Friday, December 19, 2008

Spirit of the Season

In the spirit of the season I thought I'd point over to one of my favorite Christmas songs...


I always have had a warped sense of humor.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dave Smith - R.I.P.

Former Major League Baseball player (pitcher), Dave Smith passed away yesterday.

Normally, I wouldn't mention something like this, except that I had the pleasure of meeting this fine man. He gave pitching lessons to my youngest son, and we both had the opportunity to see a small glimpse into the man, on those occasions where we simply sat and talked before/after the lessons.

Both my son and I have fond memories of the time with him. We will both miss him.

Rest In Peace Dave. Rest In Peace.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Oh That He'd Won...

See this post over at the Scratching Post.

Just, think someone preaching fiscal sanity.

It's just too bad that he didn't win.

Well at least we have a very qualified President-elect.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What I Believe (Part 4)

I was getting ready to post this, and had to rewrite...

I believe that ethics matter. I believe that morality matters.

They are not the same. To be clear (as I use them) from Wikipedia:

Ethics is a major branch of philosophy, encompassing right conduct and good life. It is significantly broader than the common conception of analyzing right and wrong.

Morality (from the Latin moralitas "manner, character, proper behavior") has three principal meanings. [here I use the second] In its second, normative and universal sense, morality refers to an ideal code of conduct, one which would be espoused in preference to alternatives by all rational people, under specified conditions. In this "prescriptive" sense of morality as opposed to the above described "descriptive" sense, moral value judgments such as "murder is immoral" are made.

Today I fear that too many people no longer believe that morality matters. That there are no "value judgements" that can or should be applied. That somehow whatever anyone believes is good, is good. I disagree. There is right and wrong. This absolute right and wrong is the only justifiable basis for ethics.

Here are two examples (and what made me re-write).

Two days ago, here in San Diego a true tragedy struck. A Navy fighter had double engine failure and the jet fell out of the sky and into a home. A home that was, at that moment, occupied by a woman, her mother, and her two children (both under 2 years old). They were all killed. The woman's husband instantly lost his family. Since then Mr. Yoon has shown tremendous strength. He has publicly forgiven the pilot, and expressed his hope that the pilot not suffer from the "accident". Mr Yoon is the ultimate expression of a moral man, behaving ethically based on what his morality tells him.

Meanwhile, the local media continue to haunt this man like vultures. They push their cameras into his face and bemoan that "he must grieve in public". They know its wrong. Their words show this. Yet they persist. They are moral, but unethical. The media puts its own selfish, ghoulish, interests before the victim. Shame on them.

The second example is the Governor of Illinois. Here we have a man who had risen to power and fame. But because he is a man who has lost his moral compass, he self-immolated his future with greed and hubris. He has done unrepairable harm to his family. His ethics were simply missing. They left when his sense of morality failed.

These two examples show why I believe that morality and ethics are important.

I originally wrote this using the financial meltdown. It applies in obvious ways. I see our systems breaking down due to our loss of both. A loss that has happened because we seem to not care enough to keep them. Shame on us.

Monday, December 1, 2008

What I Believe (part 3)

I believe in personal responsibility.

I don't believe that everything that happens to a person is someone else's fault. Sometimes it is the fault of others. Sometimes it isn't, it's their own fault. And sometimes it's no one's fault.

I don't believe that anyone should expect to be given things, or taken care of. I don't believe that anyone is responsible to take care of anyone else (other than spouses, children, and parents), and I believe that if you want something, then you need to earn it (it will mean more that way). You are responsible for your own needs and wants.

I believe that personal responsibility means that you have to be true to your word. If you say something, you must be responsible to keep your word.

I believe that part of personal responsibility includes that you need to give back to your community. I was fortunate enough to be able to play organized baseball as a young boy. I put in years on the board of directors of the leagues my sons played in. One day they asked me what they could do pay me back. Wrong question. From then on they participated in field maintenance days. They were the only non-dads, but they were there, and they worked. They put in to the system, in order to get something out. I also told them that they'd pay me back by ensuring the same opportunity to the kids in their children's generation. I took from the system as a child. I was responsible for putting something back in.

I find that personal responsibility seems intimately linked in my own mind to the previous topic - fiscal sanity. I fail to see how I could have one without the other.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What I Believe (Part 2)

I believe in fiscal sanity.

I don't believe in massive bailouts payed for by taking money from hard working citizens. It doesn't matter if the method of taking is a tax increase or simply borrowing (and printing money) with the inflation and reduction in buying power that produces.

I don't believe in promising health care and prescriptions, welfare and retirement, or any other hand out, any more than I believe in corporate welfare.

I believe in earning what you have and being careful with what you earn.

And I believe that the government should take as little as possible from its citizens and then spend no more than it takes. To spend future dollars, only burdens our Posterity and robs them of their Liberty.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What I Believe (Part 1)

I don't know how often I'm going to post this series, but I am going to try to post a set of statements that describe what (and why) I believe as I do...

I believe in limited government.

Not no government. Limited government.

The Government has certain functions it must do. More that it may (and probably should) do. But many more that it should not do.

Now I know lots of people that say this, but don't seem to understand what constitues an appropriate limitiation, or why.

I believe that the government should be limited to those things that are tracable to this:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.


As examples, proper funding of the Department of Defense is required by "provide for the common defense".

Environmental law is allowed under "promote the general Welfare", but since keeping businesses in business also "promotes the general Welfare", there is a tension that should keep both in balance.

On the other hand, a law that would, for example, require radio stations to provide time for talk for any specific point of view (i.e., "fairness doctrine"), can not be traced to any clause and must be resisted.

That's the first thing that I believe.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Geeking Out

Today, photos were released of the planets beyond our own planetary system.

Total geek out.

If you want to see them, go here.

If you don't, what's wrong with you?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

No Kidding...

funny pictures of cats with captions
more animals

A nice way to ease back into blogging after the ends of the baseball season and the election.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Campaign Is Finally Over

Today the campaign ends. Tomorrow the voting ends.

There has been rancor on both sides, and I fear that there has been much voter fraud. Especially in my beloved Ohio.

But despite it all, tomorrow we finally find out: McCain or Obama.

I've been clear that I support McCain. I hope he wins. I have my doubts that it will happen.

Tomorrow, no matter who wins, I will support my President-elect. I will hope and pray that he makes good choices, for my children and yours, for all our futures. May the next President be blessed with good health and wisdom. May God truly bless them.

And May God Bless America.

And the Liberal Left Will Do... What?

We all know that the left believes in government interference in our lives.

We also know that "Hollywood" and the left are tightly coupled.

So now we have the data to show that teens that see sexual images are more likely to become teenage parents (here).

So, will our friends on the left in Washington make a law to protect our teens (even the most liberal members know that teenage pregancy is bad - see Sen. Obama's comment). Or will they protect their friends in Hollywood?

I know which way I'll bet.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

So I Wonder How Steve Breen Is Voting...

Hint: Go look at his Sunday Editorial Cartoon at the San Diego Union Tribune (here).

Wow!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Game 5B Is Over and the Void Is Upon Us

While I was off on the east coast, the Phillies and Rays finally got around to finishing that absurd thing that can only be called World Series 2009 Game 5A and 5B.

Congrats to the Phillies, and to the Rays for a great year as well. Ugly way to end a season.

But with that, the baseball season is over, and now we enter the other season, the Void.

The Void will end on 14 Feb, when pitchers and catchers report. Until then all we have is politics, football, baskeball, hockey, and other so called sports. Yep the Void.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Baseball Interruptus - Or Yet Another Reason Why Dud Selig Needs To Go

First I need to get this off my chest... AAAARRGGHH!!!!

OK. Now I feel better.

Did you watch last night's Game 5 or the World Series? Well don't worry, no one did.

Not because they weren't tuned in. I have no idea how many sets were on FOX.

Not beacuse they didn't try to play. Both teams did their level best.

Not because of the miserable weather conditions. Weather is what it is. So be it.

And not even because the game got suspended. That's just what happened.

No no one watched Game 5 because THAT WAS NOT BASEBALL!

Seriously, have you ever seen: 1) an All-Star quality shortstop miss a pop-up after backing into shallow left, losing the ball in the rain, and then running in like mad as the wind blows the ball almost all the way across the infield mud, er, I mean dirt, or 2) a professional umpire (at any level, let alone 6 MLB umpires), watch a pop-up in the infield, with runners on first and second and one out, and not call an infield fly rule?

Both of those showed very clearly that what was happening was not baseball. See that's what happens in the rain. The game isn't the same. You should not play under those conditions. No one will ever convince me that if that had been a regular season game they would have been playing after the 4th inning.

I believe the umpires know that Dud Selig wanted that "game" (and I am using that word loosely) to be complete. Well that's a nice thing to want, but the weather wasn't cooperating. Tough luck Dud.

Now they've "played" themselves into a corner where we will be down to a 3.5 inning game with only the bull pens to pitch.

Nice going guys. Way to make Baseball fans "happy".

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spot On

B-Daddy has it right, and said better than I ever could.

it is important that the voices of those who believe in freedom of speech, freedom of markets, limited government, and anti-socialism be heard. This has been a terrible year, capping off a terrible eight years, because we have been betrayed by the party we thought most wedded to the cause of liberty. The sooner we move the country back towards a freedom agenda the better off we will all be.
Do yourself a favor, read the whole thing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I Am (With) Joe

A great post over at Iowahawk.

He has it exactly right. The way the MSM attacking my fellow Ohioan Joe is disgusting. All of us that think we can actually question our leaders (or in this case proposed leader), like, by the way, all those who insisted that they could mouth off against Bush and the War (and they are right!), we are Joe.

Please note that you are not to use this logo in anyway that anyone (other than Joe) makes any money.

If you think that the way Joe has been treated is an anomoly, I am afraid I must tell you that much worse is yet to come if Obama wins.

If you think that the way Joe was treated was wrong, well... Vote McCain, You Know You Should.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lessons From My Cat

Its funny where inspiration can come from.

I've been off traveling (to DC), and spent a lot of time thinking about the upcoming election. Particularly about how we could actually go about doing something about the ease with which voter fraud seems to be occuring.

I really didn't have any ideas. Then I got back home last night, and this morning my wife and I took our new kitten in to the veternarian for some basic stuff, that includes microchipping.

Hmmm... Microchips under the skin. This means that she can be positively identified, no matter what... no need for an ID tag or anything else.

Now I know that if anyone seriously suggested that we might want to consider implanting microchips in our citizens, they'd get creamed with calls about "big brother" and the "right to privacy", but... I think it is worth considering.

Consider: No need for photo ID's to board a plane, swipe your arm and you are cleared. No need for a photo ID or password to use a credit card (and actually why bother with the card?). Easier to ID a dead body. Much harder to do identity theft. Easier to know who's here legally and who isn't. It would solve a lot of problems.

Too bad it won't be done.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Spreading My Money, and Yours, But Not Theirs

So I'm sure you've heard Barack Obama's comments to "Joe the Plumber" (another great Ohioan - Go Joe!) in which he says essentially I want to take the money you earned to spread it around it help those coming along behind.

Do you also remember Michelle Obama's comments about how unfair it is to have to pay back her student loans?

Together this means that she doesn't want to use THEIR money to pay back a debt she volunteered to take on, and which would then provide the resources to spread it around for those that are coming behind, but he'll happily take the money YOU earn to give to others.

Seems fair.

A big "tip of the hat" to my wife, who first pointed this out to me.

Monday, October 13, 2008

And These Folks Get To Vote

OK I'm not a Howard Stern fan (truth be told - in the interest of full disclosure - I've never listened to him). I would have never heard this but for CDR Salamander



But they aren't voting based on race...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My "Autumn" Results

With thanks to Fellow Feline Theocracy member Justin.
Your Autumn Test Results
You are a dynamic, vibrant person. You aren't afraid to pursue your passions.

When you are happiest, you are calm. You appreciate tradition and family. You enjoy feeling cozy.


You embrace change. You love change. You see change as a rebirth.

You find love to be the most comforting thing in the world. You feel at peace when you're with your loved ones.

Your ideal day is active and full. You like to keep busy with your favorite things, and you appreciate a routine.


You tend to live in the moment. You enjoy whatever is going on, and you don't obsess over the past or future.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Am I On Candid Camera?

Seriously, I can't think of any other explanation for this.

There was an article in today's San Diego Union Tribune (on-line here), in which I told, and am supposed to believe, that the Swiss Parliament requires geneticists to consider, no not possible side effects to the environment, and no not the possibility of killing off humans, but rather the dignity of the plants they were working with.

Yes, you read that right, the dignity of the plants.

The Parliament had a group of folks get together and they wrote a 22-page treatise on “the moral consideration of plants for their own sake.”

This has to be a joke...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pledging Fealty to the Maximum Leader


I, Scooter, so named by those who feed and wait on me because of my former mode of locomotion, do hereby swear my fealty to KT Cat, the Maximum Leader of the Feline Theocracy. All Hail the Maximum Leader.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Air Show Yesterday

Yesterday the family went to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar for the annual air show. Nice day, great flying.

The highlight wasn't the Blue Angels. They were great as always, but the star of the show was the F-22 Raptor.



This things flys like something out of a cartoon. It turns, slides, twists, hovers, flips. Absolutely unreal. (Photo credits to my son, using my camera.)

Too Funny!

cat

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

So What's Martian for "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow"?

The geek in me has to come out from time to time. Here's a peek...

Today it was reported that a laser sensor has detected snow in the atmosphere of Mars.

Who cares, in the big picture, about the stock market? Sometimes it goes up, sometimes it goes down. Long ago I got this advice, "only invest the money you can afford to lose". I live by that. So who cares which way it goes.

The housing market. If you bought a house to live in it, who cares how much it's worth? Make your payments and snuggle warm and tight in your bed. If my house value goes to zero, so what?

But, Snow on Mars??? That's something that excites me. It makes absolutely no difference in the here and now. It's way more important than that. It tells us something about the universe and how it really works. It tells us that water is everywhere. Water, the solvent of life, is everywhere. If water is everywhere, will not life be also?

I sleep well knowing that when we humans finally shuffle away, as all species do, the universe will keep on living, long, long, long from now.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Back - So Much Has Happened

I've been off on a series of business travel and just finally got myself back in the groove. So much has happened that cries out to be blogged...

Let's see, let's start with yesterday's big sports news. It was close, it was fun, and there were lead changes to the end. No not some stupid football game, the NASCAR race. Actually a fairly uninteresting race, with a fantastic last few hundred yards. If you weren't watching, I won't try to explain it. Suffice to say that the guy in second tried to pass by using the physics of potential energy => kinetic energy (by driving down the banking in a turn), without considering what would happen as he came up the other side (hint: Mr Car meet Mr Wall, Mr Wall meet Mr Car).

Next there's the whole fiscal melt down. I've commented in a few places that I'm not thrilled with the bailout (that has failed currently in the House), but still think that it is better than doing nothing. I read lots of things about why it happened. One thing I'd like to mention, that seems to have missed everyone's sight, is that all our big businesses are run by Business Majors. They care only about "this quarter's profits". They really don't know the business. They really don't care about the long term health of a company. They care about their bonuses and that means this quarter's profit. It doesn't take a mental giant to realize that no upward trend lasts forever, but if I'm betting for this quarter's profit, then bet on the up-tick to continue for 3 more months.

I guess the last thing for this one is that the regular season for baseball has ended (the White Sox not withstanding). Now we get the playoffs. Nothing better.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The NFL - Either It Is Fixed or It Needs to Be

Today's Chargers v. Broncos game was won by the officials. The Chargers were flat out cheated.

First, on their second play from scrimage the Chargers Chris Chambers catches a pass (dual possesion with a defender) is down by contact and then the defender takes it. They rule an interception. The Chargers challenge the play, and, low and behold, the replay equipment does not work. So, even thought the images are clear, they can't reverse the call, and the Broncos get a cheap 19 yard TD drive.

Finally, after a long wild game the Chargers have over come this and have a lead 38 to 31.

Broncos have moved down to the 3, and their quarterback drops back and when throwing, the ball pops out of his hand (while the arm is going backwards) and the ball goes BACKWARDS. A Charger jumps on the fumble/lateral. After reviewing, the same official, decides that yeah it was a fumble, and yeah the Charger got it, and yeah it was BACKWARDS so it couldn't have been an incomplete pass, even if the arm was moving forward, but I decided to blow the whistle, so Broncos get to keep the ball. To the Broncos credit, they put the ball in the end zone and go for and get a two point conversion to win 39 to 38 (with several obvious holds not called).

Either the officials are completely incompetant, or they have been bought and sold.

Pick one.

So again, either the NFL is fixed, or it needs to be.

In either case I'm off the NFL. I stopped watching the NBA a few years ago because I felt they were fixed (and it turns out I may well have been right), now I'm doing it for football.

Thank goodness for baseball.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

ABC - Did They Learn Their Techniques From the Simpsons?

First, there have been lots of well written take downs of Charlie Gibson for the way he (or someone at ABC) did a hack job edit on the Gov Palin interview (like here. I'll leave that to everyone else.

I want to explain it. I think these folks at ABC learned how to edit an interview by watching the Simpsons.

Seriously, does anyone else remember the episode where Homer gets accused of sexual harrasment? (See here). There is a great scene where an interviewer edits his inteview with Homer to completely distort the message (the clock hands jumping all over are a great sight gag).

If they learned their journalism skills from this, it would explain so much...

Watch to the End...



Vote McCain - If You Didn't Know You Should Before - You Do Now.

Friday, September 12, 2008

9/11 + 7 Years

Today is 9/11. Time has healed many wounds, but not all. Never all.

Normally the days go by, and we don't think about what happened 7 years ago. Today we remind ourselves.

I try to remember often. I still have the calendar from September of 2001 on my office wall to ensure I remember.

On 9/11 I take the time to remember...

I remember the words coming from the radio as I woke up here in California with both towers burning.

I remember rushing out to the TV and those images.

I remember my thoughts as I heard the first reports of "confirmed reports of smoke coming from the Pentagon".

I remember saying, "We are at war starting today".

I remember being sent home from work in mid-day as the base was closed.

I remember seeing the towers come down.

I remember the worry as I looked at my high school sons.

I remember the strength of Guiliani. And New York. And those who ran INTO the Pentagon. And Flight 93.

I remember the first Saturday Night Live Opening after with Guiliani and FDNY and NYPD standing there, declaring that New York was back in business.

I remember the bagpipes. Many, many, too many, bagpipes.

I remember singing God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch.

I remember the unity.

I remember.

May we never forget.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

McCain - Not a Great Speech, But It Should Do

McCain's acceptance speech today, wasn't great. It was slow at the start, and I thought it kinda wandered. Then at the end he spoke from the heart.
I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here; I loved it for its decency, for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people.

I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn't my own man anymore, I was my country's. (Extended cheers and applause.)

I'm not running for president because I think I'm blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need. (Cheers, applause.) My country saved me. My country saved me, and I cannot forget it. And I will fight for her for as long as I draw breath, so help me God. (Cheers, applause.)

(Audience chanting "USA, USA, USA, USA.")

My friends, if you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you're disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them. Enlist -- (cheers, applause) -- enlist in our armed forces. Become a teacher. Enter the ministry. Run for public office. Feed a hungry child. Teach an -- an illiterate adult to read. Comfort the afflicted. Defend the rights of the oppressed.

That's the John McCain I will be proud to vote for.

Vote McCain - You Know You Should.

For the whole transcript click here.

Palin, Inspired or Insipid?

That really seems to be the question that's been tossed around since John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his VP running mate.

I thought about it and decided that what I want is consistency. Not perfection, no one's perfect, just consistency. Live as per your beliefs. Do as you say.

Sarah Palin's daughter is pregnant. That's horrible, no 17 year old has ever had that happen to them before (sarcasm warning!). Seriously, is there a less signifcant fact that you could tell me?

On the other hand, the Palin's are pro-life. Sarah Palin had a child, knowing it was oing to be a Downs baby. Would not abort it. Does as she says. Her daughter is going to have her baby, and the father is taking responsibility and marrying her. Good luck to them both. Pro-life and doing as they believe. That's what I want.

I have no beef with any of this. In fact, I think it is just as things should be.

Let's look at what Sarah Palin said yesterday. Here's some of her best:
No one expects us to agree on everything.

But we are expected to govern with integrity, good will, clear convictions, and ... a servant's heart.

I pledge to all Americans that I will carry myself in this spirit as vice president of the United States. This was the spirit that brought me to the governor's office, when I took on the old politics as usual in Juneau ... when I stood up to the special interests, the lobbyists, big oil companies, and the good-ol' boys network.

Sudden and relentless reform never sits well with entrenched interests and power brokers. That's why true reform is so hard to achieve.

...

In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers.

And then there are those, like John McCain, who use their careers to promote change

...

Harry Reid, the Majority Leader of the current do-nothing Senate, not long ago summed up his feelings about our nominee.

He said, quote, "I can't stand John McCain." Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps no accolade we hear this week is better proof that we've chosen the right man. Clearly what the Majority Leader was driving at is that he can't stand up to John McCain.

...

For a season, a gifted speaker can inspire with his words.

For a lifetime, John McCain has inspired with his deeds.


'Nuff Said. McCain - Palin.

Vote McCain - You Know You Should.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Can Hardly Wait

As I'm sure you know by now, tomorrow night Sen Obama will accept the Democratic nomination for President. I'm sure you also know that he'll be doing so at in huge stadium, on a stage that looks like, well some sort of greek-ish temple.

Which leads me to a question: Is he insane?

Does he really think this is a good image?

I can't help it, it's really bad of me, but all I can think of is that that is the image I always have of Hitler. A guy standing in front of greek-ish architecture and speaking words that mesmerize (some). Scary (to me).

Anyways, getting back to my title, what I can hardly wait for is to see how much the main stream media gushes over the "image" and his speech, and then to see if he gets ANY bump from it all. That is, to see if the populace, those great unwashed, but not as stupid as you think, masses are fooled - I'm betting they won't be.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I'm Gone For a While and Nothing Happens

I just got back from an 8 day trip to the East Coast (some work, some play - Valley Forge, Independence Hall, a Phillies drubbing of the Dodgers - YEAH!). Anyways, as I was there each day I'm thinking, hmmm... what would I write if I were able to reach my computer?

Basically, nothing ever came up.

Oh sure, the Yawn-lympics finally finished, and yes the chinese girls, er, that is, women and men did great in gymnastics and diving, US folks did great in basketball, volleyball, swimming, and track (except for that nasty little baton). Big whoop.

Then there was the on-going hand wringing over Russia in Georgia. It's horrible. It's the beginning of the end of the world. Oh wait, they've sorta left you say? Nevermind.

Then there was the least interesting thing. Obama sends a text message to a bunch of suckers at 3AM (EAST COAST!) to tell them he's searched all throught the Party of Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Kennedy, and he found the best possible VP... Joe Biden?!?!? Well, I guess he's never been caught with his pants down, or his hand in the cookie jar. Sadly, that's the best thing I can say about him. At least he'll secure those critical three (3) electoral votes from Delaware. I have to stop, I'm at my sarcasm limit for the day.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sometimes All I Can Say Is, I Wish I'd Written That

In this case a brillant postulate on how three Americans would handle the Russia vs. Georgia war.

Read it here.

Well done m'lady.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Moon Over San Diego

I was just playing with my camera to see what it could do at night and got this shot of the moon


Tried to get Jupiter and it's moons, but the camera wasn't sensitive enough unless it was in timelapse, and then all I got was streaks


Not too bad really.

As Time Goes By, or Where Did the Time Go?

I posted a while back about a work softball team I'm on, and that we aren't very good. Well after the first few games (and thanks to the addition of a couple good - young - players) we got better. After an 0-5 start, we ended up 5-7. Not too bad.

Anyways, that got us the 8th seed in a 14 team double elimination tourney, and last week we had game #1.

We totally spanked our opponents (33 to 6). The thing that led to the title of this post was that although I had a decent game (3 for 6, 2 doubles, 2 runs, 4 RBI's, no errors, a couple of OK plays), I also got one of those double because of my blazing speed where I turned a triple into a double. Took a bit of ribbing on that. The worst part was that my dear wife defended me by saying "What do you expect? He's 50 today." Where did all those years go?

I felt just like this...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Love It...



'Nuff Said.

If I Was Governor

Today we are 38 days past the date by which the legislature of the state of California are Constitutionally required to pass a budget. The oath they take here includes the phrase
... and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties upon which I am about to enter ...
OK they swear to do what they are required, then fail to do so. That's malfeasance in my book. Arrest them. Lock the doors to the state capital building and don't let out. Completely suspend their salaries. Prosecute them.

But that's me. I'm not very subtle.

I do wonder how fast the legislature would work under those conditions, or if they'd ever fail to meet the deadline again.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Total Chemistry-Geek Out

A clickable periodic table of the elements with brief descriptions of the elements here.

Too cool for words.

Wish I'd though of it (and had the time to do it!).

Sunday, August 3, 2008

To Boldly Go...

To the San Diego Air & Space Museum.

I went to the Star Trek Exhibit recently. Such a blast. Here are a couple of photos...






Well worth the price of admission (if you are a hopeless geek and fan like me).

Thursday, July 31, 2008

As We Argue Over Politics, Nature Reveals A Secret

Sometimes when I get depressed about the inanity of our political system, or the general insanity of humanity, I retreat to science. Logical, sensible, understandable,... science. Always makes me feel better.

Today science made a premeptive strike. There is water on Mars. story

'Nuff Said. Enjoy your tax dollars at work.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dead Right

The Maximum Leader pointed to this quiz.
My result:

You Should Spend Your Summer on a Road Trip



For you, the summer is all about possibilities. And you're not going to be tied down.

This is the time for you to embark on an epic road trip, with no ultimate destination in mind.

You know you'll have a ton of crazy adventures... at least until you run out of cash!

Amazing...

The best vacation I ever took was a week of driving all over the southwest (Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Yosemite, Sequoia) with the family. How'd it know?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Inside Joke...

What do you get if you cross WSA and LSS?...


...60% more pink flamingo-y-ness.


That was all I could think of when I saw this last week at the zoo...

Monday, July 14, 2008

I Guess This Will Be My Life...

Seems my in-laws found a kitten that had (apparently) been struck by a car. Two broken legs, a few other, comparably minor injuries. Almost healed now. Once it's fully recovered, we get it. Current photo:


I can expect that this might be my future...

cat


I guess I can live with that...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Main Stream Media Continues to Show Its Neutrality

...Or something like that.

Seriously, when I read this (Scroll downto heading "After...") in this mornings San Diego Union Tribune, I thought it had to be a joke.

Sadly, it isn't.

Unbeliveable. Un-frickin-believable.

I'll Bet He's Puzzled

Yesterday Barack Obama suggested that he "puzzled by the frenzy" (read the story here) over his remarks concerning the Iraq war. Seems after months of having a strict time table he's now softening (can you say waffling for political expediency??).

Anyways, he was "puzzled" when the media reported it and suggested he was changing.

I'll bet he is puzzled.

Not because a "frenzy" over a presidential candidate chaning his stance is unusual or surprising.

It's because the media reported what he'd said, and actually pointed out that it meant he'd changed his stance.

In other words, the media actually reported something that almost sounds like he's not perfect.

And that must puzzle him.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Say What???

So first Gen. Wesley Clark, USA (ret) takes a shot at John McCain by saying (on FACE THE NATION, CBS)
"I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president."
Is he serious?

But wait, it gets better. To qualify and explain his remarks he expounded today
John McCain is running his campaign on his experience and how his experience would benefit him and our nation as President. That experience shows courage and commitment to our country - but it doesn't include executive experience wrestling with national policy or go-to-war decisions.
If you want more deatils go here)

Let's see... McCain served in the military, spent 4 years in the House of Representatives and 22 years in the Senate. Barack Obama did not serve in the military, he served 7 years in the Illinos Senate, lost a campaign for the US House and then has served all of 4 (yes, four) years of his first term in the Senate.

Question: So Gen. Clark who has better experience?

Answer: McCain. No contest.

Vote McCain. You know you should.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Baseball is a Funny Game

... and the couple days have proven that.

Yesterday, the LA Dodgers won a game without getting a hit. The Florida Marlins catcher, Matt Treanor, started a double play by catching a foul bunt. The San Diego Padres got the third out of an inning when, with runners on first and third, the pitcher bluffed to third and then caught the runner breaking from first (after that it was a routine 1-3-6-3-2-5 sequence to get the runner from third). Then later they got a double play on a suicide squeeze (ball popped foul to third, runner doubled off).

Today the Padres continued with the routine stuff. With a man on first, a ground ball to the first baseman. He steps on first, then got the runner with a simple 3-6-1-6-5. Yeah, that's right "5". After the pitcher threw to short, the shortstop dropped it, then the third baseman picked it up and tagged the runner. Routine. Of course it's plays like that, that explain why the Padres are 32 and 51.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Because Everyone Should See This

I know that "everyone" dosen't read this blog, but still, I wish everyone would see this image


(if you want to see a bigger version click here.)

This is a Hubble photo of M104, a beautiful spiral galaxy.

That's it. I don't have anything more to say. The image says it all.
I hope your day is as beautiful as this photo.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Well... DUH!

I was reading an article about how math teachers aren't teaching kids well enough at the very young ages (and probably because the teachers themselves don't know math well enough), and followed a link to an older article about how to teach kids math better.

While the article waxes poetically about "teacher-centered" vs. "student-centered" learning, and other physco-babble, they do say the basic point is... "Hammer the basics". Otherwise known as practice, practice, practice.

That sound you are hearing is your throat trying to choke down your reflexive need to shout "DUH!"

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Long But Important Read

First a hat tip to CDR Salamander for pointing to this.

The US News and World Report posted their story from May of 1973. It tells, in mostly his own words, the story of a certain LCDR that was shot down and taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese.

The last words in the article are the most important. Here they are
I had a lot of time to think over there, and came to the conclusion that one of the most important things in life—along with a man's family—is to make some contribution to his country.
That's John Sidney McCain, III.

Compare that to what you hear from Barack Hussein Obama and his wife.

Vote McCain. You know you should.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Road to Financial Ruin

I've blogged before that the one and only issue I will use to choose my President (and Congress person, and mayor, and...) is whether they understand that deficit spending must end. Consider these two stories.

First here we have a story about statements from two of the government's top financial analysts they
told the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday the federal budget is on an "unsustainable path," and unless major steps are taken to restrain soaring health care costs the budget deficit could drag the U.S. economy to the point of collapse before mid-century. The heads of the Government Acountability Office and the Congressional Budget Office used the identical term and similar numbers in warning that the projected steep climb in the federal debt and resulting jump in interest payments would impose such a burden on revenues that the government could not pay for other programs and would starve the economy of investment capital. ... The government would have to borrow more, spend less or raise taxes, he said. ... Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., [said] "If we control healthcare cost, then along with prudent policies for the rest of the budget, we will be able to control federal budget deficits. But if we fail to control healthcare cost, it won't matter what else we do."
I tend to agree with this simple plan which really boils down to 'control spending'.

OK, that being the case. And given that this sensible statement came from the leading Democrat on the committee, what does thier candidate for President suggest? Does Sen Obama suggest "prudent policies for ... the budget"?

Well, actually according to this he suggests
According to the National Taxpayers Union, Obama has proposed at least $287 billion a year in new government spending. He also co-sponsored a Senate bill to spend at least $845 billion a year to fight global poverty.
That's a more than a trillion dollars. One thousand billion. One million million. One thousand thousand thousand thousand. $1,000,000,000,000. A mere $3,000 per man woman and child in the country. Even more per taxpayer. I just can't match these statements. Sen Obama wants to guide us down the road to ruin.

That's why I'm voting for McCain.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Baseball, Time Zones, & Championships

There is a recent story over at Science News On-Line about how time zones can affect baseball games (here).

Basically it says that if one team travels 3 times zones, when the other doesn't, then there is a statisical advantage to the non time zone changing team. The result seems to be less for teams traveling east than for ones going west. The article also says that these games are a small number each year (like 16). Assuming that they tend to even out, it's not clear that it will make a big difference, but with Championships determined by 1 or 2 games, it might matter. It makes those teams that "send pitchers ahead" look really smart.

So here's a case where the statistics are clear. Wanna bet that baseball ignores them? I wonder if the bookies will?

I suspect that the effect is even bigger in football, and, with fewer games in those seasons, it could really be a big deal, and if I owned a team that made the playoffs, I'd get my team there at least 3 days early to get the time zone adjustment done. But that's me...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Apocalypse is Upon Us, II

Seriously, I don't know what else to say about this.

Speechless. Wordless. Stunned. Depressed.

Gamma Ray Telescope Launch

The latest gamma ray telescope was just launched (story).

The geek in me always loves to know that once in a while we spend our tax dollars on something that will actually uplift our species, in this case by adding to our knowledge of the universe. This new gamma ray telescope (GLAST) will be able to cover the entire sky in a mere 3 hours (compared to the previous 15 months), about 3600 times faster than the previous telescope, and at better resolution.

I can't wait for the results it will produce and the knowledge we'll gain. Sure beats spending the money on, for example, Foreign aid to Mexico...

Monday, June 9, 2008

I Officially Surrender, or the Apocalypse is Upon Us

I've written a couple of blogs on marriage lately, and tried to show why I'm against homosexual marriages. I suggested that it was only different in degree from allowing people to marry absurd things. In a second blog I noted that maybe I was wrong and that people will be able to marry other species, since there are those trying to get "person" status conferred on a chimp. I even pushed it to what I thought was absurdity once or twice by suggesting that maybe people should be allowed to marry inanimate objects (although that got me to publish a note about what I think the future might look like once machines become intelligent).

Well, I surrender.

This story clearly shows the apocalypse is truly upon us.

I guess I'm out of touch. Everyone should be able to marry anyone, any group, any minor, any species, any object.

The Goths overran the Romans as Rome became decadent and narcisstic. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it - George Santayana (1863–1952).

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Some Simple Thoughts on a Complex Subject, or Is It Vice Versa?

A couple of posts back concerning the recent California Supreme Court ruling on homosexual marriage I used a sequence of possible future marriage "rights" that might have to be given out. The last two were marriages to "other species" and "inanimate objects".

The point, at the time was to suggest that somewhere in that list there had to be a line between things that could get married, and things that couldn't, because clearly people couldn't possibly marry those things. Just a simple thought on what looks like a complex subject, that would force people to think complexly about what is really a simple subject.

Or at least that was the idea.

See, a few days ago I ran into this article about an effort to have a chimpanzee declared "a person" so the chimp can have a guardian named. Well if a chimp gets that status, then maybe it isn't so goofy to think a person could marry that "person".

Then there is, more seriously, the question of what happens in the future (in my opinion not so far in the future), when an "inanimate" object has a brain, with sufficient complexity to pass a Turing test. If that object is then conscious (or at least claims it is), should it have civil rights (including the right to get married)? It seems it should.

So there I am. I wonder if any of my list is really a dead certainty to not be allowed to be married. Maybe the definition of "human" is something that needs to really worked out. Maybe we all need to start thinking about what is and isn't a human, and what does and doesn't have civil rights.

I semi-jokingly call myself a Luddite. I know that's not litterally true, that I actually am reasonably open to progress and technology (while remaining a certified fiscal conservative). I wonder what I'll do as technology does produce something that qualifies as intelligent. I wonder what I'll do as the capability to augment our intelligence with non-biological components opens. And I wonder, if I decide to augment myself, how much can that be done and still be me.

These are questions bigger than the simple issue of letting same sex people marry. But I really see the whole thing as a continuum. One we as a species are moving through. I hope we are all still as human, when we get to the other end.

So there I am, back to my simple thoughts on a complex subject.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Politically Incorrect Thing to Ponder...

I'm probably asking to get flamed on this one, but...

There was an interesting post over at the Scratching Post the other day that had a plot showing the expenditure rates of schools and the reading rates over the last couple of decades. The reading scores are flat, while the costs (inflation adjusted costs) are growing seemingly exponentially (since about 1995).

What I started to wonder about was, if the money isn't improving instruction/learning. then where is it going? Now, I don't know the answer, but I starting poking around and found one thing that does seem to correlate with the break point in the expenditure curve.

It's a series of court decisions concerning how schools must handle kids with disabilities (see this). Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not sure this is the cause. I also don't want to suggest that disabled kids shouldn't get the best education we can give them. But if this is the reason, then I have to wonder if we are doing the right thing.

We all know there are only so many dollars available. We must have an educated next generation. We must spend the available dollars in a manner that maximimally ensures that our children are educated such that they are able to compete effectively in an ever more competitive and ever more information intensive future. If we are spending this much money on a non-productive process, then we need to stop it.

That said, does anyone out there really know what has cause the rise in the cost of education?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Considering ?!?!?

I wonder about our government officials. I really do. Now what? This...

As you've probably heard, there is a problem with the one (and only!) toilet on the International Space Station story here. Now don't get me wrong, I understand space is limited and weight is limited, but only one toilet? That seems dangerous to me (especially in zero gravity, where you can't expect Roto Rooter to make an emergency house call).

Anyways, there's only one, and it's not functioning properly. So we get this quote:
Nasa officials are considering having some parts flown to Cape Canaveral and placed in the shuttle during its countdown
There's the word "considering".

They are considering it. Some weak excuse about the current launch having a lot of weight on it. I would suggest that they find a few pounds to lose (even if ends up being a crew member).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sea Squirts Win! Sea Squirts Win! Sea Squirts Win!

I have mentioned in passing that I am playing on a work softball team. A bad team. Now I don't mean B-A-A-A-D like good, I mean B-A-D as in NOT good. Really not good. Really really not good.

We were 0-5 going into tonight's game against last year's champions.

We went quitely in the first 1, 2, 3, dispite hitting the ball hard all three times. Then, miracles of miracles, we did the same to them. Top of 2, we managed to actually score a run. Then they put up 5. In the third, we put up 2, they scored 1. So after 3 innings we were trailing 3 to 6.

During the top of the fourth, while coaching third base, I had a nice chat with their third baseman (apparently he doesn't know that he should ignore me, while I try to distract him). I told him we seemed to always manage to be close after 4 or 5 innings, then find a way to lose (usually related to being lots older than our competition, and he agreed that we "looked pretty old"). We didn't score and they put a two spot on us, so after 4, we were down 3 to 8.

In the fifth we had a big inning and scored 4 runs, mostly due to their left fielder being unable to make the play on a hooking line drive, and when we then held them to 0 (thanks in no small part to the first double play we had turned all season), we had somehow managed to get to 7 to 8 after 5.

Then God smiled upon us.

Nobody scored in the 6 or 7th (and amazingly in the 6th we turned yet another double play!). In the top of the 8th our best hitter smoked a ball to right that somehow got through their right fielder for four bases (and two runs since it came with a man on base). A quick out in the bottom of the inning, then their best hitter got a triple. The next batter hit the ball hard to second, but since the runner on third had broke for the plate we doubled him off to kill the inning (yes, our third double play of the game and season). At this point we found ourselves leading 9 to 8 going into the 9th.

I think they somehow sensed they were up against fate, because at this point the wheels came off for them and they gave us 3 runs due to a booted ball and two different throws that went into the dugout. Leading 12 to 8, needing only three outs to clinch the win, it was almost anti-climatic when they went down, fly out to right, fly out to center, ground out to third, and...

Sea Squirts Win! Sea Squirts Win! Sea Squirts Win!

Yeah. We B-A-A-A-D! ;-)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Same Sex Marriages and the Constitution

I want to come at this from a purely secular point of view. The reality here is that while our courts have begun to quote precedence and arguements from other courts, with the possible exception of Islamic courts (and that's a different discussion altogether), they won't reference religious thinking. Consequently I'm going to look at this from the purely secular point of view.

First, let me say that I understand that the California Supreme Court decision is dependent upon their interpretation of the California Constitution. I believe that this needs to be rethought. Why should the Constitution of California rule? Decisions with respect to marriage impact other states and the IRS (as marital state is a consideration in Federal tax filling). As such, I believe the US Constitution should rule.

Now look, I'm not a lawyer. But that seems right to me. So what do I think the US Constitution says on this topic?

Again, I'm not a lawyer. Certainly not a Constitutional lawyer. But I can read. The US Constitution says
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The bold there is (obviously) my emphasis.

See, as I read that little piece of English I see that the government is allowed to do things to promote "our Posterity". And that means they can give special treatment to heterosexual couples - since that is where "our Posterity" comes from. Now that doesn't mean the government has to give any special treatment, but they could.

Let's assume for the moment that I have read that wrong, and that the government may not allow for such special treatment. Well then I have to ask, What stops the polygamists from being allowed to marry? I don't see anything in the Constitution allowing us to forbid that. What stops groups from being married? What stops an adult from marrying a child? A member of some other species? Even an inanimate object? Seriously, if the line can't be drawn between hetereosexual couples and homsexual couples, where can it be drawn, if anywhere - based on the Constitution? I honestly think that the polygamists have a better arguement (at least they produce "Posterity").

I guess I'm not really upset about the decision, if homosexual couples want to pay higher taxes and deal with the fallout of divorces, fine. But I do see a slippery slope looming before us. And that worries me.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Join Me In the Revolution.

A fellow member of the Feline Theocracy, the great Wollf, has a post on how illegals are trashing the Sonoran Desert. Disgusting. Remember that "they just want to work". Otherwise they are really nice people.

Last night on a local channel (KUSI) they replayed a report on the border here is San Diego. A couple things jumped out at me.

They showed a clip of some Border Patrol agents being attacked by some "people" (and I use this word loosely) with rocks. Big rocks. These folks are presumably Mexican nationals, who wanted to become illegal aliens. The Border Patrol agents didn't seem to be fighting back as much as just trying to get away. So we have Federal Law Enforcement agents, being attacked, and they don't fight back... WHY??? This is somewhere between simple assault on an officer during the commission of his duties and an act of war. In either case the agents should defend themselves. These guys should shoot the attackers.

Before you think I'm overreacting keep listening... They go on to show that somebody strung a wire between the fences at a height that would decapitate an agent on a motorcycle. So clearly the bad guys are not playing nice.
And the response of our politicians? They interview two of them (one Dem and one Rep). Neither one would face up to the problem. What exactly is the keeping these guys from seeing reality?

The time has come to throw them all out. I'll be voting against the incumbents, everyone of them. You need to too. Please, we all know that they all need to go. Not just the ones from other districts, all of them. Remember that the only one you can vote for or against is the one in YOUR district. Please join me in helping to throw them out.

As Thomas Jefferson is credited with saying, "A little revolution now and then is a good thing."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Dems Refuse to Decide

Well, not exactly. The black folks are clear. They want Obama. The North Carolina election shows that. The white folks seem to not want him (but that's another post). I think they know that he can't beat McCain. The problem seems to be that they don't Hillary can beat him either.

If Indiana ever decides which they lean, maybe it will be over. Maybe not. The fun may just continue...

Friday, May 2, 2008

Never Overlook the Obvious

The title is one of my favorite catch phrases. I find over and over again even really smart people just plain overlook the obvious. Here's one.

There is a story today over at CNN about how men need a space of their own. They are saying that sure guys let the women in their life decorate the house, but they need to have one room that's their own. That guys (and the women for that matter) need to be able to get away. To have time together and time apart. Is this really news? Is anyone surprised? Who thought this was surprising/news worthy?

I love my wife. I spend large amounts of time with her. We both have "quiet" time away from each regularly. It only makes sense. Same thing applies to our children. Love 'em. Love having time away from them too.

The story also reminded me of what happened when we moved a friend into his new house (and began co-habitating with the lady he ended up marrying - Let's call them Chuck and Mary). Every time one of his things came off the truck, Mary would say "that goes in the garage". Somehow this had happened dozens of times, and yet Chuck hadn't heard it once. Then the inevitable happened. Chuck was there, something of his came off the truck, he said, "that's mine". We all said as one "in the garage". He said "no, put it in the living room". Just then Mary came out and said "oh, put that in the garage". I doubt I've ever seen anyone look more crest fallen than Chuck... But once he came to grips with the fact he was now living in her house, it all worked. That and the fact that his garage was used for him, not his car.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Roger Clemens, Hall of Fame / Hall of Shame

I have tried not to spend too much of my blog on Baseball and other sports topics. But here's one that seems too good not to at least mention.

First a recap... Roger Clemens got accused of using steriods by his former trainer. Mr Clemens denys this. The same accusation named Clemens good friend and team mate, Andy Pettite. Mr. Pettite says essentially, 'yes I did take HGH. I talked to Roger about it, and he says he did, too. I'm telling the truth because someday I'm gonna have to talk to God about what I say'. So Mr Clemens then says 'no, no, no. My friend is confused. I talked to him about my wife [a non-athlete] taking HGH'. That's right, the big strong athlete threw his wife under the bus and Mrs Clemens stands firm and quiet.

Now the story gets rich... A country singer says she's had a "long term affair" with Clemens, who she's known "since she was 15", with rumors that the affair started then.

I wonder how Mrs. Clemens is gonna take to this development. I can only imagine how my dear wife would react to such news (hint: I would be better off swimming with sharks or teasing hungry polar bears).

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wow. The Padres Are Really Bad...

I guess it's obvious that I'm a baseball nut. I love the game. But I hate it when it is played badly (this is my problem with the "for fun" softball team I'm on... too many of the folks aren't playing the game, they are playing at playing the game... ah well... it's for fun... it's for fun... it's for fun.) Back to the Padres.

These guys are professionals. They are paid to play. They stink. Sometimes teams just aren't very good. I really think this team is better than their miserable 10-17 record.

But they keep failing at simple stuff like moving runners with outs. Getting runners in from third with less than two outs. Little stuff that makes a big difference. They complain about the home park being too big, but they refuse to play little ball. Pick one guys.

They play in a huge ball park, but have slow old outfielders. What is the front office thinking? They claim to be focusing on pitching and defense, but why then the old outfielders? They seem to recognize that the park is bigger and plays much bigger to right field than left, but all the "power hitters" are left handed batters. Now this time to the front office... Pick one guys.

Nice to get this all out... I feel better. I just wish the Padres would play like they care about the game as much as I do.

Monday, April 28, 2008

HDTV...

First, let's start with the fact that I'm a confirmed Luddite (don't let the blogging fool you, I'm a Luddite). Second, that as a Luddite I am among those very few Americans that refuse to send a check every month to some cable/dish company to get TV, when I can receive it for free through the air.

So with the impending switch from analog to digital broadcast, and being cheap enough that I didn't want to go buy an HD TV, I did what any self-respecting Conservative would do... I stuck my hand out and got one (actually two) of those HD converter box $40 coupons from the government. They arrived last Saturday. So off I went to a local electronics store and bought a converter box (again actually two).

Saturday night I sat down and installed the darn thing. OK first problem... How do I configure the rabbit ears? I mean when you use analog rabbit ears, you can see how strong the signal (how good the reception) is by simply pointing them and looking at the screen. This does not work for digital. With a digital signal you have no picture or a perfect picture (in special directions you can get random oscillations between these). So how to find the best direction? This web site will tell you which direction and distance the HD broadcasters are in your area and the type of (outside) antenna to use. If you use rabbit ears, they "point" in the direction perpendicularly to the plane defined by the two antennas.

Anyways, after fudging around for about 10 minutes (which included the unbox and cabling time) I now have over the air digital TV on an old 27" analog TV set. The picture is terrific (except for those every now and again block artifacts). I did lose the local ABC affiliate, which broadcasts from the same mountain top as the CBS affiliate which comes in great, so I'm stumped on this one, but still experimenting.

One last thing... When I was at the store, a clerk told me that I need to replace my analog rabbit ears with an HD set. Huh? Rabbit ears are two long wires. Both analog and digital TV are broadcast at RF frequencies. How can the rabbit ears be "digital"? There is a built in amplifier, maybe, MAYBE, that matters. But I sure couldn't figure how why. Since I was buying two converter boxes, one for our main TV and a spare TV in the back that I thought I'd get going for when my In-Laws visit, and only had one pair of rabbit ears at home, I figured, OK I'll buy one HD rabbit ear set and test the thing. No Difference! Now I won't tell you that this was a scam, but I'd suggest you try your old "analog" set before you plunk down cash on a "digital" set.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

This Is More Important Than The Story Indicates

There has been some recent press about how kids today are letting their text messaging shorthand creep into homework.

Why do I think this is important? First a short regression...

I am of the last generation that learned how to use trig tables, log tables, slide rules, and the like. Literally my eighth grade class was the last to learn how to use slide rules. The next year everyone was required to get a four function calculator. At the time I figured they were the lucky ones. Later I learned otherwise.

Eventually I got to college and then grad school as a scientist. What I discovered was that because I'd learned those things the hard way, I really did learn them. The younger kids who'd learn by punching calculator keys never really learned the mathematics behind them. This isn't just some old curmudgeon talking. I have hard data to support it. In grad school, while trying to teach freshman Chemistry, it wasn't that unusual to start explaining how to do a problem and have the "student" say 'just tell me which buttons to push'. True. Sad.

OK, with that background, why am I so concerned about OMG, NBD, LOL, and the like creeping into homework? Because it allows students to not really learn. It rewards the short cut. But real learning is NEVER the result of short cuts. (One might also look at the recent story about how people do and don't learn math.)

The bottom line is that if we want our children, our posterity, to be prepared for the future, when they must be the leaders, we must lead today and ensure that they really learn.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hubble PIctures

Just a short note to point to a page with lots of great pictures from the Hubble Space telescope. Here's one to wet your appetite.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dumb and Dumber

Today was an odd day for "news" stories (I use that word loosely). First there is this story about Louisiana deciding not to ban "baggy" clothes. OK, I am not exactly thrilled with all the kids sagging and showing their underwear (and even a bit more at times). But then I'm an old curmudgeon. Even so surely they have more important things to do than this.

Then there is this story about people using a high pitched siren to chase teenagers away (the sound is pitched at high enough frequencies that only the young can hear it). Again, I'm a curmudgeon, but even I see no reason to chase these kids away, unless they are really doing something wrong.

So what's in common that made me think of these as linked in some way? Well I couldn't help but think of this
I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words... When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise [disrespectful] and impatient of restraint"
That's attributed to Hesiod in the 8th century BC.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Man, That's Scary... Or Is It Coincidence?

Ran into this silly internet quiz What Generation Do You Belong In? Result...

You Belong in the Baby Boomer Generation

You fit in best with people born between 1943 and 1960.
You are optimistic, rebellious, and even a little self centered.
You still believe that you will change the world.
You detest authority and rules. Deep down, you're a non conformist.

What make sit scary is that without any actual data on my birth and only 5 questions, it figured out that I am Baby Boomer.

So if anyone out there takes the quiz, let me know if it gets you right...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Is a Longer Time Better or Worse

Another member of the Feline Theocracy has posted a link to a silly quiz which purports to determine how long you could live in hard vacuum. OK here's mine...

How long could you survive in the vacuum of space?
Created by OnePlusYou


I couldn't help but wonder if a longer existence in this case is really better.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The News From the Supreme Court

Sure the supreme court agreed that Kentucky (and by analogy other states) can continue to have execution by lethal injection, but that's not the big news.

The big news was that Justice Stevens decided that "I have relied on my own experience in reaching the conclusion that the imposition of the death penalty" is unconstitutional. That's right "his own experience". Why bother with the Constitution? Who needs it? Let's just hang out, and use our "experience" to decide what the law should be.

The scary part is that he's hardly the only one that thinks that way. It is the basis of 'legislating from the bench'.

Compare that to the oath each supreme court justice takes:
"I, [NAME], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as [TITLE] under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God."


Hmmm... I didn't see anything there about experience.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I'm an Old Geek... That Should Know Better

Tonight I played on a softball team that was put together by our group at work. I haven't played an organized game in more than two decades. After tonight maybe I still haven't. We are pretty bad. But it was fun.

The part about "geek" and "should know better" suggest this... Man am I sore. I think I pulled a calf muscle. Tomorrow is a nightmare waiting to happen. I don't even want to think about the rest of the season...

Oh, and we lost in the 9th, 7-6. Bummer. And to think I had tickets to tonights Padres v. Rockies game (currently 0-0 going to the 11th innning). Gave the tickets to my kids and went to the softball game. Bad choice.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Yeah, I'm a Geek

More proof the title tells the truth.

A big debate between the democrats. Not the story for me.

For me it is this one. NASA is extending the Cassini mission to Saturn.

That means more pictures like this

and these 1 2 3 4 5. Another two thousand, or so, more here.

Now that is "your tax dollars at work"!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Good News - I Hope

So because of all the press about SnOb-ama and "bitter"-gate, there seems to be little if any coverage of what could be a very important speech by McCain. He is almost (but sadly not quite) calling for actual spending control. Here are the key quotes, as I see them
We need reforms that promote growth and opportunity. We need rules that assure fairness and punish wrongdoing in the market. We need tax policies that respect the wage-earners and job creators who make this economy run, and help them to succeed in a global economy.

'Discretionary spending' is a term people throw around a lot in Washington, while actual discretion is seldom exercised. Instead, every program comes with a built-in assumption that it should go on forever, and its budget increase forever. My administration will change that way of thinking.

While this isn't quite what I want, in that it isn't fiscal sanity, it is at least a step away from our current fiscal fantasy (and way more reasonable than the spend, spend, spend promises of the Dems).

Monday, April 14, 2008

This is News?

So today there is a report that says that California has a greater than 99% chance of a 6.7 earthquake (or bigger) in the next 30 years according to "scientists".

As a "scientist" all I can say is, "Duh!".

A significant earthquake somewhere in California in the next 30 years. Imagine that. I would have never guessed it. It's like prediciting snow for Minnesota sometime in the next 10 months. Or rain in Seattle. Or a scandal in Washington, DC. Or the sun rising in the morning (OK, technically appearing to rise).

How is this kind of "prediction" news? It doesn't make sense to me. But at least it ain't Obama...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008

California Considering Raising the Beer Tax by 1500%!

Yes, that's right 1500%. The full article is here.

Seems that California Assemblyman Jim Beall (San Jose Democrat) wants to increase the current beer tax from $0.02 per can or bottle to $0.32 each. A six pack would go up in price by $1.80. Estimates are that a barrel of beer would see tax increase from $6.40 to $89!

Assemblyman Beall said the tax would generate $2 billion a year to fund health care services, crime prevention and programs to prevent underage drinking and addiction.

Seriously, is this classic tax and spend politics or what? I have said before (and have no doubt will have plenty of opportunities to say again) Taxes are too high now. Budgets must be balanced, but balanced by not spending more. We can not afford every pet project of every person that somehow gets elected, or spends money to get somebody else elected. Stop it now.

The good news is that apparently this particular change will require a 2/3 majority in the legislature and passage by the electorate. Fat chance of that happenning.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Arizona, Enforcing the Law

Arizona has recently passed a law that says essentially "if you hire illegal immigrants, we will pull your business license". The shake up is starting to be noticable according to this article.

I particularly liked the notes that Entire apartment buildings are empty, students are disappearing from schools and One in 10 workers in Arizona is an illegal immigrant.

So why do I think those are so great?

Well, the first links back to the post over at the Scratching Post about school costs. If "1 in 10" workers are illegal, then how many of the students are just sucking up our taxes? How many are way-below average in English (and therefore VERY costly to teach)? How much better off will our kids be if we actually 1) remove the drain on the school system and 2) remove the illegal workers that suppress the pay scale once they are done with school?

And then think about this... if the "apartment buildings are empty" (I suspect some journalistic hyperbole here, but I can hope), then without having our cops spend hours, without spending money to deport them, the illegals are simply leaving. Yeah!

Take away the jobs and the people leave. Simple. So simple. Time to expand this law into California.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Speech Every Voter Should Have To Read

I know that Obama gets all the press for his speeches. I guess... if you like... to hear... just a few words... at a time... then he... really is... a great orator. Or maybe he just doesn't have enough to say to really fill the time. I have yet to hear more than a few moments of John McCain speaking (unless you count the section where he's geting booed on the anniversary of Dr. King's assination).

I ran across this speech of Sen McCain and thought it the best I've read in a long time. I suggest you check it out. If that seems too hard, then read these two excerpts and reconsider.
I'm a conservative, and I believe it is a very healthy thing for Americans to be skeptical about the purposes and practices of public officials. We shouldn't expect too much from government -- nor should it expect too much from us. Self-reliance -- not foisting our responsibilities off on others -- is the ethic that made America great.
and
If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you are disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them. I hope more Americans would consider enlisting in our Armed Forces. I hope more would consider running for public office or working in federal, state and local governments. But there are many public causes where your service can make our country a stronger, better one than we inherited. Wherever there is a hungry child, a great cause exists. Where there is an illiterate adult, a great cause exists. Wherever there are people who are denied the basic rights of Man, a great cause exists. Wherever there is suffering, a great cause exists.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Obama Babble

Last night on the late news on our local station they had a story about the YouTube and like posts about all the little kids that can be seen saying "Obama".

Then they had a child development expert explain it. Seems that "Ba" and "Ma" and other 'ah' sounds (like "Pa" and "Da") are the first ones kids learn. They babble them (and get really positive feedback from the adults around them). The sounds become friends to little kids. Consequently O+Ba+Ma is something they like to hear and say.

I have to wonder, how much of that childhood affinity to O+Ba+Ma sounds is still impacting the young adults that seem so drawn to Sen. Obama? Is it really as simple as childhood babble affecting our political process? I think it would explain a lot.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Another Beautiful Day at the Ball Park(s)

First my youngest had a game this morning. Despite the overcast gray skies, and the fact that his team lost 5-2, it was a nce start to the day (of course his two innings - six batters) might have been part of why it seemed nice.

Then over to Petco. By the time we got there, the skies had cleared and it was a wonderful day. Brad Penny for the Dodgers vs. Jake Peavy for the Padres. A great match up. Peavy had a three up, three strike outs first. Penny had some bad luck in the bottom of the inning, 5 straight singles, a sacrific fly, and then an error by the third baseman to allow the 4th run (technically the official scorer said the ball hit to third was a single, but seriously, what was he looking at?). At this point the game was pretty much over. Peavy pretty much coasted (even though he gave up two hits, both in the 4th to allow the Dodgers a run), Penny settled in and went 6, two Dodger relievers later we are going into the top of the ninth.

If you've ever been in Petco when the Padres are in a "save" situation, and Trevor Hoffman is warming, then you know what comes next... The scoreboards all go dark, the music on the loudspeakers silence. As soon as the centerfield bullpen door opens and Hoffman takes his first step on to the warning track, the first knell of Hell's Bells rings out and all the scoreboards light up with fire and the text "Trevor Time".

A strange thing happened today. The scoreboards all went dark, the music on the loudspeakers silenced. The centerfield bullpen door opened but Trevor didn't step out. Heath Bell stepped out - to play warmup catch with the left fielder. Peavy went back to the mound. Trevor stayed in the pen. Three batters later (walk, 4-3 double play, ground out 4-1) game over. Padres win.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Padres v. Astros (part IV)

For Todd...

Nice game today. Sunny, warm, and a 2.5 hour game. Started with Garlic Fries and a Burger (it felt wrong, not a beer and a dog, but it tasted oh so good).

Walked all the way around the park with my wonderful wife in the sunshine. Took our seats in left, just before the first pitch. A nice easy top of first for Randy Wolf. A two run dinger by Kooz in the bottom of the inning, right into the Padres bullpen about 15 feet to my left.

A horribly frustrating bottom of two. Two quick outs, a single by the pitcher, then walks to Hairston and Iguchi (ending with 7 straight balls). Adrian Gonzalez comes up with the bases loaded, takes ball one, then swings at the second pitch! That's right, eight straight balls and he swings at a borderline pitch, grounds out, and kills the inning. Don't these guys ever learn? If the Pitcher can't throw a strike, don't help him! Ish! If a player had done that when I coaching, I would have gently taken him aside and explained that that is stupid baseball. If I was Buddy Black, I would have explained to Gonzo that since he is too freaking stupid to understand the game, henceforth in obvious "take" situations, we were actually going to give him the "take" sign. Urgh!

(OK, time to calm back down...)

Anyways, the Astros managed a run in the third and thus it stood at 2-1 Pads into the 7th. Wolf was taken out (seemed like he was running out of gas to me, so a good move, in my opinion). Padres brought in Enrique Gonzalez to pitch (short powerful looking guy, with a high eighties dead straight fastball... I was worried). Two batters later it's 2-2 with a runner on second and no one out. Somehow he manages to get out of the inning without any additional runs. In the bottom of the inning Hairston triples, Iguchi singles, Pads back up 3-2.

In the top of the eighth the best defensive play I've seen this year... Heath Bell pitching, two out, slow runner on second, a hard ground ball to the right side. Gonzalez dives, but can't reach the ball. Iguchi ranges far to his left into shallow right field. Gloves the ball and throws to Bell covering first. Sweet!

Top of the ninth... Hell's Bells... Trevor Time. Last night Trevor completely gagged a one run lead by giving up 4 runs. Today was a simple ground out to short, ground out to first (with Trevor covering), ground out to third. Cue the music, walk to the car.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hot Fusion - Will It Ever Be Practical?

WARNING: This entry is unabashedly scientific. If you are a science-phobe, stop reading now.

OK you're still reading so the question I want to think about is "Will Hot Fusion Ever Be a Practical Power Source?"

Let's start with, it is, of course, impossible to predict the future with perfection, but the past is the best predictor of the future. When I was a kid 40 years ago, the experts said they'd have Hot Fusion as a Power Source in 20 years. So 20 years later (20 years ago), it still wasn't ready, but the experts said it would be working in 20 years. Today it still isn't ready. Tonight I saw an article over at this place. In this article an expert says that at current funding rates it will take about another... no, not 20 years... 35 years.

Ok, so after 40 years, with consistent projections of "20 more years", we now hear "35 more years". My projection based on this is that Hot Fusion as a Practical Power Source will happen... when it happens. I don't mean that to sound like a cop out, so let me clarify. It will happen at a time that is unpredictable. I believe what we are seeing is a reflection of the truth that the whole process is simply beyond our current technology. Not that won't happen someday, but it will happen after a breakthrough that is unforeseeable.

So if I believe that (and I do), what would I do? Would I keep funding Hot Fusion? Yes. It is the ultimate solution to power. Would I cut the funding a bit and use that to fund other possible energy sources? You bet. I think that solar, and wind are the better short term answers. They are both free and non-polluting. Biofuels are a red-herring. We can barely grow enough food for all the people, no way we can grow so much more that we can feed the power needs as well.

Well that's my two cents.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Love and Marriage (Maybe)

The Scratching Post has a wonderful post titled On the Effects of Sex Ratios. In the post our Maximum Leader points out that "Women want marriage, and men want sex". While that is, of course, an over simplification, it certainly isn't wrong.

Many years ago (ick... it was 1989) I read a book called "Sexual Selection" by James L Gould and Carol Grant Gould (a Scientific American Library publication, which does not seem to be in print now). On page 258, there is a revealing list of thirteen characteristics that one might use to select a mate. The list was ordered by males and females here are the lists:
MALES FEMALES
Kindness and understanding Kindness and understanding
Intelligence Intelligence
Physical attractiveness Exciting personality
Exciting personality Good health
Good health Adaptability
Adaptability Physical attractiveness
Creativity Creativity
Desire for children Good earning potential
College graduate College graduate
Good heredity Desire for children
Good earning potential Good heredity
Good housekeeper Good housekeeper
Religious Orientation Religious Orientation
Basically the lists are identical except for the two items in bold (technically the "College graduate" is also one higher in the Female column, but it correlates with Good earning potential, so it can be ignored). Notice the two items are exactly the kind of things that one might expect based on basic evolutionary arguements about who cares about what (just as per the arguements KT gives in his post).

These sorts of facts cause the social liberals great consternation, as they challenge their cherished beliefs about what should be (in their opinion).

To them I can only say what every scientist is taught, "Theory guides, Experiment decides".