Friday, February 29, 2008
I think I'm done with Hollywood.
For look at how things once were, see this.
Update: This may belong in the comments, given KT's positive comment, re Angelina Jolie, but here is something that I wanted out here.
The local TV station KUSI had a wonderful story on Gary Sinise and his band giving a free concert to the Marines at Camp Pendleton. The link does not do the full story justice.
I don't know, but I can't help but wonder if, even though lots of people end up in prison, somehow going to prison is simply seen as not being a credible threat. How can I possibly suggest this?
Simple, in order for prison to be a credible threat, the offender has to have a reasonable expectation of being 1) identified, 2) caught, 3) prosecuted, 4) convicted, and 5) incarcerated. I just think that for a great many people, the entire sequence just doesn't look likely.
Actually, I suspect the problem starts even sooner. I suspect that for so many young people, those who do not have proper supervision, role models, and boundaries, they simply do not learn the lesson that bad behavior has bad consequences. From there they start out small and evolve into something serious.
In orther words, I'm suggesting that the problem is due to the break down of the nuclear family. So, sorry Hillary, but I don't believe "It Takes a Village", I believe it takes parents.
Clarification: That last line reads not quite like I intended it. It looks like I meant it takes two parents. That's not what I meant. What I meant was a parent or parents that care(s) enough to ensure their child understands right from wrong, the consquences of misbehavior, and personal responsibilty.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
At the same time we have the Democratic Presidential (presumtive) nominee saying that he will "slow the development of future combat systems" right around the 20 second mark in the video here.
So which is it? Slower development of systems or systems into the field to support the troops? But note that these are mutually exclusive, so you only get to pick one.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Way back I heard Buckley once say "I'd rather be governed by 100 people chosen at random out of the phone book, than Congress". It is one of those things that's stayed with me.
Why? Because it's part of one of my pet peeves about our whole system. We have amateur juries and professional politicians. Somehow that seems backwards to me.
Now don't get me wrong, there are lots of things about our system that I love, but the actual people that govern us, are not part of that list. I suspect that the typical politician is more interested in power or lining their pockets than really serving the people. I've often said that politicians really only care about two things: getting elected and getting re-elected.
Maybe if there was some randomness in the electoral process we could find legislators that care about the future and the people.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
This is the headline over at CNN for today's stock report: Stocks rally despite bad economic news.
Yeah, that's right. Bad news, stocks go up. Why? Because. (I feel an Abbott and Costello routine coming on...).
Seriously, there is often no reason. I remember once when I was young hearing the explanation that "stocks went down on a lack of bad news". Stocks go the way they do, because they do. People buy and sell for reasons that are often way beyond inscrutable. Prices are all about supply and demand. But demand is essentially an unpredictable thing.
Reagan may have gotten tagged with "voodoo economics", but I can't figure out which part of Economics isn't voodoo.
Monday, February 25, 2008
This is way beyond what this country can afford. Well at least it's more than we can afford if we want to avoid spending our children and grandchildren into a debt that only be paid off by massive rampant inflation.
So which candidate will admit this? None. Taking this on is political suicide. Remember when Walter Mondale admitted that he would raise taxes? What happened? He won exactly one state (and the District of Columbia) - by the way, that was exactly why I voted for him. Admit today that you intend to do the things that must be done to really control these health care costs, and you might as well dig a deep hole and climb into it.
I've said before, and I'll say again, fiscal sanity is my one and only issue. I hope that someone gets it.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Quiet. Relaxing. Beautiful.
Was planning a blog that basically said just that.
Then I sat down this evening and started browsing around the TV. Watched PBS ("Mystery" - gotta love Miss Marple). Just after it ended, while I trying to decide if I wanted to waste my time with the Oscar telecast, I flipped through CBS, and saw Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes.
So Andy does his usual little sub-rant thing, and he says that the least important newspaper headline he'd seen was that Platinum had gone to $2,000/oz. He says that he never buys Platinum, and doesn't even know what it is used for, so couldn't care less.
KABOOOM! I managed to contain my explosion internally, and didn't scream at the tube, but it was pretty hard.
After a minute or two I realized that really I'm the oddball, since I'm a chemist, and I do know what Platinum is used for. Maybe nobody else knows what Platinum is used for. But seriously, Andy, ever heard of catalytic converters? Every car in America (except for some very old ones) have Platinum in those cat converters that help to keep the pollution down. How about Cisplatin? It's an anti-cancer drug. Maybe Platinum jewelry? Even if you didn't know that Platinum was used for these things, maybe caring, just a little bit, would be a good idea?
I guess my problem is that I actually think that most Americans should know basic science. But I don't think we are doing a very good job of it. We expect everyone to learn basic math, basic English, (soon to include basic Spanish here in southern California?), basic all kinds of things, but science seems to be a forgotten subject.
Oh, I know that schools have science classes, but people don't seem to learn anything. We even debate whether to teach evolution in Biology classes. That's like debating whether we should be teaching addition in Math classes. Why do we have a this problem with the basic unifying principle of Biology? Yeah, I know why and so do you, and it has nothing to do with Science.
I guess the point of this rant is that at a time when other coutries (like China) are putting huge efforts and investments into science, math, and engineering, we debate teaching evolution. And people on TV can suggest that they couldn't care less about Platinum, because they don't know what it is used for - without apology. These are not good signs for the future of our country.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
I was posting my comment at The Scratching Post and realized it was going way too long so I moved it here...
This whole problem (and the theme of the comments at Yellow Doggerel Democrat) is the problem of some states having virtually no influence on the Presidential primaries, and everyone wanting, at least some. So what's happened recently? Everyone has been moving their primaries up. We did here in California. This has become so absurd that some states are holding their primaries more than 10 months before the general election. New Hampsire has gone so far as to pass a law that they must be the first primary. Let's not even think about the infinite regress that would happen if some other state passed a similarly insane law.
OK back to my main thesis. The issue is how to ensure that everyone gets at least some influence, and to stop the insanity of perpetually advancing the primaries. I think there is a simple, fair, and doable solution (which I guess guarantees it won't happen).
Point 1) The Federal Government has mandated federal elections take place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. This ensures that no one votes before or after anyone else (time zone issues aside). So there is a precedence for the federal government to step into the election dates of states.
Point 2) It is impossible for everyone to have influence everytime. Just won't happen. So don't even try to do it.
Point 3) Everyone deserves some influence, at least some of the time.
Point 4) In order to open the primaries to as many reasonable candidates as possible it makes sense to start with a small number of small states (keeps the cost down, doesn't require a huge machine, allows for grass roots (i.e., The People) politics). Hopefully these early states would also show a balance of the so called red states and blue states to give both viewpoints influence everytime.
Point 5) Any system, chosen by any state, must allow for the inclusion of the votes for any and all members of the United States Armed Forces, regardless of the physical location of these voters.
For the following solution I will assume that the only political units in which voters are registered are the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico (the extension to additional territories/new states is obvious).
My Proposed Solution: The federal government should enact legislation to mandate:
1) All Primary Elections for federal offices (President, Senate, House) shall occur on the first Tuesday and after the first Monday in June, except that
a) Presidential Primaries in the States of New Hampshire and Iowa may be held in the presidential election year on the First Tuesday after the first Monday in March and
b) The other states (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico) shall be divided into four groups [Aside: there are 50 of these, I'll let Congress do the grouping]. In years divisable by 16, the first group would be allowed to vote on the first Tuesday after the fourth Monday in March, the second would be allowed to vote on the first Tuesday after the Third Monday in April, the third group would be allowed to vote on the first Tuesday after the Second Monday in May, and the fourth group would vote on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June. In years with a remainder of 4 (after divsion by 16) the dates would be the same, but the order would be 2, 3, 4, 1. In years with remainders of 8, the order would be 3, 4, 1, 2, and in years with remainders of 12, the order would be 4, 1, 2, 3.
Everybody gets to vote "early" sometimes. We keep the history of NH and IA (and they are small and at least kinda one blue one red). The primaries are spaced about three week apart, so there is time to campaign in each state. We fix the forward movement to lock it at March (note we are not at March yet this year). The primaries are all done by early June - plenty of time to hold the party
I think it would actually work. I'm sure it will never happen.
Friday, February 22, 2008
There is a rather interesting test on general politics/sociology/history at this site.
The good CDR got 58 of 60. I managed 51. Not great, a solid B at 85%. Actually, as I haven't been in any kind of non-specialized course work since the mid 1970's, I was reasonably pleased. The site says the average score is about 43 correct (a low C at 71.9%).
Given that the average is around 72%, how many would get below 60%? In other words, how many voters would be unable to pass such a test?
I think I'll ponder that for a while.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
There has been a great wail today about the smear piece the New Yellow Journalism Times ran on McCain yesterday. Why is anyone surprised? Of course they are going to take any and all reasonable (and unreasonable) shots they can at the Republican candidate.
It's like being surprised when a shark eats a seal. It's their nature.
Will conservative talk radio do the same to Obama? Well, I'd certainly hope that their standards are a least a little better than this, but I wouldn't be shocked to see something pretty similar. It's their nature, too.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
It's not that he's black.
It's not that he talks without saying anything concrete.
It's not that he just got endorsed by the AFL-CIO.
It's that he's younger than me.
Yep, he is the first legitimate presidential candidate that's younger than I am.
Seriously, I've noticed that I don't feel old on birthdays. Not even the big ones like 30 or 40 or, well 50 is almost here. No those don't bother me. I feel old when certain events occur, and never see it coming. I felt old the day the first child started school. I felt old the day my last child graduated from high school. That kind of thing.
Today, I feel old.
So what happens? It rains in San Diego (OK Heavy mist, not really rain, but a cloud cover nonetheless). No eclipse to be seen or photographed. Bummer.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I have been proud of my country every time we have a peaceful change of Presidency.
I have been proud of my country every time I go to vote.
I have been proud of my country every time I get called for Jury Duty.
I was proud of my country first when a bunch of regular American's fought back on Flight 93, then when we all found strength and healing together after 9/11.
I was proud of my country when the Berlin Wall fell after almost 50 years of opposition by Democrats and Republicans alike.
I was proud of my country the night I stayed up late and watched a flickering black-and-white image of fellow Ohioan Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.
I was proud of my country when a woman ran for Vice President in 1984.
I was proud of my country when Jesse Jackson ran for the Democratic nomination in that same year.
and I am proud of my country every time I see our young men and women putting their lives on the line, on soil far away, in the cause of providing Liberty to men, women, and children they've never met.
So, Mrs. Obama, with all due respect, if you are just now, finally, proud of your country, all I can say is, you have not been paying attention.
Monday, February 18, 2008
This one is easy for me. Growing up in the 60's as a science geek, where else... SPACE
Think about it. Weightless, seeing the Earth from way up, and the stars as clear as clear can be.
A bit harder. I think Italy. Venice. Milan. Florence. The birth place of the Renaissance. I'd probably even find time to get to Rome.
The British Isles. England. Scotland. Wales. Ireland. I'd make time to get north enough (over in Europe) during the summer to see the midnight sun, and try to see the Aurora as well (both of these are on my "bucket list"). Lots of time in London. And a trip to Stonehenge.
Half Your Life
Anywhere that's with my wife. Maybe a cop-out, but that's the simple truth. If you want a place, read my blog from Sunday for why it's San Diego.
I'm supposed to tag three others, but I'm new enough to the blogosphere that instead I'll do this... If you read this (and there are not three comments saying done), then "tag you're it". After putting yours in, come back and comment tothat effect.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
In just 11 days the Padres play their first spring training game. I hope they find a left fielder pretty soon.
Managed to spend a bit of time watching the Daytona 500. A whole bunch of cars going really fast and turning left. I can't figure out why I like it. I know NASCAR is supposed to be a southerner thing, but this transplanted midwesterner loves it. Pretty good finish, and the Toyotas did not win. Yeah!
Overall a pretty quiet day here in San Diego. Sunny. Warm. Beautiful. Spent the rest of my time trimming some trees and taking a long walk with my wife. Glorious.
It just doesn't get any better than this.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
As the newly recognized Cantor of Chemistry, I shall perform all duties as required of me by the Maximum Leader. The actual duties are likely be light, as the Maximum Leader should only rarely have any Chemistry problems, but I stand ready.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Got to the airport around 8AM and found out that my airline had cancelled my flight. So did they re-book me on a later flight? No, they didn't, but they did offer to put me on flights tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow. No hotel for the night. Seems like a problem to me. Didn't to them. They maybe United, but they weren't very friendly.
So on to step two, I called my travel group and they rebooked me on another airline (American - the only one that had any seats today). So I go over there, buy my ticket, and check my bag. Oops, one little thing, I'm going home to San Diego, and my suitcase is booked to Nassau. Uh, let's fix that can we?
So after step three, me and my luggage are both ticketed to San Diego. Long layover in Chicago, but I should be home same day. After I land, no luggage. Seriously, no suitcase. No idea where it is. May have stayed on the plane I took to Chicago (which flew on to Houston). May have been mishandled in Chicago and sent anywhere. May have stayed in Chicago. May still have gone to Nassau. No one knows. Nobody in Chicago would answer the phone when the luggage person called from here (it was, after all, 7:00 PM in Chicago).
They claim that if the bag got left in Chicago, it will be on the next flight out here. They even nicely said that, if I don't hear from them by 10:30 PM I can call this number they gave me. So I ask them, "UH, I got up at 7 AM Eastern time. That's 4 AM Pacific. Do you really think I'm still going to be awake then?" They actually acted like I was being unreasonable. Well it's now 9:30, and I'm gonna stay up, and call, just to see how worthless it turns out to be.
Anyways, I'll post an update as things transpire.
UPDATE: It is now 4PM on Thursday. I've been on the ground, without my bag and all its contents, for about 23 hours. The airline has no information on the whereabouts of my bag. The contents of my bag include a medical testing kit I'm supposed to use twice daily. So far the airline has continued to ask me to wait a little longer before they will replace it. I'm starting to get the idea that they just don't care.
I should be fair. The last person I talked to on the phone spent almost 15 minutes with me trying to get somebody "above them" to actually do something, so there are apparently a few folks in their customer service chain that actually understand what those two words mean...
Supposedly if they don't have definite word on the bag in the next hour they will do something. Update(s) to come!
FINAL UPDATE: Well they found the bag. No hints why it arrived. It just did. Interestingly, the handling tag lists the same flights I had, but the serial number of the tag was different from the one on my receipt. No idea if that means anything. I suspect that it came in today on the same flight I took yesterday. Wierd.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Here are the links to CDR Salamander's post and KT Cat's post.
Enjoy the reads.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
I can't get excited over this. Obama has the momentum. Hillary has the negatives. This switch isn't changing either of those. I expect to see another fake sincerity cry anytime. Not that it will change anything. Obama is campaigning on chrisma. That's worked before. Bill Clinton. Ronald Reagan. JFK. I thought about adding Hitler to the list, not because I think Obama is anything like him, far from it, but it does show that chrisma, in and of itself, is not enough to make one a good leader.
Over on the other side, Huckabee wins on Saturday.
Has my party lost it's mind? A Huckabee nomination would probably make me vote for Hillary or Obama. I expect that that was a glitch, but who knows?
Saturday, February 9, 2008
This is certainly an interesting counter point to all the warnings about global warming. Kinda reminds me of the movie "The Day After Tomorrow". (For those of you unfamiliar with this piece of cinematic brilliance, the plot was essentially: 1. Global warming causes ice sheets to melt, 2. The extra fresh water shuts down the Gulf Stream, 3. The Gulf Stream shut down causes an ice age. So extra heat = extra ice - the first law of thermodynamics not withstanding.)
Anyways, it just brings back to me the point I tried to make a few days ago... we are experimenting with our atmosphere, and do not, indeed, can not, know what the consequences will be. This is dangerous. It is foolhardy. It is not something a responsible adult would foist upon their children and grand children. We, conservatives and liberals alike, must ensure that we do everything reasonable to protect (conserve) the environment.
As the great leader of the Native American Suquamish Tribe, Chief Seattle is quoted to have said "We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children." I hope we can give this earth back to children, better than we received it from our parents. Of course, back when I was a kid the local river caught on fire (yeah the river was on fire - see here).
I'm kinda hoping we can avoid both the fire and the ice.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Do they or don't they benefit from the government? Do they receive federal funding?
(Hint: Do you think the National Science Foundation sends money to UC Berkeley? I went to Google and searched on "NSF Funding". Clicked on the first link. Did a Full Text search on "Berkeley". Checked the first two (OF 561!!). Total awards: 3, Value:$4,100,000.) How about road funds? Welfare? Social Security? Medicare? You get the idea.
Well not much I can really do about it, but I will do this.
I will not ever spend a single dime in Berkeley ever again. Ever.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Will the "True Conservatives" now decide to all support Huckabee? I doubt it. Sould be fun to see how they now start talking about "unity" and how the talking heads (assuming you think that's the part of their anatomy they talk out of) will spin this.
In the mean time the Dems remain locked in pretty close contest. Sure would be nice to seem them continue to go after each other. Given that Obama seems to be on the up swing, it could be very intersting.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Oh, please. Could Rudy have changed the results? Sure he could have. And an asteroid crashing into the earth would, too. So what? Deal with what is, not what you wish would have happened.
As it is, McCain is in great shape. He may very well get enough delegates and have a sure nomination before the convention ever starts. That would be good. All us liberal republicans (AKA Moderates) are happy. There is no doubt in my mind that McCain (a moderate man of honor) can beat either Hillary or Obama (true liberals that they are). I doubt that Romney could.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Tomorrow we can disect them.
For now let's think about this. I hear some "true conservatives" saying that they won't vote for McCain because he's not a true conservative.
So do I understand this right? Because he's not conservative enough, they'll abandon him and let the truly liberal Hillary/Obama types win? How does that make sense?
It must be simpul and I must be stoopid, 'cause it jus' ain't klear to me.
Monday, February 4, 2008
That was my brain talking. I don't like Eli. I never will. Not after he dissed my adopted home town back when he was drafted. I was sure that I'd find myself pulling for the Patriots, even though they'd cheated and essentially got away with it (but please, Sen Spector, find something useful to do with your time in Congress and don't hold hearings on spygate).
Funny how things turn out. As the game was winding down, I found myself really wanting to see those cheaters lose. In fact, I actually cheered as Eli threw the winning touchdown.
Funny how your gut and head don't always agree.
May be a lesson in there for those of you thinking about who to vote for on Tuesday.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Simple, after having cleaned up my car (after the window was smashed last night in what seems to be an act of pure vandalism), my boys came back in the house and sat down in front of the television to watch the Super Bowl pre-game.
After five minutes of the vapid FOX pre-game, they turned it off and turned on an old VHS tape of Road Runner & Coyote cartoons. You know those cartoons that are too violent to show to America's youth today. They laughed their a$$es off for 1/2 an hour.
So sure there are vandals out there. There are people that actually think FOX and the other networks have quality programming. But there are also kids like mine. Ones that know right from wrong. Ones that know quality when they see it. And know when they don't.
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Speaking of betting... I see that you can bet (in Vegas, of course) on an over-under on the number of the first player to score (currently at 43.5), among a bunch of other crazy things. On Super Tuesday all we bet is the future of our country.
And let's face it, that's what picking between these candidates is. A bet. Almost a blind bet. I say almost because although most of the candidates change their message every time they get their hair combed before an appearance (this may not apply to Mitt - that hair has got to be plastic coated).
Seriously, as I think about the candidates I keep asking...
- Will they fix out border?
- Will they get our fiscal house in order?
- Will they continue the war?
- Will they take on the terrorists?
- Will they protect the environment for future generations?
I won't tell anyone out there how to answer these questions, but I will say that for most of the candidates, they either keep changing their stance, or are so unclear that I can't figure out quite what their stance really is.
So given that, how did I choose to support McCain? McCain seems to be a man of principle. Seriously, it's that simple. But even given that I think McCain is honorable, that still doesn't guarantee that he'll be a good president. But at least I'll sleep soundly knowing that he'll try. I can't say the same for any of the others.
Oh, and one more thing... I hope that the team with the Manning loses.