Thursday, May 31, 2007

History of Cheesemaking

Livescience finally comes up with a delicious article on how and why one of my favorite foods has so many varieties. It also describes the processes used in the creation of it - everything you ever wanted to know about cheese and maybe then some.

"In fact, all cheese types—there are now more than 1,400--initially arose due to the unique constraints forced by geography and the human effort to preserve the valuable commodity that is milk, says food scientist Paul Kindstedt, of the University of Vermont.
Cheese recipes initially arose as a way to preserve the nutritional value in milk for longer periods of time, so the number of types primarily reflects the number of struggling pre-industrial communities that successfully devised a method to achieve this given their local climate, resources and terrain."

In short, different constraints caused by local conditions inspired different methods, giving us the wide ranging and delicious results known today. mmmmmm.

More on Fred

Fred gets interviewed by USA Today, although the content of the interview itself is a bit...spotty. However, the paper does give some details as to why he decided to run and they rate his chances as pretty good given the disastifaction many Republicans are voicing over the current field.

""I can't remember exactly the point that I said, 'I'm going to do this,' " Thompson says, his 6-foot, 6-inch frame sprawled comfortably across a couch in a hotel suite. "But when I did, the thing that occurred to me: 'I'm going to tell people that I am thinking about it and see what kind of reaction I get to it.' "

His late start carries some problems but also "certain advantages," he says. "Nobody has maxed out to me" in contributions, he notes, and using the Internet already "has allowed me to be in the hunt, so to speak, without spending a dime."

Thompson could reshape a GOP contest in which each of the three leaders has significant vulnerabilities and none of the seven second-tier contenders has broken through. Without formally joining the race — he's preparing to do that as early as the first week of July — Thompson already is placing third and better among Republican candidates in some national polls."

One of the things I like about Thompson is that he's his own man, and wants to campaign his way - smarter not harder, using the Internet and nontraditional media sources to get his message out. The response he crafted to filmmaker Michael Moore a couple of weeks ago was pretty classic - he videoed a quick response and posted it to the web, where it's had nearly 100,000 hits.

The article relates his decision in his Tennessee Senate campaign to chuck the advisors and drive himself around the state in his red pickup truck. The numbe rone thing I like about him are the campaign themes he is stressing - tighter borders, smaller government and lower taxes. Those are all issues I can get behind in a big way.

Washington Post also has an article here on Fred.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Speculation is Fred Announces in July

via MSNBC.

Fred has formed a "testing the waters" committee and is expected to dip his toe in those waters June 4, with the intention of announcing as soon as July 4.

"The June 4 filing will be coordinated with a first-day fundraising blitz with 100-plus "First Day Founders" raising a significant one-day sum in order to send a we're-in-the-first-tier message."

Thompson would be the highest profile southern candidate in the Republican field, the geographical center of the party. Many Republicans are reported to not be terribly excited about the current crop of candidates, yeilding speculation that either Thompson or former House Speaker Newt Gringrich would enter the race. Thompson's entry might prevent Newt from entering the field himself, and could also cloud the prospects for Senator John McCain, the candidate Thompson most resembles on the issues.

I've been cautiously optimistic about a Thompson run, and hope that he does so in order to broaden the field of front runners and get some substative insights into the issues. At least to this point, he appears to me to be the most impressive for a host of reasons, a big one being his formidable yet plain spoken communication skills with the public.

That being said, I still have a lot of respect for Mayor Guiliani and Governor Romney (I can't stand McCain for another host of reasons, although I certainly respect his miltary service), but I don't believe them to be quite as strong a candidate as Fred, at least not right now. My thinking is that it might come down to Rudy or Fred, with Romney a not so distant third.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Chinese Interested in Building Aircraft Carriers

Richard Halloran via RCP. Now this is a bit disturbing, not sure what they think they need a CVA for, if not to try to intimidate their neighbors, or try to slug it out with another Pacific power, namely, the US of A.

US Admiral Tim Keating, fresh from a visit with military counterparts in the People's Republic, indicated officials there are very, very interested in constructing their own CVAs. While they have long expressed interest in carriers (as long ago as 1977), that interest seems to have become magnified recently after the rapid US and allied response to the Suamtran tsunami of 2004, which caused Chinese leadership some embarassment with their inability to repsond themselves.

"Internal discussion and external speculation over China's acquisition of an aircraft carrier has been churning along for at least 25 years but now seems to have picked up momentum. Keating said he sensed that, just below the surface, the Chinese saw aircraft carriers as potent symbols of great power status, a clear Chinese aspiration."

Other reasons the Chinese wish to pursue naval aviation are for the capability to project military power, the ability to defend their oil lifeline through the Straits of Malacca, and their regional rivalries with India and Japan, both of whom boast a more significant surface navy. The Chinese have traditionally focused on acquiring submarine technology, particulary quiet diesel electric boats. This shift in thinking and priorities toward naval airpower might be reflected as soon as their next 5 year military budget, which will be formulated in 2011.

At least we have several years to study the issue and determine what, if any, response we should take. Building a CVA takes us several years, not sure if the Chinese could produce one any faster, although I'm sure they could likely gather the materials pretty quickly.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Heroes You Haven't Heard About

Jeff Emanuel (posted at both at NRO and The American Spectator) relates the stories of 4 brave men, from each branch of the service, that gave their lives for the cause of freedom.

Michael Monsoor, United States Navy, was a SEAL team member that sacrificed his life jumping on a grenade to save three other individuals on his team and eight Iraqi soldiers during the battles for Ramadi in Iraq. The amazing part of this act was that Monsoor was the only man in the room that was in a position to vacate it - meaning he could have saved himself.

"According to the Associated Press, "One SEAL lieutenant...watched Monsoor shield him and others from exploding hot metal...when the grenade blew up their sniper position. 'Mikey had the best chance of avoiding harm altogether,' said the officer. 'But he never took his eye off the grenade.""

Monsoor, already a Bronze Star recipient at the time of his death, earned a Silover Star for this act, and has his name has been submitted for the Medal of Honor.

Jason Dunham, United States Marine Corps, saved the lives of his fellow Marine teammates during a vehicle search after a Marine convoy was ambushed. Dunham and an insurgent were engaged in a hand to hand struggle when the insurgent dropped a grenade. Like Monsoor, Dunham jumped onto the grenade and also used his helmet to contain the blast, saving several other Marines from injury. He succumbed to the wounds he suffered a week later, and has been awarded the Medal of Honor for his selfless act of bravery in a White House ceremony on Jan. 11 of this year.

Ross McGinnis, United States Army joined the US Army at the age of seventeen (so did this blogger, BTW) and joined an infantry company based in Germany, which in turn deployed to Iraq last year. McGinnis was such an outstanding soldier and distinguished himself so much in his service in Iraq that an exemption was requested, and granted, to promote him to the grade Specialist (E-4) despite not having the requisite time of service. Like the two brave souls above, McGinnis also lost his life saving others from a grenade. McGinnis was manning a .50 caliber MG from a Humvee when a grenade thrown from an rooftop entered the vehicle hatch. Like Monsoor, he could have saved himself, but chose to sacrifice himself to save others.

"According to platoon sergeant Cedric Thomas, who was commanding the vehicle, "McGinnis yelled 'Grenade...It's in the truck!'...I looked out of the corner of my eye as I was crouching down and I saw him pin it down."He had time to jump out of the truck. He chose not to."

McGinnis has been awarded the Silver Star, and has also been submitted for the Medal of Honor. He was 19 years of age at the time of his death.

Jason Cunningham, United States Air Force, had an unusual career path; he spent four years in the US Navy before joining the USAF with the goal of joining the elite Air Force Pararescue team. This is a team of medics (there are less than 1000 such in the entire USAF) that specialize in deploying by any means necessary to provide medical aid to downed pilots or special operations personnel. Cunningham not only earned a position with this group, he was an innovator that helped develop the program that allowed Pararescue teams to carry whole blood in forward battle zones, saving untold Americna lives as a result. Cunningham was serving in Afghanistan at Bagram AFB during Operation Anaconda when he was inserted to a hilltop where a number of Navy SEALS, USAF personnel and Army Rangers had been wounded.

Then the story gets really amazing. The bravery and heroism displayed by Cunningham is simply stunning.

"Making the decision to move his patients, Cunningham crossed the line of fire seven separate times while successfully transporting them to higher ground -- then was forced to move them twice more to avoid the enemy fire raining down on their static, vulnerable casualty collection points. Finally, just after midnight, after so much success defying enemy fire to move and treat his patients, Cunningham's luck ran out, and he was shot in the abdomen just below his protective vest. According to the Air Force Times, "Cunningham must have known he was in serious trouble. But despite his worsening condition, he continued to treat patients and advise others on how to care for the critically wounded. One of the two blood packs he had brought [and which he was directly responsible for PJs being able to carry] saved a badly wounded Ranger. The medics gave the other packet to Cunningham himself, whose life was slowly flowing out in a red stream onto the white snow."Nearly twenty hours after suffering serious internal injuries, and not long before the area became cold enough for rescue helicopters to arrive and evacuate the wounded fighters, Cunningham succumbed to his wounds. He had treated patients to the end, and was credited afterward with having almost single-handedly made sure that only seven men died rather than seventeen -- though such dedication and seriousness of purpose ended up costing him his own life. Every wounded man he treated survived the encounter, and for his extraordinary heroism and gallant action in living the Pararescue motto ("That Others May Live"), he was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross, the second-highest award that the USAF offers. According to the citation, "As a result of [Cunningham's] extraordinary heroism, his team returned 10 seriously wounded personnel to life-saving medical care."

The fact that the stories of all of these men, and others like them, such as CMH award winner Paul Smith, are not featured prominently in the nations' media outlets is more than a tragedy, it's almost a crime. The fact that there are no Audy Murphys or Alvin Yorks in this war, men whose bravery and sacrifice are known to all Americans, is pathetic beyond measure. The fact that the media choose to ignore them entirely or bury them in the back pages due to political considerations is a travesty.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Happy Birthday, Duke!

Couldn't resist this from the American Spectator, fast becoming my favorite conservative online mag. Larry Thornberry points out this would have been the 100th birthday of American icon John Wayne, and points out how the Hollywood's current crop of leading men lack a certain...believability as tough guys, as well as speculating whether or not today's Hollywood would even let the man work.

"It's hard to guess how the Duke would be received today, or even if he could find work in contemporary Hollywood. There are plenty of red-blooded Americans who could make up a market for more of the Duke. But the values of the New York, Malibu bed-wetters pretty much have a lock on today's Hollywood. It's a legitimate question whether Hollywood would be big enough for both George Clooney and John Wayne. It would be nice to see a real, full-service American hero like the Duke on the silver screen again. The current lot of leading men is pretty pallid by comparison. Show of hands, how many of you really believe in the likes of Kevin Costner, Michael Douglass, or Val Kilmer as tough guys? Cowboys? These guys belong having a Cherry Garcia at Ben & Jerry's, not knocking off the trail dust with a straight shot at the Longhorn. Good grief, Val Kilmer would have to get a note from his mother to ride the range."

Ouch, that has to GOT to smart, and might have left a permanent mark as well.

Did a Comet Strike Great Lakes in Prehistory?

via ScienceDaily, again.

A new theory has been proposed regarding the Lesser Dryas climate event occuring about 13000 years ago. The Lesser Dryas was a cooling trend that briefly interrupted the warming climatic trend that ended the last ice age about 20000 years ago (which we are still experiencing). The Lesser Dryas is held responsible for a major extinction event that occurred about the same time that eliminated a number of the large mammal species in North America.

The theory? An impact event in the area of the Great Lakes, possibly a comet, that struck the ice sheet covering the area north of the lakes in present day Canada. The evidence? A large concentration of carbon rich soils pointing to such an impact event found in over 50 Clovis culture archaeological sites throughout North America, with the highest concentrations centered in the Lakes region.

"The researchers propose that a known reversal in the world's ocean currents and associated rapid global cooling, which some scientists blame for the extinction of multiple species of animals and the end of the Clovis Period, was itself the result of a bigger event. While generally accepted theory says glacial melting from the North American interior caused the shift in currents, the new proposal points to a large extraterrestrial object exploding above or even into the Laurentide Ice Sheet north of the Great Lakes."

Interesting. The one trouble with the theory is no impact crater, but that is easily explained by the ice sheet absorbing the impact. The results of such an impact would have been pretty devastating to both animal and human populations, and might explain the concentration of late era Clovis sites in the American Southwest.

Iowahawk Strikes Again

Iowahawk responds, as only he can, to the recent Pew study that indicates that most Muslims don't support violence against infidels, only a sizable minority does. Once again, he examines the dark and dangerous underworld of radical Midwestern Lutheranism, led by the mysterious Pastor Duane Gunderson.

"Although a majority 87% of respondents agreed that "The world should be brought to submission under global Lutheran conquest and eternal perfect rule," there was a great deal of disagreement on the means to accomplish it. More than 95% supported "pancake breakfasts" and "popcorn fundraisers," but support dropped to less than 80% for "cow tipping" and "T-P'ing infidel houses." Support dropped even more dramatically for more violent means of conquest, such as "suicide bombing" (28%), "decapitation" (24%), and "running over Presbyterians with my Ski-Doo" (23%)."

The man is effing hilarious.

Fred talks to Pajamas Media

Fred speaks over at PM, where he is kicking tail and taking names in the online straw polls, apparently running away with the online community's full support.

"Whether or not the Internet can elect any particular candidate in any particular race, it’s clear that all of you and our many friends across the blogosphere and the Web are part of a true information revolution. That’s why so much of my effort has been focused on talking to Americans through this medium. By empowering individuals and building communities, the Internet provides a way of going around the inside-the-beltway crowd to reach people in numbers unheard of not that long ago. I believe this direct communication and discussion is going to have an enormous impact on our political process. "

Run Fred, run!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mars Spirit Rover Finds Compelling Water Evidence

via ScienceDaily.

The Mars Spirit rover, now into its third year of operation, has found compelling new evidence, the most substantial to date, of free flowing water existing on the Mars surface of long ago. Interestingly enough, the evidence was uncovered due to a malfunction on the part of the rover itself. One of Spirit's six wheels has jammed and no longer rotates, leaving it dragging through the Martian soil. While exploring the Gusev crater, the Spirit science team noticed that the drag marks exposed patches of brightly colored soil. When Spirit's onboard sensors examined these patches, they were found to be rich in silica - a substance created only in the presence of an abundant water source. The sample examined was shown to 90% silica by the rover's X-ray spectrometer.

"This is some of the best evidence Spirit has found for water at Gusev," said Albert Yen, a geochemist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. One possible origin for the silica could have been interaction of soil with acid vapors produced by volcanic activity in the presence of water. Another could have been from water in a hot spring environment. The latest discovery adds compelling new evidence for ancient conditions that might have been favorable for life, according to members of the rover science team."

Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, Spirit's twin rover Opportunity continues to explore Victoria Crater, with the intention to send it into that geologic feature now that it has completed a circuit around the crater and discovered a potential path into the crater.

Blogging, Memorial Day & Veterans

Blogging has been a bit light of late, mostly due to my graduate studies interfering with what little free time I have already. With the end of the term in sight, there should be a little more activity here again, although I have to add that there really hasn't been all that much in the news to interest me lately. I started this as a (somewhat) political blog; I've branched out into other things that interest me, mostly sports and truly geeky science issues, and there hasn't been all that much on any of the usual subjects that I truly felt I needed to comment on.

On the other hand, with the Memorial Day holiday approaching, it seems as good a time as any to shill a little for some of my favorite charity outfits. Being a veteran, I am particularly vulnerable to requests by groups asking for assistance in the the support of our finest citizens, often injured in the prime of life serving to protect us all. I am also concerned about supporting the troops today serving far from home as well, like my brother-in-law now serving in Iraq, and try to help groups concerned with the today's troops and their families.

So, if you feel as I do that the tribulations and sacrifices undergone by those who serve in the cause of freedom are well worth the costs, then I would humbly ask you to contribute to any of the groups below, if you are able, to the maximum extent that you can afford. I would also encourage you to examine the organization's websites further for information about the good work that they do.

Thank you for helping others who've made, and continue to make, tremendous sacrifices for all the rest of us in the name of freedom around the globe.

Disabled American Veterans (DAV) - Contribute here.

Help Hositalized Veterans (HHV) - Contribute here.

Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) - Contribute here.

Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) - Contribute here.

United Service Organization (USO) - Contribute here.

Soldier's Angels - Contribute here.

Coaltion to Support America's Heroes (CSAH) - Contribute here.

Oil Prices & the Government

Eric Peters at the American Spectator reminds us all about the real reason for high oil prices - taxes. The federal government takes in 18.4 cents per gallon in taxes, and the various states take another 20-30 cents. Nebraska, if I recall takes in 28 cents per gallon. On top of that, some local jursidictions also pile on the bandwagon. This just may be the most regressive tax in the nation.

"Motor fuels taxes account for some 22 percent or so of the current per-gallon cost of gasoline in this country. This is arguably both regressive (because it hits people with low and moderate incomes harder than it does the well-heeled) as well as disproportionate -- since the amount of tax is very high relative to the actual cost of the item being taxed. We don't, for example, stack a tax of 50 cents per quart onto the price tag of milk -- because milk is considered a necessity. But how is gasoline less of a necessity? Maybe we don't drink it -- but most people have little choice about using a car to get to work."

The real tragedy here is that the people that produce the gasoline for our vehicles are always the ones the govenrment and the media blames for the high price of fuel. On top of that, they restrict these companies ability to provide it to us by refusing to let them drill for oil where we know if exists, and even worse, refuse to allow them to build new refineries because no one wants a new refinery in their backyard. As Peters correctly notes, these taxes are supposed to fund the highways we all drive on, and it might be that is where the majority of the money goes, but how much of it is siphoned off by the bureaucracy for other purposes, like funding mass transit systems that almost no one uses. The other issue is there is no guarantee that the money raised remains in the same jurisdiction, due to the way DC decides to reallocate the money. So some states are paying for roads in other states, with only the political power of the congressional delegation influencing the decisions, not where the money belongs or where it might be needed the most.

Doesn't sound like a very good system to me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Atlantis Returns to Launch Pad


Two and a half months after the freak storm that damaged the foam insulation of its external fuel tank, shuttle Atlantis returns to the launch pad in preparation for its scheduled June 8 launch to the ISS for an extensive construction mission to the orbiting space habitat.

"The move is a major step towards launch for Atlantis and its STS-117 astronaut crew following a two and one-half-month delay that began on Feb. 26, when a freak storm over Pad 39A pelted the orbiter's foam-covered fuel tank with golf ball-sized hail. Of about 4,200 divots gouged into Atlantis' fuel tank insulation, engineers patched up all but 402 minor dings and invented a new portable sanding tool in one week to finish the job inside KSC's 52-story Vehicle Assembly Building, said John Chapman, NASA's external tank project manager."

The foam was sanded and repaired with new foam in spots, while others had to have new insulation hand poured into damaged areas. The extensive damage done to the nose cap of the tank was particularly challenging, with new spraying techniques having to be developed for the repairs. STS-117 will deliver two new trusses in preparation for later missions carrying new European and Japanese built station modules later this year and also install a new solar array to provide additional power for the new segments. A new station crew member will also be delivered to relieve an ISS mission specialist on the Expedition 15 crew.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Federal Budget forcast - Skeptical Optimist

The Skeptical One has updated his monthly trending for the Federal budget deficit. If the current trends continue, the US government budget will go into surplus in April 2008. While Steve isn't necessarily a fan of balanced budgets (particularly if the money is spent wisely on important things like making us all more secure) he is looking forward to the prospect of all the lefty trolls having to think up a different reason (other than the deficit) to raise taxes, as has been widely proposed by a number of leftist political pundits and candidates. He also likes the idea of the campaign debate being changed from raise taxes vs cutting spending to "add in a third issue, grow the economy". I have to agree completely on that point. Steve's chart showing the trend lines and their intersection shamelessly stolen above.

Search for Vulcan

I often joke about the search for extra-terrestial life by refering to finding Klingons and Vulcans. In the "Future History" of the various TV Star Trek series, Vulcan orbits the star 40 Eridani, which lies a mere 16 light years from our own.

Apparently, scientists at the JPL believe there could be a planet orbiting the primary star of the system (it's a trinary, or three star system). If there is a habitable planet, it would have to be orbiting much closer than the Earth around the Sun, as 40 Eridani A is a red dwarf emitting much less energy than our own G sequence star. The habitable zone around the star is around .6 AU (astronomical units, or the average distance of Earth around the Sun). A terrestrial type planet there could possilby be detected by the new SIM PlanetQuest satellite being developed by NASA/JPL and Northrup Grumman. SIM is planned to launch before the other big NASA planet finding mission, the Terrestrial Planet Finder, but no dates have yet been targeted.

"Astronomers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have recently concluded that the upcoming planet-finding mission, SIM PlanetQuest, would be able to detect an Earth-like planet around the star 40 Eridani, a planet familiar to "Star Trek" fans as "Vulcan." 40 Eridani, a triple-star system 16 light-years from Earth, includes a red-orange K dwarf star slightly smaller and cooler than our sun. Vulcan is thought to orbit that dwarf star, called 40 Eridani A."

I guess if they're there, we'll be the first to know, unless they've already been visiting waiting for Zephran Cochrane to develop warp drive.

Missile Defense

Today's OWH has an interesting article on an issue dear to my heart, one that I have been a long time proponent of (twenty plus years) - anti-ballistic missile defenses. I find the case for defensive weapons which can prevent the loss of an entire American (or allied) city to be a pretty convincing case for such weapons. Critics argue the cost is too high, or that the weapons can be easily fooled, defeated, or just plain won't work - in spite of several successsful tests (critics claim they are too simple, ignoring that is the way all programs start).

I would say the cost of losing a city is also pretty high, and that the technology is getting better all the time, particularly as high end computing power and sophisticated tracking radar inproves. Another point to make is that any one system is not going to be infallible, which is why the system being designed is multi-layered using several different technologies - US Navy ships, Army and USAF radars and missile interceptors, and possibly USAF aircraft and satellites. Another point is that possessing such systems terribly complicate the planning for an attack by a potential rogue state (see Iran, North Korea).

I have to applaud Senator Nelson (D-NE) for being a voice of reason on the issue - yes, the systems are expensive, but the role they can play in US defense strategy could be critical.

"Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., an Armed Services Committee member, has concerns about the system's viability, but said it could play an important role."I don't want America to have a false sense of security with these defense missiles on the ground that may not actually work to knock enemy missiles out of the sky," Nelson said. "I do think a robust program is important, but we have to remember it's just one piece of the puzzle on homeland defense."

Freedom House Human Rights Report

(HT: Jay Nordlinger of NRO)

Freedom House has released its Annual Report on the leading national Human Rights violators in the world. There are seventeen nations at the top of the list, with eight singled out for special enphasis, including our special friends, Cuba and North Korea, both of whom I hold in particular contempt, although I may have to add a couple to the list now. Leading candidates are Burma and Sudan, although Libya also has a special place in my heart as well.

"The eight countries judged to have the worst records on political rights and civil liberties were Burma, Cuba, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Similarly branded for particularly repressive behavior were two territories, Chechnya and Tibet.
Within these countries and territories "state control over daily life is pervasive and wide-ranging," said the report by Freedom House, a New York-based private democracy watchdog organization. Also, it said, "independent organizations and political opposition are banned or suppressed and fear of retribution for independent thought and action is part of daily life."

The other nine nations, labelled as places where citizens are just a wee bit better off than the "evil eight", are: Belarus, China, Cote d'Ivoire, (new to the list), Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Laos, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Zimbabwe. We all know how much I love the Chinese government, but it is nice to see such luminaries such as Zimbabwe, our good friends the Saudis, and the Syrians getting some press as well.

John Cox, Fringe Republican Candidate

Matt Labash over at the Weekly Standard takes a look at fringe Republican persidential candidate John Cox's struggle to be taken seriously by the establishment. Cox has won a South Carolina county straw poll, so he does have some supporters. He wasn't invited to the recent Republican debate in California.

"In the red flag department, he has run unsuccessfully for office in Illinois three times: in a congressional, senatorial, and Cook County recorder of deeds race. But even in his most recent loss, in 2004, his high principle was in evidence. He spent around $200,000 of his own money running for the recorder's job on the promise to eliminate the position as wasteful spending if he won--the kind of idea that used to fire up conservatives back when they were, how to put it, conservative."

Sounds like my kind of guy, and he wants to eliminate the IRS. I would rather see a Flat Tax supporter over a Fair Tax supporter, but the man sounds like he could be a serious candidate if anyone would listen. He's released several YouTube videos of himself discussing various issues, including Republican principles, immigration, the IRS, and Iraq, see a list here.

Friday, May 11, 2007

More Evidence for Out of Africa Theory

via ScienceDaily.

New genetic studies of Autralian and New Guinean natives appear to confirm the two populations come from the same genetic heritage. Differences between them appear to be the result of divergent mutations caused by their respectively isolated populations and not secondary migrations,or interbreeding with other populations like homo erectus. This evidence supports the evolution "Out of Africa" theory of human evolution that holds that all humans share a common ancestry. The aboriginal populations of New Guinea and Australia, which migrated to these areas arounf 50,000 years ago, have been the primary evidence utilized by critics of this theory.

"Until now, one of the main reasons for doubting the “Out Of Africa” theory was the existence of inconsistent evidence in Australia. The skeletal and tool remains that have been found there are strikingly different from those elsewhere on the “coastal expressway” – the route through South Asia taken by the early settlers. Some scholars argue that these discrepancies exist either because the early colonists interbred with the local Homo erectus population, or because there was a subsequent, secondary migration from Africa. Both explanations would undermine the theory of a single, common origin for modern-day humans. But in the latest research there was no evidence of a genetic inheritance from Homo erectus, indicating that the settlers did not mix and that these people therefore share the same direct ancestry as the other Eurasian peoples."

Friday, May 04, 2007


For those of you who weren't aware, Bill Whittle is back at his place, and it sounds like he'll be posting a lot more frequently from now on - thank god.

Bill's more of an internet essayist than a daily blogger, but when he has something to say, he says it extremely well, and it always strikes close to home, often with devastating impact. He's been among the foremost voices for civilization (IMO) during this little dustup we've been leading overseas. I wish I were half as eloquent as Bill has been about what is at stake.

For those of you unaware, go simply must go check it out here - NOW!

Even though he's been away for a quite a while, I'm proud to say he NEVER left my blogroll - evne though he's a Florida Gator fan.

COROT Satellite Imagery

The European Space Agency's COROT satellite has released its first images, taken from its discoery of the exoplanet lablled COROT-Exo-1b, orbiting a yellow dwarf star in the contellation Unicorn 1500 light years from Earth. While not an astounding find, the imagery has generated some surprise among scientists - the satellite's instrumentation is operating with an unexpectedly high level of precision - so much so that it could conceivably directly image an earth size terrestrial planet and geta chemical analysis.

"The unanticipated level of accuracy of this raw data shows that COROT will be able to see rocky planets - perhaps even as small as Earth - and possibly provide an indication of their chemical composition. COROT, a CNES project with ESA participation, is a mission with a dual goal. It is the first space mission dedicated entirely to the search of extra-solar planets. It provides a wide-field survey of planets like our own at an unprecedented level of accuracy. It is also making the most comprehensive study ever of the interior of stars other than our Sun. Both objectives are achieved by analysing the behaviour of light emitted by a target star."

They are also getting some pretty amazingly detailed data on the star, with an accuracy under 5 parts per 100,000, and this is expected to improve to 1 over time with fine tuning. COROT was launched in December aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket, entered into its designated orbit and was powered on Jan 2 of this year and began its observation work ahead of schedule on Feb. 3.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Fred on Cuba

Fred's over at NRO again, picking up where he left off and targeting my favorite dictator (sorry, Mr. Poofy Hair), Cuba's cigar smoking, fatigue wearing, billionaire tyrant Fidel Castro, and the myth of the "free Cuban healthcare system", both barrels blazing, and it's not even next week yet.

"The truth is that Cuban medical care has never recovered from Castro’s takeover — when the country’s health care ranked among the world’s best. He won the support of the Cuban people by promising to replace Batista’s dictatorship with free elections, and to end corruption. Once in power, though, he made himself dictator and instituted Soviet-style Communism. Cubans not only failed to regain their democratic rights, their economy plunged into centrally planned poverty. As many as half of Cuba’s doctors fled almost immediately — and defections continue to this day. Castro won’t allow observers in to monitor his nation’s true state, but defectors tell us that many Cubans live with permanent malnutrition and long waits for even basic medical services."

Ouch, that has GOT to leave a mark. FT's also has an interesting take on the fawning Hollywood elite that so adore our friend Fidel, asking why they don't make any movies about the plight of pro-democracy activists. FT also begs to ask the question - if Cuba's medical care is so fantastic, why in the world would Fidel fly in a team of Spanish doctors and equipment for himself on a specially chartered jet when he was ailing?

Certainly, you don't want to ask those kinds of questions if you live in Cuba- these will get you detained, jailed and tortured in Cuban prisons, or better yet, allow you the privelige of experiencing the Cuban medical system for yourself, in a "mental health hosptial", the kind where you can regularly recieve the singular pleasure of free electroshock therapy, like Cuban painter and filmmaker Nicolás Guillén Landrián did after criticizing his good buddy Fidel.

Those types of "treatments" really leave a mark.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Fred on Foreign Policy

via NRO. Say this about Fred, he's actually taking the time to speak to the base, and through historically fashionable conservative outlets. My take is that he will announce sometime soon, maybe by Memorial Day. He certainly has a way of getting his point across in plain language without being overly condescending (well, maybe to the French). I'll quote Fred as he runs down a number of foreign nations, and give my opinion parenthetically.

"It bothers Americans when we’re told how unpopular we are with the rest of the world. For some of us, at least, it gets our back up — and our natural tendency is to tell the French, for example, that we’d rather not hear from them until the day when they need us to bail them out again. But we cool off. We’re big boys and girls, after all, and we don’t really bruise that easily. We’re also hopeful that, eventually, our ostrich-headed allies will realize there’s a world war going on out there and they need to pick a side -" (Love the sentiment here, pretty much sums up my feelings on foreign policy!)

Europe - "most of our European friends continue to dismantle their defenses" - (Yup, pretty much sums up their foreign policy.)

Mexico - "Mexican leaders apparently have an economic policy based on exporting their own citizens, while complaining about U.S. immigration policies that are far less exclusionary than their own." (Ouch, that's gotta sting a little, President Calderon).

France - "The French jail perfectly nice people for politically incorrect comments, but scold us for holding terrorists at Guantanamo." (The French talent for hypocrasy appears infinite - much like the Deomcratic House and Senate leadership.)

Russia - "Here is a government apparently run by ex-KGB agents who have no problem blackmailing whole countries by turning the crank on their oil pipelines. They’re not doing anything shady, they say. They can’t help it if their opponents are so notoriously accident-prone."
(He may have Putin putting out a contract on him tomorrow. Fred also notes mysterious little things like anti-government protesters and the media have a hard time getting permits - while pro-government groups appear to have little trouble wiht such trivial matters.)

Unfortunately, he misses several of my favorite targets - China, Cuba, and Venezuela. Maybe next week. I saw something yesterday I found interesting, speaking of Fidel's little island paradise. Apparently a group of ten refugees, two families if I recall correctly, were intercepted by the fine folks of our own US Coast Guard, but apparently Fidel didn't want them back as it was their fourth attempt to leave utopia.
Who then, do you think, in all the wide world, took in these refugees? The US stored them temporarily at Guantanamo (one wonders where Amnesty International was during all this), but the government apparently decided we already have too many freedom loving Cubans or something. Wet foot, dry foot, if I recall correctly, is the US policy - make it on land and we take you, we find you out in the ocean, not so fast.
No, the wonderful Czech Republic, that little bastion of freedom, remembers all too well the wonders of Communism and took in the Cubans. It is the first instance of the Czechs taking in Cuban refugees, and hopefully not the last. The really beautiful thing about the story? The immigrants attitude - the are already inquiring about Czech language lessons and looking for work. Good luck & hats off to them, I wish more US immigrants would take the same attitude.