Thursday, December 28, 2006

European Space Agency Launches Planet Finder


The ESA launched a French orbital satellite observatory designed to search out planets orbiting nearby stars. It has a 27 cm (10.6 inch) lens capable of tracking thousands of stars simultaneously. It is believed the satellite will be capable of discovering smaller rocky planets, down to the size of a just a few earths, that have so far eluded planet hunters.

"Flying high above the Earth’s atmosphere, the Convection Rotation and planetary Transits (COROT) satellite [[image] will use a different technique better suited to finding smaller worlds. Called the “transit” technique [image], it will detect extrasolar planets by measuring the dip in starlight their passage creates as they glide across the face of their parent stars."

NASA will launch its own Kepler satellite on a similiar mission in 2008.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Light blogging due to the holidays and a heavy work schedule, but I'll try to post something in a day or two when I catch sight of something interesting enough to note. In the meantime, everyone have a safe and happy season.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Foreign Policy - Schools of Thought

Former Marine officer and current Naval War College professor M. Thomas Owens discusses the history, limitations and nuances of various political scientist's theories on the International system at NRO, particularly with regard to America's role in light of current events. Interesting discussion about the Realist school, the "Neoconservative" school, and the Internationalist/Liberal school. Read the whole thing.

The Realist school recognizes states as the principal actors, and that the international system is one based on relative state power. Liberals contend that the actors goals "transcend power and security", such as peace and prosperity, and that actors other than states play critical roles. Realists have been critical of the Bush Doctrine of Pre-emption as noted below.

"Realists have predicted that the Bush Doctrine will lead to anti-hegemonic balancing on the part of other states — i.e., other states will takes actions to prevent the United Stated from establishing, or further establishing, international hegemony. But such an outcome has not occurred. There has been no anti-hegemonic balancing, even of the “soft” variety (the realists’ fall back position). This suggests that other nations consider the Bush Doctrine to be also in their own interests, or, at least, they do not worry that, in pursuing this doctrine, the U.S. intends to establish a hegemony harmful to their interests. This judgment is mostly likely based on an understanding of the nature of the political regime of the United States..."

In short, the Realist school ignores the TYPES of regimes when examining the balance of power. Liberals believe that international institutions and law can keep the peace, and view the Realist school as far too cynical, while the Realists belive the Liberals far too idealistic. Neoconservative theory, at least in foreign policy, is a bit of a blend, as they believe that the regime's internal characteristics matter, and that it is only prudent of the hegemon, the US, to use its power to provide not only stability, but propagate those principals upon which its own regime rests, liberal democracy.

The money quote:

"The Bush Doctrine is a species of “primacy” based on hegemonic stability. Primacy can be caricatured as a “go-it-alone” approach in which the United States intimidates both friends and allies, wields power unilaterally, and ignores international institutions. But the Bush Doctrine sees itself as having a “benevolent” primacy, an approach in keeping with its liberal political traditions, but which recognizes the world as a dangerous place in which a just peace is maintained only by the strong.

This form of primacy is based on the assumption that U.S. power is good not only for the United States itself but also for the rest of the world. The argument is that the United States can be fully secure only in a world where everyone else is also secure. The existence of liberal institutions is not sufficient for preserving this order. A liberal world order is possible only if the United States is willing and able to maintain it."

This sounds Reaganesque to me, the "America is the Shining City on the Hill", only we are doing things more actively to serve as a beacon today, as opposed to just being a passive role model for others to emulate. I guess I just might be a neoconservative, at least when it's explained in this fashion.

Supreme Court

via USA Today.

Interesting article describing the Court's two newest memebers, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, and their potential impact on pending issues. Abortion, obviously, is a big issue, as well as school integration/choice and the environment, along with the national security and civil liberty divide.

"Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito have signaled a readiness to move the court to the right. In recent cases involving abortion, global warming and school integration, Roberts and Alito have been aggressive and sometimes feisty proponents of conservative views and particularly sympathetic to arguments by the Bush administration."

Elections have consequences, and this is among the biggest of them all. Conservative Presidents have had a historically poor track record of nominating conservative justices, but President Bush appears, at this point, to have fulfilled his campaign promises to nominate justices that view legal matters pretty narrowly, rather than legislating questionable decisions from the bench. It will be interesting to see what kind of teeth gnashing and hair pulling these two justices cause liberals over the coming years. The court's more liberal members have certainly caused a lot of conservative heartburn over the years, it is ironic indeed to see the shoe on the other foot for a change.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Discovery to Leave ISS

via OWH.

"Space shuttle Discovery's astronauts have rewired the space station, managed three spacewalks, and now completed the most difficult task of their mission: getting a stubborn, solar array folded up during an impromptu fourth spacewalk."

Astronaut Robert Curbeam set a record with his fourth spacewalk of the mission in repairing the balky solar array. The old array was replaced by a new one installed during the misison, but the old one would not retract as planned, necessitating the emergency fourth spacewalk. Curbeam is now a man with the fifth most spacewalk time in history, behind only a small group of Russian cosmonauts as US astronauts. Discovery is scheduled to return to Earth Friday.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Global Economic Projections

Also at TCS, James Peron looks at the new World Bank projections for global economic growth, and the results are actually pretty encouraging. The global economy is expected to double by 2030, and the developing world's share of that output is likely to reach 50% by that time. The best news of all: the world's poor will benefit greatly.

""The number of people living on less than $1 a day [in constant dollars] could be cut in half, from 1.1 billion now to 550 million in 2030." And the number living on less than $2 per day will decline by an estimated 800 million."

The ranks of the "global middle class" are expected to raise as well, up to 1.2 billion people. Developing nations will continue to converge with more developed nations, and the situation could be even more rosy - these scenarios are the low to middle of the road projections, the optimistic projections show a decline of people living in poverty from today's 20% to around 4%, with incomes 45% higher than today.

The Economy

Dave Henderson at TCS takes a look at economist Alan Reynold's thorough debunking of the "shrinking middle class" myth perpetuated by the Paul Krgumans of the world. Reynold's new book Income and Wealth tackles this and other myths, like the fact that famly income has been shrinking over the last three decades.

These claims often rely on curious definitions, like utilizing "tax units" as opposed to families, or holding income level definitions static (middle class = incomes of S35-50K, ignoring the effects of growing prosperity over time) in order to distort the data sets to achieve these pundits dubious pre-conceived claims. As Reynolds puts it:

"Such a fixed definition ensures that the proportion of households in the middle group must decline with a rise in general prosperity, because rising prosperity causes a rising percentage of families to earn more than $50,000." (emphasis his)

In other words, the number of people inside these income levels dropped because more families were earning incomes OVER the high end of the bracket, $50k. But of course, that isn't stated, just that the people in the middle brackets dropped. Disingenuous at best, blatantly misleading at worst, and almost certainly done on purpose to score some political point.

Japan's New Diplomacy

Time via RCP.

Interesting article about the visit of India's Prime Minister Singh to Japan, and the special treatment he is being accorded there, addressing the Japanese Diet (legislature). Japan is looking beyond its relationship with the US for perhaps the first time since WW2. Japanese PM Abe is cultivating India as a potential diplomatic counterweight to China.

"Deepening ties between the two biggest democracies in Asia is part of Abe's efforts to chart a new direction for Japan's foreign policy, one less consumed with the U.S. and more embracing of Asia"

Although bilateral trade between the two nations is not yet significant, it is growing pretty rapidly. Japanese investment is still concentrated on China, but Japanese automakers are eyeing the Indian market, and India's software companies could begin to make inroads into the Japanese markets as well.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Loss of the Libertarians

via TCS Daily.

Good article on how those of us self described fiscally conservative, socially liberal voters actually voted. There was an approximate 24 point swing against the Republicans from the 2002 midterms. OUCH. Still, a majority of Libertarians vote Republican despite overtures from the other aisle.

"In 2006, libertarians voted 59-36 for Republican congressional candidates—a 24-point swing from the 2002 mid-term election. To put this in perspective, front-page stories since the election have reported the dramatic 7-point shift of white conservative evangelicals away from the Republicans. The libertarian vote is about the same size as the religious right vote measured in exit polls, and it is subject to swings more than three times as large."

Worse, the Senate losses of Conrad Burns and Jim Talent were directly attributable to Libertarian candidacies in their states. Both sitting Senators lost by less then the number of votes the Libertarian candidate garnered. The Republicans would still control the Senate had both candidates won re-election. The R's would be wise to return to their principles if they wish to continue to win elections.

St. Paul's Tomb

via National Geographic.

St. Paul of Tarsis, the principal founder of the Christian religion after the death of Christ, has had his tomb in Vatican City partially uncovered for viewing by religious pilgrims.

"For now we didn't open the sarcophagus to study the contents. Our aim was to unearth the coffin venerated as St. Paul's tomb, not to authenticate the remains," said Giorgio Filippi, the archaeologist of the Vatican Museum, who directed the excavations. "The sarcophagus was buried beneath the main altar, under a marble tombstone bearing the Latin words "Paulo Apostolo Mart.," meaning "Apostle Paul, Martyr."

Paul's tomb was first first honored with a basillica in 320 AD by the Emperor Constantine, expanded by Theodosius in 390 AD, who also entombed the saint's remains in the sarcophagus discovered. The sarcophagus was buried and marked by a marble tombstone after an earthquake in 433 AD. A fire in 1823 burned the ancient basillica down and the modern building was erected in its place with the tomb buried under the Papal altar. Pilgrims visiting in 2000 were disappointed that they could not see the saint's tomb, leading to the decision to excavate. The sarcophagus can be viewed through a hole in the Papal altar about 2 ft wide and 3 ft deep.

A Tale of Two Dictators

Washington Post via RCP.

Very interesting article noting the differences between Chile's dictator Augusto Pinochet and Cuba's Fidel Castro. Pinochet is often vilified, and with reason; Casto is often lauded, despite his (to me, anyway) very obvious flaws. Now while it is more than a little crass to say so to their victims and their families, I have to believe that the people of Chile are far better off today than the people of Cuba. I'll note for the record that Pinochet left power voluntarily - Castro?

John O'sullivan of the Chicago Sun-Times has more, including a comaprisons to Franco, Mao, Hilter and Stalin, along with the leader of the island paradise 90 miles from our shores.

"As for Pinochet's economic legacy, it outstrips that of most advanced democracies, let alone the economic rubble of all the communist dictators. Within a decade of the 1973 coup, Chile was a stable growing economy transformed by monetary, supply-side, trade and labor market reforms introduced by Pinochet. When Chile returned to democracy in the late 1980s, the Christian Democrat government of Patricio Aylwin continued his free-market approach."

He also makes the point that while Castro has traveled freely around the world, Pinochet has been constantly forced to defend himself in courts around the world - even though the courts in Chile had granted him amnesty. It is certainly illustrative of way they are viewed.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Shuttle Launches at Night

via OWH.

For the first time in four years, NASA launches a shuttle at night. The launch had been delayed twice due to unfavorable waether, which cleared just in time for the spectacular lift-off.

"During their 12-day mission, Discovery's crew will rewire the space station, deliver an $11 million addition to the space lab and bring home one of the space station's three crew members, German astronaut Thomas Reiter of the European Space Agency. American astronaut Sunita "Suni" Williams will replace him, staying for six months."

Interestingly enough, the shuttle crew is one of the least experienced in recent memory, with five of the astronauts being rookies who have never been in space.
Mission Commander Mark Polansky and pilot William Oefelein are among the more experienced members of the crew. Three ISS construction spacewalks are planned for the mission.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

MIT Research boosts Ethanol


MIT researchers have developed a new type of yeast that could boost ethanol production by as much as 50%. The new strain is able to withstand a higher alcohol and glucose content than the yeast usually used in producing ethanol, speeding the production process and increasing the yield. Pretty cool.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Last Gathering of Pearl Harbor Survivors

Great article on the 65th reunion of the Pearl Harbor Association, most likely the last. An estimated 500 survivors and 1300 family and relatives are expected to attend.

"The survivors have met here every five years for four decades, but they're now in their 80s or 90s and are not counting on a 70th reunion. They have made every effort to report for one final roll call."

2,390 died in the attack, and 1,178 others were wounded. About half of the dead were from the USS Arizona, which lost 1,177 sailors, still the largest loss of life for any US Navy warship.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Conservative Dems

Great article by John Hood at NRO on the two "Centrist" Democratic groups, the New Democratic Coalition and the Blue Dog Democrats, and where the groups stand on certain issues. First, a history lesson on where the two groups originated.

"These two groups, though both centrist, are far from identical. The Blue Dogs were formed first, just after the 1994 Republican victories. Founded by Democrats primarily in the South, Midwest, and inner West, the group argued that reflexive liberalism on social issues and an appearance of fiscal imprudence had damaged the party’s national prospects, as well as the prospects of Democratic candidates in swing districts...Before Election Day, there were 37 Blue Dogs. In January, there will be at least 44.

The New Democrat Coalition came along a few years later, in 1997. Its name was a conscious nod to the brand personified by the original new Democrat, President Bill Clinton. The 2006 election added at least 15 members to the coalition, which will number at least 63. While the Blue Dogs have emphasized moderation on social-issues and the importance of balanced budgets, the New Democrats describe their agenda as “pro-growth” and often focus on foreign policy, innovation, and technology issues. Not to exaggerate the differences between the two groups, whose membership does overlap, but they do have distinct identities and priorities."

Most New Democrats are free trade supporters, while most Blue Dogs are anything but, blaming manufacturing's job losses on free trade (and not technology, which is actually to blame - manufacturing OUTPUT is up, but jobs are down due to increased productivity.) Both groups are against raising taxes, with the New Dems more friendly towards investor helpful cuts on capital gains and dividends, while the Blue Dogs are more deficit hawks and would want spending cuts to match any tax cutting. Blue Dogs are more restrictionist on immigration, the New Dems more "comprehensive". Neither group is in favor of gun control legislation, and they are both a bit mixed on abortion, wiht some memebers openly pro-life, others not so much.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ancient Tsunami

It's been discovered that Mt. Etna on Sicily has had a pretty massive impact on the Mediterranean basin. Much like the Santorini explosion several thousand years later, this volcanic eruption sent a massive tidal wave up to 130 ft tall throughout the ancient world around 8000 years ago.

"Their recreation suggests the tsunami's waves reached heights of up to 130 feet and maximum speeds of up to 450 mph, making it more powerful than the Indonesian tsunami that killed more than 180,000 people in 2004."

Talk about a bad day. Neolithic hunters at the time would never realize what hit them.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Cuban dissident Movement

Via NRO.

Fantastic article about the burgeoning dissident movement in Cuba. Much like the solidarity movement in communist Poland, the movement is unified by a single word, cambio. Change. The word is seen on placards, T-shirts, and windows throughout the island. Incidents of civil unrest are also becoming quite common.

"The Directorio Democrático Cubano, a Miami-based pro-dissident group, keeps a detailed catalogue of pro-democracy activities in Cuba. Its report on incidents in 2005 alone fills nearly 400 pages."

Naturally, this doesn't get a lot of press, because of the biases of many members of the journalism porfession. Of course, anything that would indicate that Cuba isn't exactly a tropical paradise, like the endemic poverty, is ignored.

"Indeed, international journalists are so clueless that when they ask people on the street in Cuba to describe conditions there, they earnestly quote them saying, “Everything is going well,” completely oblivious to the large signs all over Cuba bearing the Orwellian caption “Everything is going well.” "

A 1984 society run by thugs is alive and well, 90 miles from our shores. Millions suffer every day, and we don't do anything to stop it or publisize it, in fact, some of our most notable citizens visit the island and fawn over an old dictator - hard to believe, but true. Worse, very few of us seem to care, particularly those who purport to believe in things like democracy, human rights, justice, freeedom, etc.
My fervent hope is that one day we'll all be ashamed of our inaction as the Cuban people finally joins the ranks of the free citizens of the world.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Science - Ancient Man

The oldest known human ritual sight has been discovered in Botswana. The statue of a python, as tall as a man and 20 feet long was discovered, along with spearpoints that are thought to be 70,000 years old, taking human ritual ceremonies back further than 30,000 years more than previously known, and showing that humans orgaqnized and had capacity for abstract thinking much earlier than was theorized. More amazingly, the local SAN tribed have modern legends about pythons relating to the site.

"The discovery was made in a remote region of Botswana called Tsodilo Hills, the only uplifted area for miles around. It is known to modern Sanpeople as the "Mountains of the Gods" and the "Rock that Whispers." Their legend has it that mankind descended from the python, and the ancient, arid streambeds around the hills are said to have been created by the python as it circled the hills in its ceaseless search for water."

Inside the cave are also paintings of a giraffe and an elephant, both also important mythological animals to the local San tribes, and there is a legend of a giraffe rescuing a trapped python.

Husker Basketball

via HuskerExtra.

Doc Sadler has the Husker Hoopsters off to their best start, at 5-0, in 87 years, since the team started 6-0 in 1919! Suddenly, it's cool to follow BB again.

Last night, NU defeated North Texas 76-57 on local TV, and it was the first time I've been able to view the new squad. C Alex Marics sunk his first career three-pointer en route to a 26 pt, 11 board performance. NU jumped out to an early lead and commanded the game throughout.

"Nebraska jumped to a 12-0 lead in the first 3:27 and never looked back. The Huskers’ man-to-man defense forced North Texas into 2-of-14 shooting and 11 turnovers in sprinting to a 25-4 lead with 9:48 left in the first half. NU led by as many as 23 points (39-16 with 3:23 remaining) in the first 20 minutes before settling for a 42-23 lead at intermission. The Mean Green never got closer than 18 points in the second half as Nebraska opened up a lead as large as 28 points, 65-37, with 9:38 left."

Frosh Ryan Anderson added 18 points and Charles Richardson had 11 for the Huskers. coach Doc Sadler was not completely happy, however, as NU committed 18 turnovers and allowed 17 offensive rebounds. He did appreciate the effort on defense, and also said that "the first 5 minutes were the best the tream has played all year." Nice.

Husker QB Taylor

Link to ESPN's Big 12 QB stats.

Had to do some analysis on Zac getting the Big 12 Offensive award, due to questioning in some quarters that he deserved it; I agree you can make a case for others, but can't say that the case for others is any better than Taylor's. I think you could make a case for several QB's and KU RB John Cornish. OU RB Adrian Peterson would have probably run away with it had he stayed healthy.

Taylor completed 62% of his passes for nearly 2800 yards with 24 TDs and only 4 INTs and averaged almost 9 yds/attempt. His efficiency rating was second in the conference and ninth nationally.

UT QB Colt McCoy completed 69% of his passes for almost 2300 yds with 27 TDs and 7 INTs and was first in conference and fifth nationally in ER, averaging just over 8 yds per attempt.

OSU QB Bobby Reid completed 56% for almost 2100 yds, had 23 TDs and 10 INTs, 8.6 yds/attempt, and was # 15 nationally in ER.

Tech QB Graham Harrell completed 67% for almost 4200 yds, 7.3 yds/attempt, 36 TDs and 10 INTs, and finished 23rd in national ER.

OU QB Paul Thompson completed 62% for nearly 2200 yds, 8 yds/attempt, 18 TDs and 7 INTs to finish #24 in ER nationally.

UM QB Chase Daniel completed 64% for almost 3200 yds, 7.6 yds/attempt, 26 TDs and 10 INTs, finishing #30 nationally in ER.

KU RB Cornish finished with almost 1500 yds rushing, 8 TDs, 5.8/attempt, and had 24 receptions for another 200 yds and a TD.

All of these players had good, if not great seasons. I think what got Taylor the nod was the real low 4 INTs on over 300 attempts, better yardage on a relatively comparable number of attempts, and the high yards per attempt, along with the 24 TDs. McCoy also got Newcomer of the Year honors, which probably contributed. Harrel comes from a system that produces huge QB numbers, he had nearly 600 attempts. Daniel had over 400 attempts.

Reid only had 240, Thompson 270, McCoy 280 and Taylor 315, and the numbers are pretty similiar, around 65% completions, 20+ TDs, 7-8 yds/attempt. Cornish is a very nice back, but for whatever reason, the award seems to go to a QB from a front runner, the only exception being Troy Davis in the first year of the Big 12. Not sure his numbers really outshine any of the QB's at any rate.

Shuttle Night Launch


First night shuttle launch since the Columbia tragedy is scheduled to lift off on Dec. 7th on a 12 day ISS construction mission. The launch window closes Dec. 17 due to technical reasons on the orbiter's computers about the change of the year.

"Veteran NASA shuttle flyer Mark Polansky is commanding the 12-day spaceflight, which includes the delivery of a new portside piece of the ISS, a trio of tricky spacewalks to rewire the outpost’s electrical grid, and an astronaut swap for the station’s Expedition 14 crew."

NASA has been launching the shuttle only during daylight to assist cameras utilized in the technical analysis of the "falling foam" debris from the launches that were identified as the probable issue with the Columbia launch that caused the loss of that vehicle and crew on reentry. With three launches since that disaster, it is now felt by agency engineers that there is no longer any rationale to hold to day only launches.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

College FB - Big 12 Awards

via OWH. Meant to ge to this earlier but got sidetrakced by RL and work.

Husker QB Zac Taylor was named 1st team Big 12 QB AND Offensive Player of the Year, and DE Adam Carriker was also 1st team Big 12 and named Defensive Lineman of the Year.

Defensive Player of the Year honors went to OU LB Rufus Alexander. UT's Justin Blalock was OL of the Year.

Other NU First team selections included FB Dane Todd and LB Bo Ruud, and on the second team, RB Brandon Jackson, WR Maurice Purify, and DE Jay Moore.

Honorable mention selections were NU LB's Stew Bradley and Corey McKeon, S Andre Shanle, CB Courtney Grixby, OL Matt Slausen & Brett Byford, and RB Marlon Lucky.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

NU-CU: Stategery and Trickeration

No loss of momentum for the beloved Huskers, who dazzled their way to a 37-14 thumping of Colorado. NU ran a multitude of gadget and misdirection plays enroute to a 23 point second half, while shutting down the Buffs. In the first half, a fake FG on a "swinging gate" play allowed DE Barry Turner to catch a TD pass from backup QB Joe Ganz for the Huskers first score.

Knotted at 14 early into the second half, K Jordan Congdon set up a safety with the Huskers leading 21-14 by pooch punting on another FG setup, making CU start from their own 1 yd line and setting up DE Adam Carriker & co. for the 2 pointer. Later, S Tierre Green got to run the ball on a 4th down direct snap play, where NU lined up to punt, motioned into a regular snap formation, then had QB Zac Taylor walk off to the sideline as if to call time out, when the center snapped directly to Green, who ran for a first down, leading to NU going up 30-14.

Other plays didn't turn out quite so well, but still slowed the CU defensive rush - RB Marlon over threw TE Matt Herian in the end zone on a halfback pass, and tried another one back to QB Taylor, who was interfered with by a Buffs lineman. Maurice Purify's double reverse didn't work as well as planned either, but he might have had the play of the game anyway. On a third and nine, Purify made an amazing one-handed grab while being interfered with ona fade route from Taylor.

Due to UT's loss to A & M, the Huskers do not yet know their opponent for the Big 12 title game in KC. If OU defeats cross state rival Okie St, then they get the South title. Should they lose, then UT still goes on to face the Huskers.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Treasury Secretary Paulson

Via RCP.

VERY interesting article on Treasury Secretary Paulson. Explains how he was talked into the job by fellow Goldman-Sachs alum and White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, and only took the job with assurances that he would be able to run the department without much interferance from the administration. Paulson has a lot of clout on Wall Street, and is very influental on trade, particularly with regard to China, and has openly expressed a free trade message.

The article also indicates that while tax policy and reform appear to be OFF next year's agenda (unfortunately, in my opinion) there does appear to be some degree of support for entitlement reform, particularly on the Medicare/Medicaid front as opposed to Social Security.

Paulson apparently has a good working relationship with Clinton Treasury Secretatry Rubin. While I'm not a big fan of Rubin (he's stuck to some degree on Keynesianism, and I'm in TOTAL oppostion to his tax policy ideas), he is influential in Democratic circles and having him on board would certainly help get something passed in a Democratic controlled Congress.

Welcome to DC, Mr. Smith

via OWH.

Nice article about Adrian Smith's trials and tribulations of going to Washington as a freshman Congress critter. Interesting to note that he has already met again with the President, who made a late stop to campaign for him in the Third District. Smith may wind up taking over Tom's old apartment, but apparently not his old office.
Interesting also is that he was selected as the incoming Republican rep to the legislative committee. He is also angling for a spot on the Ag Committee.

"When the relatively small Republican freshman class held leadership elections Friday, Smith was picked to be the group's representative to the House Republican policy committee, which examines pending legislation and amendments. One of Smith's top priorities is the coming farm bill, so he put in some work angling for a spot on the House Agriculture Committee. Smith said he wants to look for ways to continue rural development programs and expand international markets for U.S. crops."

A little surprising that the Herald, which inexpicably endorsed his opponent, would now write a nice show-piece article on him now. Particularly when they were so put out by Club for Growth's support of his campaign. But interesting, none the less.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Damascus Steel

Now this is cetainly intriguing. Swords made from the legendary "Damascus steel" apparently have extremely modern features - like carbon nanotubes encasing nanowires that increased the strength of the blades while still allowing flexibility. Carbon nanotubes are an extremely strong and flexible material supposedly a recent 20th century invention.

"Peter Paufler, a crystallographer at Technical University in Dresden, Germany, and his colleagues had previously found tiny nanowires and nanotubes when they used an electron microscope to examine samples from a Damascus blade made in the 17th century.

Today in the journal Nature, the teams reports that it has also discovered carbon nanotubes in the sword—the first nanotubes ever found in steel, Paufler says. The nanotubes, which are remarkably strong, run through the blade's softer steel, likely making it more resilient."

The blades were made from iron ingots, prepared with just the right amount of carbon, apparently originating from India. When properly crafted, nanotube bundles of hard nanowires surrounded by carbon nanotubes would form near the swords edge parallel to the surface. The alternating hard and soft layers would form a fine edge, enhanced by the swordsmith's use of acid to form fine etchings on the surface of the blade. The carbon nanotubes would protect the hard wires from the acid, leaving a microscopic saw-toothed edge that gave the swords their legendary sharpness.

Thoughts on Rivalry

Husker-hater AJ has many, many issues, but he hit upon something the other day that I thought merited some thought. I know a little of how he feels (he is a Mizzou fan but has lived in Ohaha for 20 years or so) having lived in Ohio for three years before escaping home.

"So WHO IS Nebraska's rival? The answer? Nobody. That is your whole problem. You people have absolutely nobody to tell you how much you much they dispise much you resemble a steaming pile of dog shit...OTHER than me. You have no other opposing team red-marking your rifle team's visit just so they can scream you down."

In response, I would say that for starters, one reason is that the Big 12 robbed us of our one true rival, OU; even if OU-UT is bigger to them, it was ALWAYS the biggest game to us. The biggest reason we don't have a rival is that we've been spoiled having been so good for so long that no one can compete, at least not in football. We're one of only 4 schools with 800 victories (801-321-40, for a .706 winnning percentage) and we have losing records against only 2 conference schools (OU, 37-42-3 & UT, 4-7). In order to be rivals, you have to get beaten once in a while by the competition.

Big 12 North? We're 353-104-12 (.765, if you split the ties in the W/L column) all time against the North schools, and 48-12 (.800) against them since the Big 12 merger, while being only 22-14 (.611) vs the South, thanks mostly to a 1-6 record vs UT. (We'd be .724 if you threw out the record vs. UT). We're 102-58-4 vs the South schools all-time, good for a .634 percentage. So even though we've been down a bit recently, we've actually been better against the North than our historical average, and pretty close to historical against the South.

I have to give some props to K-St though; we're only 6-5 against them since the merger, so I guess if we have to have a rival, they might be it. We're 7-3 against CU over the same period, and 13-6-1 over the last 20 (1986 is the year the broke through and finally beat us after 20+ years of futility). All I know is that everyone (in the North, anyway) guns for NU and tears down the goalposts if they beat us, so by that measure, anyway, we're everyone's rival, we NU fans just don't notice.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

NU - Creighton

Absolute stunner, NU beats CU 73-61!
Doc Sadler had his team ready to play and upset the #20 club in the country. Huskers shot 67% from the field, and went 13-17 (76%) for the second half.
Frosh Ryan Anderson had 19 for the Huskers, and C Alex Marics had 17, 15 in the second half. Nate Funk led CU with 28, including 7 treys, as C Andrew Tolliver got into foul trouble early.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Economics - Flat Tax in Europe

Opinion Journal, via RCP.

Interesting to note who and where flat tax regimes (something I strongly support) have taken root -- the former Communist-bloc nations of Eastern Europe. And their economies are humming, even formerly backward spots like Slovakia. It seems simple, but we here in the states just don't get it; if you want to create more of something (growth) you have to make the government take a smaller slice.

"Communism had been running what might be called a 40-year demonstration study in life at one end of the Laffer Curve—what happens to economies when you tax away pretty much everything. Freed of this utopia, the peoples of Eastern Europe now had to devise new tax regimes appropriate to nations eager—for want of a better phase—to work, save and invest.

The first former Iron Curtain country to cut its taxes was Estonia in 1994, led by Prime Minister Mart Laar, who claimed then the only economics book he’d ever read was Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose.” Estonia established a flat rate on personal incomes of 26%; two years earlier it had abolished all import tariffs. Estonia grew.

After Estonia, flat-tax regimes coursed across Eastern Europe, as listed below (bear in mind that the top rate in the U.S. is 35%): Lithuania, 33%; Latvia, 25%; Slovakia, 19% (the former sad sack of the region, Slovakia’s growing economy has become its envy); Romania, 16%; Ukraine, 13%; Russia, 13%; and Georgia, 12%."

Pretty amazing, isn't it?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Milton Friedman Dies

(HT: Tim Worstall
) via the CATO Institute.

Influential economist Milton Friedman died today at the age of 94. (I had no idea he was that old.) He won the Nobel for Economics in 1976, authored many books,and was regarded as the leader of the Chicago School of economics (monetarist/supply side). A great believer in human liberty, he was a strong proponent of school vouchers (hence my support) and he and his wife started a foundation devoted to that topic. He is among my most inspiring heroes since I read Free to Choose in college. While he will be missed, more importantly, his ideas will still live on.

Kudlow reflects on Friedman here.

Dean Barnett is Delighted

Over a Hugh's place, someone expresses his delight at the return of Trent Lott (he was elected Senate Minority Whip). I got a huge chuckle from this. Not too sure who Dean is, but I'm now a fan. Thanks Dean, you almost made me short out my laptop when I blew coffee.
The money quote:

"Is it just me, or is it becoming increasingly apparent that the Republicans and Democrats are determined to engage in a two year dumb-off? If it weren’t for the fact that there are some very determined lunatics out there trying to kill us, this would be funny.

But they are out there, so it isn’t."

(HT: Wizbang.)

Folks in the comments section aren't too terribly pleased with the Martinez selection for RNC chair either.

Government Deficits

Jerry Bower at TCS Daily explains why deficits aren't such a bad thing, and in actual fact are a GOOD thing. Among other things, they funded our independence. And we've never payed it all back, either, although he doesn't make the point that we can roll it over (issue new bonds to pay off the old ones). And he has a handy chart, showing the deficit as a percentage of the economy.

"When strong nations go to war, they borrow money. Weak nations, not so much. That's because strong nations usually win, and winning nations usually repay their creditors. Rich and successful people don't have any problem getting someone to loan them money. The same holds for wealthy and successful nations. That's why, historically, the interest rate of a nation's bonds is a pretty good inverse indicator of investor confidence in the war effort. The more trouble investors see on the horizon, the more compensation they demand for the added risk."

You'd think he was over reading this guy.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

This explains A LOT - Women Allergic to Semen


I don't usually go here, seems appropriate somehow.

Some women suffer from severe allergic reactions to male semen, often because of the male's diet, or sometimes it is specific to one partner. Women suffering form this allergy often (about half the time) suffer from other allergies.

"One study from the University of Cincinnati of 1,073 women who sought information on semen allergy concerning their symptoms found 130 had the allergy. In some women, the reaction occurs only with one partner while others are allergic to all partners."

I think it's probably even more common than they found from this study. You're talking over 12% from this one. I do appreciate the cure, though. Maybe they should ask for volunteers to assist the poor women.

"To desensitize a woman's immune system against semen, doctors can either apply diluted samples of semen to a woman's vagina every 20 minutes, gradually increasing the concentration over the course of several hours, or the women can receive allergy shots containing small amounts of semen over the course of several weeks. Both techniques require sex two or three times a week to train their immune system."

I think you have to ask how the doctors apply the samples and increase the concentration later. Inquiring minds...

Ethanol & Food

USA Today.

Interesting article on scientist's concerns that increasing ethanol production will impact food production. Ethanol production is approaching 5 billion gallons this year.

Not sure I buy in too much, as corn used for ethanol is field corn, not the stuff humans eat. Like any other commodity, if demand for corn gets to the point where is effects the supply, the price will go up and farmers will produce more, or subsitutes will become attractive for certain areas of demand. Feed corn is used to feed livestock, but there are substitutes available, like sorghum. Ethanol by-products can also be used as feed, they just aren't as convenient for producers. Food is extremely cheap in this country, if I have to pay marginally more to eat for cheaper energy prices, that is a trade off I'm willing to explore.

Additionally, as ethanol technology improves, they get more ethanol per bushel of corn, and cellulosic ethanol (made from cornstalks, or switchgrass, etc) isn't that far off either, so in the long run, corn production may become a thing of the past for ethanol.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

National Healthcare Debunked

Dale Franks over at Q and O (click the link) nails the issues with imposing a national heathcare plan. In short, political groups will prevent it.

In summation, his points are:

1. Voters will NOT accept less coverage or less rapid coverage than they get with their (overall pretty good) healthplans TODAY.

2. Medical workers will NOT accpet lower wages, nor will the unions that many of them belong to accept it.

3. End-of-life care can NOT be rationed. AARP won't accept it and we are already spending buku $$$ on it in the form of Medicare, which is a national health plan - just for old people.

4. Immigrants won't be covered, so at least 12 million people will still use the emergency room as their primary care facility, with all the costs that that fact entails.

He also points out that most people in the European nanny-states didn't have ANY healthcare when it was rolled out decades ago, so they felt they were getting a pretty good deal.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Ancient Civilization - Gonur

Link above is to a government site describing some of the historical signifigance of the site I describe below - beware of strange English. Wiki link here has more and better general information, on what is better known as the Bactrian-Margiana Archaeological Complex.

Read an interesting article this weekend about a Bronze Age civlization in Discover, centered on what is today Turkmenistan. Unfortunately, Discover requires a subscription to access web content. Russian archaelogist Victor Sarianidi has been working the site off and on, depending on the political situation, since the 1970's. Harvard and Italy also have teams working in the area, where the delta of the Mugrab River was 4000+ years ago, one which traded extensively with Mesopotamia and the Harappa civilization of the Indus River valley, and perhaps as far as China and Egypt as well.

"Sarianidi has turned up the remnants of a wealthy town protected by high walls and battlements. This barren place, a site called Gonur, was once the heart of a vast archipelago of settlements that stretched across 1,000 square miles of Central Asian plains. Although unknown to most Western scholars, this ancient civilization dates back 4,000 years—to the time when the first great societies along the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Indus, and Yellow rivers were flourishing.

Thousands of people lived in towns like Gonur with carefully designed streets, drains, temples, and homes. To water their orchards and fields, they dug lengthy canals to channel glacier-fed rivers that were impervious to drought. They traded with distant cities for ivory, gold, and silver, creating what may have been the first commercial link between the East and the West. They buried their dead in elaborate graves filled with fine jewelry, wheeled carts, and animal sacrifices. Then, within a few centuries, they vanished."

The theory is that climate change negatively impacted the civilization, along with its trading network partners, resulting in the Bronze "Dark Age". Its people apparently migrated with the river as it changed course, and/or south into Persia.
The government website linked above makes claims that the culture may have spawned the beginnings of the Zoroastrian religion, the state religion of the ancient Persian empire.

College Football

Big weekend in college football after the Rutgers win last Thursday. #4 Texas, #5 Auburn and #8 (BCS) California all lose their second games and any chance at the national title game, all falling into the midteens. Florida was also nearly upset by South Carolina as well.

Big 12
Nebraska pulls out an exciting last second win against Texas A & M at Kyle Field after blowing a 21-10 halftime lead, winning 28-27, and clinching the North division of the Big 12, and getting back into the rankings at #23. UT needs to win on Thanksgiving Friday (vs A & M) to guarantee a rematch against NU. If they lose, Oklahoma could sneek in with wins against Baylor and Okie State. NU faces Colorado on the same day in Lincoln, could be a tough match if NU continues to have the inexplicable second half let downs.

Big 10
It's all coming down to this week's #1 vs #2 (BCS) matchup of Ohio St. and Michigan. Wisconsin is still hanging around nationally at #9 in the BCS.

It's looking like #4 Florida against #7 Arkansas in the SEC title game, although UF must still play FSU and the Razorbacks still have LSU to face.

Big East
Ruters (#6 BCS) and W. Virginia (#8) both have three games left, the last being their matchup on Dec. 2.

A lot could still happen here; Wake Forest (#16) has the inside track on the Coast division, but still has to play Va. Tech and Maryland (#19), who has to play Boston College and Wake in their two final games. Georgia Tech (#18)has the Coast divison wrapped up, only faces Duke in conference play before an in-state showdown with the Bulldogs.

Frank Solich's Ohio Bobcats have only to defeat Akron this week and the win the Eastern division. Bobcats are already bowl eligible at 7-3. Central Michigan has the West already wrapped up.

USC (#3 BCS) and Cal will play for the PAC-10 title this weekend. USC still has UCLA & Notre Dame as well, Cal has only Stanford.

Undefeated Boise ST. (#14) has only to defeat 1-9 Utah State and 7-3 Nevada for the WAC title and a potential BCS game. Hawaii's only shot is if Boise drops both games.

Conf USA
East Carolina has only to defeat Rice to win the East. In the West, Houston is in control.

Mountain West
BYU is in control with a 6-0 conference record, with only N. Mexico and Utah left.

Sun Belt
Middle Tenn. St. are both undefeated in conference and meet in two weeks to probably decide the conference title.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Blue Dog Coalition

I'm hoping this will be the last political post for awhile, but you never know.

With a lot of the commentary out on news and blog sites, I thought I'd investigate a group I'd heard of but never really checked out. The "Blue Dog" (conservative)Democrats organization in the House.

"The Coalition was formed in the 104th Congress as a policy-oriented group to give moderate and conservative Democrats in the House of Representatives a common sense, bridge-building voice within the institution...The Coalition has been particularly active on fiscal issues, relentlessly pursuing a balanced budget and then protecting that achievement from politically popular "raids" on the budget."

Apparently, there is some signs of intelligent life within the Democratic party. Unfortunately, it all seems to appear to be off the Committee Chair list, but I guess we'll find out in January. These guys DO sound like my kind of Democrats - the kind that my Great-Grandfather was, the kind that Joe Lieberman, Zell Miller and Jim Exxon are and were. Grandpa's favorite President: Harry Truman. 2nd favorite: Ronald Reagan. The Coalition lists 37 members, but looks to add quite a few more with this year's election results. One gentleman not returning: Harold Ford on Tennessee, the only Swing state Democrat to lose their Senate race.

I really wish they would publish some policy statements so I could examine where they stand on issues a bit better. But they appear on the surface to have some of the same values I hold, and could team with the R's in the House to get things moving in that chamber, particularly if Mike Pence (of the Republican Study Group) or John Shaddegg wind up being Minority Leader, which appears likely. At least Denny Hastert isn't going to be any more, which I view as a good thing.

Edit: It seems Larry was thinking the same thing I was, and said it first. I usually hit his site everyday, but missed yesterday. Nice to see great minds thinking alike, though.

Earmarks and Lee Terry

I finally got my long-awaited response from Congressman Terry's office to my questions about NE earmarks, sent in August to ask about the earmark controversy organized by Porkbusters. He apparently helped co-sponsor the earmarking scrutiny bill, but believes "there is place for legitimate earmarks in the legislative process to encourage innovation and help prevent bureuacracy from squelching funding to organziations and entities that can provide government services at lower costs and with more efficiency than federal agencies."

Not sure I agree there. You can legitimize almost anything with that philosophy. I don't really think it should take my/our tax money to expand Creighton's Dental school to "help address a critical shortage of dentists in rural Midwestern states."
I have no issue with the bioterrorism response team, that is something I can agree is pretty important. His office goes on to justify the UNMC grant "due to a tendancy among federal bureaucrats to favor larger medical schools in awarding grnat dollars." This is a matter of keeping up with the Joneses? I'm not terribly impressed with the logic here, and the fact of the matter is that earmarks of all types and sizes have exploded out of proportion - we now have eight times as many earmarks that we did in 1994.

Veteran's Day - Vets Called upon to Wear their Ribbons

via NRO.

Interesting, I hadn't heard about this. There is a national drive to get veterans to wear their service ribbons on Veteran's Day. It's an interesting idea, one that I hope catches on. It would feel a little odd, to say the least, to be an early adopter and to do so, however. VA Secretary Nicholson apparently got the idea from vets and family members wearing their (or their relative's) ribbons at ANZAC Day in Australia. He addresses my discomfort (and I imagine a lot of other vets) thusly:

"The secretary is adamant about not wanting U.S. veterans to view the wearing of their decorations as “boasting,” and thus not wearing them. It is simply another way in which veterans may continue to serve their country with a display of military pride and allegiance with all soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen; as well as a personal expression of loyalty to — and an unbroken bond with — veterans of previous conflicts and those currently engaged in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the world."

When you put it that way, Mr. Secretary, well, I think you have me on board. Particularly with my brother-in-law serving in Baghdad right now, and a good friend's son there as well.

College FB - Rutgers defeats #3 Lousville

link from SI.

In a nationally televised clash of unbeatens, Rutgers stuns #3 Louisville, fresh off their big win last week against W. Virginia, 28-25. In front of 44,000+ at Rutgers stadium, RU defeated the highest rated team in school history. Down 25-7 in the first half, RU came back strong in the second half to tie the game in the 4th quarter behind the ground game of RU RB Ray Rice and a stifling defense that shut down the #2 offense in the nation, constantly pressuring Louisville QB Brian Brohm. RU kicker Jeremy Ito won the game with a 28 yd FG with 13 seconds left after missing his first attempt - Louisville was called off-sides.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rumsfeld Resigns

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resigns. Wow. I didn't see that one coming. The president had just reaffirmed the SecDef's job was secure last week.

"Now after a series of thoughtful conversations, Secretary Rumsfeld and I agreed that the time had come for new leadership at the Pentagon," Bush said in an East Room press conference scheduled Tuesday night after election returns showed an incoming Democratic House majority.

"Don Rumsfeld has been a superb leader during a time of change. Yet he also appreciates the value of bringing in a fresh perspective during a critical period in this war," he said."

Former CIA Director Robert Gates is expected to be nominated in his place. Only history will really be able to judge the impact of Rumsfeld on the US military.

Morning Round-Up

Allen down almost 7000 votes IN VA race with 6 precincts to go and 99.75% counted.
Talent down 4200 with 98% reported, most are calling the race for McCaskill in MO.
Montana shows Tester ahead of Burns by 1500 with 99% counted, but there are reports of a high population area with votes yet to count.
Maryland wound up not even being close, Steele only garnered 44% of the vote there.
Only good news for Republicans is that Corker held Tennessee.
VA is required by law to do a recount, and it will not be completed until after Thanksgiving according to the rules there.

Locally, a little better news for the Republicans.
Gov. Dave took 74%, and Sen. Nelson took 64%.
Fortenberry took 59%, and Terry and Smith both took 55%.

Shane Osborn took the State Treasurer's race, and Mike Foley won the Auditor's race against R turned D Kate Witek.
Keno didn't pass, and neither did the spending lid. All the judges passed, too.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

11:30 Update

Dems certain to control the House, Senate still up for grabs and not likely to be decided for quite a while, probably weeks due to VA - Allen down by 2200, some absentees may need to be counted.

TN looks pretty good for Corker, up 50,000 with 90% reported.
MD definitely Cardin, now up 58,000 with 75% in.
Talent still up 48,000 with 68% in, but the St. Louis and KC returns are still outstanding and likely to go heavily Democrat.

Montana polled slightly D before the election, but Tester is only up 14,000 with 28% reported.

Locally - Fort up 16,000 with 54% in, Terry moves up by just 1000 with 29% in, and Smith up almost 10,000 with 61% reported.

EDIT - just checked the VA state website, shows Webb up 1800 with 18 precincts to be counted, and Fox is reporting that some counties have shut down the count for the night.

10:45 Update

Nothing new locally, just strange lack of returns for NE-2 Terry-Esch race. Fort up 5000, Smith up 4000 with about 25% of returns in - 2nd only as 11%.

MD just switched back to Cardin, and by 20,000, with 56% in, not looking good for Steele.
Allen's lead in VA down to 7,000 with 98% in.
Talent up 60,000 with half the returns in.
Corker up almost 60,000 with 86% in.
Still early in Montana, Burns still down.

11 PM EDIT: Interesting ABC has more info on the local races.
Fort up 7000 with 35% in.
Terry down to Esch by 2000 with 12% reporting.
Smith up 5500 with 43% reported.

Allen DOWN now 3000 votes with 99% reported. VA likely to conduct a recount. Ouch.
Steele down BIG now, 65,000 with 67% in. Bummer.

10:15 Update

Steele moves ahead of Cardin in MD, up 21,000 with 44% in!
Allen is still up narrowly in VA, only 12,000 according to Fox with 97% in.
Corker up 70,000 in TN over Ford, 77% in.
Talent up 63,000 with 41% in , but Fox reports St. Louis and KC traditionally report late in MO.
Early returns from Montana have Burns down to Tester, but still early.

Fort and Smith are moving up in the NE races, nothing new on the Terry-Esch race from KETV or the World-Herald.

Election Races

hehe. Congressional races have reversed, with TERRY down in the 2nd, and Smith and Fortenberry UP, with around 20-30 thousand votes reported in.

Maryland Senate race is now showing Steele down to Cardin (50-49), but still very close, and only 30% of precincts in, and Steele down 2500 votes.

Republican "firewall" in the South appears to be holding.
Allen still up 28,000 on Webb in VA with 95% reported.
Corker up 63,000 on Ford with 66% reported for TN.
Missouri has Talent up over McCaskill by 53,000 with 25% of precincts reported.

NE Races


Gov. Dave, Senator Nelson both, as expected, projected to win big, near 70%; VERY early returns show Terry, Moul, and Kleeb up in the three Congressional races (all with single digit numbers of precincts reporting, only 2nd District has over 10,000 votes cast).

Election News - Senate

OH (Brown over DeWine) and PA (Casey over Santorum) go to the Dems.
RI (Whitehouse over Chaffee) is also being called for the Dems just now. Dem +3, need 6 for Senate control.

TN looks to hold for the Republicans (Corker vs Ford).
VA too close to call (Allen (R) and Webb (D)).
MD being called for Menedez over Steele, but Steele is up right now (8:30 pm central), not sure how that works.
MO also too close to call (Talent (R) vs McCaskill (D))

Montana is the other tight race.

If You Haven't Already, GO VOTE!

Just returned from doing my civil duty. First time I remember walking to the polls since my first 1986. The five blocks ( I thought it was four) here are tougher than the ones back home (I live on a hill) and blogging is not condusive to staying in shape - I'm also not 18 any more.

Did not vote party line, but the majority of high offices went R. The economy is good, and I want it to stay that way. Voted against most of the local judges, an old tradition of mine dating back several years, mostly due to the fact that the majority of get re-elected anyway. Voted against the video keno amendment as well.

Looking forward to seeing the returns tonight and tomorrow on the national scene. While it looks like the R's may lose Congress, I'm think they hold the Senate, with the House so close it may not matter much. I read somewhere that if the Dems take the House, the Blue Dogs (read Sane Dems) will pretty much control the balance of power, if not the agenda (the Ranking Committee members on the D side of the House are pretty scary, not to mention PELOSI).

Monday, November 06, 2006

3rd District - Adrian Smith

Link to his campaign's website Issues page.

Apologies for not getting this out sooner.

Former Gering city council member and state senator, Smith leads off his issues with agriculture, probably the most important industry in the 3rd. Talks well on expanding trade, biotechnology, alternative crops and the biggie, ethanol production. Good point not expressed elsewhere on biotech.

OOOOH, goes on to talk about LIMITED GOVERNMENT, and how the Founding Fathers had a vision of a society maximazing freedom. Good stuff, down to basic philosophy.

He actually has the chops to mention Cost of Government Day -- July 7 this year. "Half of the year indentured to the state is too long." Homerun. Permanent taxcuts, repeal the death tax, change the tax code to promote investment, all outstanding.

Energy, talks about ethanol, alternatives, and safe responsible drilling. Good stuff again.

Against embryonic stem cell funding, partial birth abortion, pro-adult cell research and umbilical cord research.

For the Defense of Marriage Act, not my issue, but wants the legislatures to decide it, not the courts, which IS my issue. The people's representatives should make the call here.

Pro Second Amendment, pro-concealed carry, one of the leaders of the legislative fight at the state level. Points out gun control legislation just empowers criminal activity.

On national security, supports the war on terrorists, Iraq and the Patriot Act. Pro-border enforcement. Pro-ballistic missile defense (YES!). Supports Taiwan, another resounding YES!

On healthcare,against a national system, points out the failures of Western Europe and Canada. Wants more flexibility in healthcare choices. Not sure here, but sounds like he'd support HSA's.

Immigration - he's for reforming LEGAL immigration to make it easier, pro-border enforcement, and rightly points out the costs associated with Illegals. More good stuff here.

REALLY good stuff here, particularly on ag, trade, foreign and defense policy, and taxes. You certainly know where you stand with this guy, he pulls no punches and really doesn't equivicate on anything, unlike his opponent. While I don't agree with everything (I really don't think we need a constitutional amendement on marriage), I do agree on both basic philosophy and a number of important issues.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


No link, just some commentary.

Last weekend, I was almost ready to write the old alma mater off. So much went wrong on both sides of the ball I didn't even know where to begin, although Husker Mike had a nice write-up.

Today is a different day, the old ball club had a pretty good day down in Lincoln, set a new attendance record and went on to a homecoming 34-20 win over a pretty good Mizzou team. With the win, the North division looks pretty well locked up, with NU only needing one win in their last two to decide the division. B-Jack had another solid day, and Mo Purify proved he can throw the ball as well as catch it. The D, although kinda banged up, played real well in the first half, got some turnovers, and withstood a Mizzou comeback in the second half pretty well.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

3rd District - Scott Kleeb

Kleeb is running a very good campaign out in the west.

His issues pages start with a nice overview of the issues he sees for Western Nebraska - "challenges in health care, economic development, job security, energy and education", and states that the federal goverment "should be a full partner in this effort". Personally, I don't see the government as the solution, but government does have a role to play.

Then he declares his independence from special interest groups. Nice, but I don't really buy that given much of his funding is from out-state. Wants to control earmarks and spending, but supports "PAYGO" legislation (which equals a tax increase), limit lobbyists, continue farm subsidies, expand crop insurance, expand ethanol production, create a "New Homestead Act" with tax incentives for rural development, "save" Social Security from private accounts, and supports business groups forming healthcare associations. The Social Security line is the same as his party's, but no solutions, and one I disagree with. I don't know anyone in this state, at least, against rural development and ethanol, or that is for earmarks, for that matter, or raising taxes.

Long page on healthcare, points out issues, but doesn't spell out much of a plan. We need to cut administrative costs, but doesn't say how to do that except competition, which we already have. Wants to expand care and coverage by increasing the Children's Health Insurance Program (what will it cost?) and increase tax credits and purchasing associations. I'm OK with the last part, which is being pushed by many on both sides of the aisle, but need to know more about his pet program before I could say what I think about it.

His ideas on agriculture are more well-developed, but much of them are a rehash of other candidates ideas (like the agritourism idea proposed by gubernatorial candidate Dave Nabity). Ethanol of course, is to be expanded. Talks about "value-added" products, I guess he means organic here. Points out subsidies go proportionately to a small group of agribusinesses. Also mentions "leveling the playing field" in ag, not sure what he means by that. It all sounds nice though.

Talks a bunch about education, and he appears to be arguing against closing small school districts in Nebraska, but that is a local, not a federal issue. Appears to want to expand money spent on education at all levels, mentions class size and sepnding per pupil, more money for higher education.

National Security - makes a strangely compelling case here for preemtive action here, but then reverses himself crticizing the administration on Iraq. He does make more sense here than most, stating that it isn't all bad, that progress is being made, but apparently wants to turn it over to the UN or something, which makes no sense -- everyone that we've convinced to send troops already has them on the ground there, and aren't going to send any more. He seems to think we can't afford the war, but military expenditures are historically quite low, so that makes no sense either. Then goes on to say it's up to the Iraqis themselves -- which is the current policy. It's great he' not a complete moonbat, but much of what he wants done is either impossible or already happening anyway, so I'm a little curious what the point is in electing him.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

3rd District Race - Overview

OK, now what has developed into the closest of the three NE congressional races, at least according to some polls. Former state legislator Adrian Smith of Gering is running against Yale graduate Scott Kleeb (no idea where he residing?) for the open seat formerly held by Dr. Tom Osborne.

This race is interesting on many levels, not just because the seat was open, but that the amount of interest it has garnered from out-of-state interests. Smith has been endorsed by Club for Growth, an pro-economic growth, anti-tax and spending organization. Since it has become a campaign issue in this race, I'll note for the record I can find no mention of CFG claiming to be for the elimination of farm subsidies. What I have seen is criticism is that subsidies aren't going to small farmers but large corporate farms, and suggestions that thre system should be reformed, not eliminated, with a cap on how much can be received by any single recipient. See USAToday article here.

Liberal web groups like Ameriblog and ActBlue, as well as major Democrats like Senators John Kerry, (former Sen) Bob Kerry, Sen. Ken Salazar, Sen. Tim Johnson and Clinton polical operative Craig Smith, have donated to or supported Kleeb. (hat tips to Leavenworth Street and the newly discovered Heartland Notebook for discovering the machinary behind Kleeb's campaign).

(Bias alert: I am a CFG member - one of 36,000 nationwide. Declared organizational goals - Making the Bush tax cuts permanent,Death tax repeal,Cutting and limiting government spending, Social Security reform with personal retirement accounts,Expanding free trade, Legal reform to end abusive lawsuits, Replacing the current tax code, School choice, Regulatory reform and deregulation).

1st District - Fortenberry

Link is to Fortenberry's Campaign Website.

So where does Fort stand on the issues? Here's his list of issues he feels is important, the site has "overarching" themes with a couple of subpoints under each, I'll just go down the list.

National Security - he talks here not just about maintaining a strong military, but also International Relations, maintaining and creating civil societies and human rights. He's on the Congressional IR committee. He also mentions border security here, along with employer enforcement, expediting LEGAL immigration, and using foreign policy to mitigate the reasons for economic migration. Wow. This is the most mature, responsible commentary I've seen yet form any candidate on these issues. I'm very impressed.

Economic Opportunity - Taxes - He believes taxes should be "simple, reasonable, and moderate." He's against the estate tax, voted against tax increases, and supports the line-itme veto on spending measures. He links tax relief to economic growth. Sounds like my kind of guy so far. Ag - supports free trade, voted for CAFTA and ethanol, and limiting subsidies, and also serves on the Ag Committee.
Small business - serves on the House Small Business Committee as well, and frecognized that small business is responsible for both job growth and economic growth.Introduced legislation expanding small business lending and health saving accounts. This is all petty good stuff from where I sit.

Environment and Energy - Re-emphasizes support for renewables, voted for the energy bill, and links energy development to agriculture. He has voted to allow new oil refineries.

Healthcare - proponent of reform using information technology and HSA's.

Social/Cultural Issues - He's pro-life, pro-Second amendment, and supports conservative judges. Voted to prevent suits against gun manufacturers.

This is the most impressive candidate I've seen yet as far as the issues goes. I wish he would state in more detail his ideas on simplifying the tax code. I am terribly impressed he mentions diplomacy and human rights, Republican candidates don't often mention these in campaign literature. OnTheIssues defines him as a libertarian conservative.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Science - Hubble To be Repaired in 2007

Oustanding news. NASA has decided to give the go-ahead with a Hubble Telescope repair mission next year between ISS construction missions. The mission could feature as many as five spacewalks by astronauts, and extend the telescope's mission to 2013, when a new space observatory, the James Webb, will be launched.

"Astronomers hope the decision means Hubble could still be in operation by 2013 when NASA’s next great observatory — the James Webb Space Telescope — is slated to fly. Hubble’s visible and ultraviolet observations will not be duplicated by JWST, which will scan primarily in the infrared wavelengths, researchers said."

Astronauts will install a new camera, replace batteries and insulation, as well as replace two critical gyroscopes and a guidance sensor, and boost the satellite's orbit using the shuttle's engines.

1st District - Moul

This is going to be more tough than I thought. I didn't think it would be possible to have a candidate website with less information than Esch's but I was wrong. Moul has exactly 5 issues she is running on. Healthcare, Education, National Debt, and Agriculture/Rural Development. Link above is to her website.

Nothing on Iraq, Foreign policy, taxes, immigration, gun control, social security, abortion, judges, or energy. Nada. Zip. Simply amazing. The website pressroom is all about Fortenberry's links to lobbyists and other Republicans, nothing about Moul's position on anything.

On healthcare wants to "expand access", but HOW is never explained, and crticizes the Medicare prescription plan, but doesn't say if she want to scrap it or reform it somehow. On Education, she want to reform No Child Left Behind, which is sensible, but not how, other than give more $$ to school districts, and wants to make higher ed more affordable - OK, again, how?

National Debt - she is once again incredibly short on specifics here, but does mention balanced budgets, tax reform, eliminating "wasteful government spending" and "inadequate investments on programs such as the the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit", which sounds like she doesn't think we are spending enough on that program, which she says "rewards big drug companies at taxpayer's expense." I'm missing the consistency here. Again, nice rhetoric, but what do you plan to do?

Rural Development & Ag - should be the centerpeice of her campaign, but again lacking much substance. Criticizes Fortenberry for voting with Tom DeLay and lobbyists against farmers and businesses, but no specific examples. Says Congress cut rural development money while "tax cuts for the rich" were implemented, but I thought taxes were cut on EVERYONE. Also apparently supports subsidies for small farmers, which is great, but what about putting ceilings on them, since they disproportionately go to corporate farm interests? No ideas here again.

Umm, I guess she has a TV ad saying to secure the border and crack down on employers, and criticized the Bush administration on desiring to grant amnesty, but that would mis-characterize his postion to some degree and certainly wouldn't characterize the House bill that Fortenberry voted for. I also seem to remember something written about Moul being pro-choice, someone correct me if I'm wrong.

I'll examine Fortenbery's positions tomorrow, and hopefully get to the 3rd District as well, with a look at the governor's race and some of the other local races later in the week.

2nd District Race: Terry vs Esch

I'm going to start here in the Omaha district and head west over the rest of the week, examining candidates positions and my take on them. As far as this race is concerned, I don't know much about Esch other than every bus stop in town has a bench with his name on it. It's a little hard to find info on the Democratic candidate's positions other than his website, and what is there is pretty much a small blurb. No real substantive views other than on a couple of topics.

Abortion - again, not a big issue for me, philosophically opposed to it myself, and both candidates here agree. Terry has a 0% NARAL rating, which indicates a pretty conservative rating. Esch is consistently pro-life, anti-euthanasia and anti-death penalty, but seems to quibble a bit on stem cell research.
Nothing here for me to base a decison on.

Immigration - fairly big gap here between the candidates. Terry supports stronger border enforcement (no mention of a fence) and a guest worker program, but no path to citizenship. Eisch mentions Employer enforcement, guest workers, AND a path to legalization to "long-term undocumented workers". I'm not sure I agree with either candidates positions on this subject. I support more LEGAL immigration, a fence and stronger border enforcement, think guest worker programs are hooey and believe that while it's unfortunate, we have to be pragmatic and give a path to eventual citizenship. But the road should be long, hard, and they should go to the back of the line for being here illegally. Nothing here really either.

Iraq - Terry supports the current course of assisting the Iraqi government stablize the nation and then withdraw over an undefined period based on success on the ground. Esch demands a "definition of victory" (not clear what he means)and a more immediate withdrawal, although he isn't terribly clear here either. Strong advantage Terry on this one; casualties, while horrible, happen in war, and are low by historical standards. Cutting and runnning isn't an option with the lives of 25 million Iraqis at stake.

Healthcare - Terry supports Health Savings Accounts, business group insurance and on using Federal court rules on malpractice suits, but not limiting the awards (this raises the bar for getting into court vs. state courts, but not the amount a litigant can be awarded.) Esch wants to nationalize healthcare. Ouch. What a stupid idea. Strong advantage Terry here, although I'm not with him 100%.

Spending/Taxes - Terry is pro-earmark reform (although he never did answer my questions about earmarks I asked a couple months ago), and to his credit, has voted against the "throw everything against the wall" omnibus bills that get passed at the end of sessions. Esch really shows his ignorance here - He's for a balanced budget (nice idea, but do you do if there's a recession?), also for earmark reform, and has some ideas about modernizing and streamlining government, but doesn't say how that would be accomplished. Tie more or less as far as I'm concerned here, maybe advantage Terry for voting to cut taxes. Esch doesn't mention taxes ANYWHERE on his site.

Social Security - Terry is for reforming the system to include private accounts. Esch is against them, but for "saving social security" - by raising the limit on social security taxes to $140k and some other indeterminate things. Definite advantage Terry here.

Energy - Terry is on the House Energy Committee, and has pushed hard on hydrogen, ethanol, as well as domestic drilling and refining. Esch mostly has a wish list of renewables and conservation and is calling for an Apollo-style program on them. I find Terry's approach of drilling while you do research on alternatives a lot more realistic.

Education - alot of feel-good rhetoric from both candidates here, nothing really to distinguish the two. More $$ for teachers, higher ed., etc.

Environment - not much here from either candidate again, Esch seems to believe Al Gore about warming, Terry wants to drill (safely) in the AWR. Slight advantage Terry here in at least being realistic.

Trade/Foreign Policy - Terry is definitely a free trader, having voted for a number of such bi-lateral agreements. Nothing on Esch at all on either on foreign policy except some stuff on talking to N. Korea, which we're already doing with our allies in the region along with China and Russia. Definite advantage Terry for being a grown-up and not ignoring the issues.

Guns/2nd Amendment - both candidate support 2nd Amendment rights, so nothing here to really distinguish the two.

Military - Esch point out his father is Vietnam vet and lost a leg and we should support our vets. Nothing of substance here for him. In contrast Terry has voted to increase vet funding, as well as military pay and family benefits for active and reserve forces. Terry has a definite advantage here for me as well.

To conclude, I think Esch has some nice ideas, but is young, a little naive, and probably unprepared to be a US Congressman. Terry is the incumbent, with all the advantages that confers, and seems to have a far better grasp of the issues than Esch does today. Terry reflects my view on most issues far more than Esch, although I also have disagreements with Terry on specific subjects. OnTheIssues defines Terry as a Libertarian-leaning Conservative. Make up your own mind.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Senate Race

Senate Race Issues -- click on the candidates name and get a host of issue related info instead of crappy TV ads attacking the other guy.

I'll analyze where they & I stand. I don't like either guy too well, but I do want to look at where they stand on the issues.

Immigration -- Nelson and Ricketts both against amnesty, pro-border enforcement, I agree.

Iraq -- Nelson and Ricketts both agree that no timetable should be set, but benchmarks for progress should be defined. Agree with both here as well.

Energy -- both candidates are for developing energy alternatives to oil, but Ricketts is also a proponent of domestic drilling even in the AWR. Have to give major points to Pete on that one, Nelson has voted against AWR drilling repeatedly.

Trade -- both candidates are for free and open trade, nothing to argue with here.

Military -- both candidates support a strong miltary and vets. Good to go here also.

Education -- Nelson opposes vouchers, Ricketts is for them. Advantage Ricketts.

Legal System -- Both support malpractice reform & the death penalty, and are against legal activism. Nelson voted for the President's SC picks, but mixed record at lower levels. Tie again, possible advantage to Pete.

Taxes -- Nelson has supported the President's tax cuts, but Pete wants not only to make them permanent, but wants to look at the entire tax structure. Advantage Pete again.

Spending -- both talk a good game here, but Ben voted against a $40 billion spending reduction last Dec., and has had a some questionable business relationships. Ricketts wants not only to reduce spending, but go to a 2 year budget. Another advantage Pete.

Abortion/Stem cells/etc --Not a big issue for me, Ricketts is strongly pro-life, and Nelson appears to vote that way as well.

Social Security -- Nelson is against private accounts, Pete is for them, big advantage Pete.

Guns -- Nelson has NRA support, but appears to have a mixed record, opposed a bill that would absolve manufacturers from lawsuits. Ricketts supports 2nd amendment and concealed carry. Advantage Pete, again.

Healthcare -- again, not a big personal issue, but Nelson has voted against limiting lawsuits (contrasting a statement under legal system reform), and bulk drug purchases. Ricketts is for Health Savings Accounts and limiting lawsuits, again advantage Ricketts.

Environment -- Nelson voted to confirm Secretary Norton, and seems to have some flexibility on the issues of EPA mandates. No Ricketts policy stance available, so advantage Nelson.

Pete appears to reflect where I stand on issues quite a bit more, and on some important issues. What I do like is his stance on the budget and spending, as well as tax reform. I wish he would say more about foreign policy, which is a pretty big issue with me as well, but unfortunately, he's been pretty silent on that one.

Social Security accounts are also a big plus for Pete, and the domestic drilling issue is a big kicker for me too. Personally, I wish he'd stay more on issues in his ads and draw more of a compare contrast with Nelson.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Huskers vs Okie St.

Preview via CBS's Sportsline.

OK, I'm finally over the disappointment from last week.

What do we have here? Two high octane offenses (2nd & 3rd in Big 12 in scoring)tangle with alot riding on the game for NU. Fortunately, OSU hasn't really stopped anyone all season, giving up over 340 yds/game, 144 on the ground and almost 200 through the air. Zac to Mo Purify, anyone?

My guess is BC goes back to "pound the rock" and tries to keep OSU QB Bobby Reid and his stable of fleet WRs off the field. Hopefully, the return of Steve Octaivan can help shake loose our DE's and we can get good pressure on Reid. Blackshirt secondary will have its hands full with league leading receiver Anthony Bowman. Huskers are leading the league in scoring defense (14.5 pts/game), and doing pretty well in controlling the running game (102/game)so hopefully they can make them one-dimensional & keep them out of the endzone. FEARLESS PREDICTION: NU 35, OSU 24.

Baseball World Series


I realized the other day I had not congratulated the Tiggers and the Redbirds on reaching the World Series. Redbirds hold a commanding 3-1 lead as of tonight. Jeff Weaver attempts to give the Cards their first WS ring since Whitey Herzog's base stealing racetrack Cards of 1982, weather permitting. Grandpa, who was a big Cards fan from the days of Dizzy & Stan the Man, must be pretty happy up in heaven.

EDIT: St Louis wins the series!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Science - Ancient Cultures

The remains of what might have been a corral for horses has been found in Khazakhistan, where the Boltoi culture existed from 4 to almost 6 thousand years ago.

"From 3600 to 2300 B.C., the Botai culture lived in the steppe environment of Kazakhstan, where temperatures can reach subzero during winters. Domesticated horses could have weathered the deep chill, allowing the Botai people to stay put all-year round."

While it was known that the Boltoi hunted horses, it was not clear that they had domesticated horses, although it is not thought they were not the first to do so - that privelige appears to belong the Samarra culture (related to the Kurgan/Proto Indo-European hypthosis) of the current day Ukraine, but the timelines appear to be pretty close and the info here at Wiki isn't very clear, although they do lede some credence to either the Botai or the Sredny Stog culture. Interesting archaeological conundrum here.

Armored Paintball

via the London Daily Mail. (I think)

This is so effin' cool I can't believe it.
English paintball farm escalates the fun into armored paintball warfare.

"15 years ago, Stuart Garner decided to try out an extra source of revenue on his family farm's 250 acres. He opened a conventional paintball site in one of the woods, but kept thinking up ways of improving it.

So, he bought an old tactical missile launcher (without a missile) to replicate landing craft assaults on dry land. That went down a treat, so he bought a couple of armoured personnel carriers (APCs) to liven things up even more.

Then, he had another idea. If the general public found it so much fun playing infantry games, maybe they would like to try out a spot of armoured activity, too. How about tank paintball?

It took a few years to perfect. Stuart eventually, found just what he needed at an ex-military vehicle sale. During the Seventies, the Army used an APC called an FV432. A handful were also built with turrets and a nasty 30mm Rarden gun.

Stuart had the guns removed and contacted Jez Smith, 26-year-old local engineer and serial inventor, to make the biggest paintball gun ever seen. Their chosen ammunition, fired by compressed air, would be paint-filled ping-pong balls."

I think I may need to get to the state department of economic development - tomorrow.

Hattip to the gang at Wizbang!

2nd District Debate: Terry vs Esch

Leavenworth Street is once again ALL over it. While poking a bit of fun at both candidates, Esch apparently got smacked around some, and then some more. And then Terry hurt him.

Also, out in the Third District, Democratic candidate Scott Kleeb gets a little exposure. While Kleeb is criticizing Adrian Smith for taking Club for Growth money,Kleeb is getting his cash from John Kerry and uber-lefty website Americablog. Very interesting, isn't it. Excellent takedown, again. I really need to meet this Leavenworth guy, he's good.

Citizen Activist Chris Lileks

via The American Spectator.

Great story of a young citizen who has had a dramatic impact on politics in Pennsylvania. Not only did he help to overturn a legislative "midnight" payraise, he got two of the top Republican legislators voted out of office in the primary election for passing it in the first place.

He is now working feverishly to help shore up Senator Rick Santorum's campaign against former State Treasurer Bob Casey, Jr. By starting his own 527 lobbying group. If he's half as successful with this campaign as his last, Casey may be in trouble.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


No link, just a few comments. Nebraska showed that it can hang with a pretty good team, and probably would have won had another of Texas's several fumbles gone our way or one or another of our turnovers not happened. The second half showed why it is important to mix things up better, we were a little tentative in the first half in the passing game. Coach C had a stroke of genius calling the halfback pass. I didn't like the way NU mismanaged the clock while UT was driving to go ahead. Great catch and run by Brandon Jackson.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

College Football

Several surprises this week, particularly with #15 Iowa losing to Indiana and #16 Georgia losing to Vandy. #11 Auburn also upset 2nd rated Florida, and BC manhandled #22 Va Tech. One story from the not-so-surprising department, a number U of Miami (FL) thugs (players) are being suspended due to a onfield brawl with neighboring school Florida International. Both schools had numerous players involved and suspensions are being handed out all over.

In the Big 12, Missouri's loss to Texas A & M puts Nebraska momentarily in the North division driver's seat, although Texas comes to Lincoln next week. ISU loses to OU, UT thrashes Baylor, Okie St comes from behind with 42 second half points on Kansas, and the lowly Buffalos avoid a school reocrd 11th loss in a row in upsetting Texas Tech. UT and NU are the only teams now without a conference loss.

In the Big 10, OSU and Michigan continue to stay undefeated, Wisconsin thrashes Minnesota, Purdue thumps Northwestern, and Frank Solich's Ohio Bobcats continue their upset tradition edging out Illinois in a non-conference game.

New AP poll has OSU and UM 1 and 2, the USA poll has USC number 2 instead. UT is #5, with the Huskers moving up to 17 and 16 after a bunch of SEC/Big East/Pac-10 teams. OU is at 20 in both, Mizzou stays in only the AP at 24, A & M is at 23 and 25. Big-10's Badgers are are at 21 and 22, & BC returns to the polls as well for the ACC whose only other rated team is Clemson at #12.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Neolithic Revolution

More Friday NG science stuff -- and the kind of thing I have a particular interest in, namely, the beginnings of civilization.

DNA tracing done recently on goats show that they may be among the oldest domesticated species on the planet, perhaps as far back as 11-12,000 years. Originating near the Caucasus mountain range, the goat went global with people as they migrated from the early farming regions in the Near East west into Europe and east into Asia. The diversity of goat DNA is much lower than other domesticated livestock, indicating far more travel and interbreeding -- almost as mixed as humans themselves.

"DNA analysis of 7,000-year-old goat bones from caves in Baume d'Oullen in southwestern France revealed high genetic diversity and two goat lineages stemming from the Near East. The researchers say that this indicates genetic mixing in goats occurred with the first waves of Neolithic farmers in Europe around 7,500 years ago.

Goats would have been ideally suited companions for frontier farmers in Stone Age Europe, the researchers say, being hardy animals that can survive on minimal food, cope with extremes of temperature, and travel long distances."

Goats would have provided food, clothing, milk as well as bone and sinew for Stone Age equipment, and dung for fuel and fertilzer. As goat herding led to farming and more permanent settlement, farmers would go on to domesticate other local livestock such as cattle, sheep and pigs.

Huskers vs K St.

I see this game as a bellweather for the season. If the same team shows up that played ISU, we should be fine, but some consistency would be nice to see. If the team that played Kansas shows up, we are in trouble, particularly next week and later in the season. This SHOULD go onto the books as win number 800 for the program. We haven't won in Manhatten in a decade, and it's about time to start again.

If we can run the ball effectively, we will probably win the game, but it might be a tall order as the Wildcats rank ahead of the Blackshirts defensively, at least on paper. Of course, our D had to play USC, and had a huge letdown against KU as well. But we do have alot more offensive firepower than they do, and have been getting on teams early, outscoring opponents 62-7 in the first quarter. Taylor may have to mix it up and throw early to open up the ground game, but he can certainly do that.

"The Cornhuskers have the Big 12's top scoring offense at 39.7 points per game. They lead the conference and rank among the top 10 teams in the nation in rushing with 210.7 yards per game and total offense with 463.8."

Defensively, we need to stop their run game and pressure KSU's frosh QB, and we should be able to do just that, although the KU game is a stark reminder that we need to play all four quarters. Special teams could be huge this week, KU has a fine return man and starting RB in Patton. We shouldn't need to play dime defense this week, focus on stopping Patton and containing QB Freeman. KSU O-line is huge, but they are only averaging 116 yds/game, hard to figure.

I'm saying NU wins on the road, 31-14.
We have Texas next week in Lincoln, hopefully no one is looking ahead. I'm not.

Science - Ancient Giant Camels

via National Geographic.

Giant camel fossil, twice the size of modern species at nearly 12 feet, discovered in Syria. The find extends the history of the species back more than 90,000 years. Modern camels are thought to have been domesticated in Arabia around 6-7,000 years ago. Perhaps as significant is that human bones and tools were also found in the area, suggesting that early humans may have hunted the giant dromedary.

"Hunter-gatherers likely attacked and killed the giant camel when it visited one of these springs to drink, the researchers suggest."

Gotta hand it to those cave-men, they loved barbeque so much they were willing to take on giant camels and mammoths just to get a taste.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Husker LB Kadavy

via Sports Illustrated.

Amazing story of a Husker walk-on LB Andy Kadavy, who is blind in one eye. Cut once as a FB during the Solich era, he caught on again as LB on the scout team with Bo Pellini's help after never giving up on himself. Coach Callahan rewarded the young man with a scholarship for his senior season after he had previously worked himself through school. Kadavy is a standout on the Husker special teams. Despite rumors to the contrary, the walk-on program is still very much alive at NU, with Kadavy and his good friend safety Brandon Rigoni being the current poster boys. Andy intends to teach elementary school after graduation.

Science - Ice Age

via Yahoo/Reuters.

Apparently new evidence has been uncovered in recent sediment cores that the Bering Land Bridge, widely thought to have allowed a land passage from Asia to North America during the Earth's last Ice Age, flooded about a millenia before previously thought, around 11,000 years ago. This leads further credence to the idea that Native Americans migrated further back in time than was once thought as well, perhaps as far back as 18,000 years if some finds I've read about can be proven.

"For decades most scientists believed that the first people to settle in the Americas were the Clovis people, and that they came via the Bering land bridge between 11,000 and 12,000 years ago. But recent evidence has suggested that humans came much earlier."

One of the interesting theories is that people not only migrated via the land bridge, but also along the coast in small boats. There is certainly evidence of boats before that time in South Asia and elsewhere. Naturally, the best places to look for evidence of such coastal migrations on America's west coast are now under water as the Ice Age glaciers melted, raising the world's sea levels.

North Korea

via Foxnews.

The US is attempting to bridge the gap between the sanctions being pushed by Japan (which unilaterally imposed a ban on N. korean shipping from docking at Japanese ports, among other things) and the "unspecified consequences" being proposed by the Chinese, who have the most leverage over the North. China is sending an envoy to the US to discuss the matter.

"Chinese officials have refused to say publicly what consequences they believe North Korea should face for its claimed nuclear test, although its U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, agreed earlier this week that the Security Council must impose "punitive actions."

The latest US proposals would drop the embargo conditions being pressed by the Japanese, but freeze some N. Korean assets and ban travel for some of its citizens.
However, the N. Koreans continue to threaten both the US and Japan if sanctions are imposed. The US is hoping to get the Chinese and the Russians on board with its proposals while maintaining the intense concern being expressed by the Japanese.

"The North will consider increased U.S. pressure "a declaration of war," RI Kong Son, vice spokesman for North Korea's Foreign Ministry, said in an interview with AP Television News in Pyongyang. He said North Korea would take unspecified "physical countermeasures. Song Il Ho, a North Korean envoy to Japan, gave a similar warning to Tokyo. "We will take strong countermeasures," he told Kyoto News Agency."

China appears to be pushing the North to admit going nuclear is a mistake and hopefully disarming, while at the same time attempting to prevent the international community from "punishing" the North. Hard to determine what the ultimate Chinese goals are, but they are legendarily obtuse in diplomatic circles. The North is demanding one-on-one talks with the US, which are wisely being refused in favor of a multi-lateral approach with the North's neighbors. It is still unclear, however, that the explosion/seismic event was, in fact, nuclear as both South Korea and Japan can find no signs of additional radioactivity in the atmosphere.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

GOP Straw Poll

Yankees Offseason

Apparently the Boss has decided to stay with Joe Torre as Yankee manager, a wise decision I fully endorse. I've also seen reports that GM Brian Cashman has no intention of trading Alex Rodriguez, although it was confirmed that teams did approach the Yanks to inquire about his availability before the trade deadline last summer. Cashman's job has to be to find some pitching over the winter. There is speculation the Gary Sheffield may not be back next year, not sure what his contract situation is yet, I want to say it's an option year. I'd like to see a top shelf free agent starting pitcher landed, and maybe this guy from Japan, and perahps a couple of middle inning guys for sure.