Friday, June 30, 2006

More on Mexico

From Deroy Murdock on NRO -- with charts and graphs even!

"In constant 2000 dollars, the World Bank reports, Mexican per-capita GDP was $7,758 in 1980. It inched upward to $8,661 in 2003. Over that period, Chile went from trailing to topping Mexico, with its figures rising from $4,620 to $9,706. Former laggard South Korea leapfrogged from $4,556 to $16,977.In 1980, Mexico’s per-capita GDP was 34 percent of America’s. By 2003, it had slid to 24 percent. Concurrently, South Korea began behind Mexico, at 20 percent, and then outpaced it to achieve a per-capita GDP 48 percent of America’s. "

If you want to open a business in Mexico, it'll take you awhile -- and you probably have to grease some pockets (perhaps many of them) in order to do so. Murdock also points out that Mexico and North Korea are the only two nations on earth totally closed (many nations place restrictions, but not total bans) to outside foreign investment in the energy sector. Yes, even that paragon of economic virtue CUBA allows foreign firms (Chinese) to explore and drill for energy.

House Votes to Expand Drilling

It's about damn time. What I like about the bill is that it allows the states to decide if they want drilling off their shores and gives them a cut if they decide to do so. It also bans drilling within 50 miles of shore, but allows it further away. Vote was 232-187, but it also must be reconciled with a much narrower Senate version allowing for drilling only in one specific area of the Gulf.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Despite the recent advances in the growth of the Mexican economy, alot more needs to be done there to grow the economy and give its own citizens opportunities so that they don't have to emmigrate to our borders.

Ron Samuelson of Newsweek notes:

"Here is an illuminating comparison. In 1970, average incomes in South Korea were about half those of Mexico. By 2004, average per capita Korean incomes ($19,148, expressed in constant "2000 dollars'') were more than twice Mexico's ($9,178). "

The upcoming Presidential election in Mexico will have a major impact on relations with the US. The two front runners are at opposite poles of the political spectrum; either the populist left-wing candidate, Manuel Lopez Obrador, will win and we face the prospect of a new Hugo Chavez, or National Action party candidate Felipe Calderon will win and Mexico's economic progress either continues or hopefully accelerates.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

To Boldly Go....

James Pinkerton over at TCS.

I am a big proponent of not only space exploration, but MANNED space exploration -- in whatever manner is possible (private, public, whatever--just get there, already!). So it was a piece of good news that Dr. Stephen Hawkings, this generation's answer to Albert Einstein, went out recently and stated that we need to get off the planet in a speech in Hong Kong. Pinkerton picks up on that speech and gives several reasons why we haven't, and why that is a unfortunate thing. Too bad he doesn't mention all the great work by Robert Zubrin and the Mars Society in trying to make that happen. The promise of Apollo really hasn't been realized yet, and I don't want to have to speak Chinese in order for it to happen for me.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Pluto's 2nd & 3rd Moons Named

Nix and Hydra are the new names of the ninth (at least for now) planet's two newly discovered moons (thank you, Hubble Telescope). The names were chosen in part because of the recently launched New Horizons spacecraft sent to investigate the icy world.

WMD in Iraq

Well, isn't that interesting? Over 500 chemical weapons found in Iraq! Saddam wasn't supposed to have chemical weapons, now was he? The "Bush Lied" crowd again has it backward, again.

OH, BTW, Iraq ALSO had delivery systems that they weren't supposed to have. My brother-in-law (who was with the 101st when they took Baghdad) has pictures of rockets sitting at a facility that had a range over that allowed by the cease-fire agreement.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Survey USA

As if to point out the difficulty facing Ricketts campaign, Survey USA just released its new Approval/Disapproval numbers for the US Senate. While Sen. Nelson isn't the most popular Senator in the country with his constituents any more, he's still pretty close -- third, with a current approval of 72%. Pete has a lot of work to do before November. Link shows the tracking graph for the last year or so. Nelson' NET (Approve minus Disapprove) approval rating has never been under 31%, and its currently 48%!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

NE Senate Race

Article in the OWH regarding the upcoming fall matchup of incumbent Dem. Senator Ben Nelson and Omaha/Ameritrade millionaire businessman Pete Ricketts. Ricketts pumped over $4 million into his primary race, an effort, he stated, to overcome the $10 million Nelson has spent over the years on his campaigns (an argument he also used in the primary fight against former Attorney General Don Stenberg). He thinks the two campaigns might spend as much as $5 or 6 million (not sure if he meant EACH or between the two of them) on the race this fall, and indicated he might put up as much as $2.5 million more of his own money.

Ricketts new TV spot
I've seen a new campagin commercial where Ricketts attempts to tie Nelson to the Democratic establishment, picturing such notables as Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton. While I understand the tactic, I'm not sure how well it will go over in June five months before the election, nor later this fall. Nelson is probably one of, if not the most, conservative Democrats in the nation (Joe Lieberman might be the only one I can think that may actually be more so.), and has voted for both Supreme copurt nominees put forward by the President, as well as voting consistently for tax cuts.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Bill Whittle

The famous essayist returns from a LONG hiatus.

Writer's block sucks.

Read the WHOLE thing.

Once again, he's so simple, yet so elegantly eloquent it makes me want to puke in envy. If I had even a third of his talent......

Friday, June 16, 2006

Baseball Standings

Well, we're a third of the way into the 2006 season, and the Yanks are atop the AL East with only a one game lead over the Evil Bostonians and the surprising Hosers from up North. The Tigers are leading the AL Central with the defending WC Chisox nipping their heels a game and a half back. Oakland and Texas are going neck and neck in the West, with the Bay area team up only a half game currently.

Over in the Senior circuit, the stupid Metropolitans are looking to run away with the East with a 9 1/2 game lead over Philly, with the Pujols-less Cards (he's still leading the majors in HRs) maintaining a slip 2 1/2 game lead over Cincy, while Houston is 5 back. The West is no longer the worst; all 5 teams are over .500, and all within 2 games of one another.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Budget Deficit

from the Skeptical Optimist, once again.

May economic numbers are in, and what do you know, the GDP-Debt ratio went down again - -to 65.!1 from 65.5%. Tax receipts again outpaced the growth of the debt, as the strong preformance of the US economy continues unabated. He would like the debt number to shrink to about 60%, which it appears we may be trending, although he cautions that the May numbers may not be indicative due to a traditional spending lull. He believes the numbers may jump back to near their previous one, but we'll have to wait and see. Until I hear differently, I would assume he is still showing the budget in balance sometime before the 2008 elections given the current tax and spending trends.

Planet definition expected in Sept

Not sure if I've commented on the "raging" controversy in astronomic circles about some of the KBO (Kuiper Belt objects) orbiting our solar system outside the orbit of Pluto. Ths issue is that one such object, UB313, registers at about, or slightly larger in diameter than, our system's ninth planet. So, is this object planet or is Pluto actually not a planet? Discoverer Mike Brown of Calthch thinks it should be included, although it is 3 time more distant and inclined more than 45 degrees in its orbit than the other planets.

"All the newfound worlds—there are several known now—were until recently smaller than Pluto, but they are round and orbit the Sun, two characteristics that had for centuries been sufficient for the implicit definition of planet. The hitch: These small objects are typically on wild, elongated orbits that stretch well above and below the main plane of the solar system where eight of the traditional planets travel (Pluto has a wild orbit, too, which is one reason many astronomers do not consider it a planet anymore)."

In my visit to Kitt Peak Observatory last fall, the 2 astronomers giving the tour were split in their opinions. In one view, if it is round, orbits the Sun and is of sufficient mass, it should be. If such a definition were used, the list of planets may grow to the hundreds or possibly greater.
It does appear, however, that the new definition will probably include orbital characteristics and possibly formation scenarios.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Justice in a Globally Wired World

I'm not sure I would be as gracious to these immature wankers as the author has been. All the victim wanted was their property back -- and they were originally willing to reward these douches for just doing the right thing. But no, these folks had to be maroons and then got snotty and theatening about it, so now they're infamous internet stars.

While it serves them right, you almost have to feel sorry for them messing with someone with not only brains, technical knowledge and skills, but a wickedly derisive sense of humor. The poor shmucks thought they won the lottery, but have been instead subjected to the ridicule and scorn of the entire online community, and then some.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Americans with No Abilities Act

John McCaslin over at Townhall explains the current joke in DC circles -- pretty good one, too.

Capitol Hill staffers are laughing at circulating phony legislation that somebody, somewhere dreamed up: The Americans With No Abilities Act.
The prankster even affixed the sponsorship of Democratic Sens. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Barbara Boxer of California to the act, which pertains to Americans who lack any real skills or ambition, or as it reads, the "roughly 50 percent of Americans who do not possess the competence and drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role in society."
Under the act, more than 25 million "middle man" positions would be created, "with important-sounding titles but little real responsibility, thus providing an illusory sense of purpose and performance."
Private-sector industries with good records of nondiscrimination against the inept, it states, include retail sales (72 percent), the airline industry (68 percent) and home-improvement "warehouse" stores (65 percent). The DMV, or Division of Motor Vehicles, is also listed as having a good record of hiring persons of inability. "

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I think I've found it -- my illness of choice

I always wondered why I get pissed off for no reason. Now Science gives me my answer!

"To be diagnosed with IED, an individual must have had three episodes of impulsive aggressiveness "grossly out of proportion to any precipitating psychosocial stressor," at any time in their life, according to the standard psychiatric diagnostic manual. The person must have "all of a sudden lost control and broke or smashed something worth more than a few dollars ... hit or tried to hurt someone ... or threatened to hit or hurt someone."
People who had three such episodes within the space of one year -- a more narrowly defined subgroup -- were found to have a much more persistent and severe disorder, particularly if they attacked both people and property. The latter group caused 3.5 times more property damage than other violent IED sub-groups. Affecting nearly 4 percent of adults within any given year -- 5.9-8.5 million Americans -- the disorder leads to a mean of 43 attacks over the course of a lifetime and is associated with substantial functional impairment. "

I can document 3 episodes a year for years, I would bet, so I have a serious problem -- I probably ought to be medicated. I bet I've already had 43 episodes. Maybe in the last year. They should do a study on me, being a statistical outlyer and all. Poor Poochinsky always thinks it's his fault, too, which it almost never is. Too bad, he's just going to learn to deal with it.

I need to get this to Ace with all speed.

New Bond Movie

I didn't think Craig would work out as Bond, but it sure looks from the trailer like I could be wrong. He might be the next Connery if this is as good as it looks. Still hate the female "M", just doesn't work well for me. Eva Green is prime grade-A #1 sultry hotness though. Growl!Appears I have a movie to see come November.

This guy again

Nifty pie chart of who owns US debt instruments. Makes the threat of the Chinese owning so much pale a little in comparison to those evil US citizens (probably all Republicans) & Japanese. Brits own quite a chunk, too. He also has another nifty chart showing purchases over the last 6 moths ending in March, illuminating that the US gov't($167B), US citizens($115B), and those evil Brits ($83B) are buying at a far faster clip than the Reds($15B). Japan is in sell mode, as their holdings have actually decreased ($33B) over the last 6 months.

Skeptical Optimist

Yanks Rule Sox, Beckett

The only bad about this is I was stupid enough to pitch Josh on my Yahoo fantasty squad. My other squad had Moose going though, so all is good as I finish the week at 6-1 (even with Pujols going down) and rule the West division at 31-11 with theleague's best record.

I would rather not talk about the Yahoo league other than to say Beckett is not alone among SP's with bad outings lately (see Mulder's last). The batting is kicking ass though -- Jim Thome was a STEAL in round 14, and Soriano is making me feel good about my 2nd round, too.


This may be the strangest story I've heard in a long, long time. Former Husker (and current Ohio U) coach Frank Solich claims he was under the influence of the date-rape drug GHB when picked up for a drunken-driving conviction in November.

"Attorney Sam Shamansky filed a request Friday asking the Athens Municipal Court to look at the drug test and consider overturning Solich’s conviction. Solich, a former Nebraska coach, pleaded no contest in November after police spotted him slumped over the wheel of his vehicle."

He pleaded no contest but wants the court to overturn the conviction after a drug test in January indicated the presence of GHB.

Is he suggesting someone (a coed? an administrator? some jerk in the bar bitter after a loss?) spiked his martini? I have to congratulate his lawyer for the most creative twist to get someone off that I've ever heard of. I wonder what Glenn or Volokh would say!

Oldest Domsticated Plant?

From Natl Geo.

The Neolithic Revolution just got pushed back a bit farther, to nearly 10000 BC -- it appears people were cultivating fig trees in modern Israel a thousand years before cereal grains, and 6000 years before grapes and olives, which had previously been thought to be the oldest domesticated fruits.

"The so-called agricultural revolution—when ancient humans began to domesticate crops—is now increasingly seen as a long and multifaceted transition, as humans gradually shifted from scattered planting of wild grains to farming with domesticated varieties."

""The early propagation of fig trees, if true, has a rather important effect on the way we view the Neolithic [or Late Stone Age]," said archaeologist Joy McCorriston, of Ohio State University in Columbus.....
McCorriston notes that although planting shoots of fig trees may be simple, early fig farmers would have had to wait several years for their reward.
This suggests relatively long-term ties to land and perhaps new social and economic arrangements prior to the full-scale adoption of an agricultural lifestyle. "

The hunter-gatherer Natufian culture (12,500-10,200 BP) apparently may have been more sedentary than first thought originally if the smart guys were planting TREES. On a related note, this culture may have also been the first to domesticate dogs as well. Burials dating to 10000 BC with dogs have been found according to the Wiki article.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Antarctic Crater

300 mile crater discovered in Antarctica may have caused the Permian Extinction, which killed off approximately 90% of life on Earth 250 million years ago. Meteor was perhaps as large as 30 miles across, while the Yucatan meteor thought to have ended the reign of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago is thought to have been around 6 miles in diameter.