Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For A Great Cause, And A Great Lady


My friend Amanda, who years ago sent me some great links about one of the main characters from the excellent documentary film by Irish filmmaker Phelim McAleer "Mine Your Own Business", is taking part in The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Mission to wipe out blood cancer by training for a half ironman as a member of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training.

An eighth of ironman would be enough for me to call it a day, but I'm not as crazy about punishing my body as Amanda. She just ran the NYC Marathon too!

Running for four hours? Pass.

But seriously, take a moment if you have the time and drop on by to her page for the fundraiser an maybe drop some dimes for a good cause.

Good Luck Amanda!




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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Great Piece on Norman Borlaug, May He Rest In Peace....


"Norman Borlaug, who has just died at age 95 in Dallas, was an exception among living Nobel Peace Prize beneficiaries: he actually deserved the award, which he received in 1970......."

You can read the rest here....the author of the article makes this exquisite point at the end..

"The wonderful legacy of the Green Revolution that Norman Borlaug gave birth to should be better known, not only for what it brought to mankind, but also as a permanent lesson for the future. Honest science, when coupled with entrepreneurship and reliable government, can solve the major threats to human life. The oldest human plague, famine, has been eradicated through these means. The next human plague, whatever it may be, deserves similar treatment."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight Years On..........


I'm not sure why I feel compelled to write this, as there are plenty of other bloggers and pundits who will produce much more eloquent dissertations on the immediate impact and subsequent fallout from the events occurring on this day eight years ago, but for some reason I just feel as though I should.

Maybe for posterity? Who knows.

On September 11th, 2001 I was coming to the end of my morning commute on Nashville's interstate system, listening to the usual lackluster comic failings of the Bob and Tom show on the radio. Following yet another lamely attempted dick joke, Kristi Lee broke in to the broadcast with a news update about a "plane that has apparently hit the World Trade Center", which at first just seemed like another odd news item that would be explained away as some sort of tragic accident in which a few people died but would soon be forgotten. But instead of Bob and Tom making some wort of wise ass remark about the accident, you could hear a somber quizzical tone from the voices on the radio, as if something was horribly wrong about this news. After about two turns off the interstate I rushed to my desk to get online and find some more news about the incident as my sister was working in Manhattan at the time, and I was worried she might be near what I thought was a horrible accident. As soon as I got online, the second plane hit the other tower, and all naïve assumptions about this event being an accident vanished, and the sinister reality that this was a planned terrorist attack began to unveil its ugly truth. At first everyone in the office was pretty much ignoring the story and working on their business as usual, despite the news feeds blowing up on every major news site. Gradually the reality of the situation permeated the office until everyone started to go in to what I call "work cruise control" where everyone concentrates on the immediate task at hand, ignoring what's happening away from the office as a sort of defense mechanism. Finally the two towers collapsed and the pictures and video started to show up online. My attempts to contact my sister were -much like everyone else who had any family or friends in Manhattan- completely hopeless, and I began to fear the worst. My sister actually had plans to eat lunch with a friend at the towers that day, and luckily for me and my family, she had not been downtown before the collapse of the towers. I finally was able to reach her around noon because she had stayed home in the Brooklyn area, and she told me about the friend she was to have lunch with who showed up at her apartment covered in soot from the towers. The whole days events just seemed far too surreal to comprehend, and it wasn't until I got home and turned on the news that the reality of what had happened truly sunk in. I still remember how stunned everyone was at the time, and how little was known about who attacked us. This would change very quickly.

It was at this time that I -like many others- began to shift internally in my political perspectives about America, and what was important to me about these ideals. Suddenly my conspiratorial views about our government and the "hidden agenda of the elite secret societies" were flushed through the reality of the attacks, and became silly and meaningless in light of the real death and suffering that was occurring before my eyes. Instead of the villain being a "secret society" it was a real enemy who wanted to kill as many real American people as possible. It was impossible to imagine or even contemplate some kind of secret conspiracy that was as malicious and sinister as the people behind the attacks from that day. In what seems to be the reverse of what happened to certain other conspiracy-minded individuals, I transformed from a conspiracy nut in to a conservative/libertarian with renewed patriotic appreciation for the Great American Experiment. That transformation was further refined through the actions of all Americans in the following days as we as a country rallied around each other and did whatever we could to recover from the tragedy. I briefly toyed with the idea of joining the military, but my mom told me she would disown me if I did, so that idea was nixed. As much as I would do anything to defend this country, I could not entertain the possibility of my Mom having to worry about burying me after the personal issues she had recently been through. Family First, as they say.


I have found that I was not alone in this transformation process, and the blogosphere became my new outlet for discovery in my new found political leanings. I read tons of Stephen Den Beste, Glenn Reynolds, Bill Whittle, Jeff Goldstein and others, and laughed at my new favorite cartoons from Cox and Forkum. I actually ended up meeting Allen Forkum a few times at various Nashville blog gatherings. I have now landed comfortably amongst the small "L" libertarians at places like Reason.com, and have found solace in the study of Astronomy and Asteroids.


But todays anniversary made me realize how much I have changed politically as a result of the tragedy of the attacks, and I will never be the liberal hippie conspiracy freak I was at the time ever again. Certain fundamentals about life that are important to me are ingrained in the US Constitution, and I ignored them for far too long. Now I find new reasons to appreciate the genius behind the framers of that wonderfully exquisite document all the time, and I realize just how lucky I am to be a part of this great country.


I don't know why, but I've had this song stuck in my head all day.....





Finally, I want to say thanks to all of the men and women of the military who have responded to the events of those days with the same honor and courage that their forefathers did when this country faced similar challenges. I know I'm not alone in saying that in the weeks and months after that day no one believed that it would be eight years and counting without another successful attack on our shores. Thank you for your service in defense of our nation.

Update: This post from Cox and Forkum....for posterity or something..

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Fun With Astronomy: The Galileoscope/SkyVoyager iphone App Edition




So my latest bad excuse for staying up until ungodly hours of the evening is:

Scanning the skies with a Galileoscope and an iphone, and more specifically the iphone app SkyVoyager.

The combination of low-tech in the Galileoscope (manual focus, one moving part) mixed with ridiculously hi-tech (accurately shows the sky from any location on Earth, at any time up to 100 years in the past or future, and can identify and detail everything in the sky in same the direction that you're pointing your iphone) makes for a pretty direct learning experience in terms of astronomy. I've started to catalog what constellations are at what certain angles from my limited view at my apartment (pretty much anything between south and northwest), which allows me to begin to understand the rotation of our galaxay as opposed to just our solar system.

I've played around with a taking a few pictures after my buddy Fin let me borrow his Olympus DSLR- here's one that I took without actually attaching the camera to the scope, instead using a second tripod behind it to line up the shot. Not very efficient nor practical, but hey-I just started cut me some slack. Jeeeez..


A shot of Jupiter which was also taken using the double-tripod contraption, which in retrospect, is substantially more difficult than you might imagine. Notice the moons, which come through a lot more clearly through the scope by itself.



And if you want to truly see how amazing this telescope is for $20 (Twenty Dollars!!!) here is a shot from Flickr Contributor "Zoeff", a member of the Flickr Galileoscope pool. You can find other amazing shots taken from this very scope over there as well.

Moon trough the Galileoscope

Moon trough the Galileoscope by Zoeff.
This is taken trough the Galileoscope at prime focus with a CCD chip. This shows the great quality of the doublet lens that comes with this 15$ telescope kit!

I used K3CCTools for capturing and stacked 50 frames or so with RegiStax.



The CCD chip is a particular type of webcamera that is extremely efficient in taking astronomy pictures via video, and then stacking each video frame through available software in to a single picture. Not only is the resolution amazing but it is also clearly a lot less of a pain in the ass than using two tripods. Apparently these webcams are difficult to find but aside from the cost of my iphone and service, the app and scope have only set me back $35.00. I can see how astronomy viewing habits could get expensive very quickly, which at the moment for me is not an option. I'm ok for now as I stare at stars like Tarazed, that are a mere 146 light years away, but this star gazing stuff is very addictive, and I foresee an inevitable ascension from novice to amateur status in my future.

And the answer is yes of course the SkyVoyager also can point out asteroids, in case you were wondering. I just have to learn to live with less sleep, that's all.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

NASA Lacking the Funding For Near Earth Asteroid Detection... Again.

Ever since the SpaceGaurd Survey Report from 1992, Congress has been screwing around with this issue and not putting the money where their mouth is. As I have complained about repeatedly here at Tman in Tennessee, NASA does not spend enough of it's annual $17 Billion budget on meeting the minimum standards that were set out in the original SpaceGaurd Survey from 1994. The SpaceGaurd Survey was mainly for detection of asteroids 1 Kilometer in diameter or larger. This same program was "upgraded" again in the the NASA Authorization Act of 2005, when Congress called on NASA to provide an analysis of alternatives to discover, track, catalogue, and determine the physical characteristics of NEOs equal to or greater than 140 meters in diameter. The legislation also stipulated that NASA find 90 percent of all these NEOs within fifteen years.

In 2006, Congress requested that NASA give them an update on the state of NEO discovery and tracking efforts, which culminated in the Near Earth Object Congressional Hearings in November of 2007. I wrote about the hearings on this blog after they were concluded, and my analysis then is essentially the same as it was in 2004 when I started this blog, and also sadly enough absolutely nothing has changed.

Here's my analysis from 2007-


To sum up the hearings, I would say that we have somewhat of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the much needed argument for the continued funding of the Arecibo Observatory was made by all participants, and hopefully this will get some appropriations. As far as the Spacegaurd Suveys go, we are still behind on cataloging the big ones, and NASA's reps pretty much told Congress that they can't do what they were told to do as per the 2005 NASA Authorization Act, unless Congress.....tells them what to do. Fortunately, we have guys like Donald Yeomans and David Morrison around who are well aware of NASA's shortcomings, and are working around them to develop true answers like the folks at the B612 Foundation.

Next summer will be 100 years since the Tunguska impact. We have a long way to go before even pretending to think we could stop another impact as small as the Tunguska impact. And at $17 Billion I don't think we're getting our moneys worth from NASA in terms of protecting us from NEO's.


And if you're interested, since 2004 I've written several posts about this issue specifically, in terms of what NASA and Congress should be doing in regards to this issue.

Tman In Tennessee NASA NEO Posts


Check them out if you're interested.

Today the National Academy of Sciences released a report detailing the shortcomings of the NASA NEO programs.

NASA’s Asteroid Detection Programs Not Yet Meeting U.S. Goals

August 12 -- According to a new interim report from the National Research Council, NASA’s current near-Earth object surveys will not meet the congressionally mandated goal of discovering 90 percent of all objects over 140 meters in diameter by 2020. Funding for near-Earth object activities at NASA has been constrained, with most costs being met by funds from other programs. A final report will include findings and recommendations on detecting, characterizing, and mitigating the hazard of near-Earth objects.



Maybe someone will pay attention now? Based on the historical record, I have little faith that this report will do anything but restate the obvious, however more news about this issue is better than no news.

Along that same line, WIRED magazine posted a photo essay yesterday on Asteroid Impact Craters on Earth as seen from space-


By Betsy Mason
August 11, 2009
|
Asteroid impact craters are among the most interesting geological structures on any planet. Many other planets and moons in our solar system, including our own moon, are pock-marked with loads of craters. But because Earth has a protective atmosphere and is geologically active — with plate tectonics and volcanic eruptions, mostly relatively young oceanic crust, and harsh weathering from wind and water — impact structures don’t last long and can be tough to come by.

But on a few old pieces of continent, especially in arid deserts, the marks of asteroids have been preserved. One well-known example is our own Barringer crater, also known as Meteor Crater, in Arizona. The images here show some of the biggest, oldest and most interesting impact craters on the planet.



Here's one from just 50,000 years ago-





The Lonar crater in Maharashta, India is around 6,000 feet wide and 500 feet deep and contains a saltwater lake. Scientists determined the structure was caused by an asteroid through clues such as the presence of maskelynite, a glass that is only formed by extremely high-velocity impacts. The impact occurred around 50,000 years ago. This image was captured by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer on NASA’s Terra satellite. It is a simulated true-color image

Image: NASA, 2004



Again, for the umpteenth time, NOT IF BUT WHEN.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Jupiter Gets Slammed By A Huge Impactor, And We Missed It.

Jupiter -the solar systems hoover vacuum- the planet that has literally swallowed major asteroids and comets that would have destroyed life on earth in a heart beat, got whacked recently by an impactor of unknown origins.

And even more interesting, it was discovered by an amateur astronomer-



Preliminary image showing a black mark in Jupiters South Polar Region (SPR) which is almost certainly the result of a large impact - either an asteroid or comet - similar to the Shoemaker-Ley impacts in 1994.

Date and Time of Report

Dark impact mark first noted at approximately 1330UTC on 19th July 2009 from my home observatory just outside Murrumbateman NSW Australia.

Inspection of earlier images shows the impact visible on the planets limb at 1411UTC.

Equipment and Contact Details

Contact info: Anthony Wesley
awesley@smartnetworks.com.au
awesley@acquerra.com.au
http://www.acquerra.com.au/astro


NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility at the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, confirmed that this was a major impact.




Scientists have found evidence that another object has bombarded Jupiter, exactly 15 years after the first impacts by the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.

Following up on a tip by an amateur astronomer, Anthony Wesley of Australia, that a new dark "scar" had suddenly appeared on Jupiter, this morning between 3 and 9 a.m. PDT (6 a.m. and noon EDT) scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., using NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility at the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, gathered evidence indicating an impact.


To give you an idea of how big this hole in Jupiter is, I give you a size comparison-




So something close to the size of the moon slammed in to Jupiter, and we completely missed it.

A 1992 U.S. Congressional study produced a "Spaceguard Survey Report" which led to a mandate that NASA locate 90% of large near-Earth asteroids larger than 1 km diameter within 10 years.

Clearly the ten year estimate was insufficient, because we missed an enormous impactor that was in our cosmic backyard, which was also one hell of a lot bigger than 1 km in diameter.

Our current NASA budget is around $17 billion annually. We haven't spent anywhere near close to a tenth of that in terms of Near Earth Object detection in the last ten years.

Priorities, that's all I'm saying.

Once again, visit the B612 Foundation for further information on what needs to be done to address this obvious shortcoming in the protection of our planet.

Friday, July 03, 2009

PJ O'Rourke- "Where Was The Government With Studebaker?"

A little PJ to cheer you up on this glorious Fourth of July Weekend. I love his bit explaining how the automobile allowed the United States to come together. As someone who very much enjoys driving across this great country, I can't imagine having to do it in a train, where your freedom to go where you want is extremely limiting.


Reason.tv’s Ted Balaker sat down with O’Rourke at the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. Topics include: bailouts, who ruined the U.S. auto industry, politicians’ love affair with trains, how easy women made O'Rourke a youthful socialist and how getting a paycheck turned him into a libertarian.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We Should All Listen More to Perry and the Brits...

Perry de Havilland, over at Samizdata.net, commenting on what fun things we have to look forward to here in the USA....


Millions and millions of Americans support Obama's desire to even more massively intervene in the market for medical care than the US state already does. And of course Obama's moves are just the opening salvo in a desire to eventually end up with fully socialist healthcare, along the lines of Britain's ghastly National Health Service, which has intermittently tried to kill me over the years.

I have tried pointing Americans at the British example to show them what an appalling idea it is to have the state directing any industry, let alone medical care. But alas it is very hard to overcome that special kind of insular American optimism that does not think what happens in another advanced first world nation can teach them anything, because in the USA things will be different.

Well yes, it will be different... in that the control obsessed Obama's of this world will find new, innovative and oh so wholesome American ways to end up with a third rate health care system much like Britain has today.

This might be a good time for Americans to invest their money in Swiss medical clinics as I suspect in the coming years expatriated medical care will be a serious growth industry... plus it has the added benefit of getting your money out of the USA and US dollar.





The current emergency government run healthcare program we already have is Medicare, which is taking in less money than it is paying out, to the tune of $168 billion in 2006 and $179 billion in 2007.

Add that with Social Security deficits, it gets even worse. According to the American Academy of Actuaries-

Considering Medicare spending in conjunction with Social Security spending further highlights the strain these programs place on the economy. Social Security spending as a share of GDP increases more modestly than Medicare over the next several decades, and as a result, Medicare spending is expected to exceed that of Social Security in 2028. Combined, Medicare and Social Security expenditures equaled 7.3 percent of GDP in 2006. This share of GDP is expected to increase considerably to a projected 12.7 percent in 2030 and 17.6 percent in 2080. Medicare and Social Security expenditures are even more striking when considered relative to total federal revenues. The trustees report that total federal revenues have historically averaged about 18 percent of GDP. Using this average, about 40 percent of all federal revenues in 2007 will be used to pay Medicare and Social Security benefits. If no changes are made to either program and federal revenues remain at 18 percent of GDP, this share is expected to increase to 80 percent in 2040, and by 2080, Medicare and Social Security spending would equal nearly all total federal revenues. These projections highlight the increasing strains that Medicare, especially in conjunction with Social Security, will place on the U.S. economy. Moreover, increased spending for Medicare may crowd out the share of funds available for other federal programs.


Someone needs to explain to me why spending MORE MONEY ON HEALTHCARE will make HEALTHCARE CHEAPER thus saving our economy from catasrophe.

Good luck.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Neil deGrasse Tyson Lecture: Pluto and Some Q&A

My favorite astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson gave a lecture/interview at the Los Angeles Public Library recently. He came to talk about Pluto and his recent book The Pluto Files, and as usual was Spock-like in his insight and logic in to the world of science and astronomy.


Here's the link to the full program
where you can skip around to different parts of the lecture and Q&A session.


Here are two of my favorites from the lecture: Bush Innocent in War on Science



Remember this next time people talk about Obama "restoring science in America" or whatever, because I'm sure we'll hear about it again. His point about Bush appointing Judge John E. Jones III, who presided over Kitzmiller vs. Dover was especially poignant.

And this one, as Tyson destroys the silliness surrounding the conspiracies that will soon reach boiling point as we approach December 2012:



Just google it!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Iran should be liberated, and their regime eliminated......Part IX

I wrote part VIII about three years ago, when Iraq was unraveling. I had no idea that today Iraq would look like a stable democracy next to Iran.


"Iran should be liberated, and their regime eliminated"
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

It is now more evident than ever before that the Iranian Regime is the biggest obstacle to peace in the region and the rest of the world. The two biggest hot spots in the middle east right now are in Lebanon and Iraq, and in both places the Iranian Regime is the state sponsor of those trying to kill innocent people ON PURPOSE. Every other surrounding Arab state except for Syria is ready to recognize Israel and end the pointless struggle over a bunch of freaking rocks.

This will never happen with the Iranian regime still in power.


Those of us who do not wish to "submit to God" involuntarily agree that these freaking nutjob Islamofascists trying to either convert the entire world to Islam or put the rest of us to death need to be stopped.

President Bush stated the following quite clearly after 9/11 that
"Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them.....Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.


Fast forward to the present. Hezbollah, the armed thugs whose salaries are paid by the Iranian Regime, have been trying to bleed Israel to death for over 20 years. They've wacked our US troops in the process. Today Iranian troops are fighting side by side with Hezbollah in Lebanon, just as they are with Al-Sadr in Iraq.

Sooner or later, if freedom for all from relgious persecution is to prevail, the Islamic Regime in Iran will have to fall. The sooner the better.



It remains to be seen how long it will take for the Iranian people to finally enjoy the liberty and freedom that we take for granted here in the US.

But one thing is certain, the Iranian people have had enough. And I don't think they are going to wait for help from the outside world before they take matters in to their own hands and finally push back against the bullies.

Michael Totten (now blogging for the time being at Commentary), who as usual has been running rings around the major news media organizations in providing breaking news about the Iranian demonstrations, had the following quote from Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski from his book Shah of Shahs, about the Iranian revolution in 1979, he describes the beginning of the end for the Shah Reza Pahlavi.

Now the most important moment, the moment that will determine the fate of the country, the Shah, and the revolution, is the moment when one policeman walks from his post toward one man on the edge of the crowd, raises his voice, and orders the man to go home. The policeman and the man on the edge of the crowd are ordinary, anonymous people, but their meeting has historic significance.

They are both adults, they have both lived through certain events, they have both their individual experiences.

The policeman’s experience: If I shout at someone and raise my truncheon, he will first go numb with terror and then take to his heels. The experience of the man at the edge of the crowd: At the sight of an approaching policeman I am seized by fear and start running. On the basis of these experiences we can elaborate a scenario: The policeman shouts, the man runs, others take flight, the square empties.

But this time everything turns out differently. The policeman shouts, but the man doesn’t run. He just stands there, looking at the policeman. It’s a cautious look, still tinged with fear, but at the same time tough and insolent. So that’s the way it is! The man on the edge of the crowd is looking insolently at uniformed authority. He doesn’t budge. He glances around and sees and sees the same look on other faces. Like his, their faces are watchful, still a bit fearful, but already firm and unrelenting. Nobody runs though the policeman has gone on shouting; at last he stops. There is a moment of silence.

We don’t know whether the policeman and the man on the edge of the crowd already realize what has happened. The man has stopped being afraid – and this is precisely the beginning of the revolution. Here it starts. Until now, whenever these two men approached each other, a third figure instantly intervened between them. That third figure was fear. Fear was the policeman’s ally and the man in the crowd’s foe. Fear interposed its rules and decided everything.

Now the two men find themselves alone, facing each other, and fear has disappeared into thin air. Until now their relationship was charged with emotion, a mixture of aggression, scorn, rage, terror. But now that fear has retreated, this perverse, hateful union has suddnely broken up; something has been extinguished. The two men have now grown mutually indifferent, useless to each other; they can now go their own ways.
Accordingly, the policeman turns around and begins to walk heavily back toward his post, while the man on the edge of the crowd stands there looking at his vanishing enemy.



May peace and liberty be upon the Iranian People.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Iranian people are not happy with the election results


Michael Totten is keeping the updates
coming from Iran:

Iran On Fire

The BBC says clashes between demonstrators and police in Tehran are the most violent in a decade.

Video below shows a human wave of demonstrators chasing frightened police officers.


He has a quote from the Huffington Post:

"My next door neighbor is an Iranian immigrant who came here in 1977. He just received a SAT phone call from his brother in Tehran who reports that the rooftops of nighttime Tehran are filled with people shouting 'Allah O Akbar' in protest of the government and election results. The last time he remembers this happening is in 1979 during the Revolution. Says the sound of tens of thousands on the rooftops is deafening right now." It's almost four in the morning in Iran."



Hopefully this Cox and Forkum illustration will bear fruit...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Iowahawk Tried To Warn Us....

.....we didn't listen. And now, this is very close to a reality-




Incidentally, I bought a new Ford Fusion a few months ago. I love it. For any of those idiots out there who say that the American Auto Industry isn't making anything that Americans want to buy, I give you the following evidence that you are dead wrong.

Here are the top selling cars
in the US from the month of May-

1.) Ford F-Series: 33,381
2.) Chevy Silverado: 31,463
3.) Toyota Camry: 31,325
4.) Toyota Corolla: 23,576
5.) Honda Accord: 22,597
6.) Honda Civic: 20,723
7.) Ford Fusion: 19,786
8.) Chevy Impala: 18,709
9.) Nissan Altima: 18,408
10.) Ford Escape: 16,391


Ford has three in the top ten, with the Fusion at a healthy #7. Chevy is on life support from my tax dollars, and the car I bought was built by the company that didn't take any taxpayer money to stay alive. Sorry Chevy, but American Car Companies should be allowed to fail and disappear, and I don't see the point in rewarding failure.

What kills me is why did Ford wait this long to introduce this kind of sexiness to the American Roads?





And she drives as good as she looks.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Saturday Treat From PJ O'Rourke- "The End of the Affair"

The End of the Affair
The fate of Detroit isn’t a matter of economics. It’s a tragic romance, whose magic was killed by bureaucrats, bad taste and busybodies. P.J. O’Rourke on why Americans fell out of love with the automobile.


The phrase “bankrupt General Motors,” which we expect to hear uttered on Monday, leaves Americans my age in economic shock. The words are as melodramatic as “Mom’s nude photos.” And, indeed, if we want to understand what doomed the American automobile, we should give up on economics and turn to melodrama.

Politicians, journalists, financial analysts and other purveyors of banality have been looking at cars as if a convertible were a business. Fire the MBAs and hire a poet. The fate of Detroit isn’t a matter of financial crisis, foreign competition, corporate greed, union intransigence, energy costs or measuring the shoe size of the footprints in the carbon. It’s a tragic romance—unleashed passions, titanic clashes, lost love and wild horses........


Read the rest here...

Latinos for Impartiality

Most of us have heard about the comment by SCOTUS nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor-
“‘I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,‘"


Many pundits have made the argument that this quote needs to placed in context of her full speech that day. You can read that same speech here, but in all honesty it doesn't really change the point she was making. In particular, the point about how she believes that "Although I agree with and attempt to work toward Judge Cedarbaum's aspiration(ed. to achieve a greater degree of fairness and integrity based on the reason of law), I wonder whether achieving that goal is possible in all or even in most cases. And I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society."

Basically, screw all that "impartiality", the law is something we can change to fit our needs in terms of identity politics, and retribution thereof.

A funny thing happened after Judge Sotomayor made her speech. Other Latino judges responded, and thanks to a diligent NRO reader, here are their thoughts-

I decided to peruse the comments delivered by the other participants in the 2001 Symposium at Berkeley, expecting to find that Judge Sotomayor's position was fairly mainstream among the presenters at an event sponsored by "La Raza Law Journal."

To my surprise, two of the judges speaking after her (she gave the keynote address the night before their presentations), rejected her relativism, her characterization of "[t]he aspiration to impartiality" as "just that"—a mere aspiration, and the endorsement of the use of "prejudices." None of the judges expressly disagreed with her by name, but given that, in her words, the "focus" of her keynote address was precisely the endorsement of prejudice, the implicit disagreement was fairly palpable and was probably obvious to the audience.


First, Judge Valeriano Saucedo of the California courts, noted that, because of his experiences, he had a certain degree of understanding to Hispanic defendants, but "[t]hat does not mean that I apply a different standard of justice, because that is wrong."

Speaking on the same panel, Judge Richard Paez (of the Ninth Circuit) was more emphatic, and emphasized that both juror and judge had a duty of impartiality. Here are his extended remarks on the subject:

"As Judge Saucedo said, we are required to apply the law fairly. I do not think that I ever have applied a different standard in judging a case involving a Latino defendant, a black defendant, an Asian defendant, a white defendant, or a multimillion dollar corporation. But, there is something about our own personal life experience that makes each of us different.

"I used to tell jurors when they entered the courtroom and took their oaths as jurors, 'You walk into the courtroom with a lifetime of experiences, and we don't ask you to suddenly forget all that experience, to ignore that experience.' I asked them if they could judge fairly the case that they were about to hear. I explained, 'As jurors, recognize that you might have some bias, or prejudice. Recognize that it exists, and determine whether you can control it so that you can judge the case fairly. Because if you cannot - if you cannot set aside those prejudices, biases and passions - then you should not sit on the case.'

"The same principle applies to judges. We take an oath of office. At the federal level, it is a very interesting oath. It says, in part, that you promise or swear to do justice to both the poor and the rich. The first time I heard this oath, I was startled by its significance. I have my oath hanging on the wall in my office to remind me of my obligations. And so, although I am a Latino judge and there is no question about that - I am viewed as a Latino judge - as I judge cases, I try to judge them fairly. I try to remain faithful to my oath.

"I think we look at conflicts from our own life experiences. If you were to look at my life - at least my professional experience - and I'll just start with that, I probably have a unique professional experience. If you looked at the federal judiciary and asked how many federal court of appeals judges are there that worked in legal services, as I did for nine years, I doubt that you would find many. I never worked for a law firm, a district attorney's office, a U.S. Attorney's Office, a State Attorney General's office, or the Justice Department. I worked, instead, for legal services for the poor. That was my professional career. And working in that environment, representing individual clients as well as litigating larger cases, sometimes impacts the way one may look at issues or conflicts. You don't shed that experience - you don't leave it behind. But, when called upon to decide a case, judges have a distinct and clear obligation to apply the law fairly and justly to the parties in the case."

Obviously, the question for Judge Sotomayor, is whether she now agrees with Judges Saucedo and Paez. In any case, Senate Republicans need to bring up Judge Paez's disagreement with Judge Sotomayor as frequently as possible.


This tells me that Judge Sotomayor is incapable of separating her desire to instill identity politics in to the rule of law from what her job requirements are as a United States Judge.

What's even scarier is that this is the best Obama could come up with for his first appointment. I'm of the opinion that Judge Sotomayor will reveal her true ideals during the nomination process, and the American public will disapprove of her desire to make identity politics a part of the rule of law in the Supreme Court.

But then again, I'm an optimist.

Janeane Garafolo Is Not Prepared To Deal With The Real Generation X




Kudos to Ms. Pierson who exemplifies what constitutes a REAL American Individual.

She isn't waiting for the government to bail her out. And Ms Garafolo is afraid of what Ms. Pierson represents.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Some Old People Are More Equal Than Others

“‘I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,‘ said Judge Sotomayor........


ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS

After that it did not seem strange when next day the pigs who were supervising the work of the farm all carried whips in their trotters. It did not seem strange to learn that the pigs had bought themselves a wireless set, were arranging to install a telephone, and had taken out subscriptions to John Bull, TitBits, and the Daily Mirror. It did not seem strange when Napoleon was seen strolling in the farmhouse garden with a pipe in his mouth-no, not even when the pigs took Mr. Jones's clothes out of the wardrobes and put them on, Napoleon himself appearing in a black coat, ratcatcher breeches, and leather leggings, while his favourite sow appeared in the watered silk dress which Mrs. Jones had been used to wear on Sundays.



I wish I wrote this, but here is Jeff Goldstein trying to help the GOP to control the message about why Sonia Sotomayor is a bad pick for the SCOTUS-

Don’t vote down the first latina SCOTUS nominee.

Vote down the first latina SCOTUS nominee who believes it is the role of the judiciary to make policy, and that some identity groups are more equal than others — and the law will be made to say so, should she be appointed to the bench
.


Unless the GOP grows a spine, Judge Sotomayor will become our next Supreme Court Justice.

"Four legs good, two legs
bad!"


Here's the thing Judge Sotomayor. This statue is blind FOR A REASON.



Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Showtime For The Obama Administration....

NKorea warns of military action against SKorea
May 26 11:05 PM US/Easter

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea's military says it considers South Korea's participation in a U.S.-led program to intercept ships suspected of spreading weapons of mass destruction tantamount to a declaration of war against the North.

The communist North's military said in a statement Wednesday that it will respond with "immediate, strong military measures" if the South actually stops and searches any North Korean ships under the Proliferation Security Initiative.

The statement, carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency, said North Korea no longer considers itself bound by the armistice that ended the Korean War, as a protest over the South's participation.



Joe Biden, October 2008-

"Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."


North Korea is attempting to undo the armistice from the Korean War, which is bad. North Korea is also trading nuclear weapons technology with Syria, and probably Iran as well. This is real bad.

Hopefully the news is just more sabre-rattling from Mr. "Sea of Fire", because this is not the ideal "generated international crisis" I want Obama testing his mettle on. I suppose we will soon find out how the Administration is going to handle these things going forward, so we might as well find out now.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

How Many Times Did Bush Blame Clinton?

I don't remember, well, any specifically.

George W. Bush was dealt an incredibly farked up hand on 9/11. Many people may argue that he didn't do the right things after the attack. I'm not one of them; I think Bush did the impossible and kept us safe for eight years, however this is irrelevant to my point.

I've never heard anyone complain that he whined too much about what a mess he inherited from the Clinton Administration. Despite Enron collapsing, web start-ups in Silicon valley being exposed as a monetary fraud which caused the nation to have a bout with "irrational exuberance" or Bill's wag-the-dog chicken game with Iraq and Islamic terrorism, I don't remember Bush bitching about what a big mess he inherited.

I am very disappointed with the Obama administrations repeated attempts to blame our principles being shorted because of "the mess they inherited". I don't hear any recognition of the new war that our nation was pushed in to because of Islamic totalitarianism, nor any defense of our restrained response thereof. All I hear is "Bush did everything wrong, I will go in a different direction".



Obama was elected because he promised a different direction. Regardless if you feel we were going in the wrong direction under Bush, if Obama is going to lead the country, he needs to either start leading in a different direction or stop bitching about what a mess the country is in.

Well past 100 days in office and Obama hasn't changed anything.

Put up or shut up Barry. It's your mess now.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In Case You Were Wondering What Repairs Are Being Done To Hubble By NASA

Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF)Hubble image of the Eagle Nebulaimage of taken by Hubble that illustrates the concept of dark matter.


Galaxies from the early universe. The birthplaces of planets. Dark matter. Dark energy. Since its launch in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has brought these mysteries into focus, its powerful gaze scanning the universe for the details planet-bound telescopes find impossible to detect.

Far above the Earth's surface, Hubble floats clear of the planet's light-distorting atmosphere, beaming back images that have transfixed humanity and changed the scientific world.

Hubble's triumphs continue to accumulate thanks to a unique design that allows astronauts to repair and upgrade the telescope while it remains in orbit. Repairs keep the telescope functioning smoothly, while upgrades to the instruments bring a slew of new discoveries and science.

The next servicing mission, Servicing Mission 4 (SM4), in May 2009, will be the final trip to the Hubble Telescope. Over the course of five spacewalks, astronauts will install two new instruments, repair two inactive ones, and perform the component replacements that will keep the telescope functioning at least into 2014. The effort-intensive, rigorously researched, exhaustively tested mission also involves diverse groups of people on the ground throughout the country




NASA's latest update says-

PRESS RELEASE
Date Released: Monday, May 18, 2009
Source: Johnson Space Center

Human hands have touched the Hubble Space Telescope for the last time. Astronauts Andrew Feustel and John Grunsfeld spent seven hours and two minutes putting the finishing touches on the telescope in the final spacewalk from a space shuttle airlock.

During the STS-125 mission's five spacewalks, Atlantis' crew completed all of the mission objectives to improve Hubble's view of the universe.

Over the course of the mission's five spacewalks, the crew added two new science instruments, repaired two others and replaced hardware that will extend the telescope's life at least through 2014. The five spacewalks lasted 36 hours and 56 minutes all together. There have been 23 spacewalks devoted to Hubble, totaling 166 hours and six minutes.

Greg Gutfield and The Evolution of the Libertarian

Greg Gutfield, host of Fox News Channel's show Red Eye, recently gave an interview/Q&A session at Reason Weekend, the annual event held by the nonprofit that publishes Reason.com, where he was interviewed by Reason Senior Editor Katherine Mangu-Ward.

There are some great moments to the interview, but the interesting part for me is Mr. Gutfield's description of his political evolution from hippie-loving liberal in to a conservative, now to a full-blown libertarian. There are a lot of similarities between his story and mine, and I can understand how and why he is politically today, which are many of the same reasons I am the way I am as well.

Cool video, enjoy...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday Night Feast: Garlic/Herb Chevre Stuffed Chicken Thighs

New recipe for tonight, and I got the Herb/Garlic Chevre idea from the Head Chef of the Family, my Mom. Try it out, and make sure you get good Chevre!

Garlic/Herb Chevre Stuffed Chicken Thighs


Ingredients:
4 Whole Chicken Thighs
2 Bell peppers
1 Yellow Onions
1 Bag of Golden Yellow Potatoes
1 Bulb garlic
1 block of Soft Chevre (goat cheese)
1 Tbsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1/2 cup Olive Oil
Fresh Rosemary

Dice finely one quarter of a bell pepper, three cloves of garlic, and 1/8th of the onion and mix together with the Chevre. Cut the potatoes in half and after salting and drizzling olive oil in a baking pan, lay them down, skin side up to coat the bottom of the pan. Chop up the rest of the garlic, peppers and onions and place on top of the potatoes. Take the chicken thighs, and dig out some space for Chevre behind the main bone, and then stuff the Chevre inside. Season the outside of the thighs with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Lay some rosemary around the chicken thighs and cook for about an 1:15-1:30 at 385.



Bon Apetit!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Reason # 854,265 Why The Private Sector Is More Efficient Than The Government

This is hilarious. Do you remember how the government claimed that they were going to allow taxpayers to track the money being spent from the $780 Billion Stimulus package? They even set up a website in order to let taxpayers do this- "Recovery.gov".

Take it away Reason TV-

RECOVERY.ORG VS. RECOVERY.GOV: HOW THE PRIVATE SECTOR, NOT THE FEDS, IS TRACKING STIMULUS SPENDING IN REAL TIME

Recovery.gov, which doesn't have any details about contracts or grants yet—and won't until October 2009 or, more likely, sometime next year, long after the thrill of living is gone and a huge chunk of the $787 billion stimulus package has already been frittered away on "shovel-ready" projects such as the John Murtha-Johnstown Cambria County Airport (pop. 20 passengers a day).

Thankfully, the folks at the information-services firm Onvia stepped in and created the site Recovery.org, which is already on the case and showing, as much as is possible, who is getting what.





Hope! Also, change.

Friday, May 01, 2009

John Stewart Hits Bottom, Digs.

So most of you have heard about the recent post-9/11 CIA Torture Memos that were released for political purposes to satiate the leftists who helped get Obama elected.


Basically the story goes like this: about a year after 9/11 happened three bigshot Islamic fanatical terrorists were waterboarded by the various experts from the FBI/CIA/Military in order to extract information about upcoming terrorist attacks. And apparently we "tortured" these three assholes because they openly mocked and bragged about the "second wave" of attacks that were about to happen. And we were right to do so because the information gathered allowed US authorities to thwart and defuse this "second wave" of attacks. No one who cares about their own survival would rationally argue against this process. It wasn't pretty, but these assholes are still alive, and clearly the "torture" prescribed was neither disfiguring nor barbaric.

Skip forward to April 2009, as Clifford May attempts to explain the preceding story to the masses on The Daily Show with John Stewart.

Here is the meat of the interview, which if you're interested, is below. Most of it makes me violently ill.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Cliff May
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisFirst 100 Days





During this exchange, John Stewart took the clown nose off and argued the hypothetical about "protecting Americas values" to the extreme by claiming that Harry Truman was a war criminal for dropping the atomic bombs upon Japan during WWII, the key exchange comes around 5:30.


The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 2
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisFirst 100 Days



Stewart reasons that "hey, we shoulda done WWII different, maybe scared the Japs with a Jerry Bruckheimer show instead of killed all these innocent people."

There aren't enough levels of wrong to detail why this particular version of historical revisionism is so idiotic and dangerous.

Thankfully, Bill Whittle of Pajamas Media helps do the heavy lifting. Watch this link for further clarification.

Realizing what a complete tool Mr. Stewart had made of himself, he decided to give a mini-mea-culpa to his adoring throngs at The Daily Show with this clip.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Harry Truman Was Not a War Criminal
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisFirst 100 Days



Sorry John, but your clown nose doesn't hide the fact that you made some irreproachably asinine comments that insulted the very principles that you pretend to defend through your faux-news program at Comedy Central.



You can keep digging, and the trained seals that adulate your cheap shots will continue to supply the shovels. But sooner or later you'll realize that you reached the bottom a long time ago, and if you want to be a journalist that reports the news as entertainment, whether the clown nose is on or off, you are going to have to STOP DIGGING. Eventually those trained seals will realize "who's the more foolish - the fool, or the fool who follows him?"

Monday, April 27, 2009

Gonna be a long four years I think..

8th WSJ UPDATE: Airplane ‘Photo Op’ Angers 9/11 Witnesses.





Now I realize this photo-op was apparently ok'd by Louis Caldera, the current Director of the White House Military Office, who is lesser known for:

serving on the board of directors for IndyMac Bank from 2002 until its failure and subsequent seizure by the government in July 2008. In other words, he was there for the entire housing bubble while the bank destroyed itself.


Yeah, so I guess maybe he is lacking in foresight.

His apology came quick of course-

"Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision. While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it’s clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused."


A mission? Really?

You want to impress the nation Obama?

Fire this idiot. Right now.

Friday, April 24, 2009

PJ O'Rourke Goes Down Under

(via the Australian Blogfather Tim Blair) Glad to see him out and about, smashing leftist hypocrisy in his own unique style.


The immigration part is especially funny, around 35:00 minutes in
.


Enjoy..

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Best Job Interview Cheat Sheet Ever

Fortunately for me I don't need to worry about the fun and excitement of job interviews at the moment as I am currently employed. However, when I applied for my current job I spent a lot of time reading how to "nail the interview". I also spent a decent amount of time at my previous job interviewing people for various jobs.

Everything you need to know about nailing an interview is in this page, with video evidence.

How To Nail An Interview (22 Tips)

What is it that certain people say or do during a job interview that makes them stand out? Why do some people struggle to find work, while others land a job in no time? I wanted to know, and the only way to find out was to experience the interview from the other side of the table. If I could be the one asking the interview questions, not answering, I could see first hand what made candidates stand out. I could then take that knowledge and cater my behavior in any future interview to give myself the best chance of getting hired.............



Hope this helps somebody....

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Lesson To Take Home From Todays Tea Party

Our Government Is Too Big.



I work every day to help people untangle the mess of government bureaucracy. The reason thousands of people are taking to the streets today is because they are a victim of:

TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION.






It's not your money Senator, Congressman, President.


You Work For US.


Monday, April 13, 2009

I don't get it.

Lefty bloggers complain that the Democrats aren't paying them enough to pimp their message.

Jane Hamsher
-

They come to us, expecting us to give them free publicity, and we do, but it’s not a two way street,” Jane Hamsher, the founder of FiredogLake, said in an interview. “They won’t do anything in return. They’re not advertising with us. They’re not offering fellowships. They’re not doing anything to help financially, and people are growing increasingly resentful.




Markos (spit!) Moulitsas-


“Most want the easy way — having a big blogger promote their agenda,” adds Markos Moulitsas, the founder of DailyKos. “Then they turn around and spend $50K for a one-page ad in the New York Times or whatever.”


Since none of the supposedly "right side" bloggers I read regularly have ever been paid a dime, much less actively on the payroll of the Democratic party, I don't understand how these same leftist bloggers are now complaining that the Tea Party Protests are somehow financed by the right, as if this isn't something of which they JUST COMPLAINED ABOUT NOT GETTING ENOUGH?



Really?


They think Fox News and Rick Santelli started the Tea Party protests?



Are they really this stupid?


This is a rhetorical question.



Monday, April 06, 2009

Our Resplendence Is Never Quiet

The Soxaholix is back which means it's Red Sox Season......should be interesting this year, with Smoltz and what not. I'm still sort of floating on the last two WORLD SERIES CHAMPION BOSTON RED SOX seasons coming in just five years, so, you know.......

Saturday, April 04, 2009

A Good Choice For Hubble By The World Wide Web

Indeed...

Hubble Celebrates the International Year of Astronomy with the Galaxy Triplet Arp 274
April 3, 2009: On April 1-2, the Hubble Space Telescope photographed the winning target in the Space Telescope Science Institute's "You Decide" competition in celebration of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA). The winner is a group of galaxies called Arp 274. The striking object received 67,021 votes out of the nearly 140,000 votes cast for the six candidate targets.



Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Our Country Is In the Best of Hands...

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

"Gentlemen, we have officially run out of everyone's money....who wants cake?"

Monday, March 30, 2009

So Asteroids Bump The News Again

Professor Reynolds over at Instapundit links to the recent Wired article, "How to Defend Earth Against an Asteroid Strike".

It's a well written piece that lays out our current available arsenal of proven/semi-proven/unproven techniques for asteroid deflection. (National Geographic also did a great job of examining these techniques recently in their "Naked Science: Asteroids" program- the winner, or most logical in my opinion, is the gravity tractor- and the ex-astronauts at the B612 Foundation agree). It also links to the upcoming 1st International Academy of Astronautics Planetary Defense Conference, which is April 27th-30th in Granada, Spain. There's one vacation I wish I had planned earlier, because geeking out with asteroid freaks by day and some Paella at night is sort of my idea of heaven......

.......what? Shutup. Yes, I know, I'm a dork.

Anyhoo, the Wired article still holds off from making the one point I'm always railing about that never seems to get more attention whenever the subject of asteroids comes up: We are spending WAY TOO SMALL of a percentage of NASA's budget on Asteroid Mitigation. Wired breaches the subject at the end of the article by pointing out what the current spending is for our funding of Asteroid Mitigation and Detection; around $4 MILLION.

NASA's projected budget for 2009 is around $17 BILLION

There is something seriously wrong with this breakdown in this humble tax payers perspective. We should know TODAY or at least SOON what is the best and most readily available method to deflect a potentially devastating Asteroid. We have ideas, but none of them are getting tested the way they should. NASA has less than 1 tenth of a percent of its budget devoted to asteroid mitigation.

For comparison, NASA spent $278 million on a satellite to measure co2 in the atmosphere, or more specifically one that does it better then the ones we already have. That satellite didn't make it, and is now at the bottom of the ocean.

I'm beginning to think the ESA is way ahead of NASA. And NASA hasn't been behind anyone on anything space related since Sputnik. This is just wrong to me for some reason. Maybe I'm crazy.

I haven't posted this before, but here's how I'll end this post-one of my favorite all time asteroid impact videos. Make sure you hit the high def-

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Here is a question you didn't hear asked tonight at the White House

"Mr President,

Your recent return of the Churchill bust to Britain, along with the DVD Gift errors seem to mean this administration is giving a cold shoulder to Britain, which is in great contrast to the previous administration. Is there anything personal behind your animosity that could be contributed to Churchill's decision to put down the Mau-Mau uprising in Kenya, where your grandfather was tortured by British troops?"

Nope. You probably won't hear that one for a while.