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.