Monday, March 31, 2008

Take Me Out To The Ballgame...

Well actually I just got back from there. A nice Padres win, 4-0 vs Astros.

After watching the Padres uncharacteristicly get 14 hits (and 2 walks), but characteristicly manage a mere 4 runs, I suspect that they will go exactly as far as the pitching staff takes them. In any case, it's The Game.

Now that I've posted yesterday (bleakly) and today (happily), I promise to drop the Baseball theme and get on to other things.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Season Has Started

Baseball season has finally started and the Void is over.

Now that the season is going, I'd like to ask, does Major League Baseball have its collective heads up its own posteriors, or is it me? I happen to think that most baseball fans revere the traditions of the sport, while the powers that be seem to relish killing them.

For example, the Cincinnati Reds are the oldest team. They used to be the team that opened the season. They had earned that right. Today we open the season in Japan. In a city in a country that has no major league teams. Why? Opening elsewhere is a travesty. Today we opened in DC. An affront to fans everywhere (except, perhaps, Japan and DC).

Why does baseball think that we should fly teams half way around the world and open the season in an entire different country? Are the Japanese going to start watching games? Unlikely. Did they turn some Americans off? Possibly (me for sure). Did they lose money? You bet. Was the expense of flying teams to China and playing pre-season games there a good investment? Doubtful.

How long until we have lots of games out of country? Why would I care about The Game once that happens?

I hold season tickets to the Padres. I'll be at their opener tomorrow. Every year I wonder if I really care enough to buy the tickets. Every year it gets harder to say yes. Every year I feel that The Game is becoming less The Game I grew up with, and care about, and more some other game, one I don't care so much about.

If that happens enough to me, I'll stop going. If that happens to enough fans, Baseball will stop going. That might be something worth thinking about.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bury My Heart at Tranquility Base?

I'm sure that everybody has seen the articles about the company that will send some of your ashes to the moon (for a price of course). I couldn't decide as I first read it if it was creepy or brilliant.

I've decided it's brilliant.

It's brilliant because it represents a very important step back towards humans really going into space. Yeah, yeah, I know sending ashes skyward (or moonward) is hardly a huge step towards interstellar space. Nonetheless, anything that moves us as a species outward is a good thing.

Maybe this is an odd outlook. It comes from a book I just read. A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chaikin. It is the story of the Apollo program and all the missions to the moon. Reading this reminded me of the wonder and excitement of that time. But more to the point, it reminded me that while I was alive for this achievement, not one manned (peopled?) mission has gone back during the time my children have been alive.

How many times in human history has a major achievement occurred and then the species simply abandon it? Or sure, not many fleets sailed to the New World right after Columbus. But they did come at a pace appropriate for the information flow of the time. Not true for flight to the Moon.

We must return to the Moon and continue out beyond. It is the only path to the future. When it happens we will find our hearts soaring. If we don't, it doesn't matter where my heart is buried.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Not Really LOL

If we all want this:
funny dog pictures

Why is it we seem to only get this:
funny dog pictures

I wish I knew...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Other Shoe

In yesterday's post I suggested I had a topic for today's post, and that it was related to my oldest son. It is also related to last Saturday's post. In that post I mentioned that I had seen two wins from my boys adult baseball games. In yesterday's I only mentioned the youngest's game.

A week ago I neglected to mention that my oldest had been hit in the forearm with a pitch and then (after running the bases) took himself out of the rest of the game. We really didn't think much of it. Sure, it was bruised, but no real swelling, so he (and I and his mom) figured bad bruise, not broken.

Goes to show that those without M.D. degrees ought not make such decisions. After living and working with his "bruise" from Saturday through Thursday, my son finally called the doctor's office and got it x-rayed. Turned out it was broken.

Short version from there: The decision was surgery today to put in plate and screws. The surgery went great and all is now well.

A long Easter for a worried Mom and Dad. But a good outcome.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Interesting Day in the NCAA's

Let me start with this... I am a baseball nut, first, foremost, and forever. That being said, there is something truly wonderful about the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

I didn't watch too much of the tourney today (youngest son played in his own baseball game, middle son was home from college with his girl friend, and oldest son was, well that's a post for tomorrow), but the parts I did see were typically wonderful. Wisconsin wins an easy one, as do Wash State and Kansas. Xavier and Michigan State win close games as does West Va in a big upset of Duke. The other two games go down to the wire. Wonderful (or have I said that already?).

Tomorrow should be just as good.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Democrats (Un)Civil War

Prior to my recent travel I ran across this very interesting article on how Democrats are starting to not only divide over Hillary vs. Barack, but divide deeply, emotionally, possibly irrevocably. It is particularly interesting to me that the divide may really hurt the possibilities for both candidates for the eventual winner. The article says
It's unclear exactly when the primaries stopped being a joyous occasion for the Democrats. But as the weeks have ground on, the intensity between Democrats who disagree has calcified, the vitriol grown fiercer. According to exit polling in the Texas primary, 91 percent of Clinton supporters said they would be dissatisfied with Obama as the nominee; 87 percent of Obama fans said they would be dissatisfied with Clinton. Nationally, a quarter of those who back Clinton say they'd vote for John McCain if Obama won the nomination (while just 10 percent of Obama supporters would do the same if he lost).

Encouraging for McCain, but also early. Many of these folks wear their hearts on their sleves, and after the nomination is worked out, they may change their minds. On the other hand, (to use our Maximum Leader's analogy), maybe they'll down spiral into civil war.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy and Getting Happier Everyday?

An interesting article. It starts by saying that how happy each of is, is about half determined by our genes.

Hard to believe.

But what seemed even more interesting to me is that they claim each of us goes through a happiness "U". We start happy as kids and get sadder as we age until about age 44 where we start to happy back up. They claim it doesn't seem to be kid related.

The best explanation seems to be that as you age you get unhappy about not being able to fulfill your ambitions, and then (around 44) you come to grips with it, and start getting happier as you come to like who you are.

I think this is the first thing I ever heard that actually makes me happy to be past 44, but then, maybe it is just that I am past 44.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Nice Quiet Saturday

Well almost. Yesterday our garage door started opening and closing on its own. After trying a few things (I'm a scientist, I can't just change it out, I had to experiment on it first), I determined it was seriously broken. It was also like 15 years old.

Anyways, that meant that after spending the morning watching two of my boys play in their adult baseball games (two wins!), I got to spend the afternoon switching out the old door opener. Three hours later, and after the help of all three boys, the garge door is back to only opening when we want it to.

So, not a cheap day. Not really a lazy day. But a nice one. After all is there anything better than spending the day with your kids?

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Truly Frightening Presentation

Wednesday on his blog,Peddling into the Wind, a friend posted the most frightening thing I've seen in a long long time. It is a presentation by the outgoing Comptroller General of the United States, David M. Walker.

I will cut to the chase for those of you who don't want to read the whole thing... If we don't implement fiscal sanity NOW, we are scr3wed, and so are our kids (and possibly all of our "posterity"). If you doubt my synopsis I recommend you look hard at slides 6 and 7. On slide 6 we see that the Social Security and Medicare benefits have grown by 213% from 2000 to 2007 (that's an annual growth rate of over 11%!), and on slide 7 we see that the burden per household has risen to nearly 9.5 times the annual household income.

The only possible solution is exactly the one the Honorable Mr Walker recommends, it's his title: "Tough Choices Today". Anything else is cowardice.

A Great Day for This Story

So this morning in the San Diego Union Tribune there is this story about American kids having mediocre math skills. The story relates that math capability drops off starting in middle school about when algebra sets in. So why is that?

How about because that's when kids start deciding which classes to take and which NOT to take. Do you think that maybe, given the negative portrayal of "Geeks" and "Nerds" through out the media, that kids decide that they don't 1) want to work hard, or 2) get the label of Geek/Nerd? Maybe the fact that many teachers are not mathematically inclined/proficient, makes it hard for them to motivate the students, to express a genuine excitement about mathematics (without which all of science and all of nature must remain a closed book), further convincing the kids that math is too hard and not worth it.

How about this for a second reason, straight from the last paragraph
The president convened the panel to advise on how to improve math education. Its members include math and psychology professors [my emphasis] from leading universities, a middle-school math teacher, and the president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
Psychology professors? I know, I know, they want to consider "how the kids learn", but come on... math is learned by 1) instruction, 2) examples, and then 3) practice, practice, practice. I don't see this as really fixing the problem. But I suppose everyone will feel bettter.

Oh, and by the way, that this came out today was deliciously ironic. Why? Because today is Pi-day. Yes, that Pi. π. The ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. One of the most fundamental constants in all of mathematics (and the rest of science). But wait. Why is today π-day? Because at 1:59:26 AM the date/time, when written out in order is 3/14 1:59:26.

So happy π-day!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Wrong Spitzer Is Getting All The Press

Maybe it's just that I'm a scientist, and am burned out on yet another Politican getting caught doing something they shouldn't. (And why is that Republicans seem to always get caught with their hands in the cookie jar, and Democrats with their hands in... Uh make that... with their pants down?). Anyways, Gov Spitzer keeps making headlines, while the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope makes a huge discovery, and not a peep about that.

To remedy that:

NASA reports that the Spitzer Space Telescope has found organics and water in the same location as where planets are forming. This is clear evidence that many of the processes that have been postulated to have occured in Earth's past are now being observed in circumstances much like what Earth experienced. As a scientist I can say that this is exciting confirmation of the hypothesized explanation of how organic molecules, the building blocks of life, came to be here on Earth.

Sen Metzenbaum - RIP

Ohioans from both sides of the aisle are pausing to pay respects to Sen Howard Metzenbaum.

The good Senator was a "dyed in the wool" liberal. I virtually never agreed with him (I can't actually think of a single time I did, but I certainly can't remember them all). Even so, Sen Metzenbaum was a man of his convictions. He was honorable. He was someone that Ohio could be proud to call one of ours.

May he Rest In Peace.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Shots Across The Bows

There is a shot across the bow from the Democrats. A bunch of folks are making hay about McCain not beinging a "natural born" citizen. He was born in the Panama Canal Zone (general legal opinion is that that was never US territory), to two US Citizens, thus being a citizen at birth. He has never held other citizenship.

So the "issue" is a very narrow reading of "natural born" as requiring birth within the US. It would require an extremely narrow reading of "natural born". The more obvious reading is that you are either a "naturalized" citizen or a "natural born". No one disputes he's a citizen. No one has suggested that he was ever "naturalized". Hence he's "natural born". Seems simple to me. (Interestingly, the folks making this case would argue that someone born here, of parents here illegally, that then spends the next 35 years back in the country of the parents, would qualify.)

Now McCain's shot(s). Watch this

So other than this being a great (and I mean great) ad, why a shot?

Did you hear the dig at 1:06? "I don't seek the office out of a sense of entitlement." Who might be doing that? Then there is the text at 1:31. "More than Aspiration. Leadership." Perhaps aimed at the other Democrat me thinks.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

News of the Day

I couldn't decide which of these to write about, so I decided to do short paragraphs on each.

I will not participate in the "piling on" that's going on with regard to Gov Spitzer (D-NY), Re: prostitute. I will instead say that based on the photos of him and his wife... Well that's one cheezed off lady. Not that I can blame her. That's why I won't pile on. It looks to me like he's going to get everything that he has coming.

Next, we see that Sen Obama has rejected Sen Clinton's suggestion of him being VP on the ticket with her. I can't see her accepting the VP position, so it looks like it will continue to be a knock-down drag-out to the end between the two Dems. It's almost too good to be true.

Now the really bad news. The CDC reports that one quarter of girls between 14 and 19 have an STD. That is unbelievable. Very distressing. One wonders how we, as a society, got to this point. And how to get back to something more reasonable. But I'm not worried. I'm sure that once Congress gets done with steriods in baseball they'll get right on this. And I know that the film and television industries care about young girls, so they'll stop promoting promiscuity.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Didn't They Learn the First Time?

In today's San Diego Union Tribune there is an article about the possibility that the California Public Utilites Commission (CPUC) may open the system to allow private residents and businesses to buy power directly from suppliers.

Do they not remember the summer when California had an electrical power crisis? The brown outs? The spiraling costs? The fact that the first deregulation fiasco cost us BILLIONS? That it cost Gov Davis his job?

The simple truth is they remember. So, when it isn't obvious why they'd do this, follow the money. The CPUC is being petitioned by businesses for this. Somebody sees a way to reduce their costs, probably leaving all the unrecovered costs from lat time to the regular folks. I really hope the CPUC comes to its collective senses, but I'd bet against it.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Importing Pharmaceuticals - Now That's a Bad Idea

From a few days ago here,
China's drug safety agency, commenting on a probe into the recalled drug heparin, said Wednesday it enforces strict controls on chemicals used in pharmaceuticals, but that importing countries are ultimately responsible for ensuring product safety.

So instead of testing the batch in China, we are expected to test the final products. Are they serious? To test a batch only requires a relatively small sample of a large homogenous mixture. This essentially guarantees that all samples will be the same. On the other hand, once a batch has been divided (be it tablets, pills, bottles, whatever), you can not know if one or more part gets contaminated, without testing every item, which is, of course, impractical.

But, given what has happened over the past year or so, can we trust a test done by China? I don't think so. But even so, while I hate to admit it, I agree with the statement above by China. We are resposible for the safety of our products.

So if we are responsible for the safety of our products, and we can not trust tests done by other countries, and can not practically test the products once they get here, I draw a conclusion that I suspect the Chinese would disagree with. I conclude that we should not import phamaceuticals!

This Time The Democrats Are Absolutely Right

Just got back from a family thing over in AZ (got the jump on the time change that way).

Anyways, the IRS is about to waste $42,000,000 of your and my money. How? By sending everybody that's going to get a check from the stimulus package a mailer telling them that they will get the check. The Democrats are complaing that that is waste of money. They are right.

This apparently is the IRS version of a Dilbert Cartoon. In the next panel Dilbert will suggest to the IRS that maybe we can't just jump into a mailer to explain the check and need to send a pre-mailer to tell them they'll get a mailer.

Seriously, I can understand including a flyer with the checks that explains how the amount of the check was determined. But a separate mailing? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Proud and Ashamed at the Same Time

First, I've been away on business and away from a computer, so this is my first chance to blog since Sunday.

That means I finally get to brag about how proud and pleased I was to see Ohio put Sen. McCain over the top to "certain nominee" status on Tuesday night.

My pride lasted exactly 12 hours.

On Wednesday morning I found a USA Today outside my hotel room door. As I was reading through it over breakfast, I became ashamed of Ohio. Well, not just Ohio, Texas, too. Actually, pretty much everybody. Why?

Well, on page 5A they showed the data for "Who Voted for Whom, and Why, in Two Key States", specifically Texas and Ohio (unfortunately I couldn't find the numbers on their web site, so I can only link to some graphs, which are not nearly as clear as the raw numbers). The part that made me ashamed was the breakdown of voters, by race and sex, and how they voted for Senators Clinton and Obama. Short version: The whites voted for the white and the blacks voted for the black, while the men voted for the man and the women voted for the woman. (By the way, the same was observed earlier in South Carolina.)

And this was by the voters of the party that prides itself on being the party of inclusion? The party of diversity? The party of tolerance?

Apparently racism and sexism are not yet things of the past, not even for Democrats.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


I've posted a couple times about my concern over the cause of fiscal sanity (you know spend less than what you make and save the rest) and how I want that to be the tack our government officals take. I think that at one time not so long ago that was actually the opinion of conservatives.

Apparently so does Nate Beeler, the editorial cartoonist for the Washington Examiner, clcik here.