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?