Thursday, April 24, 2008

Eighteen Years Later And Hubble Is Still Amazing

Today is the eighteenth anniversary of the launch of Hubble Space Telescope via the Space Shuttle Discovery. NASA has some videos and cool hi-res pictures to celebrate the anniversary here. Interesting fact- Hubble was supposed to have been sent up in October 1986, but due to the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster it was not sent up until 1990.

One of the main advantages of Hubble is that the telescope is over 300 miles above the earth. NASA's Hubble site exaplins further-

The Hubble Space Telescope is the direct solution to a problem that telescopes have faced since the very earliest days of their invention: the atmosphere. The quandary is twofold: Shifting air pockets in Earth's atmosphere distort the view of telescopes on the ground, no matter how large or scientifically advanced those telescopes are. This "atmospheric distortion" is the reason that the stars seem to twinkle when you look up at the sky.

The atmosphere also partially blocks or absorbs certain wavelengths of radiation, like ultraviolet, gamma- and X-rays, before they can reach the Earth. Scientists can best examine an object like a star by studying it in all the types of wavelengths that it emits.

Newer ground-based telescopes are using technological advances to try to correct atmospheric distortion, but there's no way to see the wavelengths the atmosphere prevents from even reaching the planet.

The problem with this is that if the telescope has any mechanical malfunctions, as it did when it was first deployed, fixing it can be a little tricky.

If you drop your phillips head screwdriver up here let it go because man, it's gone. They probably bring extras.

It's tough to choose a favorite pic from Hubble, because each is just so mind-blowingly awe inspiring. You can check out many at this link, but the following pic is one that pretty much makes me realize just how tiny we are in the grand scheme of things.

The core of the spectacular globular cluster Omega Centauri glitters with the combined light of 2 million stars. The entire cluster contains 10 million stars, and is among the biggest and most massive of some 200 globular clusters orbiting the Milky Way Galaxy. Omega Centauri lies 17,000 light-years from Earth.

Happy Birthday Hubble!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hillary Bashes Obama As Elitist? Really?

For those of you like myself who don't really feel too crazy about any of the current choices we appear to have for our next president, at least we can take a little comfort in how ridiculously out of touch both the parties are at this point. Between two rich lawyers screaming at each other about who's less "in touch with the common man" then the other, to Trent Lott not even knowing how to use the DC Metro, I think it's safe to say that the political class couldn't be less in touch with the common man if it was sitting in top of them.

It reminds me of this quote by PJ O'Rourke when he was discussing Hillary's healthcare initiative during Bill's presidency-

"Health care is too expensive, so the Clinton administration is putting a high-powered corporate lawyer -- Hillary -- in charge of making it cheaper. (This is what I always do when I want to spend less money -- hire a lawyer from Yale.) If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free." -- P.J. O'Rourke

The candidate who proposes we finish the job in Iraq first, and also says they will do all they can to keep government away from me will get my vote.

Unfortunately, if I want to vote for a winner, it looks like I will have to vote for the GOP for the second election in a row.

But would guys at least LEARN TO USE THE FREAKING SUBWAY?


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Five Years On In Iraq

Austin Bay, Glenn Reynolds, Jules Crittenden, Bill Roggio, and Michael Totten discuss via podcast the current status and comment on the past and future in Iraq as well.

It's worth the listen, or you can read the transcript.

One can argue that we should never have been in Iraq to begin with, as many do, and no one who has half a soul should actually look FORWARD to war. However I still feel as I did five years ago that the changing landscape of Islamic Fundamentalism, particularly in regards to terrorism, no longer gave us the luxury to remain isolationists in terms of rogue middle eastern regimes.

Michael Totten has the most insightful reality dose of the program with this bit-

MR. BAY: Let’s bring Michael Totten back in. And Michael, I want to pick up on something that Jules Crittenden said a moment ago. He talked about the United States as a common enemy. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda’s emir in Iraq in February 2004 said that a democratic Iraq was an enemy. And since, a democratic Iraq, a democratic federal Iraq would be a common enemy of the entire slew of characters that Jules outlined a moment ago, insurgent groups in Iran. Now, you’ve spent time in Kurdistan, Michael, sometimes called the Iraq that works. Does a federal democratic Iraq have a chance?

MR. TOTTEN: Well, it depends on if you want to include the Kurds in it. I mean, if the — if Kurdistan were to succeed, you would still have eighty percent of the people in Iraq just still existing in Iraq. And they would still presumably call the country Iraq. And the majority of the Sunnis and the Shiites do want to remain in the same country. But most of the Kurds don’t. Now, the Kurdish regional government is not talking about secession right now. But there was a non-binding referendum a couple of years ago in the Kurdish autonomous region and I think it was ninety-eight or ninety-nine percent of people who voted to secede from Baghdad. And there’s no way that this is going to be — this isn’t going to come up again at some point in the future unless a couple of things happen. The Kurds are going to have to continue to be unable to secede for various reasons, which exists right now, being that Turkey threatens to invade. They don’t have the infrastructure for a viable state yet. Also, Baghdad is going to have to offer the Kurds something that they can’t refuse, something that they can’t get on their own. The way the Kurds look at it now is that the Arabs of Iraq formally oppressed them, and committed genocide against them and the current state of Iraq’s South Kurdistan is extremely dysfunctional, much more dysfunctional than Kurdistan. And so they figure why should we stay in this ridiculous country. And unless the rest of Iraq offers them something, they’re not going to want to stay. And eventually, it’s going to come to a head. But Iraq could still exist without Kurdistan, theoretically.

The Kurds I knew before the war in Nashville were easily the most pro-war folks I've ever met, and this was their country they wanted invaded. There are no guarantees at this point that Kurdistan seceeding doesn't happen. But there is absolutely no question whatsoever that Kurds and Iraqi's and the world in general are better off now that Saddam isn't bombing his own people.

I look at those protesting China's treatment of Tibet, or those who cry out for help to end the slaughter in Darfur, or even those poor folks in North Korea who are starving to death while another madman runs his country in to the ground. How can we argue for the end of these atrocities without supporting the war in Iraq?

Glenn Reynolds at the end of the podcast, reiterating Michael Totten's plea to not let up now that the surge is finally working adds this-

MR. BAY: Glenn Reynolds?

MR. REYNOLDS: Well, I think that’s right. And I think that — you know, Ann Althouse’s comment on Ted Kennedy after the Petraeus testimony was a year ago you wanted to give up ‘cause we were losing and now you want to give up because we’re winning. There’s a common theme there. I think that it’s important to win. And my prediction for the coming year, which is something that I think Petraeus telegraphed a little bit in his testimony is to keep your eye on Iran. I think there is more going on with Iran under the surface than we’re hearing about and I think that’s likely to make the big news in the coming twelve months.

Things to think about as we look towards November and the coming election.

Enjoy the weekend y'all.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Larry Miller On Eliot The Idiot: Not This Time, Buster

Not This Time, Buster
March 14th, 2008 at 12:00 pm by Larry Miller

First of all, isn’t five thousand dollars a lot for sex? No, really. That’s the first thing I thought.

I may not be a porn star with hour-long stamina and foot-long — well, stamina, but five grand is, come on, a vacation somewhere, or a good used car, or a new kitchen, or the fanciest bar-mitzvah in 1976. But one orgasm? Even two small ones. Are you kidding me? Never mind right or wrong, I just think it’s an awful lot of money.

Even for the prettiest girl in the world — and, frankly, what are the odds his “date” was that – she’s just a woman and you’re just a middle-aged man with thin hair, and the whole thing is over and done with, and she’s getting dressed while you’re standing in a shower pretty much like the one you have at home. I know what I’d be thinking: “Five grand. Whoa. I may be the dumbest guy in history. Lucky for me I’m the governor of a big state.”

It's true. First thing you heard was "really? $5 grand?"

Yep, there's more here...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Monday, April 07, 2008

Paul Krugman Reminds Us How Stupid We Are For Listening To Him

I know I'm not the only one who is paying attention. Donald Luskin has been going nuts about what an idiot this guy is for years now, and we as a culture have been just as stupid about Krugman as we are about, well, Joe Morgan.

Here's what I mean...

Paul Krugman, February 23, 2007

Aside from a few dead-enders on the political right, climate change skeptics seem to be making a seamless transition from denial to fatalism. In the past, they rejected the science. Now, with the scientific evidence pretty much irrefutable, they insist that it doesn’t matter because any serious attempt to curb greenhouse gas emissions is politically and economically impossible.

Behind this claim [ lies the assumption, explicit or implicit, that any substantial cut in energy use would require a drastic change in the way we live. To be fair, some people in the conservation movement seem to share that assumption.

But the assumption is false.

Oh really Paul? Are you sure?

Paul Krugman, April 7th 2008-

These days you hear a lot about the world financial crisis. But there’s another world crisis under way — and it’s hurting a lot more people.

I’m talking about the food crisis. Over the past few years the prices of wheat, corn, rice and other basic foodstuffs have doubled or tripled, with much of the increase taking place just in the last few months. High food prices dismay even relatively well-off Americans — but they’re truly devastating in poor countries, where food often accounts for more than half a family’s spending.

There have already been food riots around the world. Food-supplying countries, from Ukraine to Argentina, have been limiting exports in an attempt to protect domestic consumers, leading to angry protests from farmers — and making things even worse in countries that need to import food.

How did this happen? The answer is a combination of long-term trends, bad luck — and bad policy.
O.K., I said that these factors behind the food crisis aren’t anyone’s fault, but that’s not quite true. The rise of China and other emerging economies is the main force driving oil prices, but the invasion of Iraq — which proponents promised would lead to cheap oil — has also reduced oil supplies below what they would have been otherwise.

And bad weather, especially the Australian drought, is probably related to climate change. So politicians and governments that have stood in the way of action on greenhouse gases bear some responsibility for food shortages.

Where the effects of bad policy are clearest, however, is in the rise of demon ethanol and other biofuels.

The subsidized conversion of crops into fuel was supposed to promote energy independence and help limit global warming. But this promise was, as Time magazine bluntly put it, a “scam.”

This is especially true of corn ethanol: even on optimistic estimates, producing a gallon of ethanol from corn uses most of the energy the gallon contains. But it turns out that even seemingly “good” biofuel policies, like Brazil’s use of ethanol from sugar cane, accelerate the pace of climate change by promoting deforestation.

And meanwhile, land used to grow biofuel feedstock is land not available to grow food, so subsidies to biofuels are a major factor in the food crisis.

No, Mr. Krugman, the answer is that too many people listened to idiots like you.

When Norman Borlaugh was busy trying to feed billions of people who were starving to death, he had to listen to skeptics like Paul Krugman doubt the fact the humans were capable of addressing this problem of food shortage and fixing it. Actually, I think his name was Paul too, Paul Ehrlic.

Why do we keep listening to people who are so incredibly wrong?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Intensity....1:57 In....

Click on the video link from this post, and then fast forward to 1:57...

Evolutionary exemplification via sea did see the part where the guy pushed the twenty foot long shark away like an annoying wasp, right?