Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Climate change isn't manmade: 100 reasons why

100 reasons why mankind has no effect on climate change. Read them!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What does a million stars look like?

Behold one of the first images from the new VISTA (Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy) at the European Southern Observatory. For this photo the telescope was aimed toward the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, and includes about a million stars. Space doesn't look so desloate after all, does it?

(click for full view)

Monday, December 07, 2009

New Mitt Romney Book Coming in March

Hey, this is cool. Think I'll get it and give it a read.


On his first presidential visit to address the European nations, President Obama felt it necessary to apologize for America’s international power.  He repeated that apology when visiting Latin America, and again to Muslims worldwide in an interview broadcast on Al-Arabiya television.

In No Apology, Mitt Romney asserts that American strength is essential—not just for our own well-being, but for the world’s.  Governments such as China and a newly-robust Russia threaten to overtake us on many fronts, and Islam continues its dangerous rise.  Drawing on history for lessons on how great powers collapse, Romney shows how and why our national advantages have eroded.  From the long-term decline of our manufacturing base, our laggard educational system that has left us without enough engineers, scientists, and other skilled professionals, our corrupted financial practices that led to the current crisis, and the crushing impact of entitlements on our future obligations, America is in debt, overtaxed, and unprepared for the challenges it must face.

We need renewal: fresh ideas to cut through complicated problems and restore our strength.  Creative and bold, Romney proposes simple solutions to rebuild industry, create good jobs, reduce out of control spending on entitlements and healthcare, dramatically improve education, and restore a military battered by eight years of war.  Most important, he calls for a new commitment to citizenship, a common cause we all share, rather than a laundry list of individual demands.  Many of his solutions oppose President Obama’s policies, many also run counter to Republican thinking, but all have one strategic aim: to move America back to political and economic strength. 

Personal and dynamically-argued, No Apology is a call to action by a man who cares deeply about America’s history, its promise, and its future. 


Independent Science from Government-dependent Scientists? Not Likely.

Can climate "science" that's dependent on government funding result in independent findings? The answer is a resounding "NO," especially when seen in the light of centuries-old data that proves the climate evolves independent of human production of CO2. Read the excellent article detailing the fiction that is today's climate science.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

I Really Like AOL Radio

I found this music gem about a year ago. It has an incredible selection of music in a huge range of genres. It's pretty much my only place for internet radio. What's your favorite internet radio source?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Christmas Lights – Where Clever Meets Lazy

Love this. Why didn't I think of doing that??

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Should Romney's faith be an obstacle?

Are Christian conservative leaders citing religious differences to preempt Mitt Romney - along with a decent chance at taking back the presidency in 2012? It could be headed that way. Here's a good article on how the religious right may be shooting itself in the foot by shutting out those beyond a specific faith group.



Does anyone else get these HORRIBLE popups when on certain sites (including GMAIL??)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Funny Online Wal-Mart Banner

I'm not sure what I think about this ad, except it makes me laugh. In a laughing AT it, not WITH it sort of way.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

US Navy starts up sense and avoid project for UAVs

Umm....does this mean we're going to have unmanned drones patrolling our own skies? Scary...

US Navy researchers have announced a new contract aimed at developing a "sense and avoid" system that would allow unmanned air vehicles to fly in airspace regulated by the US Federal Aviation Administration.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is asking bidders to submit white papers by 1 April 2010 and full proposals by 3 August. Each document must describe how the bidders propose to solve one of unmanned aviation's biggest technical challenges and barriers to future growth.

The autonomous collision avoidance system must fit inside a 4.5-6.8kg (10-15lb) package, consume no more than 500W at peak power and not increase the UAV's drag.

The sensor system must provide spherical coverage of between 5km (2.7nm) and 10km around the UAV, but focus especially on "non-cooperative" aircraft, which lack transponders, flying towards the aircraft's nose.

The ONR plans to install the sense and avoid system on small tactical unmanned air systems (STUAS). With a major contract to supply the STUAS/Tier II system for the US Navy and US Marine Corps still in competition, the office has selected the AAI RQ-7 Shadow UAV and Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter for its demonstration.

Bidders will be allowed to use the mission sensors already installed on the Shadow and Fire Scout air vehicles as part of their sense and avoid packages.


Ha ha ha!

This is funny.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Now That's What I Call Littoral

Click the link to see video of the Aussie-built LCS in action. Okay, not much action, but it's some of the first actual footage I've seen. Pretty neat article, too.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Common Sense About Global Warming

Here's your reality check of the day, courtesy of Professor Ian Plimer:

We cannot stop carbon emissions because most of them come from volcanoes," he said. "It is a normal element cycled around in the earth and my science, which is looking back in time, is saying we have had a planet that has been a green, warm wet planet 80 per cent of the time. We have had huge climate change in the past and to think the very slight variations we measure today are the result of our life - we really have to put ice blocks in our drinks.

Let's stop wasting time and money on concocted issues and turn our attention to more important things. Like saving time and money.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Filling a Life Sentence Behind Bars? You Might Prefer Death Row.

In California, the quality of life--and even life expectancy--of death row inmates exceeds that of "lifers." Think about that next time you choose to commit a heinous crime.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Super Photo of Devil’s Tower

Photos like this remind me how much I stink at photography.

Google Storage At Cutrate Prices? Very, very tempting...

I'm an avid user of Google service. Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Reader, Blogger--and even the now defunct Google Notebook. The only thing I'm not using? Picasaweb, which is Google's answer to online photo storage and sharing.

Don't get me wrong. I love the Picasa desktop application--especially now that it offers facial recognition and easy geotagging support. And the way it integrates with your photos on Picasaweb--it's just sublime.

Despite all that, I'm a full-on Flickr user. I put everything on there. Outtakes, short videos, scans, you name it. The site says I have 19,590 items posted at this moment. Flickr makes it quite easy to upload and share (or not share) your photos with whomever you please. And it's a snap to organize things however you like. Plus, it offers unlimited storage--and unlimited uploads--for a mere $25/year.

So why Flickr instead of Picasaweb? Up until now, the main issue has been cost. I have far more photos than can be contained in the free 1GB limit imposed by Google. And purchasing 10 more GB cost $20--again, far short of my storage needs. I estimate I would need at least 40 GB, which need will only grow over time, and I'm not prepared to drop $40/year or more on that.

This week, that all changed. Google drastically reduced its storage price to $5 per year of 20GB storage.

I would require the 80GB plan, which costs only $20/year--and that would last a good while before needing even more space.

I am truly tempted to migrate my photos from Flickr to Picasaweb--except that

1) Despite my love of Google products, I'm quite happy with Flickr;

2) it would be a HUGE pain to move all the photos over; and

3) my annual storage needs will undoubtedly continue to rise, eventually pushing me over the 80GB limit, at which time I would need to purchase 200GB at a cost of $50/year. Which, despite the cut-rate cost per GB, is still too much for me to consider.

Five years from now, I very well may have 100GB of photos stored on Flickr, and unless Flickr doubles its rates between now and then, I'll still be paying less than I would on Picasaweb.

All that aside, I may still pay Google $5/year for an extra 20GB of storage. After all, the limit applies to all Google services--including Google Docs, on which I'm amassing quite a few PDFs and Word documents. To say nothing of my ever-growing email archive.

Summary: Great job, Google, for providing an awesome storage option! I just won't be purchasing any today.

Great Shot of the Oakland LDS Temple

This is the first temple I ever visited. I hope to return to it again some day.

Check out the photographer, who travels all over the United States (and world) creating one of the most prolific portfolios I've ever seen.

The Titans Will Clash Again

I had no idea they were remaking Clash of the Titans, but it only makes sense. I remember it being a very cool movie from my own childhood.

I'm not terribly impressed by the trailer, and hopefully it doesn't do the movie justice, which comes out in March 2010.

I'm just wondering: where's the little mechanical owl?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thomas Sowell Wisdom of the Day

"One of the few advantages to the country in having Congress overwhelmingly in the hands of one party is that the lack of need to compromise lets the leaders of that party reveal themselves for what they are-- in this case, people with unbounded arrogance and utter contempt for the right of ordinary people to live their lives as they see fit, much less the right to know as citizens what laws are going to be passed by their government. The question is whether voters will remember on election day in 2010."

What Does a Supernova Look Like After 400 Years?

It looks awesome, that's what it looks like.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Navy: A Global Force for Good

Very cool Navy TV spot.

The Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge

Having driven over the Hoover Dam during the construction of this thing, I say that pictures cannot do justice to the awe invoked by the sheer magnitude and engineering of the thing. These pictures, however, do come close.

via Likecool on 11/9/09

The pictures of the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge are amazing! The photos were shot in September 2009. Th..(more...)

Viruses Planting Child Porn On Your Computer?

Yet another reason to keep your computer safe from viruses.


Recently Discovered Never-Before-Seen Moon Landing Photo

Mormon "Swashbucklers" Spot Gets Award for Best PSA

This is fun.

One of the recent "Homefront" ads from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was recognized thusly,

Swashbucklers was recognized by community service directors for its relevance, high production quality, and exceptional combination of excitement, humor, and warmth. “The Swashbucklers PSA had a great message about parents spending
quality-family time with their children,” said Jana Gordon of WAVY-TV, Portsmith, VA’s NBC affiliate. “It was incredibly well-produced and the concept was so different than many of the other PSAs the station receives. I really enjoyed sharing that message with our viewers.”

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Windows 7 Upgrade Report

This weekend I upgraded from Windows Vista to Windows 7. The process was very easy, smooth and devoid of hangups. But given all the preparation that's recommended (backing up your system, verifying compatibility, etc) the whole thing took more than three hours.

But it was worth it. The Windows 7 interface is quite cool, the performance is snappy and there's support for every single application I was already running. Looks like Microsoft got this one right.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Windows 7 Arrives

Well, my Windows 7 upgrade disc finally arrived today. I plan on installing it this weekend; I hope all goes smoothly. Better make a system backup disc first, just in case. I'll report how it goes.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 16, 2009

For Fun...My Coworker

This dude sits one cube over from me.

Besides working with me, he designs and sells very cool t-shirts. Check them out!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Your Own Font - For Free

I remember sitting in a plane, leafing through an in-flight magazine maybe 10 years ago, and I came across an ad for creating your own custom font. Basically you wrote a bunch of characters in a series of squares, then mailed in the form along with around $200, and they mailed back to you a disk with your own font. I thought it was pretty groovy, but no way was I going to spend money on something I could reproduce by hand.

A decade later I find fontcapture.com, where you can do it all instantly, for free. Pretty cool--give it a try!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Public Opinion of Healthcare Plan: 41%

Take a clue, congress.

When 56% of your constituents oppose something, while only 41% support it, you'd better give that something the ax, or your jobs are toast. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Picasa 3.5 - A Fantastic Photo Program Just Got Tons Better

I've long been an avid fan of Picasa, Google's free photo organizer and simple editor. No other application comes close to ease of tagging, simple editing and exporting of images. Now they've added two long-awaited and very desirable features: facial recognition and geotagging.

Picasa's online companion, picasaweb.com, has featured facial recognition for many months now. I find the service rather limiting, however, and it lacks much of the social aspect of my preferred online photo site, flickr.com. Now that Google has ported that technology into the Picasa desktop client, I can enjoy the feature with abandon. Because I have a lot of faces in my collection to be recognized. Nearly 20,000 photos worth.

The other new feature, geotagging, isn't really new with Picasa 3.5, but it is a vast improvement from previous versions. It offers a nice big Google Map right in the window upon which to drop whatever photo you please. Very slick.

What makes everything nearly perfect is the Picasa2Flickr add-on that I use. By simply selecting the photos I wish to move online, then clicking the Send to Flickr button, the photos are automatically placed in the separate Flickr Uploadr application, ready for upload.

The nice thing about the Flickr/Google combination is that they share the basic tagging/geotagging functions. So whatever data I give a picture offline in Picasa is automatically recognized by Flickr. The one drawback is that Flickr doesn't recognize the facial data tags it gives when recognizing faces.

In short, thank you Google for finally adding these features to Picasa. You definitely beat Flickr to the punch on this one--and you have retained at least one solid fan.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Compassion by Compulsion

Allow me to interject some religious philosophy for a moment.

All you hear about in the news these last few weeks is the hubbub over the Democratic plan to socialize health care. The arguments against it are many and valid: debilitating cost to the taxpayer, loss of control of one's own health decisions, degraded quality of rationed medical care, the overall negative economic impact. The list goes on and on.

But there's an underlying violation dealt by socialized health care (and all types of government handouts, for that matter) that offends the very essence of what it means to be human: Agency.

Agency is the one thing that makes mankind unique in the universe. Self-directed thought, combined with the ability to act on that thought to a degree, is why we can rightly consider ourselves special.

Agency was a key concept in the movie The Matrix, illustrated when the computer program/virus Mr. Smith cannot comprehend the human hero's motivation to keep fighting regardless of his inevitable demise.
Agent Smith: Why, Mr. Anderson? Why do you do it? Why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you're fighting for something? For more that your survival? Can you tell me what it is? Do you even know? Is it freedom? Or truth? Perhaps peace? Yes? No? Could it be for love? ...You must be able to see it, Mr. Anderson. You must know it by now. You can't win. It's pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson? Why? Why do you persist?

Because I choose to.
Back to health care.

The proposed health care legislation is yet another giant step in the ongoing slide into what is portrayed as a "compassionate" society. Every government program that gives out something for nothing is created in the name of compassion. But is it really compassion? Compassion by whom? The lawmakers?

What good is compassion when it's mandated by another person? It even defies its own definition. Compassion comes about only through a personal choice to sacrifice for someone else. Compassion is the result of acting on one's own agency to help another.

Social programs, like the proposed health care legislation, invalidate any human choice in the matter. It takes away one's freedom to choose compassion. If I have $10 to give to a cause, the government would prefer to distribute it rather allow me the opportunity to give it of my own accord--thereby diminishing my agency and the core of my very humanity.

Giant social handouts are not programs of compassion. They're programs of compulsion. And when we become a society of compulsion, we have truly lost our freedom.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mormons: Conservators of Americansim?

Generally speaking, I don't typically hold much with what online magazine Slate has to say. It's too pretentious and "progressive" for my taste – despite a depth of content that sets it apart from other magazines.

Here's an article, though, that I found thoroughly intriguing. It discusses why Mormons are uniquely prepared to carry the culture of America beyond our nation's demise. The author is dispassionate and evenhanded, which makes it stand apart from typical Slate pieces. This one's worth reading. Even if you're not Mormon like me :)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Glenn Beck Wins vs. Barbara Walters/Whoopie Goldberg

It's not very often that I watch an entire minutes-long news segment on the Internet. But this one totally intrigued me: The real story behind the ambush of Glenn Beck on The View. Enjoy.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Summer Travel Photos

This year I enjoyed a cool roadtrip in the southwest. Here's a taste of the (mostly) desert beauty.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How Many Ways Can You Say Squid?

One thing I find mildly amusing about some news writers is what seems to be a personal challenge to use as many different synonym phrases for the subject matter as possible. For example, a story about a dog would include "pooch," "canine," "man's best friend," and others.

Today the subject is squid. In this article, the writer mentions:
"jumbo flying squid"
"sea monsters"
"carnivorous calamari"
"alien-like cephalopods"
deep-sea giants"
so-called Humboldt squid"
"red devils"
Apparently halfway through the piece the writer ran out of synonymical word combinations, and retreated to using the word squid throughout the rest of the article. She must have taken off her cutesy creative hat.

Romney the Early Frontrunner for 2012

It's very, very early, yet--but it's still noteworthy to point out that after Sarah Palin's spectacular crash and burn, Mitt Romney has emerged as frontrunner in the 2012 election. How the likes of Sarah Palin and John McCain rose to the top last year in the first place is beyond me--but let's leave that for another discussion.

From the Fox News article:

Of all the Republicans and Republican-leaning respondents polled, 26 percent favored Romney as the nominee while 21 percent preferred Palin. Nineteen percent favored former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and 14 percent chose former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

A lot can change in three years. However, I'm convinced that a devastated economy will remain the top issue as the Obama administration continues to gut the potential for free-market prosperity. This plays to Romney's strength, and will land him in a strong position to contend for the office.

Friday, June 26, 2009

My Legislators Are Plain Awful

I can thank my House Representative, Gary Peters, for helping to pass one of the most disastrous acts of Congress. I'm fuming. Here's my response to his politically pandered decision:
Dear Rep. Peters,

I am appalled and dismayed at your vote to pass the pleasantly named "American Clean Energy and Security Act." We didn't vote you in to kill even more of our jobs, nor to amass even more intrusive power in the hands of the federal government.

I'm disgusted. Your vote not only flies in the face of sound science and common economic sense, but it also completely ignores the will of your constituency, as polls show.

I am thankful that your term is only two years. Even though that's 1.5 years too long to wait to vote you out of office.
I like to think that my vote makes a difference. In Michigan, that thinking is wishful, I guess.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tell Your Representatives to Vote No on Climate Bill

The House is set to vote on the inherently destructive and artifice-laden climate change bill, which amounts to a huge tax burden and reward special interests with billions of dollars. If it passes, get ready to see more jobs move to countries with cheaper production.

I wrote my Representative. Write yours!

Dr. Representative Peters,

Please vote NO on the upcoming climate change bill.

The bill's proponents cite studies that don't come close to passing even the most casual scientific scrutiny. The carbon gas reduction in the bill will do very little to change climate--nor should it. Rather, the legislation will simply drag down the economy, complicating an already shaky recovery.

It is very important to me that you vote NO on the bill. Thanks for representing my interests.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Watched X-Files 2: I Want To Believe

[For those who care, there are spoilers here.]

Scully is a physician.

Mulder is in hiding.

FBI brings them back to work with a psychic pedophile priest to solve an abduction.

They figure out that this Russian dude is the bad guy, harvesting body parts for Frankenstein-like experiments in rural West Virginia.

There are no aliens.

6.8 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Politicians Overwhelmingly Deserve Their Reputation.

Why is it that so many politicians can't uphold the most basic tenets of honesty, integrity and morality?

The latest example of broken promises is Sen. John Ensign (R), Nevada, who admitted to having an affair with a staffer after being extorted for money.

John Ensign with his clearly repulsive wife.

This is one of the tamer admissions in the past couple of years. Recall John Edwards who repeatedly denied having an affair before being forced to come clean and end his presidential bid. Or Larry Craig, who was prosecuted for soliciting sex in a Minnesota bathroom. Or...well, I could go on for hours.

Now I'm breathtakingly far from perfect, and I'm glad I won't be the one with the gavel on Judgment Day. But is it really that hard to keep a promise? Is it really that hard to keep your hands out of the cookie jar? Is it really that hard to deliver on campaign promises while avoiding trickery or clever wordplay?

What is it about people who run for office that makes them so corruptible? I'm surrounded by people at work and church who display much more integrity. I'd choose any number of them before voting for any of my current elected officials.

Monday, June 15, 2009

I Watched Gran Torino

So Gran Torino was about as interesting as the filthy language throughout.

Clint Eastwood is old and lives in a bad neighborhood.

An Asian gang picks on people.

Particularly this dude and his sister.

So Eastwood gets himself killed by the gang in front of witnesses so they'll be locked up.

And a bunch of stuff about family, culture and regret. Plus, it's in Detroit.

6.6 out of 10 stars.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I Rented The Day the Earth Stood Still

Basically, it goes like this:

Keanu Reeves is an alien visiting Earth to pass judgment (in the form of death) on the human race in order to save the planet.

Jennifer Connelly is a scientist who tries to convince him to give humans another chance. So he does.

Oh, and stuff gets destroyed before he's convinced.

Plus, there are big swirly balls.

Really, there's nothing else worth mentioning.

5.2 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Public Healthcare? The Doctors Say NO

President Obama's rhetoric often anchors itself on meaningless rhetoric and twisted half-truths. But now there's one talking point he can't make any more – that most doctors favor government-run healthcare.

According to the New York Times:
the American Medical Association is letting Congress know that it will oppose creation of a government-sponsored insurance plan, which President Obama and many other Democrats see as an essential element of legislation to remake the health care system.
Not being a doctor, I'm very unversed in the intricacies of medicine, economics and politics, but the A.M.A.'s position makes logical sense:
“The A.M.A. does not believe that creating a public health insurance option for non-disabled individuals under age 65 is the best way to expand health insurance coverage and lower costs. The introduction of a new public plan threatens to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70 percent of Americans.”If private insurers are pushed out of the market, the group said, “the corresponding surge in public plan participation would likely lead to an explosion of costs that would need to be absorbed by taxpayers.”
It will be interesting to see if Obama's gift of salesmanship can overpower the nation's most powerful and respected voice in medicine. It will be tragic if it can.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Black Clouds and Silver Linings

Welcome redemption

I had almost lost the faith. Dream Theater's previous album, Systematic Chaos was appropriately named; it was a formulaic descent into an uninspired, chaotic (albeit technically masterful) mess.

Black Clouds and Silver Linings is a complete reversal. Welcome back melody, solid structure, moving harmonies and emotion-laced composition to the hard-hitting riffs we know and love.

All the songs on the album are outstanding. My favorites include The Shattered Fortress, which satisfyingly concludes the 12-part recovery saga by touching on elements of the previous journey.

Wither is the most radio-oriented piece on the album, and for me is a highlight. Full of feeling, LaBrie's soaring harmonies offer a welcome break between the heavier pieces on the album.

The true masterpiece of the album is The Count of Tuscany. The epic 19-minute piece combines all the most progressive flavors we've seen from DT, and it stands shoulder to shoulder with their other great epic one-piece, A Change of Seasons.

This is not an album I had to work to get into. It hooked me from the first measure and continues to delight. Consequently, I give it a very solid five stars.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Romney Discusses Obama's Foreign Policy Approach on CNN

Romney highlights some of the early foreign policy failures of the Obama administration. This is all common sense--but why is everyone giving Obama a pass on it?

Another Socialized Medicine Success Story

Do we really want socialized medicine? Really? You might want to get the opinion of Britain's Leslie Fletcher, who is being denied a drug – routinely given to others – to save her sight because she lives in the wrong area.

Economically, the cost of treating the bleeding under her eye is much less than the cost of putting her on disability – which is what will happen if she goes blind.

A National Health Service spokesman responded:
“Our Individual Case Panel makes decisions about whether to fund treatments for conditions which fall outside guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and are therefore not routinely commissioned by the NHS.”
Behold the power of stupidity of socialized healthcare by committee. By all means, let's follow Britain's example.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Obama Asks for Budget Cuts - by 0.002%

President Obama is really showing some spending restraint here. He's calling on his cabinet members to cut $100,000,000 from a budget he has inflated to $3,550,000,000,000. That's less than two thousandths of a percentage point.

Farewell, kids' future.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Miserly Obama Administration

I wonder what the average annual charitable donation is for our illustrious congresspeople. If Obama and Biden are remotely representative, the amount is truly pitiful.

2008 charitable contributions (as percent of income):

Obama: 5.7%
Biden: 0.3%

It's no wonder these people have no faith in goodwill of humanity. They can't fathom how someone would be willing to give more than a few percentage points of their income to charity. Maybe that's why they only see a bigger government as the solution.

On the flip side, the previous administration:

Bush: 23%
Cheney: 70%

So the people who are going to raise our taxes through the roof are the same people who have more trouble parting with their own cash to help others. The contradiction is nauseating.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Dear Obama: Spend Yor Billions on Fusion Technology

One of the greatest debacles in energy and budgetary policy is the dumping of billions of dollars into unsustainable "green" alternative energy programs like wind and solar power. These technologies have far-reaching negative side effects that short-sighted politicians refuse to acknowledge.

I'm all for clean, abundant renewable energy. But instead of committing our children's future to programs that will create more problems than they will solve, let's invest in fusion energy.

It's the long-sought panacea of our energy woes--and it appears to be another step closer to reality. Behold the laser-induced fusion reaction.
The National Ignition Facility has already test-fired all 192 giant lasers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California as part of this effort. The lasers will eventually focus their power on compressing and heating a single, pea-sized fuel capsule to more than 180 million degrees Fahrenheit in order to trigger thermonuclear fusion.

"One of the major activities of the NIF is to explore the basics of fusion energy, building a miniature sun on Earth that could supply limitless, safe and carbon-free energy," said Ed Moses, National Ignition Facility (NIF) program director.

Serious ignition testing scheduled for 2010 would focus 500 trillion watts of power on the pea-sized capsule containing deuterium and tritium fuel. NIF has already produced 25 times more energy than any other existing laser system, and also became the first fusion laser facility to break the megajoule barrier and create enough energy to power 10,000 100-watt light bulbs for a second.
Why isn't this technology receiving more attention? Is the green movement so afraid of real science that it's not including it in its memos to the mainstream media? If the Obama administration can consider hamstringing the economy through cap-and-trade schemes, surely they can discuss an alternative that makes the ubiquitous (albeit vacuous) carbon emission issue moot.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Kevin Gilbert and Prognostic Pop

In 1995 a tragically unknown talent named Kevin Gilbert put out an album filled with crisp, biting lyrics and unforgettable hooks. More tragically, he died shortly after at age 29.

His music could be described as "progressive pop." It's sweet and sardonic, dissonant and refined. But what makes it all stick: the message behind the notes.

I was reminded of a Gilbert song while reading one of the countless articles about who's to blame for the country's economic mess. Clearly, there's plenty of blame to go around. But the preponderance of it sits on the shoulders of one demographic--here mentioned by Gilbert 14 years ago:
Goodness Gracious of apathy I sing
The baby boomers had it all and wasted everything
Now recess is almost over
and they won't get off the swing
I couldn't agree more. I wonder if Gilbert would be gratified to know in 2009 that recess is, indeed, over.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

LDS General Conference on Twitter

Just for kicks, I decided to follow the Latter-day Saint (Mormon) General Conference on Twitter while watching it over the Internet, and even offer a few comments here and there. The tag everyone used for their tweets was #ldsconf.

Which turns out to be the number-one tag on Twitter during these times:

I don't know how many people use twitter--but it seems pretty significant to me that the most popular tag was that of the LDS General Conference. Of course, tomorrow it will fall back to Britney this and Obama that.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Okay, Obama is Scaring Me

So all the banks have received all sorts of government cash in the form of TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) funds. Even for those banks who didn't really want the money, the administration basically threatened them into taking it. To what end?

Control. If a bank is sitting on millions or billions in government money, the government then has the power to dictate how that money is used.

But what if a bank wishes to give back its TARP allotment? With interest? Good idea, right?

Not to the Obama administration.

From an article in the Wall Street Journal:
Under the Bush team a prominent and profitable bank, under threat of a damaging public audit, was forced to accept less than $1 billion of TARP money. The government insisted on buying a new class of preferred stock which gave it a tiny, minority position. The money flowed to the bank. Arguably, back then, the Bush administration was acting for purely economic reasons. It wanted to recapitalize the banks to halt a financial panic.

Fast forward to today, and that same bank is begging to give the money back. The chairman offers to write a check, now, with interest. He's been sitting on the cash for months and has felt the dead hand of government threatening to run his business and dictate pay scales. He sees the writing on the wall and he wants out. But the Obama team says no. The bank has also been threatened with "adverse" consequences if its chairman persists. That's politics talking, not economics.
So now the government can assume nearly unlimited control over banks forced to hold onto government loans that those banks don't want. It's heavy-handed politics at its scariest...so far.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Mitt Romney Was Right About Detroit

Back in November of last year, Mitt Romney advocated letting distressed automakers fall into a managed bankruptcy rather than be given "bridge loans" to keep them afloat. He was roundly criticized for not having enough faith in the American auto industry, nor enough sympathy for the plight of auto workers receiving free health care and guaranteed retirement perks.

He wrote in his op-ed in the New York Times:
Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.
Today, tens of billions in government-backed loans later, it looks like GM and Chrysler are bankruptcy-bound. If they had listened to Romney six months ago, the painful but necessary restructuring would be well underway, and light may even be shining at the end of the auto makers' tunnel.

Instead, we're in a deeper hole and the auto makers are only now realizing that their ship is too obsolete and outdated to float.

For reasons such as this I still haven't removed my Mitt '08 bumper sticker. I can endure the tackiness for another few weeks, I think.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Haiku: Yardwork

Moldy, matted leaves
and patchy, crunchy dead grass.
This winter was hard.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Haiku: The Physical

I'm violated
from every direction.
But hey--it's covered.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Why Temples

A neat little video on the purpose of Mormon temples.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Obama: The Perfect Manchurian Candidate

Here's a rather cutting article about a hypothetical president whose sole purpose in getting elected was to destroy a country. It then compares this character with our current president. And the resemblance is striking.

It's worth a quick, easy read.

DUH of the Day

Most politicians are masters of speech without substance, and this holds true on an international level. Case in point, from the G10 spokesman.
"We have a number of elements that are suggesting that we are approaching the moment where you would have a pick up," European Central Bank head Jean-Claude Trichet said in his capacity as spokesman for the G10 central bankers meeting at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).
Approaching the moment of a pick up? Let's define approaching:
- verb: to come nearer to
So if we EVER get out of this recession, then by definition we are approaching a pick up. Way to really stick your neck out on that prediction there, M. Trichet. You got paid how much to reach that conclusion?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Giving to Charity? That's a Taxing.

When times are hard, people are out of work, and charitable giving takes on an especially significant role in caring for the needy--what is one of the worst things a government can do?

Yet this is precisely what President Obama has proposed. Taxing charitable donations from those who can actually afford to give more. His proposal would affect individuals earning $200K and married couples earning $250K. This amounts to a greater tax penalty for married couples than for single individuals.

I think Obama has covered his bases when it comes to doing harm: the very poor, the charitable organizations and the institute of marriage.

I can't conceive the levels of hubris required to even suggest such an idea. I can only wonder if this scheme is simply a red herring to take the focus away from the rest of Obama's disastrous budget plans.

I recommend that anyone reading this contact their representatives in Washington and tell them to abandon this absurdity when it comes to a vote.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Mormons and the Mainstream

Here's a very insightful article from The American Conservative magazine discussing how the religious right is finding the grassroots organization and fundraising capabilities of members of the Church of Jesus Christ more attractive. It cites Mormon support of California's Proposition 8 that defines marriage between a man and a woman.
After Prop 8, evangelical opinion leaders exhorted their audiences to stop worrying and learn to love the Latter Day Saints. John Mark Reynolds, a professor at evangelical Biola University wrote, “In the battle for the family…… traditional Christians have no better friends than the Mormon faithful.” A petition to thank the LDS church for its participation in the Prop 8 campaign circulated on conservative websites, and James Dobson signed it. Presbyterian writer John Schroeder said, “We Evangelicals must thank our Mormon cousins. …… They, along with our Catholic brethren, were better organized than us and that provided a base from which we could all work together to get this job done.”
Is this a continuing trend or a flash in the pan? Time will tell--but a lot can happen in the space of just a few years.

Mitt Romney Maintains His Relevance

After losing a presidential election – especially a primary – candidates typically fade into the background and suffer a severely diminished sphere of influence. Not so with Mitt Romney. The Washington Post places him as the #2 most important Republican to watch.
Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, has the highest work rate of any modern politician we have observed closely. During his run for president last year, Romney's schedule would often be packed with six events a day, a stunning level of activity. He's keeping up that breakneck pace so far in 2009 -- using his Free and Strong America PAC to seed donations to up and coming politicians while penning editorials and providing counsel to congressional Republicans on economic issues. Another major advantage for Romney: much -- though not all -- of his political team has stayed in touch and intact , meaning that if and when he flicks the switch they will be ready to go from, well, day one.
Considering that the country will still be digging itself out of the cosmic-sized pit that Obama and Congress are leading us headlong into, Romney's economic credentials will be more relevant than ever.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Charlie Bit My Finger

This was just too funny not to post.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tripping the Light Fantastic - or Just Tripping?

Here's one way to combat your depression over the weather or the economy or your tragedy du jour. It happened today at lunch. She went on for about 10 minutes.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Obama: From Crafter of Hope to Monger of Fear

In his presidential campaign, when Barack Obama resuscitated the phrase "just words" in a speech defending his lack of leadership experience, he hit the nail on the head. In the business of politics, words, for better or for worse, make all the difference.

For example, Obama's campaign theme was HOPE. He carried a message of hope, even without any backing of substance. His words, though lacking the weight of logic and reason, made a huge difference in getting him elected.

Recently, Obama's words helped to push through the biggest governmental power grab in generations--again abandoning sound reasoning in favor of soaring rhetoric. Or, in this case, fear mongering.

In the Wall Street Journal, Bradley R. Schiller expounds on the president's recent rhetorical tactics:
President Barack Obama has turned fear mongering into an art form. He has repeatedly raised the specter of another Great Depression. First, he did so to win votes in the November election. He has done so again recently to sway congressional votes for his stimulus package.

Mr. Obama's analogies to the Great Depression are not only historically inaccurate, they're also dangerous. Repeated warnings from the White House about a coming economic apocalypse aren't likely to raise consumer and investor expectations for the future. In fact, they have contributed to the continuing decline in consumer confidence that is restraining a spending pickup. Beyond that, fear mongering can trigger a political stampede to embrace a "recovery" package that delivers a lot less than it promises. A more cool-headed assessment of the economy's woes might produce better policies.
Today the party in power has abandoned sound legislation for political gain, empowered to do so by a president who has mastered the rhetorical skills needed to persuade an increasingly weak-minded electorate. I don't hold out a lot of hope for our children.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thank the Democrats

Eight hours to read 1100+ pages? Examination and debate was never the intention here. I'm fumed.

Literally, Please Improve Your Vocabulary

One pet peeve I share with many others is misuse of the word, "literally." And this dude misuses it twice in one story regarding this week's collision of two satellites.

Infraction #1:
"At physical contact at orbital speeds, a hypersonic shock wave bursts outwards through the structures," Oberg said in e-mailed comments. "It literally shreds the material into confetti and detonates any fuels."
Yeah, the impact of two huge satellite spontaneously produces "small pieces or streamers of colored paper."

Infraction #2:
"The collision offers a literally heaven-sent opportunity for the Obama administration to take forceful, visible and long-overdo measures to address a long-ignored issue of 'space debris,'" Oberg said.
However this happened, I'm sure that "God and the angels" are involved, and want Obama to address the issue.

Yeah, I know he's not a writer by trade. That doesn't mean it still can't bug me.

Politics Always Trumps Economics

It's the sad and unfortunate truth, as explained in the article.
"I think (doing) nothing would have been better," said Ed Yardeni, an investment analyst who's usually an optimist, in an interview with McClatchy. He argued that the plan fails to provide the right incentives to spur spending.

"It's unfocused. That is my problem. It is a lot of money for a lot of nickel-and- dime programs. I would have rather had a lot of money for (promoting purchase of) housing and autos . . . . Most of this plan is really, I think, aimed at stabilizing the situation and helping people get through the recession, rather than getting us out of the recession. They are actually providing less short-term stimulus by cutting back, from what I understand, some of the tax credits."


Another reason that some analysts frown on the stimulus is the social spending it includes on things such as the Head Start program for disadvantaged children and aid to NASA for climate-change research. Both may be worthy efforts, but they aren't aimed at delivering short-term boosts to economic activity.

"All this is 25 years of government expansion jammed into one bill and sold as stimulus," said Brian Riedl, the director of budget analysis for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy research group.
You reap what you sow. And you deserve whom you elect. Bravo, America. Bravo.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

UPDATE: Stabenow Backs Off Fairness Doctrine

Hey, it looks like my email to my dear senator had an impact. This article looks into the skirmishes between right-wing radio hosts and left-wing politicians, citing Sean Hannity's role in bringing the issue of the Fairness Doctrine to the forefront. For the record, I wasn't aware of Hannity's role, rather forming my opinions from what I read on Google News.

I'm glad, though, that Stabenow backed off her earlier comments. Nobody likes people yelling at you, and apparently her skin is thin enough for it to matter.

On a related note, Camille Paglia says this about the Fairness Doctrine:
The failure of liberals to master the vibrant medium of talk radio remains puzzling. To reach the radio audience (whether the topic is sports, politics or car repair), a host must have populist instincts and use the robust common voice. Too many Democrats have become arrogant elitists, speaking down in snide, condescending tones toward tradition-minded middle Americans whom they stereotype as rubes and buffoons. But the bottom line is that government surveillance of the ideological content of talk radio is a shocking first step toward totalitarianism.
Read the previously posted email I sent to Stabenow.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Another Letter to my Reps

This time it's about the "stimulus" bill. I'm not quite as cordial in this one.
Please vote AGAINST the final stimulus bill.

Dear [Senator/Representative] [Levin/Stabenow/Peters]

I am writing to let you know I am extremely disturbed by the "stimulus" bills passed by the House and Senate, and that I am strongly against final passage of any legislation that even remotely resembles what is currently on the table.

This bill is so incredibly and blatantly filled with earmarks, and so devoid of real immediate stimulus, that I'm dumbstruck that anyone could actually support it. Even the Congressional Budget Office says that the bill would leave us worse off in 10 years than if Congress didn't pass anything at all.

Supporting this bill is insanity. I fervently urge you to reconsider your earlier support of this legislation if you want to retain any semblance of common sense. Again, your voting record on this issue has me dumbfounded.
Did you know that if all those hundreds of billions of dollars were given back to the people, it would pay off almost everyone's mortgage? Instead, let's fund long-term "social infrastructure." Give me a break.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Mitt Romney Quote of the Day

In the final analysis, we know that only the private sector -- entrepreneurs and businesses large and small -- can create the millions of jobs our country needs. The invisible hand of the market always moves faster and better than the heavy hand of government.
Taken from remarks to the House Republican Conference. Read the entire excellent excerpt.

Economists Against Stimulus Package? Impossible!

How in the world can economists discard the foregone conclusion that huge government intervention is needed RIGHT NOW to avoid financial catastrophe? Oh--because they understand economics, and don't turn a blind eye to history.

Here's an ad from libertarian the CATO institute castigating the Obama administration and its support of the proposed government "stimulus" package, signed by various faculty from hudreds of universities. Click on the image to read the entire piece.

So if reducing the government burden on the economy is Economics 101, why are all the leftie politicians so gung ho about the stimulus package? As White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel put it, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste." Yeah, way to put country first there, Rahm.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Letter To My Senator

After reading this bit linked from Drudge, I responded to my dear senator with this email message:
Dear Senator Stabenow,

I was alarmed and dismayed to learn today of your intention to push for "accountability" on the airwaves. Reinstating the Fairness Doctrine would only diminish the accountability of radio stations toward their customers, the advertisers. Worse, rather than increasing the value of the marketplace of ideas, it would severely limit the sort of information and entertainment the radio listening public clearly wants. On top of that, it would place an undue financial burden on radio stations forced to air unpopular programming to meet an arbitrary political quota, naturally resulting in lower advertising revenue and diminished service to the listening public.

I strongly urge you to drop your support of the Fairness Doctrine, or whatever you decide to call it. It is the height of hubris to dictate to the market what it can and cannot listen to.
Before now, I was only mildly annoyed at Stabenow. But today I'm putting her on Hummus or Hubris. It's only fitting.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

This looks cool.

If only I owned a game console.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

This is pretty cool

Follow the link to see a pretty cool animated .gif graphic.