Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Supporting The Troops But Nothing They Do.
Lefty anti-war groups are opposing Junior ROTC efforts in a local high school. According to Stephanie Jennings, a local peace activist, "'Every student has a right to education and should not be tracked into a war zone,' [and] schools with large minority, low-income student populations tend to be targeted for military recruitment." (Here.)
What's interesting about the main San Diego group opposed to U.S. military action is that it formed in September 2001. (Here.) Hmmmm. I wonder what could have happened in that month?
It's kind of hard to respect a group that formed to oppose U.S. military action just as the country was preparing to fight a defensive war after having been attacked. Actually, for me it's impossible to respect such a group. To some people, apparently, nothing is worth fighting for.
Technorati: war, terrorism,peace.
Up In The Air With The Robotic Bird, Man.
Technorati: birds, science, aviation.
No Such Thing As A Free Lunch: Part 2.
Food prices will increase if we shift from oil to biofuels, according to a study by The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. In the United States alone,
"Quantities of maize [what we Americans call "corn"] grown for fuel have already doubled since 2003. Where is it all being planted? In 2006, maize for fuel accounted for one-fifth of maize production in the United States. By the end of 2016, the period under review for the report, it will have increased to 32 percent of maize production. ... The report confirms that grain prices are expected to remain higher than they have been in the past decade." (Here.)You might think making food more expensive in order to fuel automobiles would be a good reason to get our fuels from things we wouldn't otherwise eat. But that would mean you aren't thinking like your typical environmentalist. The goals of environmentalists are much grander than protecting the environment. Their goals are to change the way we live our lives at every level. So, instead of keeping fuel and food production separate, we can change our diets and eat mostly
"...lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, and other dried legumes ... Variety of flavor is added with vegetable like potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, onions and garlic. Serve them with rice ... and you have a cheap, nutritious and filling meal."Sorry, my ancestors didn't crawl their way to the top of the food chain so I could live on vegetables and beans.
Biofuels are likely to affect more than just food prices and diet. They could also harm the environment they are supposed to save. Leading environmental groups in the United Kingdom warn
"that without proper management, cultivation of crops for fuel, electricity and heat could cause further declines of farmland wildlife, damage the character of landscapes, harm historic and archaeological sites and damage soil and water quality." (Here.)There's that phrase, "without proper management." And who gets to do the proper managing? In the words of one of the environmental leaders in the UK,
"'We're particularly concerned about potential environmental damage from intensively grown biofuel crops used for transport fuels. This report is a timely reminder that government has a key role to play to ensure that the growth of bioenergy in the UK is sustainable, working in partnership with conservation organisations, farmers and land managers.'"O, what a surprise, the government. Is it any wonder governments all over the world are rushing to embrace apocalyptic environmentalism? It's a compelling rationale for more and more state power.
Technorati: environment, environmentalism, global warming, biofuels.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Tony Gwynn And The All-Time Padres.
This was "Tribute to Tony" weekend at San Diego's Petco Park. The highlight was the unveiling of a huge statue of Tony at bat. (That's it to the left taken by me at Sunday's game.) Gwynn is Mr. Padre in San Diego and he's a universally beloved player here. He's number one on any list of all-time Padres.
Sports writer Bill Center lists his selections for the all-time Padres team in his new book, Padres Essential. (A fun read for San Diego fans, despite its typos and some spelling errors. If you love the Padres, buy the book.) Center fills his list as if he were selecting a regular-season roster and he ends up with 25 players --- 10 pitchers and 15 position players. As a fan of the Padres since the day the team entered the major leagues, I'd say he got the starting lineup right, with one exception.
Right field, Tony Gwynn
Center field, Steve Finley
Left field, Dave Winfield
Shortstop, Garry Templeton
Third base, Ken Caminiti
Second base, Mark Loretta
First base, Nate Colbert
Catcher, Benito Santiago
Ken Caminiti was a great third baseman for the Padres, a position the team has not had much success filling over the years. It's hard to overstate how much San Diego fans liked Cammy and how important he was to the team's success. His on-field accomplishments are legendary here.
But it turns out Cammy was juiced when he played. As beloved a player as he is here in San Diego, and no matter how amazing his accomplishments were, he cheated. Because he did, I would keep him off my list of all-time Padres. By default, my all-time Padre at third would be Graig Nettles, the man who helped the Padres make it to their first World Series in 1984.
Technorati: padres, mlb, baseball.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Unclean Beast Saves Boy; Just Another Day In A Dog's Life.
Technorati: dogs, Michael Vick, Islam.
Carnival Of Space Times Twelve.
Labels: Carnival of Space
Carpenter, Stafford, And Cernan, O My!
Carpenter spoke movingly of missing his former colleague, Wally Schirra, who recently died. He and Stafford both gave high praise to Schirra's sense of humor and told of how much it helped during the early years when things would go wrong. Carpenter told a story about when the original seven astronauts were made honorary members of the Texas state police, Schirra joked, "no more speeding tickets for us."
Carpenter said that during the 1960s competition with the Soviet Union was the main motivator for NASA. That competition drove NASA, and the Soviets, to do better work.
Carpenter said his heroes were Jacques Cousteau, John F. Kennedy, and Werner von Braun. Kennedy because he inspired us to go to the moon and von Braun because he showed us how to get there. Cernan's hero is his father.
Cernan said he's often asked what he would have done if his lunar lander had not taken off from the moon. He said he's thought more about what he would have done if the lander had not been able to burn for at least 7 minutes and 7 seconds on liftoff from the moon. That amount of time was necessary to reach orbit. Anything less and the lander would have entered a decaying orbit and eventually crashed on the Lunar surface. He said he doesn't know what he would have done and that it doesn't matter. He said there was nothing that could be done to avoid the risk and the mission was worth it.
All three astronauts agreed that the most beautiful sight in space is the Earth.
In a telling comment about how much change happened in the 20th Century, Cernan told of how Stafford's mother crossed the plains to Oklahoma in a covered wagon and lived to see the day when her son would fly to the moon. Cernan suggested that progress has slowed too much since the days of Apollo.
Stafford gave some advice on how to get into space on a NASA rocket. Go to school and study science. Get a Phd. Design an experiment that can only be done in microgravity. Designate yourself principal investigator. Send a proposal to NASA. Get ready to fly into space.
Cernan told the children in the audience to have a dream. He told them to dream the impossible. He said they should do what they love to do and do their best at it. They may not end up the best at what they do but their efforts will pay off. He said that he dreamed as a child of one day flying off aircraft carriers. He never dreamed he would ever fly into space. But his dream of flying and his hard work at it put him in a position to fly into space when the opportunity presented itself.
The museum displayed a full-size Mercury capsule where the astronauts spoke. That's it below hanging from the ceiling. Note its size compared to the nearby cars and airplane.
Technorati: NASA, astronauts.
* Many thanks to my fellow Mars Society of San Diego member, Gerry Williams, for graciously allowing me to use the photo he took of the astronauts. That one photo was much better than any of the half a dozen or so I took of the three men.
Prince Of The SUVs.
Anyway, to me the car-based SUV is the ideal vehicle. It's not a gigantic vehicle like many SUVs. Its station wagon-like design allows for flexibility in carrying passengers and cargo. But its design is much cooler than a station wagon's.
For SUV lovers like me, who want to use less gas and even pollute less, the Ford Escape Hybrid could be the perfect vehicle; SUV design and flexibility with economy car mileage. I traded in my old Subaru Forester the other day for the new Escape Hybrid. This is it outside my garage. Automatic transmission, moon roof, heated leather seats, satellite radio, all the amenities. The Escape hybrid drives like a regular SUV except when gliding along silently at city-street speeds in all electric mode. Instead of the 20-25 mpg I was getting with the Forester, I'm getting 32-35 mpg in the Escape. And its hybrid technology appeals to the techie in me.
As much as I like my new Escape hybrid, I'm looking forward to when the Venture One hits the road -- 100 mpg at 100 mph. (Here.) This is the European version in action.*
Technorati: environment, oil, hybrids, hybrid cars.
*Photo from flytheroad.com.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
The Birds Of Paradise: Part 11.
This hawk (a red shouldered hawk, I believe) has taken to visiting my backyard in the morning. (Photo to left taken at a distance; poor quality cellphone photo to right is of my back fence.) He hasn't gotten one of the many finches, mourning doves, and sparrows that use my feeders. He's so nonchalant about flying into the yard that it's almost as if he doesn't really want to eat, he just wants to show the other birds who's boss. Maybe he likes watching all the little birds fly off in a panic as he floats down into the yard. His visits remind me of a line from a Neil Young song. All the little birds that visit my yard travel with other birds. The hawk arrives alone. "Danger bird, he flies alone." (Here.)
Technorati: birds, birding, photography.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Theories, Laws, And Facts.
Skintight Suits For The Earthbound And Spacebound.
"The suits could also help astronauts stay fit during the six-month journey to Mars. Studies have shown that astronauts lose up to 40 percent of their muscle strength in space, but the new outfits could be designed to offer varying resistance levels, allowing the astronauts to exercise against the suits during a long flight to Mars.Having potential uses on Earth should help with attracting money for development and to answer complaints some might have about spending money on space instead of on problems here on Earth.
Although getting the suits into space is the ultimate goal, [Professor Dava] Newman is also focusing on Earth-bound applications in the short term, such as athletic training or helping people walk."
Technorati: NASA, science, MIT.
Revealing Secrets To Try Terrorists In Open Court.
"[Shannen] Rossmiller's terrorist-hunting might never have been exposed had it not been for the [Spc. Ryan] Anderson case. Called as a witness, she fought hard to keep her identity a secret. Anderson's right to confront his accuser won out." (Here.)Anderson's citizenship, presence in the United States, and military status compelled his open trial in a military court and resulted in the exposure of a valuable American intelligence asset. The example of Rossmiller's exposure is one more reason why giving terrorists the same rights held by uniformed soldiers and regular criminals would be a mistake.
Technorati: terrorism, war, jihad.
Labels: War on Jihad
President More Popular Than Democratic Congress.
"While Bush’s job approval rating has stabilized, opinion of the work Congress is doing continues to plummet. The Zogby poll shows just 14% give Congress positive marks, while 83% give it negative marks – this in the wake of an acrimonious scrimmage over immigration reform that failed to pass muster in the Senate and died, experts have said, until after the 2008 presidential election." (Here.)But that's not the best part. The best part is the 14% approval rate is less than the 23% rate for Republicans just before the 2006 election. Ha!
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Tis The Season For California To Have No Budget
Skelton is only partly correct at the end of his column when he blames the impasse on California's requirement of a 2/3 legislative majority to pass a budget. The supermajority requirement does make passing a budget difficult. But the real problem is lack of accountability.
Although California has no budget life goes on as normal. Most state employees continue to get their paychecks. State benefits continue to get paid. The only people who suffer are vendors under contract with the state and they are a small constituency with little or no political clout.
So why should legislators care? Voters aren't affected so they will not take it out on the politicians come election time. But if the state were forced to shut down when there was no budget, there'd be a 2/3 vote by the deadline every year. Fear focuses the mind.
Technorati: california,politics, schwarzenegger.
Monday, July 16, 2007
iDon't Think So.
"Users would have to submit their iPhone to Apple for battery service. The service will cost users $79, plus $6.95 for shipping, and will take three business days.Wow, $114.95 just to replace a battery. That's user friendly.
The procedure is similar to the one it has for the company's best-selling iPod players, but because some users won't want to live without their cell phones, Apple is also offering a loaner iPhone for $29 while the gadget is under repair."
The Carnival Is In Town.
Labels: Carnival of Space
Mere Splinters Off The True Cross
"'Christ 'established here on earth' only one church,' said the document, released as the pope vacations at a villa in Lorenzago di Cadore in Italy's Dolomite mountains.Well, yeah.
The other [Protestant] communities 'cannot be called 'churches' in the proper sense' because they do not have apostolic succession – the ability to trace their bishops back to Christ's original apostles – and therefore their priestly ordinations are not valid, it said.'" (Here.)
This was too much for one online commentator, who happens to belong to one of Christianity's splinter churches, The Episcopal Church USA, although he boycotts his own church because of its heretical teachings. His column criticized the Vatican statement and characterized it as divisive. He concluded with the following:
"In the current Protestant and Reformed theological vernacular, 'catholic' with a lower-case 'c' connotes oneness—the 'full Body of Christ' —all believers united as one church—as it was used in the early church. 'Catholic' with a capital 'C' refers to the institution of the Roman Church.Actually, Jesus would be neither. He was born a Jew, he lived a Jew, and he died a Jew. So, if he ever decides to come back, he'd be a Jew. A Jew for Jesus, probably, but a Jew, nevertheless.
The question remains, 'Is the Pope, first and foremost, a Catholic or a catholic?' A more essential question might be, 'Which would Jesus be?'" (Here.)
Technorati: christianity, catholic church, jew, jesus.
The David Wells Show
I'm a Padres fan but I'm no fan of Wells. San Diegans love him because he's a hometown boy but Wells has not been loyal to San Diego. I have to say the David Wells Show gets more than a bit tiresome. For the past several games he's been making a habit of questioning umpires' strikes and balls. He stands on the mound when a call doesn't go his way and makes dramatic gestures and gives looks of exaggerated disbelief.
It all came to a head in a recent game at Petco Park when he got tossed in just the fourth inning. Here's how Wells described it.
"'I just asked him where those pitches were at and he really didn't say anything, and then I just said, 'I know in my at-bat, the call on the first pitch was outside,'' Wells said. 'I just said I wanted to know if it's going to be fair today, if it's going to be the same way both sides.I have a better idea. How about just shut up and pitch. Stop the melodrama and play the game.
'That's basically all I asked and he didn't really like it, and he told me to get back on the mound and he didn't want to hear another word.'
Wells said he motioned for Bard to come out, then said to Hickox: 'Hey, all I wanted to do was ask you a question.'
With that, he was gone.
In his last start, Wells and umpire Hunter Wendelstedt were chirping at each other.
'I think it would be best if I just went up and talked to him this time in a calm way,' Wells said. 'And obviously that didn't work. I don't know what to do. Flip a coin, I guess.'" (Here.)
Wells left after just 44 pitches because he got kicked out of the game for questioning balls and strikes. And what was his strikes to balls ratio? 30 strikes and 14 balls. That's better than 2 to 1. Wells had nothing to complain about and his immature behavior hurt the team because it forced Padres manager Bud Black to use the bullpen for 6 innings. That hurt. Fortunately, it happened just before the All-Star break.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Another Carnival Of Space Is Up.
Labels: Carnival of Space
The Mess At NBC Celebrates Libbyration Day.
With Young Master Keith at the helm "Countdown" is written like a lefty blog but televised. There is never a semblance of balance or editorial objectivity. Every news story is presented through a partisan prism. Even on a normal news night, the level of partisanship on the show is pretty high. And you know what? That's just fine. This is America and if the First Amendment protects anything it ought to protect political opinion.
Now the President has commuted Libby's sentence. (Here.) The commutation is a pretty reasonable act given the circumstances. After all, Richard Armitage leaked Plame's identity to the media not Libby and the special prosecutor knew that early on. The leak was was not a crime and nobody has been charged for it. Nevertheless, what Libby did do was wrong and his conviction should stand. However, prison time would be an injustice.
But not to Olbermann. In his mind, the President's act of clemency violates the law and the constitution and renders "Mr. Bush" undeserving of the Presidency. So tonight Young Master Keith's very Special Comment calls on President Bush and Vice-President Cheney to resign. Olbermann outdoes himself with his twists and turns, dramatic pauses, weird stares, and overblown rhetoric. The commentary is the most laugh out loud hilarious political monologue ever. Bar none. It has to be seen to be believed. Go to the Mess at NBC's website and watch it. (Here.)
Technorati: Keith Olbermann, msnbc, politics, bush.