Are Stupid.

Think about it. When you are on a diet to lose weight, are you allowed to buy calorie-offsets? If your doctor tells you to quit smoking, can you pay someone else to stop smoking for you? If your lawn needs to be cut, do you pay someone to cut their own lawn instead?

No, you do it your damn self. If you eco-nuts want to lower CO2 levels, than do it yourself don't pay someone else to do it.

Do you now see how unbelievably stupid this is?

Here's a comment I just left at one of my favorite blogs, Protein Wisdom

Al Gore:”....mgrrblr...You see because Gloubaul Warhmingh....can be reduced by carbon offsets.....I buy mine from Generation Investment Management, and theirs are great. They like totally kill off gloubaul warhmingh. The best offsets you can buy!”

Inquisitive Tennessean: “Um, hey Al, aren’t you on the board of Generation Investment Mgmt? So basically you’re buying offsets from yourself? Cause if that’s true, well, that’s pretty weak man. You sound as stupid as Cameron Diaz did on “Trippin’”."

Al Gore:”You know I invented the internet, right?”

Inquisitive Tennessean: “I can’t fucking believe I voted for you in 2000. You're such a tool.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

NASA Near Earth Asteroid Update To Congress

I guess a good way to get your mind off of the senseless slaughter in Virginia would be to freak out about Asteroids. Well, it works for me anyways.

NASA recently had to give their latest report on the NEO issue to congress, and the report was, well, not very optimistic.

First, here is the bleak assessment signed by Michael D. Griffin, the NASA Administrator-

This is a complex issue, potentially involving many other U.S. Government agencies and international organizations ... I look forward to working with the Administration and Congress in setting realistic goals for a NEO survey program given the challenging demands already placed on NASA resources… NASA recommends that the [current Spaceguard] program continue as currently planned, and we will also take advantage of opportunities using potential dual-use telescopes and spacecraft—and partner with other agencies as feasible—to attempt to achieve the legislated goal within 15 years. However, due to budget constraints, NASA cannot initiate a new program at this time.

Here's the congressional mandate-

From Section 321 of the NASA Authorization Act of 2005, the objectives of the NEO survey program are to detect, track, catalogue, and characterize the physical characteristics of NEOs equal to or larger than 140 meters in diameter with a perihelion distance of less than 1.3 AU, achieving 90 percent completion within 15 years. NASA is directed to provide a report to Congress that provides: (1) an analysis of possible alternatives that NASA may employ to carry out the survey program of NEOs, including groundbased and spacebased alternatives with technical descriptions; (2) a recommended option; and (3) an analysis of possible alternatives that NASA could employ to divert an object on a likely collision course with Earth.

So the issue here is that the mandate Congress laid out (a weak mandate at that) is not going to be achieved within 15 years due to the current budget restraints.

That means that the International Space Station (the one where the rest of the world was supposed to pitch in to help pay for it) which has several billion dollars worth of NASA's resources tied up is a FAR more important project than achieving the congressional mandate for NEO's. NEO-related projects at NASA have rarely ever reached the tens of millions of dollars of NASA's budget. NASA gets by on $15-20 billion a year. Therefore, one could say, NEO-related projects have never been anywhere near as much of a priority with NASA as the floating port-a-potty that is the International Space Station.

I have nothing against the ISS. It's cool and all- learning how spiders spin webs in zero gravity, the effects of space on the human body, and the other various scientific projects that the fine folks at NASA pour their hearts and sould in to. I have a lot respect for the work that has been done as it is remarkable.

But my point, which I've been pounding on since pretty much day one of this blog, is that NONE of these ISS projects will mean anything if and when we find a potentially threatening asteroid on its way to earth. If this happens it will make every other space related project irrelevant, and most earth bound ones as well. And the numbers don't lie. We WILL get whacked again. It is simply a matter of time.

Back to the report-

A study team, led by NASA's Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation (PA&E), conducted the analysis of alternatives with inputs from several other U.S. government agencies, international organizations, and representatives of private organizations. The team developed a range of possible options from public and private sources and then analyzed their capabilities and levels of performance including development schedules and technical risks.

Key Findings for the Survey Program:

* The goal of the Survey Program should be modified to detect, track, catalogue, and characterize, by the end of 2020, 90 percent of all Potentially Hazardous Objects (PHOs) greater than 140 meters whose orbits pass within 0.05 AU of the Earth's orbit (as opposed to surveying for all NEOs).
* The Agency could achieve the specified goal of surveying for 90 percent of the potentially hazardous NEOs by the end of 2020 by partnering with other government agencies on potential future optical ground-based observatories and building a dedicated NEO survey asset assuming the partners' potential ground assets come online by 2010 and 2014, and a dedicated asset by 2015.
* Together, the two observatories potentially to be developed by other government agencies could complete 83 percent of the survey by 2020 if observing time at these observatories is shared with NASA's NEO Survey Program.
* New space-based infrared systems, combined with shared ground-based assets, could reduce the overall time to reach the 90 percent goal by at least three years. Space systems have additional benefits as well as costs and risks compared to ground-based alternatives.
* Radar systems cannot contribute to the search for potentially hazardous objects, but may be used to rapidly refine tracking and to determine object sizes for a few NEOs of potentially high interest. Existing radar systems are currently oversubscribed by other missions.
* Determining a NEO's mass and orbit is required to determine whether it represents a potential threat and to provide required information for most alternatives to mitigate such a threat. Beyond these parameters, characterization requirements and capabilities are tied directly to the mitigation strategy selected.

Again, most of the key points raised show that with a little more help from Congress budget wise, and maybe a little assistance from the international community, the goals laid out in the congressional mandate are feasable. The problem is that this isn't going to happen.

Then we start to discuss current mitigation theories for dealing with a potential threat, and things get, um, a little less hopeful.

Key Findings for Diverting a Potentially Hazardous Object (PHO):

The study team assessed a series of approaches that could be used to divert a NEO potentially on a collision course with Earth. Nuclear explosives, as well as non-nuclear options, were assessed.

* Nuclear standoff explosions are assessed to be 10-100 times more effective than the non-nuclear alternatives analyzed in this study. Other techniques involving the surface or subsurface use of nuclear explosives may be more efficient, but they run an increased risk of fracturing the target NEO. They also carry higher development and operations risks.
* Non-nuclear kinetic impactors are the most mature approach and could be used in some deflection/mitigation scenarios, especially for NEOs that consist of a single small, solid body.
* "Slow push" mitigation techniques are the most expensive, have the lowest level of technical readiness, and their ability to both travel to and divert a threatening NEO would be limited unless mission durations of many years to decades are possible.
* 30-80 percent of potentially hazardous NEOs are in orbits that are beyond the capability of current or planned launch systems. Therefore, planetary gravity assist swingby trajectories or on-orbit assembly of modular propulsion systems may be needed to augment launch vehicle performance, if these objects need to be deflected.

Read that last part again -"30-80 percent of potentially hazardous NEOs are in orbits that are beyond the capability of current or planned launch systems." The B612 Project/Foundation has designed multiple plans for a gravity assist type project, and it has proposed testing out our abilities with a transponder mission for the upcoming flyby of asteroid 99942 Apophis.

My proposal for dealing with this issue is take half of the measly few million that they spend on NEO projects, and GIVE HALF OF IT TO the B612 Foundation.

Yet another huge government project that proves why government is never the answer to the problem, and perhaps even part of the problem.

Here is the response that Rusty Schweickart sent in response to NASA's report to congress. The main thrust of his analysis is the following-

Because of the “hypothetical scenarios” presented in the NASA Report to Congress the nuclear options are either best suited to the task or absolutely required. This selection of specialized scenarios is not, however, representative of the deflection cases most likely to be encountered. The highest probability impacts will always correlate with the smallest NEOs and, based on the assumption that the world will not choose to “take the hit” of a Tunguska-like object if its potential impact is known ahead of time, this cohort of NEOs is selected in this analysis as the lower limit of the pragmatic threat cohort. 99% of the NEOs in this cohort are more likely to call for deflection than those cases selected in the NASA Congressional Report.

Again, why don't we put them in charge?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Is Food Sending Me Subliminal Messages?

(ATTENTION-Mom, if you're reading this, just skip this post and read the NY Times or something.)

A regular reader of this here blog -we'll call her "Sue"- sent me an email regarding my most recent post about smoking the turkey. Here is the text of "Sue's" email-

Ok, is it just me, or does your recent blog post have a sort of encrypted sex blogger ring to it? Let's examine the evidence, shall we?

"...we're getting a little crazy..."
"...we've only gone 2 or 3 weekends without smoking something..."
"...using my tried and true wet rub..."
"...the breast gently enough so I can push..."
"...not worrying about it drying out..."
" tender as the ribs and pretty spicy too..."
" can see the breast came out very nice..."

Need I say more? Is this what one would call sex with food?

Too much x-rated web surfing apparently. This must stop... or one could become fexually strustrated.

Hmm. I have been awfully distracted with all of this great food all over the place, not to mention the Predators starting in the playoffs tomorrow. Maybe I've been neglecting my innate desires. Either that or I just like to eat a lot. Maybe it's both, who knows.

What I need to do is find that woman who likes to smoke ribs, watch hockey and football, and have lots of sex. Then -problem solved! Or maybe I'm just thinking too much. I'm pretty damn happy as it is, 99 problems and whatnot.

Exit question (not for family members): has anyone else reading this blog found as many sexual connotations as "Sue" did in other posts?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

What's Today? Easter? Let's Smoke Something.

We're getting a little crazy with the meat smoker. I think we've only gone two or three weekends without smoking something since we bought this Char-Broil Electric Water Smoker, and this weekend will not be one of them.

Today we are going to try a smoked turkey using my tried and true wet rub.

Here's the rub ingredients-

Chili Powder
Cayenne Pepper
Salt and Pepper
Mashed Garlic
Dijon Mustard
Olive Oil
Brown Sugar
Whiskey (today it's Jeffersons Reserve Kentucky Small Batch Bourbon)

I take mostly equal relative amounts of each ingredient except for the salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly. Then you take the turkey after removing the giblets and cleaning with cold water and smother with the rub. I separate the skin from the breast gently enough so that I can push the rub under the skin to cover the breast and the sides. It sat since last night in the fridge covered up so the spices have had a chance to soak in the meat. We are going with alder chips and wine barrel chunks for smoking, and using bay leaves and other spices in the water pan.

They say to go with 30-40 minutes per pound of turkey, and since we have the water pan we can make sure you lean towards the 40 side to make sure the turkey is done and not worry about it drying out. I'll post a picture along with the side items for this weekends feast.


Success. The meat is as tender as the ribs, and pretty spicy too. I pealed back the skin and you can see the breast came out very nice. Notice that the meat is so tender that the leg fell from the joint.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

NewsFlash: We Are Fighting A War Against Islamic Fundamentalists

And so are the moderate Muslims. Today's Wall Street Journal has an article from a Dr. Tawfik Hamid, a onetime member of Jemaah Islamiya, an Islamist terrorist group, and who is currently a medical doctor and Muslim reformer living in the West. The article is entitled "The Trouble With Islam"- here are the key excerpts-

Not many years ago the brilliant Orientalist, Bernard Lewis, published a short history of the Islamic world's decline, entitled "What Went Wrong?" Astonishingly, there was, among many Western "progressives," a vocal dislike for the title. It is a false premise, these critics protested. They ignored Mr. Lewis's implicit statement that things have been, or could be, right.

But indeed, there is much that is clearly wrong with the Islamic world. Women are stoned to death and undergo clitorectomies. Gays hang from the gallows under the approving eyes of the proponents of Shariah, the legal code of Islam. Sunni and Shia massacre each other daily in Iraq. Palestinian mothers teach 3-year-old boys and girls the ideal of martyrdom. One would expect the orthodox Islamic establishment to evade or dismiss these complaints, but less happily, the non-Muslim priests of enlightenment in the West have come, actively and passively, to the Islamists' defense.

These "progressives" frequently cite the need to examine "root causes." In this they are correct: Terrorism is only the manifestation of a disease and not the disease itself. But the root-causes are quite different from what they think.....

Dr. Hamid goes on to document the historical manifestations of the current Islmic fundamentalist movements, namely Salafi Islam- a violent, ultra-conservative version of the religion. A troubling aspect of this struggle against radical, violent Islamists is the way that the "progressives" in the west are handling it.

Dr Hamid explains-

The grave predicament we face in the Islamic world is the virtual lack of approved, theologically rigorous interpretations of Islam that clearly challenge the abusive aspects of Shariah. Unlike Salafism, more liberal branches of Islam, such as Sufism, typically do not provide the essential theological base to nullify the cruel proclamations of their Salafist counterparts. And so, for more than 20 years I have been developing and working to establish a theologically-rigorous Islam that teaches peace.

Yet it is ironic and discouraging that many non-Muslim, Western intellectuals -- who unceasingly claim to support human rights -- have become obstacles to reforming Islam. Political correctness among Westerners obstructs unambiguous criticism of Shariah's inhumanity. They find socioeconomic or political excuses for Islamist terrorism such as poverty, colonialism, discrimination or the existence of Israel. What incentive is there for Muslims to demand reform when Western "progressives" pave the way for Islamist barbarity? Indeed, if the problem is not one of religious beliefs, it leaves one to wonder why Christians who live among Muslims under identical circumstances refrain from contributing to wide-scale, systematic campaigns of terror.
(emphasis mine-ed.)

The tendency of many Westerners to restrict themselves to self-criticism further obstructs reformation in Islam. Americans demonstrate against the war in Iraq, yet decline to demonstrate against the terrorists who kidnap innocent people and behead them. Similarly, after the Madrid train bombings, millions of Spanish citizens demonstrated against their separatist organization, ETA. But once the demonstrators realized that Muslims were behind the terror attacks they suspended the demonstrations. This example sent a message to radical Islamists to continue their violent methods.

Dr Hamid on western feminists-

Western feminists duly fight in their home countries for equal pay and opportunity, but seemingly ignore, under a façade of cultural relativism, that large numbers of women in the Islamic world live under threat of beating, execution and genital mutilation, or cannot vote, drive cars and dress as they please.

But here is the million dollar phrase from the article-

Progressives need to realize that radical Islam is based on an antiliberal system. They need to awaken to the inhumane policies and practices of Islamists around the world. They need to realize that Islamism spells the death of liberal values. And they must not take for granted the respect for human rights and dignity that we experience in America, and indeed, the West, today.

What he's saying is that we in the west need to wake the hell up. These radical Islamists don't care how much you hate Bush. They don't care whether you're pro-life or pro-satan- you are the enemy because of the liberal values all those of us in the west have come to expect as a human right, things like personal liberty and equal rights. And our constant internal bickering is only further reinforcing the idea that we in the West are too weak to face up to these bullies.

Recently I've been perusing the various liberal blogs here in Tennessee and the nation to see what's the current mood and ideas on that side of the aisle. I am curious now that we are almost six years removed from 9/11 how seriously people on the left are treating this war. Thanks to Brittney at Nashville Is Talking, I am able to hit the most prominent ones in Nashville pretty easily. I'm going to use some recent threads as an example.

Over at Tennessee Guerilla Women, an uber-feminist blog, I've been reading their take on the trip to the middle east to visit Syria and others by Nancy Pelosi and some other congressfolks. This trip is not exactly what one would consider a wise move on our part if we are trying to isolate state sponsors of terrorism. Oh and uh, by the way- the Syrian regime is currently under investigation for the murder of Rafik Harriri, the former PM of Lebanon. How anyone can justify negotiating with assassins and dictators is beyond comprehension, but the Tennesse Guerilla Women have it rationalized somehow-here is what passes for rational discourse on the left-

"President Pissypants Disapproves of Pelosi's Trip to Syria" The neat part is I tried to argue in the comments to this thread and was accused of being racist and stating "KKK material, at least". Good times.

Then there's my buddy the Freedonian, who writes the following in his post "Turfing Out the War"

See the soldiers in this picture?(see post for the pic) Sure, they may, at first blush, look like any other soldiers carrying out combat operations in a war zone. Know what's different about these?

They're Canadians.

Now don't get me wrong--- I'm quite happy that our neighbors to the north felt so strongly about an attack on our soil that they wanted to help out.

But this is our job, and our fight.

Freedonian is making the grave mistake that this is the US's fight alone. He could not possibly be more wrong.

If you are someone that approves of equal rights for women, and oppose such atrocious practices as clitorectomies, then this is your fight.

If you are someone that believes that gay folks shouldn't be hung for their lifestyle choices, then this your fight.

If you are someone that believes that government and religion should remain seperate, then this is your fight.

If you are someone that believes in the right to worship whatever god you want, then this is your fight.

The question is are we still willing to fight it?

Monday, April 02, 2007

You have new Picture Mail!

Wii bowling @ the trace on a monday night. There are worse ways to kill a monday night.