Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Yugoslavia now History

Montenegro votes 55+% to separate from Serbia, ending the last vestiges of the former Yugoslavia, although the 2 areas haven't used that name since 2003. The tiny new nation (pop. 650,000) was last independent in 1918 before joining Yugoslavia after WW1. Interestingly enough, I was not aware that Slovenia is the only former Yugoslav republic admitted to the EU -- I thought that Croatia had also been admitted.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Great Election Site

I had forgotten about this site after the 2004 Presdidential election, but they are still going strong. Showing a 2 seat pickup for the Dems in the Senate and a 5 seat pickup for them in the House right now. Republican majority looks to hold if they are right -- and they were damn close in 2004, with only WI and IA going the other than predicted (WI predicted Rep, IA Dem, but they flipped) in the Presidential election -- they were only 3 electoral votes off as a result. They show Burns of MT and Santorum of PA as the Senators in danger. Dems looking to gain House seates in NM, CO, IA, PA, NY, and VT while losing one in IL.


Thomas Sowell @ Townhall.

Amnesty just doesn't mean that illegals get the rights of American citizens. They get special treatment due to their minority status. I wonder if white people will get special rights after they are in the minority, which at the rate we are going, will be in about 20 years. I doubt it, somehow.

Maybe I should start a group for the advocacy of the rights of Vikings now, and in 20 years I can sue for reparations for not allowing me my cultural rights. Rape, murder and pillaging being cultural traits of Vikings, don'cha know. The man is holding me down! Power to the People!

Bush on the environment

From TCS Daily.

Despite no conclusive evidence of global warming, the US gov't is taking actions to reduce greenhouse gases -- unlike what you may have heard. While the Kyoto agreement has properly been rejected, the Bush administration has made progress with its Methane to Markets initiative and the Asian Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate Change. Methane is 25 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The cool thing about this program is that US businesses can make money selling stuff to the developing nations to help them with their emissions.

"One of the fruits of the methane to markets program came last week. China, a chief emitter of methane from its coal mines, has signed an agreement to buy 60 methane generators from Caterpillar Inc. for $58 million. The generators will take in the methane from its largest coal mine, reducing explosions and improving safety and health in the mines while providing 120 megawatts of electricity with reduced greenhouse gas emissions."


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

15 Words

For Republican Congress-critters, from Hugh.

Win the war.
Confirm the judges.
Cut the taxes.
Control the spending.
Secure the border.

Do all that and holding on to the majority in both Houses might just be possible. Don't, and it's Speaker Pelosi. EEEEEEEK!

American Environment

Great article on the American environment in the WSJ by Peter du Pont.
Despite what you might think, the environment is actually IMPROVING.

"Since 1970, the year of the first Earth Day, America's population has increased by 42%, the country's inflation-adjusted gross domestic product has grown 195%, the number of cars and trucks in the United States has more than doubled, and the total number of miles driven has increased by 178%.
But during these 35 years of growing population, employment, and industrial production, the Environmental Protection Agency reports, the environment has substantially improved. Emissions of the six principal air pollutants have decreased by 53%. Carbon monoxide emissions have dropped from 197 million tons per year to 89 million; nitrogen oxides from 27 million tons to 19 million, and sulfur dioxide from 31 million to 15 million. Particulates are down 80%, and lead emissions have declined by more than 98%. "

Forest acres - up over 9 million acres. So are bald eagles populations & acres of wetlands.

Of course, the scare tactics of the enironmental crowd (not to say that there are not problems at all) are focused on the evil of carbon dioxide -- supposed culprit of "global warming". But much of what warming there is can actually be attributed to that great big ball of fire in the sky the planet orbits.

"Climate Science study concludes that "computer models consistently project a rise in temperatures over the past century that is more than twice as high as the measured increase." The National Center for Atmospheric Research's prediction of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit warming is more accurate. In short, the world is not warming as much as environmentalists think it is.
What warming there is turns out to be caused by solar radiation rather than human pollution. The Climate Change study concluded "half the observed 20th century warming occurred before 1940 and cannot be attributed to human causes," and changes in solar radiation can "account for 71 percent of the variation in global surface air temperature from 1880 to 1993."

Aha! There is some warming, and that will cause the sea levels to rise and cause a widespread flooding catasrophe, right? Millions will be flooded out of coastal areas and famine will result! Wrong.

"The U.N.'s IPCC Third Assessment Report concluded that the rate of sea level rise has not accelerated during the last century, which is supported by U.S. coastal sea level experience. In California sea levels have risen between zero and seven millimeters a year and between 2.1 and 2.8 millimeters a year in North and South Carolina. "

Oops. So if the sea levels aren't rising, and the CO2 level isn't causing warming, WHERE WILL MY NEXT RESEARCH GRANT COME FROM?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Rare American Chestnut trees discovered

This is spectacular news. Chestnut trees were probably the most widespread type of tree east of the Mississippi for thousands of years until blight nearly caused their extinction.

"American chestnuts once made up about 25 percent of the forests in the eastern United States, with an estimated 4 billion trees from Maine to Mississippi and Florida.
The trees helped satisfy demand for roasted chestnuts, and their rot-resistant wood was used to make fence posts, utility poles, barns, homes, furniture and musical instruments.
Then these magnificent hardwoods, which could grow to a height of 100 feet and a diameter of 8 feet or more, were almost entirely wiped out by a fast-spreading fungus discovered in 1904."

If these trees can resist the blight, then the re-introduction of the chestnut could take place. Arbor Day could have a new meaning for me if this proves to be the case. I would certainly love to plant one.

Great Baseball Story

TCS Daily.

Story of journeyman 1B Dale Long, who established the 8 consecutive games with a HR record, which has since been twice tied (by my main man Donny "Baseball" Mattingly, and Junior Griffey). While I never remember hearing of Long, I do remember Mattingly tying the record, but don't recall Griff doing so -- of course being a Yank fan, I have never paid much attention to the West coast clubs, with the exception of Oakland for some reason. Anyhow, I nice story of Long, the author's childhood and, more importantly, the feel of those times.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Planet found in habitable zone

From Natl Geographic.

HD 69830, a Sun-like star system 41 light years away, has at least 3 planets (the 3 smallest discovered so far) and an asteroid belt (the only system other than ours known to have one) and the outermost known planet, at about 18 earth masses, could have liquid water.

See also, Space.com here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

American Ingenuity

Make your own ethanol! And if gas prices go back down, you can still make your own whiskey. For private consumption only, of course. I saw somthing else a while back about a guy going around and collecting fryer grease from restaurants to use in his modified diesel truck. Wherever there is a high-cost solution, there will be a few individuals brave enough to try anything to get around it. And it's one of those things that makes America great.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Solar Activity

From Space.com

Very interesting in that a very intense period of solar activity is likely to be followed by a very weak one. Even more interesting in that the high activity period has climate repercussions here on the third planet, being linked to the little global warming that has been actually measured, as opposed to predicted. If solar activity drops to historic lows, might global climate start to cool?
I can see it now -- the global ice age people of 15-20 years ago will come out of the woodwork and make a comeback, and Al Gore will pontificate about it endlessly. Fear the ice age! And Al!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Election Returns

All the candidates I favored and/or voted for lost, which figures. :) But I did call the 3rd District win for Smith, in addition to the obvious Ricketts domination of the Senate race. I saw Kramer address his supporters on TV and he appeared pretty emotional in thanking his supporters; he made a surprisingly big gain in the last weeks to finish in double digits, but was obviously handicapped by lack of funding and name recognition.

Hanson (somewhat surprisingly) finished above Vavricek by tenths of a percentage point in the 3rd, but second isn't good enough. Smith faces Kleebs and Ricketts faces Nelson in the granddaddy of them all in the fall. Fortenberry and Moul will likely have a tight race in the 2nd District, while Terry is likely, but not guaranteed, to defeat Esch here at home in the 1st.

The one that eluded me was the Governor's race, where I assumed Osbourne's House district and rural interests would support him -- but this turned out not to be the case everywhere. TO actually WON Douglass and Lancaster counties, which frankly shocked me, but lost in many of the outstate rural counties. Never would have guessed it. Gov. Dave faces Lincoln businessman David Hahn in the fall.

One Osborn that did win was Shane for Treasurer -- against incumbent Ross no less. Facing no one in the fall, the job is his.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

More from Victor Davis Hanson

On Real Clear Politics.

The man makes an important point -- that the lack of historical knowledge in the current citizenry contributes (sometimes mightily) to the sometimes crazed reaction to the conflict in Iraq. Most people don't seem to understand that wars are messy, bloody affairs. They want a clean cancer surgery rather than a democratic childbirth, I guess.

"Ours is the first generation of Americans that thinks it can demand perfection in war. Our present leisure, wealth, and high technology fool us into thinking that we are demi-gods always be able to trump both human and natural disasters. Accordingly, we become frustrated that we cannot master every wartime obstacle, as we seem otherwise to be able to do with computers or cosmetic surgery. Then, without any benchmarks of comparison from the past, we despair that our actions are failed because they are not perfect.

But why did a poorer, less educated, and more illiberal United States in far bloodier and more error-ridden wars of the past still have greater confidence in itself? Was it that our ancestors, who died younger and far more tragically, did not expect their homeland to be without flaws, only to be considerably better than the enemy's?

Perhaps we have forgotten such modesty because we have ignored the study of history that alone offers us guidance from our forbearers. It now competes as an orphan discipline with social science, -ologies and -isms that entice us into thinking that the more money and education of the present can at last perfect the human condition and thus consign our flawed past to irrelevance.

The result is that while sensitive young Americans seem to know what correct words and ideas they must embrace, they derive neither direction nor solace from past events. After all, very few could identify Vicksburg or Verdun, much less have any idea where or what Iwo Jima was. In such a lonely prison of the present what are historically ignorant Americans to make of a Fallujah or an Iranian madman's threat of annihilation other than such things can't or shouldn't or must not happen to us?

So, of this present war, I think our war-torn forefathers would say to us that both messy Afghanistan and Iraq are better places without their dictators even if they never will resemble Carmel or Austin. "

Here, here, VDH. Hell, most 18-24 year olds can't even indentify Iraq or even LOUISIANA on a map today, much less places like Bunker Hill, San Jacinto, Vera Cruz, Ft. Sumpter, Gettysburg, Manilla Bay, San Juan Hill, the Argonne Forest, Kasserine Pass, Malmedy, Chosen Reservoir, Khe Sahn or even Medina Ridge.

The thin, bloody lines that defends this nation are, and have always been, an inspirational story that needs to be told. Repeatedly. Like Medal of Honor winner, SFC Paul Smith. But in today's media, these heroes are too often forgotten, far too soon. Audie Murphy is probably spinning in his grave right now. I doubt anyone is going to make a movie about Smith, and the country is diminished by the oversight.

California vs Iraq

From The American Enterprise.

Victor Davis Hanson compares the Golden state to Iraq, and Iraq comes out fairly favorably.

A different kind of Muslim

From NRO.

This is the most refreshing news I've had in a while. Many people here in the US have been asking where the moderates Muslims are, why they don't speak out against the radicals. Apparently they've been hiding in plain sight in the Mahgreb. Unfortunately, the good Dr. Ahmed Abaddi is almost sure to get killed by some nutjob for the heresy of believing that Christians, Jews and Muslims can learn to live together. But I admire his bravery in trying, and the King of Moracco's for letting him. They have a lot of work to do. I wish them all the luck.

I suspected as much

Another important new scientific discovery. At least the research was done is Sweden and not in California.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Star Wars Deployed!

From the Weekly Standard.

Aegis equipped naval ships (up to 15 vessels inside 2 years), 8 batteries of theater-ranged anti-missiles, a 747s with an air-borne lasers -- they are all a reality -- TODAY. This is the best news I've had for a long, long time.

" Missile Defense Agency spokesman Rick Lehner calls it "an integrated system of ground, sea and space-based sensors, ground and sea-based radars and an advanced command and control, battle management and communication system designed to detect and track a hostile ballistic missile, then launch and guide an interceptor to destroy the target.""

Even better, a nice list of our closest allies is helping to pay for, site, and deploy the systems. Japan, Australia, Poland, Great Britain, Denmark, India, Italy, even the Germans and, possibly the Canadians may get involved. Only question I have is where the Israelis are.


No growth lawn!

It's about time serious research was put into this field. Maybe they can expand the research to no growth hedges, too. I am certainly tired of wasting a perfectly good weekend afternoon doing either one.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Energy Wars?

From Newsweek via MSNBC.

The title is a bit misleading; I understand the author's point, but not sure I agree that there's nothing to be done, and certainly don't agree with the things the author seems to favor -- higher milage requirements (making vehicles more expensive AND less safe) and higher gas taxes (already 5+ times the actual per gallon profit of the energy producer). Energy producing nations don't make any money if they don't sell to customers. Of course, they will try to influence those customers.

Energy supplies are currently tight, and may get tighter, driving up prices. Supply and demand have met with little or no spare production capacity today due to low prices in previous years leading to an exploration hiatus in the industry. No one read the tea leaves and foresaw the burgeoning demand from China and India in particular. It takes several years to bring new production facilities online. Higher prices will bring a contraction in demand, AND increase the potential supply as exploration budgets are increased, alternates and substitutes are developed, and higher cost fields become profitable -- like tar sands.

Politically, the vast majority ((75-80%) of the world's energy supplies are controlled by state-run organizations, many of whom are not exactly friendly to the US. And the uncertainty in some of these nations (Nigeria, Venezuela, Iraq, and Iran in particular) are driving prices even higher, with a premium of as much as $10-20 being added to each barrel of oil today. And all the US gov't has done in recent years is curtail even the exploration for energy domestically, Florida and Alaska most notably. Even if more energy were produced domestically, refining capacity is also at a ceiling as well, and new refineries haven't ben built in aroudn 30 years. In addition, no new nuclear power plants have been constructed in the country for over 30 years as well. This has got to change, but won't if we don't have the political will to do so. The good news is that we squeeze more and more economic output from each BTU as time goes on -- the economy is growing much faster than our increase in energy consumption.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

3rd district Race Endorsement

While a number of people are running, the 3 serious candidates are GI mayor Jay Vavricek, former State Senator Adrian Smith, and John Hanson, Sr. Ag advisor to Congressman Tom Osbourne.

This is probably the toughest one. All are very popular in their respective strongholds; they have only small differences in policy matters, although Vavricek draws the ire of anti-tax groups, he merely bumped a sales tax in order to cut property taxes from my understanding. While I think any of the three would be good reps, the man with the most experience with the farm issues (both farming itself and the banking/insurance side) critical to this district and with Washington is John Hanson. If elected, he could likely hit the ground running and be very effective. OWH again echoes my thinking on this group; LJS hasn't apparently (at least that I could discover) endorsed anyone in this race.

US Senate Endorsement

I meant to do this earlier in the week, but many issues have been pressing. Quick rundown of the major (non-governor) races:

US Senate: Businessman Pete Ricketts vs. former state GOP chair Dave Kramer vs. former state AG Don Stenberg.

Advantage: Kramer -- For me, this was never about Stenberg, who lost narrowly to Ben Nelson in 2000., it was between the 2 relative unknown newcomers. For me, Kramer reflects my views a bit more closely than Ricketts, who is spending a ton of his own money trying to get the nomination. I believe Ricketts cash will get him the primary, but I think Kramer is the better candidate. OWH is on board with me on this one, LJS has hitched itself to the rich guy.

Washington Nationals have an owner!

From MLB.


While applauding the move of the team to the nation's capital, it has been an embarassing travesty that MLB had not, until apparently today, found an owner for the team. One hopes that the new ownership group will focus on fans and field a competitive team built around some of the best young talent in all of baseball. I hope they keep Frank Robinson around as well. If the new ballpark goes as planned, the team is liable to take off.

The Blogfather Speaks

Don Luskin of NRO repeats a speech he made recently to the National Organization of Investment Professionals on his blog:


An excerpt on the economy, and the tax cuts that are the reason behind the success:

"Let's start with the stock market. From the recession bottom to April 2003, the S&P 500 actually lost 18%. Since April 2003, the S&P 500 has gained 51%. Now that's a bull market -- but you just have to start at the right place.

From the recession bottom to April 2003, 1.03 million payroll jobs were lost, and the unemployment rate actually went up from 5.5% to 6.0%. Talk about a jobless recovery! But since April 2003, payroll jobs have increased by 5.11 million, and the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.7%.

From the recession bottom to April 2003, real GDP grew 3.2%. Since April 2003, it has grown 11.3%. From the recession bottom to April 2003, S&P 500 earnings increased only 7%. Since April 2003, earnings have grown 59%. From the recession bottom to April 2003, manufacturers' new orders fell 5%. Since April 2003, they have increased by 38%.

From the recession bottom to April 2003, non-residential fixed investment fell 1%. Since April 2003, it has increased by 35%. And here's the most remarkable of all. From the recession bottom to April 2003, federal income tax receipts fell by 11%. Since April 2003, they have increased by 26%, and now stand at all time record highs.

Think about that one for a second. We cut taxes on personal incomes, capital gains, and dividends -- and tax receipts went up.

Let's hear it for voodoo economics. It works."

He also appears to agree with this gentleman, who I've featured before:

"Our GDP is at all-time highs, too. As a fraction of GDP, our deficits and our debt are nothing special. They're about average for the last 30 years. We've seen higher in this country in the past, and in fact many nations today have far worse. "

Funny how facts can get in the way of a "bad" image of the economy. Very inconvenient, those pesky facts.


Read about this outfit in Popular Science.

Tha age of sail has returned! With the increase in energy costs, it makes a great deal of sense. A 10-15% savings in fuel costs adds up to a lot of cash. Plus, it's cool.

I understand this outfit, along with some others, is already having an impact on private yachts, and the plan is to cater to large shipping outfits and oil tankers as well.

In a (somewhat) related note, I read that the President of Panama is hoping to expand the canal to accomadate larger container ships.

Monday, May 01, 2006

OWH Endorsement -- and mine.

TO gets the endorsement of the Omaha newspaper.

I have to believe that the paper is correct about one thing: the Coach will really not be beholden to any special interest; he will call them as he sees them, and will be the most independent of the possible candidates. That being said, the race will be tight between Gov. Dave and the Congressman. Fact of the matter is, while I like the incumbent's background, he has not particularly impressed me during his days in office. And while I have been impressed with the energy, new ideas and outspokeness of the Nabity campaign, I don't believe that he is the right candidate for today. It would help him immensely to serve the public in another capacity and run again for the governor's office in the future, not just for name recognition but for experience in government as well.

Personally, I agree with the paper on this one. While Tom's been the front-runner from day one, I haven't seen him pander to any group or special interest just for the sake of votes, unlike the incumbent has with the school fiasco.

As the paper says:

"He offers a blend of character, intelligence and political independence that makes him especially suited to lead the state. Nebraskans know Tom Osborne to be a man who faces problems head-on. Voters know his character and his values."

He has been a lot more than "just a football coach" as some have said. A number of people had their doubts when he ran for Congress; however, he's been an excellent representative for his district for the past six years, and impressed many with his intellect and work ethic. In addition, the experience in Washington can only have helped to prove to Osbourne that government needs an overhaul. This is a critical time for the state of Nebraska; if there was ever a time for calm, rational leadership, this is certainly it, and I believe Tom Osbourne embodies these qualities to a higher degree than any of the other candidates.