Friday, March 31, 2006
I always suspected that things were bad in the lands of our southern neighbor, but I had no idea they were so bad. 100 million people, 40% in poverty, 25% underemployment (not an official figure) . No wonder they want to come here so badly. An estimated $ 19 billion is sent from "guests" here back home. 3% growth rate is pretty good for a mature economy like the US, but pretty poor in a developing nation. See India, China, etc. all growing 5-7% or better. Interested to see they hit a $1 trillion in GDP this year -- 14th in the world, right behind Canada, and they have 40% poverty! Of course, Canada's population is only 1/3 of Mexico's. Sad, but the incredible income disparity and corruption there have to be addressed, even if we DO build a wall.
Note: Figures from CIA Factbook.
Steve Verdon talks about paternalism, then concludes:
"If you are advocating things like life time employement, government provided health care, government provided retirement, government provided housing, and the such guess what; you no longer want freedom. You want to be a pet. And disturbingly the Republicans seem all too eager to head right down this road behind the Democrats. " (added the emphasis)
We're a long way from "Don't Tread On Me", and the nation suffers for it, IMHO.
This is one of my favorite group blogs, which seem to be getting more and more popular as blog fatigue sets in with solo efforts. I doubt I'll ever achieve enough popularity to have others join in, but ... you never say never.
I'd be a little pissed with the media too if I was in country. I am anyway. Civil War my ass. If you added up all the things the media has gotten wrong about the Iraqi campaign and reconstruction efforts, you'd have a pile of paper stretching to the moon. Bro-in-law (ironically enough, also an E5) is scheduled to go to either Iraq or Kuwait with his new unit, probably in June. Dude wants to do his 20 -- regardless of where they send him and what is asked when he gets there. The only 2 journalists I really trust on war reports (other than boots on the ground bloggers) are Mike Yon and author/columnist Ralph Peters. Both vets; we may be on to something here. The tragically deceased Mike Kelly was also a damn fine journalist as well.
Being a baseball fanatic, pretty interesting stuff. I love seeing the old game films where the players would leave their gloves on the field while their team took its at-bat. The opposition simply played around the opponents' gloves. Had no idea Spaulding was actually a 19th century player. On a personal note, I have my recently departed grandfather's glove from the 40's, which I think is pretty cool.
Interesting. Ajax was the name of 2 Greek warriors, I assume they believe these excavations are associated with Ajax the Greater, who was the Greeks second-best warrior to the better known (today) Achilles. I never put it together that the famous Battle of Salamis was the home kingdom of the much earlier (8-900 years) Ajax either.
The really interesting find is the copper piece with the name of Egyptian Pharoah Ramses on it. Trade in those days was actually a lot more wide-spread than you might believe. I saw a thing on the Queen of Sheba (contemporary in a general sense to Ajax, Bronze Age) on History channel's "Digging for the Truth" and her people, who populated present day Yemen and Ethiopia, traded as far away as China and India, as well as with the Med. civilizations.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Mainly a fluff article, but I'm surprised it didn't mention the fact he's a Mormon. Like his education and immigration stances. A number of these type of pieces are floating around on potential Presidential candidates, particularly on the Republican side. Saw one on Hagel the other day, but I don't think he's really got any chance, but I could be surprised. McCain and Guliani appear to be the front-runners, although I think Romney and VA Sen. George Allen are also possible. I don't think Bill Frist excites too many people today either. KS Sen. Sam Brownback has also been mentioned.
Dems appear locked in on either Mrs. Clinton (who has a huge campaign chest, $17 milllion and counting), Al Gore, Kerry or Edwards. I'd like to see a dark horse emerge -- although NOT Howard Dean. Somebody with a least a little common sense. NM Gov. Bill Richardson for example, or Joe Lieberman. Heard VA Gov. Warner is exploring a run as well, not terribly familiar with him.
Also see the Washignton Times article here.
While the idea that Communist governments routinely torture their own citizens may be a surprise to some, it is a fact. The Czechs know, and remember. So do the Poles, East Germans, and the Romanians. You would like to think that Amnesty and associated groups would raise an unholy ruckus over something like this, but you would be wrong -- they instead are screaming about Haliburton, Blood for Oil and the liberation of nearly 50 million Muslims.
The thing that disturbs me the most is the silence. We can't afford to make our Chinese or Cuban friends angry, can we? Business is business, there are markets to be untapped! Some, but very few, are paying attention. Of course, the Chinese don't just pick on Fulan Gong practitioners, but Tibetans, Muslim Uigurs and just about any other minority group. If this is true, and I think it likely that it is, it will be compared with Nazi Europe -- as well it should.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Skull found in Ethiopia apparently bridges some of the gap in the fossil record between modern h. sapiens and h. erectus. Interesting, to say the least. Apparently undiscovered until now, and the article states there are 3 ! different homind species that might have led to the evolution of modern humanity.
Also related: Early Humans Prey, not Predators.
Apparently great, great, etc grandpa was constantly on the run from those pesky saber tooths. The only thing that may have saved us is cooperative groupings. Current primate species behavior comes to mind -- a couple of young males serve as lookouts while the rest of the band feeds.
"Early humans survived while other primate species died out because our ancestors cooperated to alter their surroundings, the researchers say.
This cooperation deflected the risk of predation onto other nearby prey species, which became more vulnerable because early humans weren't as easy to catch. "
Being more difficult to catch, the big cats that preyed upon early humans shifted their diet to other species. Way to go, grandpa.
I do want to drill for oil off Florida and in Alaska if it is economically viable to do so, and can be done in a safe, responsible manner.
Socially, I'd say I'm pretty moderate. Philosophically against abortion, but not that adamant about it and I think you have to have some legalized abortion. I tend to favor things that discourage or limit it without making it illegal. School prayer, gay marriage/adoption, the whole family values thing doesn't really resonate with me much. I like school choice a great deal, however. If the local public school is hopeless, a parent has to do something to get their child a good education.
Foreign policy-wise, I am a veteran that supports the application of military force to accomplish strategic security aims when diplomacy fails. I am a patriot and I believe that the United States has historically been the greatest force for peace and good in the history of mankind. I would not, however, argue that we are perfect in every way, indeed, far from it. I will note for the record by brother-in-law is active duty Army and participated in the invasion of Iraq with 101st Airborne. I naturally prefer diplomacy and multi-lateral solutions but national security trumps. I prefer, if you will, to believe in peace through strength. Walk softly and carry a big stick, as TR would say. Walking softly can be a bit of a problem when your the world's sole remaining superpower, in current terms at least.
I think it is a horrible travesty of justice that people fleeing a brutal tyrant in Cuba get returned if they are picked up on the water but allowed to stay if the land on US soil when thousands, indeed millions of other people are allowed to (wink,wink you will, of course, come back for your deportation hearing, won't you?) stay illegally. The border must be controlled better, and employers should face severe penalties for hiring illegals. Can we stop everyone? Can we return everyone back to their home countires? Most likely not, but we can limit the inflow and provide more disincentives for people to come here in the first place.
On another note, apparently Ricketts loaned his campaign another half a million dollars. Saw an ad the other day and he seems intent on courting Stenberg's social conservative base -- talked about judges, pro-life stance, emminent domain, etc. Kramer had a nice article in OWH here
but has been mostly invisible.
On higher education: everyone seems to agree that some incentives are needed to get graduates to stay in state, but Nabity correctly identifies the issue as an economic one -- we need better growth and jobs to get people to stay and reduce taxes to make the state a more attractive place to live. Both he and Osbourne hammer budget increases, which aren't sustainable without a better state climate for growth.
Economy/jobs: Governor responds with the incentive package recently passed, and the questionable idea that we can't reduce taxes and spending drastically because it took us a long time to become a high tax state. Nabity takes the Gov. to task, particularly that the tax cut is about $3-4 a month for the average tax payer. Both he and Osbourne appear to believe that Heineman should have done more last year to reduce spending and streamline govenrment.
Not sure I disagree. Osbourne also notes that the Gov's job creation numbers ignores job losses around the state -- net job increase should be the yardstick.
Abortion: all said they would have signed the Dakota bill. Not sure I would without provisions for at least rape and incest. SD bill is surely going to court.
Immigration: All agree a Federal issue, but I would argue that as chief executive, you are obligated with upholding the law. IMO, we need to go after the employers and dry up the incentive for people to come here in the first place. Question asks about children getting in-state tuition, and while the Gov. seems hesitant, I think all would agree that you can't blame the children for the sins of the parents. Osbourne qualifies it as 5 years in country, graduate from NE high school, and not over 21, which sound to me like important restrictions.
Water: Lots of technical talk here, and Osbourne and the Gov. seem to agree about the program Osboure sponsored in Congress which they think will do a lot to address the Republican River shortfall with Kansas. Nabity looks at it in more economic terms and believes that it will force farmers out of business. Particularly tough one to analyze.
Healthcare: everyone agrees we have to do something to control costs. Osbourne points to other states that have addressed the issue, FL as an example. Heineman apparently wants to study it and takes flack from both for saying so.
Government: all agree to large and talk about how to share services, reduce redundancy, etc.
Surprising to me that the state has as many employees as IA with half the population.
Third District rivals agree to forum
Four candidates seeking the 3rd Congressional District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Tom Osborne, R-Neb., have agreed to participate in a candidate forum scheduled for 2 p.m. Monday at the Kearney Holiday Inn.
The two-hour session is sponsored by nine agricultural organizations. It will include an hour of questioning by a panel of news reporters and a second hour of questions from audience members.
Four of the six candidates seeking the post - Adrian Smith, John Hanson, Jay Vavricek and Douglas Polk, all Republicans - had agreed to participate as of Tuesday.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Great article on how Arab governments have mismanaged their economies and the growth rate in liberated Iraq. If I recall correctly, I read somewhere that Iraq and Spain had either similiar GDP numbers or Per Capita income numbers when Saddam took power. Spain is now light years ahead of Iraq, and Iraq was one of the better Arab economies under Hussein. I also understand that electrical output is now greater than pre-liberation -- the primary problem today is that Iraqi citizens demand has far outstripped supply.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Immigration issue has Osbourne and Nabity in favor of in-state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants, point being that we shouldn't punish the children for crimes committed by their parents. The Governor has serious reservations about the idea, but passes the buck saying that the Feds should enforce the law. Novel idea, but maybe the chief executive of the state should do something about it , too.
The challengers also indirectly criticized the tax incentive bill and state budget. Osbourne pointed out the dramatic spending increases (14%) could constrain tax relief and Nabity said that the incentives don't do enough for small business. Osbourne also points out some large employers are (Tyson) are leavingg the state for greener pastures. Gov. defends his tax package with numbers of 26 businesses applied for incentives leading to an estimated 4000 jobs. He also repeated his refrain that it took us a long time to become a high tax state and that it will take us a long time to lower taxes, which I just don't understand myself. Claims to want to lower taxes, just not right now, apparently. Pointed out the last budget didn't raise taxes.
All three candidates stated they would support a bill outlawing abortion like that of South Dakota's.
Friday, March 24, 2006
From reading the OWH Letters to the Editor, it would appear that Nabity may have picked up some support, while Osbourne still is probably leading the pack. The Governor is advertising his position on the OPS issue, I guess hoping to pick up suburban support.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Way to keep a low profile, criminal masterminds.
Rocket grenades against not one, but 2 US Navy warships -- a cruiser and a destroyer?
Simply brilliant. Makes stupid US criminals look positively Einsteinian.
hat tip: http://wizbangblog.com/
Thoughts: All three are for some form of tax cuts, but only Osbourne is stating that the real problem is spending. He also wants to reform the tax code. I like Nabity's idea of a flat state income tax rate & the elimination of the estate tax. Heineman touts the recently passed spending cuts, but Nabity points out that this was only 1/10 of 1 percent of the state budget. The Governor seems to believe that it will take some time to reduce taxes -- mentions tax creep over the last 10 years and thinks it should take us about the same amount of time to reduce. ?!! He wants to focus on income, sales and property taxes this year (what's left?). All three appear to be in favor of some type of government streamlining, but Osbourne's ideas seem to more developed in this case (Believes up to $350 million could be saved). Not sure if Warren Buffet would be my first choice to head the efficiency commission though.
OPS/Schools issues -- Heineman is against the proposed merger, Nabity wants to turn it on its head (have the suburban districts take over 23 OPS schools), and Osbourne wants to get the parties together and find a solution without going to court. No mention of what the law actually is, or whether or not the merger is a good idea, although no one appears to think it is. All propose to revamp the state aid formula.
Crime: Everyone seems to agree that penalties should be stiffer and more money should be made available for treatment, counseling and monitoring for sex offender/meth addiction. Nabity comes out for Concealed permits. Osbourne mentions sentencing is particularly haphazard.
Jobs: Osbourne promotes education and technology, Heineman points to the incentive plan recently passed by the legislature and his trip to Cuba, and Nabity believes tax cuts will make the state more attractive for new business.
Immigration: All three say the Feds are failing in their job, but welcome hard working legal immmigrants to the state. Osbourne points to a proposal he has before the US House that would involve employers and a 3 year guest worker program.
Impressions: Heineman frequently touts his record, but seems a bit defensive overall. I don't think he's had the job long enough to make a big impression on most voters. Osbourne is still clearly the front runner on name recognition alone, has some good ideas but appears indecisive on some issues. Nabity is way behind but has a lot of serious proposals that could gain some traction if he could get his message out & people took the time to look at them seriously.
Unscientific OWH online poll on just over 2000 votes as of 10 am this morning has TO way ahead just over 3:1 over Heineman. Nabity is running behind TO 8:1 Looking good for the Coach.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are planned for completion in 2012 and 2015, (a delay of 2 yrs might be forthcoming) with contruction on QE starting later this year. No reactors, 2 islands, 3 runways, plan is to carry 30-40 aircraft of all types.
Expected service life of 50 years, and capable of being modified to accept conventional carrier aircraft after the expected service life of the F-35s. The French have come aboard this year and there is a likely third vessel for that nation again projected for around 2015. French vessel will likely fly their domestically developed Rafale fighter.
Cool. You have a F-35A that takes off conventionally and will be used by the USAF, a F-35B that is a short takeoff version for the USMC and Royal Navy's CV program, and the carrier F-35C version for the US Navy and their CVAs.
Almost 1800 A version, 540 B version (150 UK is 60 RN and 90 RAF - not sure why the RAF wouldn't go for A models though) and another 480 C's for the USN, though the mix of types for each service is liable to change. It's also thought Australia may buy some as well.
A version expected to enter service in 2008 and B's & C's in 2012. Project has had issues with the B's development but it appears they've made more signifigant modifications for that version to hit their performance targets. Smaller payload being the biggest.
Next research proejct is on those Brit CV's.
150 fighters for $21 billion. Wonder if that means 2 x 75 complement on each CV or a smaller number and deployment of some of the aircraft on land.
More research is definetely needed, and I'm just the dude to do it.
Delving and be back in no time.
A friend of mine at work actually served at Keflavik.
One of those places I've always wanted to get to, with the all the history of Vikings explorers
and (naturally) all the blonde women. Who undoubtedly like American guys. Of which I'm a prime (if slightly dented) example.
I'm waiting for someone to start raising the claim that we went there for the oil there too. Maybe once Haliburton gets the contracts.
"Undiscovered petroleum resources in the assessed region of northern Afghanistan range from 3.581 to 36.462 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas, with a mean of 15.687 TCF. Estimates of oil range from 0.391 to 3.559 billion barrels (BBO), with a mean of 1.596 BB0. Estimates for natural gas liquids range from 126 to 1,325 million barrels (MMB) with a mean of 562 MMB."
Developing these resources could be a key factor in stabilizing the country.
Currently, Afghanistan imports most of its energy resources.
The Great Wall of China was originally created to keep Chuck Norris out. It failed miserably.
Chuck Norris can win a game of Connect Four in only three moves.
There is no theory of evolution, just a list of creatures Chuck Norris allows to live.
Chuck Norris is the only man to ever defeat a brick wall in a game of tennis.
Chuck Norris once bet NASA he could survive re-entry without a spacesuit. On July 19th, 1999, a naked Chuck Norris re-entered the earth's atmosphere, streaking over 14 states and reaching a temperature of 3000 degrees. An embarrassed NASA publically claimed it was a meteor, and still owes him a beer.
Chuck Norris doesn't actually write books, the words assemble themselves out of fear.
Chuck Norris can divide by zero.
Wilt Chamberlain claims to have slept with more than 20,000 women in his lifetime. Chuck Norris calls this "a slow Tuesday."
Chuck Norris ordered a Big Mac at Burger King, and got one.
Some people wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas.
When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn't lifting himself up, he's pushing the Earth down.
Chuck Norris invented the bolt-action rifle, liquor, sexual intercourse, and football-- in that order.
Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door.
Chuck Norris is the only person to ever win a staring contest against Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder at the same time.
Chuck Norris proved that we are alone in the universe. We weren't before his first space expedition.
Chuck Norris recently had the idea to sell his urine as a canned beverage. We know this beverage as Red Bull.
Chuck Norris once kicked a horse in the chin. Its decendants are known today as Giraffes.
There is no such thing as global warming. Chuck Norris was cold, so he turned the sun up.
And, finally, little known historical fact:
Chuck Norris did in fact, build Rome in a day.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Main point of the article is that as technology advances, and price increases, more oil suddenly becomes available to exttract profitably. I'd say duh! but too many people don't get it already.
Again, basic economics. And I note that this doesn't even touch the abiogenesis theory. (The theory that oil doesn't come from the remains of dead organisms but that it simply leaches up from deep within the earth's interior).
Great quote about how proven reserves have increased over time.
"In 1970, experts believed the world had 612 billion barrels of proved reserves. Over the next three decades, more than 767 billion barrels would be pumped. Did we use up all the world's oil and then some? Hardly. Conservative estimates today place the world's provable oil reserves at 1.2 trillion barrels. New deposits of oil haven't been created. It's just that human ingenuity has come up with ways to get hard-to-reach deposits."
The bet between Paul Ehrlich and Julian Simon comes to mind.
Ehrlich said we would run out of several important minerals within our lifetime. Simon disagreed and bet that the price of these minerals would decline (in inflation adjusted terms, of course) over the period of the bet.
Simon won, of course.
Apparently the new Chief has had an immediate impact on his colleagues.
"Over time, the Roberts effect may produce not only larger majorities and more stable rulings but also a Court that, thanks to conferences that really are conferences, pays more attention to working out the relevant law and less to mere politics"
Amen to that.
Too cool. Large, icy rock planet around a red dwarf star, which is the stellar type most prevalent in the galaxy. Planets and systems of this type may be far more common than was once thought. Our own system, with its gas giant planets, is apparently not a common one -- but we knew that already since we're here and aren't hearing anything from anyone else in the nieghborhood.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Interesting article on national (Congressional) politics and the conventional wisdom that the 2006 mid-term elections could be seen as a shift towards a Democratic majority in at least one house.
The author disputes the notion using empirical evidence from the recent past -- poll numbers that have been generally inaccurate on election day and the power of incumbancy (namely, name recognition) trend strongly towards the staus quo.
Although I suspect that the Dems will pick up some seats, they will have a difficult time picking up enough for a majority in either house.
Friday, March 10, 2006
Dave Hanson initially ran for this seat in 2000, but withdrew once Osbourne announced his candidacy and went to work for him. He served as the Sr. Ag Advisor for Osbourne and District Director. Probably the favorite in the race due to the popularity of Osbourne.
Adrian Smith has been the NE State Senator for District 48 and is currently serving out his second term there, running unopposed for re-election in 2002. He has also served on the Gering City Council.
Jay Vavricek is the mayor of Grand Island and owner of broadcasting group GI Family Radio.
He was elected with over 70% of the vote in 2002 and obviously has a built in platform to campaign with his radio operation.
Scott Kleebs is the lone Democratic candidate, comes from a ranching background in the Broken Bow area and owns a doctorate in International Relations from Yale.
2nd District: My home district, Incumbent Republican Lee Terry is being challenged by attorney and former Omaha Chamber of Commerce Director Jim Esch. Terry is serving his fourth term, serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee and three of that body's subcommittees, most prominently Telecommunications. Esch was the Student Body President at both Creighton Prep and Creighton University.
3rd District: I'll examine this one later as the incumbent, Tom Osbourne, is retiring to run for Governor.
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
I know, sounds like a lot of money. But in a $12 trillion economy, it's only around 65% of the yearly US economic output. Many other nations are in far worse shape (I note that Japan is at 170%!). The historical US peak was at the conclusion of WW2, when the US debt was 145% of GDP.
A far better measure of indebtedness is GDP to debt ratio, as noted above. It's far more acurate to look at the ability to service our debt than it is to look at the raw numbers. A number is jsut a number without the context. A family making $20k a year that is $5k in debt is in far more trouble than one making $90K. And unlike our typical family, the government can rollover its debt -- it can isssue a new bond when an old one comes due.
So while the raw number is dizzying, the ability of the economy to service the debt grows as the economy grows, at least so long as growth is faster than the rate of increase in the debt. Historically, the debt has grown 84% since WW2 in infaltion adjusted terms, but the economy has grown 5 times as fast -- 429%.
Even more importantly, as the economy grows, the tax reciepts required to service the debt grows as well. The ratio of tax receipt growth to debt growth currently is declining as well -- receipts are growing at nearly 15% and the debt is growing at around 8%. The percentage of tax revenues required to service the debt has thus declined from14% in 1998 to around 9% today and been essentially flat since 2002.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
31 km (Zoinks, almost 19 miles!) in diameter! Impact by a rock around 1.2 Km or about 3/4 of a mile.
Tens of millions of years old, must have been a real bad day for any critters nearby.
Undiscovered due to the size, large scale erosion and (probably) the remote location. Makes the crater in AZ look small -- the METEOR here was a big as the impact site in AZ, but it isn't nearly as large as the Yucatan dino-killer. Now THAT one was big-ass rock.
Found a pretty good blog on the NE political races run by a gentleman in Imperial. Good biographical info there on the big races that I am concentrating my attention on -- the Senate and House races and the Governor's race.
While necitizen.com is officially non-partisan, I will most likely (at some point) endorse someone in each race after careful examination. For the record, I am officially an Independent, but will likely file as Republican in order to vote in the primaries (far more choices there in the races I am interested in) and then change back.
I have tried to track down websites for each candidate (found some Democrats not named Nelson in particular) and will be commenting on the House races soon.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Nabity has proposed a twenty mile "corridor" along both sides Interstate 80 as a potential area for developing tourist hotspots, as well as encouraging already existing areas in the "Wild West" and focusing on "hunter tourism" in the Northeast of the state.
Osbourne proposes focusing on both hunting and "agri-tourism". Both challengers criticize the adminstration for not doing enough to promote tourism and market the state.
Gov. Henneman points out that tourism is the third-largest industry in the state already despite spending far less than many neighbors on marketing programs. He does agree that more should be done to develop the industry further and devoted an additonal $850,000 to the current marketing programs in the budget last year.
Friday, March 03, 2006
Thursday, March 02, 2006
I have a new favorite Czech supermodel, Helena Houdova. Funny how people who've lived under totalitarian regimes value freedom. The emperor is not wearing any clothes.
Hat tip to Dean's World.
photo from Reuters.
"Two Democrats filed for governor Wednesday. The first, Lincoln businessman David Hahn, had announced his candidacy several months ago. The second, Glenn Boot Jr., was a newcomer. He is a truck driver who lives in Ashland."
I think they ought to be a rule about 3 guys named Dave running for Governor. (Heineman, Nabity and now Hahn).
Not sure how long it'll be available, but.....
Article link: http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_pg=1673&u_sid=2126263
Osbourne, due his background as Husker FB coach, was thought to be pertty unstoppable early on, but the incumbent appears to have gained traction due to his policies. I don't think Nabity has much chance, but I've met the gentleman at a Heritage Foundation event in Omaha and he seemed pleasant. More to come on this later.