Thursday, June 28, 2007

Immigration Issue May Solve Itself

Interesting article @ TCS Daily on the demographics south of the border - the fertility rate of Latin America is dropping through the basement, leading one to believe that the immigration problems on our southern border may wind up solving itself over the next decade or two. Of course, that still doesn't substantially address the problems we are experiencing today.

"There has been a stunning decline in the fertility rate in Mexico, which means that, in a few years there will not be many teenagers in Mexico looking for work in the United States or anywhere else. If this trend in the fertility rate continues, Mexico will resemble Japan and Italy - rapidly aging populations with too few young workers to support the economy. According to the World Bank's 2007 Annual Development Indicators, in 1990 Mexico had a fertility rate of 3.3 children per female, but by 2005, that number had fallen by 36 percent to 2.1, which is the Zero Population Growth rate. That is an enormous decline in the number of Mexican infants per female."

In effect, the addition of women to the work force in Latin America is having the same effect on these nation's demographic makeup that the US and Europe have experienced. As female work participation grows, and educational and job opportunities expand, these women have fewer children than gthe previous generation. Very interesting.

Reforming Immigration

Now that the "comprehensive" bill on immigration has been sunk, perhaps the infinite wisdom of our legislative overlords could perchance address little issues like this one. Here is a family who has been here eighteen years, tried to follow the rules and yet faces deportation because of a bureaucratic snafu from a period when the government's program allowing these people entry was all of 45 days old. The really bad part is that the father's family worked for the US government in Laos.

As the family's lawyer puts it:

"Peltz said the fact the Guy Vang’s family worked for the U.S. government for many years should come into the play, as well as the fact that the rest of his entire family is legally here — either with refugee status, valid green cards or other documents. "Their case took 14 years to come to a decision. During this time, they had work authorization, they were allowed to stay here, they were allowed to work and they built this life here … they had two other children who grew up just in the United States," Peltz said. "The government messed up in this case but there’s no recourse when the government messes up. And that’s the biggest issue in this case — there’s been a 14-year delay and they built a life." It would have been one thing if the government decided the Vangs were illegal and deported them even a few years after arriving in the United States. But throughout the whole legal ordeal since then, Peltz said, there has been no good explanation of why it took so long for their asylum application to be processed."

Again, as I've stated before, the status of people fleeing political repression have to be treated in a far different manner than those fleeing economic circumstances, particularly in cases like this one.

Immigration Bill Fails Cloture

We killed it, the Immigration fiasco is apparently been staked through the heart - for the second time. Thanks to Senator Nelson for having the common sense to vote against cloture.

"On the cloture vote — the test to end debate and move to passage — the Senate voted 46-53 not to carry the motion. Sixty votes were needed for forward progress. The tally is a turnaround of 18 votes from two days earlier. Six Democrats and 12 Republicans changed their votes to no from a Tuesday vote that allowed the Senate to take up amendments on the bill."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

NASA's Busy Launch Schedule

via as well.

Problems with NASA's Dawn mission to examine the dwarf planet Ceres, as well as asteroid Vesta could hamper other space missions, including the upcoming August shuttle Endeavor's construction mission to the ISS and the Phoenix science mission to Mars. The Dawn mission's issues include a damaged solar panel, mechanical issue with the launch vehicle thought to have been caused by rough weather during transport to the launch site, and a balky assembly crane.

"Todd May, the deputy associate administrator for programs at NASA headquarters in Washington, said both the asteroid-belt-exploring Dawn and Mars-bound Phoenix missions are very sensitive to launch changes. To reach their targets, each must leave Earth within a defined window of time. "They're both planetary, so they have limited launch windows," May said. "It's a hard window constraint to get (Phoenix) off by Aug. 25," he continued, so any movement of the Dawn launch window could also interfere with Phoenix's launch-as well as the STS-118 shuttle mission, expected to launch on Aug. 7."

The Dawn mission is intended to gather evidence about the early years of the solar system's formation by examining the mineral content of the two leftover chunks of rocky materials. Ceres, thought to possibly have frozen ice, will be visited by the probe in 2015, four years after the same craft visits Vesta in 2011. More on the science behind the mission here.

New Research May Explain Mystery Explosion


New research may have discovered an impact crater, now a lake, that could explain the mysterious 1908 Tunguska explosion in Siberia. More than 800 sq miles of forest was devastated by the event, unexplained up to this point. No prior evidence of an impact event has been discovered, but a new team studying the area appears to have stumbles onto evidnece in sediment cores from nearby Lake Cheko, 5 miles from the epicenter of the event.

""When we looked at the bottom of the lake, we measured seismic waves reflecting off of something," said Giuseppe Longo, a physicist at the University of Bologna in Italy and co-author of the study. "Nobody has found this before. We can only explain that and the shape of the lake as a low-velocity impact crater." Should the team turn up conclusive evidence of an asteroid or comet on a later expedition, when they obtain a deeper core sample beneath the lake, remaining mysteries surrounding the Tunguska event may be solved."

The team intends to get a more substantial core (10 m deep rather than the previous 6 m sample) sample this summer to determine if an impact event occurred at the location, and what it was if such is proven to be true.

Bruning Interview

Over at Townhall, Patrick Ruffini interviews our Attorney General John Bruning on why he's challenging the still undeclared for anything Chuck Hagel. I like what I hear from John on his rationale for running.

Bruning: "In 2004, we had to listen to John Kerry in the debates quoting Hagel to our President. It was painful for Nebraskans, and more and more he was breaking with the President, and more and more he was doing it in a way that was an attempt to embarrass the President and the Republican Party. In March of this year, he votes with the Democrats on the strict timeline for troop withdrawal, and he talks about the impeachment of the President, and I just had had it, and thought, "You know what, I'm in a position to do something about this." Conservatives need a voice. And so ultimately in early April I decided I was going to run......I don't take this lightly. I don't like the idea of a primary fight. But I'm not the one that left the Republican Party. I'm right where I was at the beginning of this thing. Hagel is the one who has turned hard left. And not just on the big issues. He voted with the Democrats on Iraq, which is just very frustrating. He's voting with a mixed coalition that includes the President on immigration, which I think is a very bad bill. But even though I disagree with the President, I'm not going to call for his impeachment on that. I think it's a bad bill. If I was in the Senate I would go down the street and say "Mr. President, I disagree with this bill, and I can't support it." But I wouldn't demagogue the issue, and it's kind of embarrassing when someone talks of impeachment. And he voted for this silly resolution of no confidence against Attorney General Gonzales. Hagel is just gone, in terms of everything. You'll find that even on the little votes now, Hagel will stick it to his own party. That kind of disloyalty doesn't go unnoticed. The other Republican Senators are very frustrated with him. "

No to mention the voters that elected his sorry butt to Washington DC to represent our interests, like me. Bruning goes on to say that we need to give General Petraeus time in Iraq, that he wants to secure the border first, and that he's fifth generation Nebraskan. He's also pro Second Amendment, pro-life, anti-tax, for smaller government, and has, as he puts it, "zero maverick moments" - you know where he stands on things. He also point out the circumstances of Hagel's election, moving in from Virginia, that still makes my skin crawl a bit.

As of right now, Bruning's polling shows him doing well against Hagel, should Chuck ever make up his mind about his future. All I can say is that there is no way in HADES that I would ever vote for Hagel for any other office. No way, no how, ever.

Origins of the Solar System

via our egghead friends at Astrobiology Magazine, a nice feature on the origins of our solar system, and they are thought to be violent. The question being raised?

"We know that our solar system has at least one planet with life – Earth. So perhaps solar systems that formed in ways similar to our own will also have the potential for life. But this invites the question: how normal was the formation of our solar system?"

Short Answer: Not very.

Long answer: Stars form in clusters of hundreds to thousands from large gaseous clouds of matter. However, star formation form such clouds is not easy. Gravity has to overcome the outward pressure from the heat such gas cloud formations posses, which only happens very rarely. The reason it happens at all is turbulence within the cloud causes an eddy, which will sometimes create a cloudlet that eventually forms into a star. The turbulence itself is thought to often come about from external factors, such as supernovae.

There is a growing body of evidence that our young solar system may have experienced such supernovae inspired tubulence, perhaps many such. Due to the percentage of trace elements found in solar sytem meteorites, it is thought that our Sun formed in a huge stellar nursery, with perhaps hundreds of thousands of stars. What impact that may have had on the orgins of life is a subject of much debate in the scientific community, but it certainly had an impact of what types of heavy elements are found on our planet. Such turbulence in the solar system's origins might also help explain the impact thought to have created the unusual Earth-Moon system we enjoy today as well.

Immigration Battle, My Thoughts

Well, Senator Nelson disappointed me (I won't mention the other disappointing Senator from NE) and voted for cloture yesterday, but there is still a chance that the bill will fail with another cloture vote scheduled Thursday after the various amendments have been debated.

Meanwhile, Heritage's Robert Rector, who has been one of the point people arguing against the bill, answer his critics (in the link above) from the administration. Once again, the pro-amnesty crowd confuses (or attempts to confuse) the issue by grouping all immigrants together, rather than properly separating them into the illegal, little educated and low wage group and the legal, highly educated and high earning group (like those coming into the country on H1-B visas).

AGAIN, I am personally all for the latter group - the ones that follow the the rules, wait their turn, and contribute so mightily to our society. We need more doctors, engineers, software developers, etc. And I would personally like to allow more of that kind of immigrant into our nation, even to the point of (possibly) doubling the legal limit. I also think we have to take into account where they are coming from - are they fleeing a despotic dictator, or are their old societies unwelcoming or violent toward minority ethnic groups? If the answer is yes, then we should seriously consider making a place for them in our own society. People in such dire straits, where they are at risk in their own nations, should merit some additional consideration, in my view. (Think nations like Cuba, China, Venezeula, Zimbabwe, or any individual Christian or Jew living in a predominantly Muslim nation).

But we would have to drastically curtail the other type of immigrant, the ones that are a net drain on our society and resources, before I'd agree to that. I understand they are coming here for opportunities that do not exist in their home countries. That is the unifying thread of all immigrants, all the way back to the beginnings of this country and even before into pre-history. But up until the last 30 to 40 years, immigrants generally followed the prevailing rules that the US government established for the entry of new Americans. We have to control our own borders before we can face the questions of which people merit admittance to our society. Right now, we don't have any control over who arrives, where they are from, and what their behavior is when they arrive here. We also have no clue if they have the skills we need for the advancement of our economy and society.

I do not now, nor will I ever, support the notion that we should just accept the fact that all these people that are here illegally and reward their behavior with immediate citizenship. I can accept the fact that there should be a path to citizenship for such persons, but it should be long, difficult, and expensive, just as it is for the legal immigrants today. They have to prove themsleves worthy, as it were, for the price of cheating their way to admission. And those here illegally should start at the back of the line, not the front. If we are going to address such issues in legislation today, then we also need to make it easier to gain citizenship for the people that are following the rules, and set the bar very, very high for those that decided to come here not in accordance with US laws and regulations.

From what I have seen out of the pending legislation, it does not meet my criteria, nor does it come anywhere even close to it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Immigration Bill

Senator Nelson is apparently on the fence in voting for cloture on the Senate Immigration/Amnesty bill, but I am slightly encouraged by the tone of his Senate website on the matter. We'll see if how he follows through with his vote tomorrow. I've both emailed and signed an online petition on the matter asking for a vote against cloture. I may call his office as well.

"Nelson believes that too many reform proposals will not work because they attempt to tackle too many issues at once. As any Husker football fan will tell you, even the best Blackshirt can’t tackle four running backs at the same time. Ben Nelson’s smarter, more effective, play is to take aim at one problem at a time and start where the problem starts—at the border.
Ben Nelson knows from visiting with Nebraskans how important the issue of illegal immigration is to them, and the national attention on this issue is proof that Nebraska is not alone.
Nelson authored bipartisan Border Security First bills in the 109 th Congress that would, among other things, double the number of border agents over five years and provide for the construction and installation of effective border security measures from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico."

Husker FB Preseason Magazine Ratings

via OWH, the pre-season College FB magazines are out, and the analyst's prognostications appear to jibe with my own, finishing 9-3, winning the Big 12 North and a finish in the top 25.
LB Bo Ruud is on two covers, Lindy's and Phil Steele's.

ATHLON'S• NU in Top 25: No. 18• NU in the Big 12: Third• Big 12 North: First• All-Big 12: First team - Bo Ruud, LB; Matt Slauson, OG. Second - Ndamukong Suh, DT. Third - Corey McKeon, LB; Maurice Purify, WR.• Oops: Magazines already were sitting on newsstands with Maurice Purify on regional Big 12 covers when the receiver was suspended indefinitely.• Notable: Ranks the Huskers' receivers and tight ends No. 1 in the Big 12. Ever think you'd see the day?• Big words: "(Sam) Keller should be just as - if not more - productive than predecessor Zac Taylor."

LINDY'S• NU in Top 25: No. 25• NU in the Big 12: Fourth• Big 12 North: First• All-Big 12: First team - Bo Ruud, LB; Matt Slauson, OG. Second - Ndamukong Suh, DT; Maurice Purify, WR.• Notable: Plugs Sam Keller as both Big 12 newcomer of the year and "strongest arm" among QBs but doesn't list the senior among its Top 25 nationally at the position. Who is ranked?• Big words: Of Sept. 15 USC-NU game, "Something tells us USC won't win as easily as it did last season in the Coliseum."

SPORTING NEWS• NU in Top 25: No. 23• NU in the Big 12: Third• Big 12 North: First• All-Big 12: First team - Bo Ruud, LB; Matt Slauson, OG. Second - Ndamukong Suh, DT; Maurice Purify, WR.• Notable: Places Bill Callahan at No. 21 among head coaches in BCS conferences (one spot behind Houston Nutt, by the way). Calls for NU over Texas on its "calendar of upsets."• Big words: "Nix those national title dreams and focus on winning the Big 12. That means going 4-0 in league play at home and splitting on the road. It's possible, and should be enough to win the North."

PHIL STEELE'S PREVIEW• NU in Top 25: No. 22• NU in the Big 12: Fourth• Big 12 North: Second• All-Big 12: First team - Bo Ruud, LB. Second - Corey McKeon, LB; Andre Jones, CB; Maurice Purify, WR; Matt Slauson, OG; Lydon Murtha, OT; Dan Titchener, P; Terrence Nunn, PR. Third - Ndamukong Suh, DT; Cortney Grixby, CB; Tierre Green, FS; Marlon Lucky, IB.• Notable: Calls Huskers' schedule No. 17 toughest in Division I-A.• Big words: "Even with USC and Texas on the schedule, I give the Huskers a great shot at topping last year's nine wins."

Friday, June 22, 2007

Major Offensive in Iraq

via The Fourth Rail, it appears General Petraeus has some big things going on in the areas around Baghdad. US and Iraqi forces are taking names and kicking A**.

"Four days after the announcement of major offensive combat operations against al Qaeda in Iraq and its allies, the picture becomes clearer on the size and scope of the operation. In today's press briefing, Rear Admiral Mark noted that the ongoing operation is a corps directed and coordinated offensive operation. This is the largest offensive operation since the first phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom ended in the spring of 2003.
The corps level operation is being conducted in three zones in the Baghdad Belts -- Diyala/southern Salahadin, northern Babil province, and eastern Anbar province --- as well as inside Baghdad proper, where clearing operations continue in Sadr City and the Rashid district. Iraqi and Coalition forces are now moving into areas which were ignored in the past and served as safe havens for al Qaeda and Sunni insurgent groups. As the corps level operation is ongoing, Coalition and Iraqi forces are striking at the rogue Iranian backed elements of Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army and continuing the daily intelligence driven raids against al Qaeda's network nationwide."

In effect we (the US and the Iraqi government forces) are pressing both the foreign Al-Queda on all fronts while simultaneously serving notice to troublemakers like Sadr that they had better get with the program or face the consequences. Three corps level ops running at the same time is a pretty heavy duty operational tempo. It's going to be a long tough slog through the summer, but I believe that we will see considerable progress made by September if we can sustain the pressure and give the Iraqi government enough space to achieve its political aims.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Husker Football Preview

Sunday Morning QB has a ridiculously early look at the 2007 Husker football squad. (HT: Double Extra Point, from the Local Yokels blogroll). Can't say I disagree much with the prognostications.

The schedule should be brutal, with 3 conference champs (USC, Wake and Nevada) in the non-conference schedule and then there is that always fun trip to Austin. Beating Mizzou in Columbia will be no small task either. The other road trips are to KU and CU and their always so polite fans will sure to be quite accomodating as well.

I'll go out on a limb and say 9-3 right now, and it could well be worse. However, former Husker RB Roger Craig seems to think this is the breakthrough year and that NU will wind up with a top 10 ranking. I hope he's right, but am not sold quite yet.

Nebraska Guard Unit on Way Home from Iraq

Great news from fellow Nebraskan blogger and Army National Guardsman Sack. My old unit, HHT 1/167 Cavalry is going HOME, and as of Saturday was already in Kuwait. The unit had been serving at Camp Anaconda in western Iraq. Eight Nebraska Guard members have died serving in Iraq. Sack gives the details and I think he also sums it up nicely on his post from June 5th.

" One thing that struck me about each of these soldiers is that most, if not all, were volunteers. Not just volunteers to join the Guard, as we are all, but volunteers to deploy to Iraq and do what needed to be done. I know that most of them could have stayed home, having already done duty in Kuwait, Bosnia, or a prior deployment to Iraq. But they didn't. Their unit, their state, and their country needed them, and they answered the call. And they paid the ultimate price. This may be cliche, but "Where do we find such men and women?" I am proud to wear the uniform and to have served in the Nebraska National Guard with MSG Tarango-Griess, SGT Fisher, SFC Jameson, SGT Ford, SSG Hansen, SGT Debro, SGT Matheny, and SPC Bailey. God bless you all. We will never forget you."


Liberal Media Bias

via MSNBC, a somewhat surprising article given the source. They analyzed political contributions made by journalists to Federal candidates, PACs and the two major political parties. They found that of the 144 journalists making contriubtions, 125 gave to Democratic candidates or causes, 2 gave to both parties or candidates from both parties, and 17 to Republican causes. No surprise here, and although most of the contributing journalists do not cover politics, they certainly tilt overwhelmingly leftward.

"The pattern of donations, with nearly nine out of 10 giving to Democratic candidates and causes, appears to confirm a leftward tilt in newsrooms — at least among the donors, who are a tiny fraction of the roughly 100,000 staffers in newsrooms across the nation. "

A number of the organizations these journalists work for do not allow their employees to make such contributions (ABC & CBS for example), and several have changed or are examing their policies to prohibit such employee activity. Some of the organizations do allow employee contributons, such as FoxNews and Forbes magazine. There is no record that MSNBC could find of any of the journalists disclosing their contributions to the listeners or readers.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Different Ideas on the Right vs. Leftist Groupthink

Jeff Jacoby @ The Boston Globe via RCP talks about the (sometimes) bitter debate for ideas on the political right, and the dearth of any such on the political left.

"On one important issue after another, the right churns with serious disputes over policy and principle, while the left marches mostly in lockstep. Liberals sometimes disagree over tactics and details, but anyone taking a heterodox position on a major issue can find himself out in the cold. Just ask Senator Joseph Lieberman . In the liberal imagination, conservatives are blind dogmatists, spouters of a party line fed to them by (take your pick) big business, their church, or President Bush. Yet almost anywhere you look on the right these days, what stands out is the lack of ideological conformity."

Jacoby points out the current fight over immigration, the fact pro-abortion Rudy has been welcomed into the presidential race (while any pro-life Dem would be shot down immediately) and the debate on the right about stem cells, and health insurance. I would add there is also a lot of discussion on gun control, tax and trade policy, federal spending, alternative energy, global warming, military preparedness.

Atlantis Undocked From ISS


Shuttle Atlantis is on its way back to Earth after an eventful construction mission to the ISS. Undocking yesterday, the orbiter is scheduled to arrive in Florida at Cape Kennedy tomorrow afternoon.

" STS-117 crew arrived at the ISS on June 10 and performed four spacewalks to install a new pair of 17.5-ton trusses and unfurl two new solar arrays to the station's starboard side. The astronauts also stowed an older solar wing atop the station, stapled down a torn shuttle thermal blanket and assisted the Expedition 15 crew to revive vital Russian ISS computer systems after they failed last week.

During the shuttle mission, a new ISS crewmember relieved NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, who passed the 191-day mark in space Tuesday and is setting a new record for the longest spaceflight by a female astronaut. She joined the space station crew in December 2006 and relinquished her Expedition 15 flight engineer post to fellow NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson."

The STS-117 mission was the first of four planned shuttle missions slated for ISS construction this year. The new solar arrays delivered on this mission will allow for the the station to be expanded significantly when European and Japanese built modules are added later this year.
The new array gives the station a more balanced appearance, with each side of the orbiting outpost now featuring power generating solar panels.

Gates Needs Econ Course

John Stossel nails Bill Gates for a speech he gave to Harvard graduates telling them to help the poor because "the market did not reward saving the lives of these children" (in poor nations). The market is to blame for poverty? Wow, he's as ignorant about political economy as he is wealthy. The world is full of examples of the market alleviating the worst issues of poverty and hunger. How about the people of China, India, South Korea, etc. all pulled themselves out of poverty and hunger by utilizing the market.

"Can he name one poor country that permits the free market to operate? The problem is not that the market doesn't make it profitable to save lives -- it most certainly does. The problem is that Third World countries have overbearing, corrupt governments that are obstacles to private property and freedom. That's why the children's parents have no voice or power. Poor people in the West and in East Asia lifted themselves out of poverty by relying largely on the unplanned market process. That process -- countless individuals pursuing their own interests by trading with one another -- is, as Nobel Prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek put it, a "discovery procedure." Through the price system and free competition, it clarifies tradeoffs of scarce resources, generates the lowest-cost solutions, and provides feedback about success and failure through profit and loss. This spontaneous order is far better at "saving the lives of these children."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Source of Ancient Egyptians Gold Found

via Livescience, a new archaeological site in the northern area of Sudan has been discovered that leads the scholars there to believe that much of the famed gold of Egypt came from this area, the ancient land of Kush. However, it has not been noted how geographically extensive Kush was in ancient times, however. The new site is over 200 miles from the ancient Kushite capital of Kerma, with the implication that Kush was regionally quite powerful and had a strong centralized ruling class. The Egyptians traded extensively with the Kushite kingdom for their gold.

"The archaeologists think non-Egyptians called Kushites, who ruled the region, gathered gold at the site from about 2000 B.C. to 1500 B.C. and used it to trade with Egypt. “Based on what we’ve found, the kingdom of Kush was significantly larger and more powerful than anyone thought,” said Geoff Emberling, an archaeologist at the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute and co-leader of the expedition. Emberling explained most other clues of the Kushite’s reach have been inferred from written Egyptian records."

Unfortunately for the scientific team, this is likely the last chance they will have to examine the site. A dam is being built further downstream which will flood the area as soon as next year, and it is believed almost 2,500 potential sites might be in the flooded region.

Issues with "Renewable" Energy

Great article by William Tucker at The American Spectator about the myth of "renewable" energy. Energy isn't "renewable", even the Sun will run out of energy someday. The First Law of Thermodynamics posits that energy can neither be created or destroyed, it merely changes form. Great, but the Second Law of Thermodynamics posits that when energy being used to accomplish work, some of it becomes unrecoverable - to things like friction.

"In the process, however, some of the energy inevitably becomes inaccessible as "waste" or low-grade heat. Once dispersed, this energy achieves a state of high disorder or entropy. It cannot be reused, renewed, or recycled because it would take more energy to reassemble it than could be recovered."

Tucker further points out that when people talk of "renewable" energy sources, what they really mean are "inexhaustable" sources of energy. In effect, most sources of energy are related to the sun. Obviously solar power comes from the sun but also drives the water cycle, the wind, and is ultimately responsible for plant growth and thus most conventional fossil fuel energy sources derived from the breakdown of plants into petroleum and natural gas.

Solar has its uses - it is available when the need is the greatest, hot summer days, and could definitely aid us ona small scale. However, it doesn't really arrive in truly useful amounts, the kind that could be used for industrial scale purposes. Of course, we use fossil fuels for much of that, but waiting millions of years for these to be replenished isn't practical either, and there are those pesky byproducts, pollution and carbon dioxide. Biofuels aren't really a great answer either, because they compete with the alternate use of the crop as food, and buring them also releases those same pesky byproducts.

The one resource available to us that is nearly inexhaustable is that of the planet itself. Both geothermal energy and its artificially contrived corollary, nuclear power, are derived from the natural (or forced) breakdown of radiactive elements like uranium and thorium. The heat derived from these sources is transferred to water and used to drive electrical turbines. This source of energy is the only one known not dependent on the sun or solar energy stored in carbon bonds, thus it does not releasing any carbon into the atmosphere when utilized. Nuclear power is definitely the most ecofriendly of all conventional and non-conventional sources. Of course, it is also one of the most vilvified by certain segments of society, unfortunately.

Fred on Harry Reid

Over at Twonhall, Fred! busts out with a verbal smack down on the Senate Majority Leader and unsurprisingly the results are not pretty. Reid has been reported as calling Marine General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, "incompetent". Of course it goes without saying that a person rising to four star military rank and elevated to the Chair of the US military is most likely a pretty competent individual. He also stated that David Petraeus, the ground commander of the troops in Iraq, "out of touch". Petraeus literally wrote the US Army's Counter Insurgency doctrine and is one of the most highly educated generals in the US military, and is actually on the ground in country - unlike the good Senator.

"Reid has led the attack on the administration, with Nancy Pelosi, charging it lied and tricked America into supporting the war. Ignoring multiple hearings and investigations into pre-war intelligence findings that have debunked this paranoid myth, they accuse an entire administration of conspiracy to trick us into a war. I suppose that's easier for some than admitting that they've flip flopped -- but the fact that Reid says this sinister Republican plot is going to help him elect more Democrats ought to be raising a few flags. Saying General Pace is incompetent doesn't even rank near the top of his bizarre statements."

Of course, Fred also point out Harry Reid voted in support of the war back when this little shindig over in the sand got started up. He also points out that when someone in his position makes idiotic statements like the "war is lost, we can't win", etc. that our good friends over at AL-Jazeera Arab TV like to publicize it - and that makes the job of those young soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines a lot tougher.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Smallest Exoplanet May Be Too Warm for Life

Gliese 581c, the smallest exoplanet yet discovered at just five earth masses, may be too warm to support liquid water. Scientific excitement over the discovery of the planet was palpable as the planet orbits within its star's habitable zone, leading to speculation that it might harbor liquid water and be a viable candidate in the search for extra-terrestrial life. However, it appears the planet may be too warm due to an atmosphere rich in carbon dioxide and methane, leading to a runaway greenhouse effect such as that found in our own solar system on the planet Venus.

"Of the more than 200 extrasolar planets, or "exoplanets," discovered since 1995, Gliese 581c was the first found that resides within the habitable zone of its star, if only barely. The habitable, or "Goldilocks" zone is the region around a star where the temperature is neither too hot nor too cold, so water can exist on a planet's surface in its liquid state. Water is a key ingredient for life as we know it.

But new simulations of the climate on Gliese 581c created by Werner von Bloh of the Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and his team suggest the planet is no Earthly paradise, but rather a faraway Venus, where carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere create a runaway greenhouse effect that warms the planet well above 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 Celsius), boiling away liquid water and with it any promise of life."

However, those same greenhouse conditions found on Gliese 581c may also hold sway on sister planet Gliese 581d, possilby allowing for liquid water there. At eight earth masses, 581d is the second smallest planet yet found. This new data point out that the atmospheric conditions of these distant planets have to also be taken into account when searching for potential life bearing planets. One other item that leads scientists to believe there could be alien life forms in the system is that the star is relatively old and has been quite stable over the period it has been observed.

Origins of the Ancient Etruscans Pinpointed

The origin of the ancient Etruscan people of Northern Italy has long been an archaeological mystery. Their culture and artwork differs greatly from that of every other group of people living in Italy. There have been three competing theories of their origins. One holds that they arose indigenously from the North Italian plains, another that they immigrated to the area from somewhere north of the Alps, and the other that they came from the Near East, possibly Anatolia. New DNA testing of the inhabitants of the area and comparisons with other genetic evidence from the Mediterranean basin show fairly conclusive evidence of the orgin being in modern Turkey, in what was then called Lydia, (modern Izmir) along the south-eastern coast.

"The scientists compared DNA samples taken from healthy males living in Tuscany, Northern Italy, the Southern Balkans, the island of Lemnos in Greece, and the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia. The Tuscan samples were taken from individuals who had lived in the area for at least three generations, and were selected on the basis of their surnames, which were required to have a geographical distribution not extending beyond the linguistic area of sampling. The samples were compared with data from modern Turkish, South Italian, European and Middle-Eastern populations."

The mystery has been long running: the three competing theories were proposed by Classical Greek historians, and it turns out Herodotus, the father of history, was right all along about the cultures origins. The Etruscans settled in Italy during the late Bronze era, probably before 1200 BC. It is thought that a long famine in their homeland led to the migration to Italy. The culture had a profound influence on the later development of the neighboring Roman culture.

President to Veto Congressional Spending Bills

Columnist Robert Novak has learned that the President has decided to get out his pen - the veto pen, that is. Of the 12 Appropriations bills that are being sent to the President, he plans on vetoing three-fourths of them, and has the votes to sustain the vetoes. As has been widely noted, Bush did not veto any bills from the Congress when it was controlled by Republicans, although he did threaten to do so on occaision in order to bring the spending within the White House budget parameters. The only bills expected to be signed are the ones dealing with the VA and the two dealing with the actual operations of the Federal government and Congress itself.

"It is an offensive pressed on Bush by congressional GOP leaders and by his own budget director, Rob Portman, a former member of the House Republican leadership as a congressman from Ohio. Portman believes the 2006 electoral catastrophe in his state was caused mainly by Republicans losing the mantle of fiscal responsibility. Unless it is retrieved, Ohio -- and the presidency -- will go to the Democrats in 2008. By vetoes that would slice over $20 billion in Democratic spending, Bush is seeking to transform that outlook. It will trigger an epochal political struggle in the months ahead."

It's long overdue that the administration and the Republicans in Congress started to actually walk the walk on spending. Maybe the sting of the 2006 Election losses will remind them that the voters want accountability and expect the people they elect to keep their promises.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Mitt Romney Campaign Literature

No link, but I've recieved some campaign literature from the candidate, and I've been giving some blog time to others, so it's probably overdue to give a short spiel on him. Right on the heels of the Mayor's 12 point plan I get the Governor's 10 point plan in the mail. Interesting. Of course, I'm still throwing away all the crap John McCain's been sending me.

1. Defeat the Jihadists - no argument here, he suggests it will take both military and diplomatic efforts, and some attitude adjustments from Muslims. Pretty clear thinking here.

2. Compete with Asia - Aren't we already doing that? Blurb says something remotely pro-trade, welcoming investment and educating our children. Not sure what his point is, but I think we have to compete globally, not just with one particular area.

3. Stop Runaway Spending - Good luck getting the other party to agree to that one, but I do appreciate the sentiment.

4. Getting Immigration Right - wants to increase legal immigration for skilled workers, and strongly enforce the border. Best thing I've heard since #1.

5. Achieving Energy Independence - Refers to domestic drilling, conservation efforts, and alternate energy sources, just like almost every other Republican candidate.

6. Affirming America's Culture and Values - a fairly innoculous list pandering for the social conservative vote. Nice rhetorical flourishes. Not sure superpower status relies exclusively on these values, however.

7. Simplifying the Tax System - doesn't explicitly endorse making the Bush cuts permanent, but does say he wants to keep taxes low and reduce the complexity of the code, both items I favor.

8. Investing in Technology - Oh, boy. Corporate welfare. Which industries and companies do you pick? Mentions American firms spend more on tort liability than R & D, sounds to me like some justified legal reforms are long overdue rather than having my tax money being spent on solar panels or what have you so some business can bring a product to market on my dime.

9. Extending Health Insurance to All Americans - this guy is a Republican? Says it won't be a government program, but ??? What it going to cost? What if I'm young and healthy and don't like forking out half my paycheck to an insurance company?

10. Raise the Bar on Education - another UGHHH issue, the federal government's involvement with this subject has been conclusively proven to be entirely counterproductive. Says nothing about school choice or vouchers.

I can certainly tell he's from Massachussets. While I have some issues with these issues, he's almost certainly better than any Democrat with the possibly exception of Governor Richardson.
I've been getting alot of mailings from the major players beggin for money, this is the first I can recall that had the candidate's laundry list of issues. McCain's been sending me surveys for over a year, and the Mayor's sent me a number of deals as well.

I sure hope Fred gets his campaign together soon. A couple of pundits believe, like I do, that it will come down to the Mayor and Fred. Romney did not impress me before, and this list, while it has some good elements, does not inspire a great deal of confidence in the candidate from my perspective.

More on Pluto

via National Geographic.

Astronomer Mike Brown of CalTech discoverer of several Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) in the distant reaches of our solar system, has led a new analysis of the dwarf planet Eris (formerly called Xena and 2003 UB313) that places its mass firmly ahead (up to a third larger) of our old friend Pluto, demoting it not only from planet status but also as the King of the KBOs. The key was getting the mass of Eris' moon, Dysnomia.

"The key to finding Eris' mass was its tiny moon, Dysnomia. Brown and Schaller used Keck and Hubble to capture images of the moon's position over time. The data suggest that Dysnomia is Eris' only moon and orbits every 15 days. The researchers also calculated the total mass of the pair—about 1.27 times that of Pluto—and revealed that the objects are made of around 70 percent rock, making them as dense as Pluto and Triton, a moon of Neptune."

Of course, it has been Brown's work on the region that has ignited the controversy over the definition of the word planet and the status of our formerly ninth planet in the first place. However, there are still those who favor the initial IAU (International Astronomical Union) definition that would allow Pluto to maintain its planetary status, and add both Eris and Ceres (formerly an asteroid) all now both "dwarf planets". However, after much discussion, that definition was shelved in favor of another more restrictive one that resulted in the creation of the new "dwarf planet" category that the three solar objects now dubiously enjoy.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

How Wealthy is the US?

Cool site called Strange Maps has a US economic map with the names of the states replaced by the name of the nation with the nearest sized economy. (HT: QandO)

The map shows the nation with the Gross Domestic Product nearest in value to each US state. The results are pretty interesting, although it doesn't take into account the different populations (i.e., per capita GDP) , which would probably trend it even more in the favor of the US economy. The US economy is almost larger than the next four largest national economies (Japan, Germany, China and the UK) combined.

California would be the eighth largest national economy in the world (about the same as France's - ironic, isn't it) if it were its own nation, Texas tenth (about the same size as Canada's economy). If the ten largest state economies were nations, they would all rank in the current top twenty nations. Nebraska's economy is about the same as that of the Czech Republic (#44 on the world list) , Iowa's is comparable to that of Venezuela (#39). The only state that would not rank in the current world top 100 would be Wyoming, at 101, about the same is Uzbekistan.

ISS Computers Back Online

Meanwhile, on the ISS, the Russians have apparently re-established their computers controlling the environmental and maneuvering systems aboard the station. The shuttle Atlantis mission had already been extended to deal with a repair issue to a thermal blanket on the orbiter, and it was discussed that the shuttle might have had to return the station crew to Earth.

"An unexplained glitch shutdown primary Russian computers aboard the ISS early Wednesday, leaving it dependent on the station's U.S. gyroscopes and thrusters aboard Atlantis for attitude control and other primary systems. The issue left mission managers contemplating a one-day extension to the space shuttle Atlantis crew's already extended 13-day mission to give additional time to work through the glitch."

The computer glitch was speculated to have been caused by the installation of new power systems aboard the station as the shuttle crew continues its construction mission to the station. Power was restored this morning to the stations Zarya module around 7 am US Eastern time.

Mars Once Had Oceans

via National Geopgraphic.

New evidence has been analyzed by scientists, building a pretty convincing case that the planet Mars once had oceans located in its northern hemisphere. The new evidence shows that the poles of the planet have shifted, blurring the ancient shorelines as the land warped due to the centrifigal force of the planet's rotation. The researchers believe that the poles have moved as much as 1800 miles form their old position, disturbing the old shorelines of the Arabia and Deuteronilus "seas".

Now if we could just figure out where all the water went. Underground? To the poles? Lost to space? Vacuumed off by Klingons? I want to know, damn it.

A little more on this from, here.

Extrasolar Planets

via Livescience, a good article on exoplanets, and what we've discovered so far about them. Most notable is the smallest yet found, Gliese 581 C, which is about only 5 earth masses and could hold liquid water. In total, over 200 planets have been discovered orbiting other stars so far, with more being observed almost every week or so it seems. Around 25 systems have been found that hold multiple planets like our own solar system. The goal of course, is to find another planet like our own.

"The ultimate goal, say many planet hunters, is to find Earth-like planets, or those with similar masses, orbits and rocky compositions to Earth. And beyond finding the physical Earth-like attributes would be to find life. So far no "Earths" have been identified, though observatories are coming online with the sensitivity to detect small objects that orbit far from their host stars, as our planet does."

There are two principal methods of discovery, the "wobble" method, where the gravitational influence of a planet is observed in a star's light reaching Earth, and the "transit" method, where a planet crossing it's star's light reaching us here on Earth causes an observable (to a computer, anyway) decrease in the light reaching us. The wobble method has been the most successful in finding planets as the transit method depends greatly on all the astronomical bodies lining up just right. Even so, around 20 planets have been discovered using the method.

I just know the Vulcans and Klingons are out there waiting for us.

Happy Flag Day

A veteran discusses what flag day means to him, via the Orlando Sentinel (HT: RCP). He points out that while Flag Day isn't celebrated the way it probably should be, Old Glory gets a pretty good display on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veteran's Day. Further, he discusses what to him (and to me as well) is a disturbing trend in the attitudes of some citizens towards the flag.

"Some of us have even gone far enough from the basics to see our flag as a political symbol, one adopted by or representing some parts of our population and not others, something that signifies one political party, or set of beliefs, or values or one philosophy or another. I'm only 69 years old, only spent 31 of those years in a uniform under that flag, but have been around a bit and seen a fair amount. Not for one minute of those 31 years, or since, have I ever believed America's flag to represent anything other than all of us, be we rich or poor, native or naturalized, with no distinction for our station in life, our race, creed, gender, education or national origin. It is the one unifying element that has and should continue to bring all of us together in both good times and bad, in peace and in war. It is the common bond that connects us all, or should."

As a fellow citizen and veteran, I could not agree more.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rudy's Contract with America

While having thrown in with Thompson, I will still take a look at other candidates, particularly ones that also appeal to me on some level. Rudy has a 12 point contract with America he is publishing at NRO that he says he'll implement if elected. Nice talking points, to be sure.

1. He'll keep America on the offensive against terrorists.
2. End illegal immigration and identify every non-citizen in our nation.
3. Restore fiscal discipline to Washington.
4. Cut taxes and reform the tax code.
5. Impose accountability on Washington.
6. Lead America to energy independence.
7. Give Americans more control over their health care choices
8. Increase adoptions, decrease abortions, and protect children's quality of life.
9. Reform the legal system and appoint Constructionist judges.
10. Ensure every American community is prepared for a terrorist attack.
11. Give access to quality education to every American child by allowing school choice.
12. Expand American involvement in the global economy and strengthen our reputation.

Like a lot of politicians, he is strong on the rhetoric, and it all sounds pretty wonderful and I wish it all were politically possible. I just don't see how it all gets accomplished with the facts on the ground. I can see points that 1, 2, 9, 10 and 12 are definitely executive issues and can be accomplished, but 12 will be difficult to make progress on until you replace wholesale parts of the State Department and perhaps some of the other Federal agencies. Point 10 also depends a lot on the quality of local officials, which can vary a lot as hurricanes in Florida have proven to be nowhere near the problem that hurricanes in Louisiana have wound up being. Point 2 would also need some involvement with Congress, but you could at least start by enforcing the current laws, particularly those about employment.

Points 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 11 needs A LOT of help from the legislative branch, which is unlikely with the other party in power there. You'd need a change in at least one house in Congress to even get started on much of it, but all the Republican candidates face that same problem. At least points 3-5 could be partially addressed, but the others aren't really executive issues at all and would almost certainly get loaded up with crud like earmarks in the process of crafting the legislation.

6 is currently wishful thinking at best and until a market based solution is reached, there really isn't a whole lot anyone can do, although expanding our ability to drill domestically would be a good start, and the government could push for more research into some of the more promising technologies.

This is not to be overly critical of the good Mayor, just simply my critique of the usual campaign rhetoric that every candidate for every office spouts off, and I'm sure Fred and every other person running will do the same, it's just a part of the process to make campaign promises that require help from the other branches of government. You can always blame them if you don't follow through.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Oldest Jewelry Discovered in Moracco

via National Geographic.

The oldest jewlery ever found has been discovered in Moracco. The thirteen tiny clay coated shells are estimated to be around 82,000 years old and have perforations for being strung together to be worn as a bracelet or necklace. The major implications of jewelry making for human developmental history are thought to be that the symbolism involved with the creation of such artifacts is the root of modern cultures.

"In a paper published in the June issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the archaeologists suggest that the beads mark a shift in human development and the beginnings of modern cultural behavior. "We think that they were capable of thinking symbolically and able to use one thing to represent another," Barton said. Possibly the beads were used to establish group identity and indicate where certain people belonged. Similar cultural signs, such as specialized tools and personal decoration, didn't arrive in Europe until around 40,000 years ago."

Another interesting tidbit is that the animal shells used are only now native to Tunisia, hundreds of miles away, suggesting a very early exchange network between different groups, or fairly long distance travel. Similiar shells have been found as far away as Israel, and could be even older (perhaps as much as 100-135,000 years ago), although they have not been dated to the same precision as the Moraccan samples and thus are not yet claimed to be the oldest. Other samples found in Algeria are much younger (around 35,000 years), but show that the use of these shells as decorative cultural items was both long lasting and widespread.

Shuttle Mission Extended

via MSNBC.

Shuttle Atlantis has arrived at the ISS and will stay an additional two days in order to attempt to repair a damaged thermal blanket on the shuttle's main engines that was discovered Saturday on the after launch inspection the oribiter now makes because of the Columbia tragedy.

"Engineers didn’t think the intense heat when the shuttle re-enters Earth’s atmosphere could burn through the graphite structure underneath the blanket, but they worried it might cause some damage that would require repairs on the ground."

Meanwhile, despite some scheduling issues caused by overloaded station gyroscopes, the first 6 1/2 hour spacewalk has placed the 35,000 pound truss segment that will provide additional power capability to the station. Two more spacewalks are planned for ISS construction, and one more might be needed for the shuttle repairs as well.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Torre Wins 2000th Game

via MSNBC.

Mike Mussina pitched a solid six-plus innings and Alex Rodriguez hit a late grand slam to put the game out of reach as the New York Yankees defeated the Chicago White Sox 10-3 for NY manager Joe Torre's 2000th career victory. Torre has also managed the Braves, Mets and Cardinals in his career, but has enjoyed his most success wiht the Yankees, whom he has managed since 1996. He is the tenth manager to reach the milestone, and is only nine victories from moving up to ninth place on the all time victory chart, ahead of legendary manager Leo Durocher. The Yankees are now 27-31, but have won six of their last eight. They trail the evil Red Sox by a whopping 10 1/2 games.

Matters of Conscience

via Doug Bandow at NRO.

Great article on the recent decision by a Malaysian court to prevent a Malysian woman from converting from Islam to Christianity. Malaysia is obstensibly a secular state, but majority Muslim, and other faiths are "limited" and once you are identified as a Muslim, you can apparently never change faiths. Malaysia is about 60% Muslim.

"Although there is no overt persecution in Malaysia, non-Muslims face significant restrictions. The government officially promotes Islam; Muslim civil servants must attend religion courses. “Proselytizing of Muslims by members of other religions is strictly prohibited, although proselytizing of non-Muslims faces no similar obstacles,” reports the U.S. State Department. Violators may be fined and imprisoned. Moreover, “belittling Islam” comes with the risk of imprisonment under the Sedition Act."

Hence the case of one Lina Joy, a Muslim Malay that has been attending Catholic services since 1990 and was baptized into that faith in 1998. She is attempting to simply have the government recognize her change in faith but religious matters are referred from the civil courts in Malaysia to Islamic sharia courts, where a charge of apostasy can be...problematic, to say the least.

"Apostasy is a serious Islamic offense, and converts face fines and imprisonment; some offenders are “counseled” and, if they remain recalcitrant, are sent to “rehabilitation” centers in the mold of Communist reeducation camps. (Only one of the 13 states in Malaysia actually allows apostasy, and only after an attempt at “rehabilitation,” while one sets death as punishment, though no one has yet been executed.)"

Unfortunately, while Joy took her case to civil court, she has lost the case to have the government identify her as Christian at all the various levels of Malay courts. Disowned by her family and having lost her job due to the controversy, her only apparent recourse is to emmigrate. She cannot marry her boyfriend, a fellow Catholic, unless he converts to Islam, and any children they might have could be taken from them unless they are educated as Muslims.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Thompson Donations, Republican Campaign, etc.

I guess I've decided to support Fred for the Republican nomination. See the widget on the side.

Interesting news over the last couple of days is that both Rudy Guiliani and John McCain have announced that they have decided to take their toys home and won't be participating in the Iowa Straw Poll. Romney appears to be cleaning both their clocks there as of right now.

No word if Fred is going in to Iowa or not, but he did get interviewed by Larry Kudlow last night, transcript here, although the comments section seem a bit bizarre. Fred seems to be everywhere right on the web right now, which is both good news and pretty cool.

Even more on Fred from QandO's Jon Henke - he's joining the Thompson campaign, which is also excellent news, I have a lot of respect for Jon. He also points out an outstanding piece on the case for Fred made by Mike Turk at a site called Kung Fu Quip (clever sitename, BTW). All of this does nothing but reinforce my belief that Fred is the right candidate.

Global Warming Climate Modeling Flawed

via NG again.

Global climate models have apparently failed in their predictions in at least one respect - as the Earth has warmed, precipitation has also increased in a similiar fashion. Satellite imagery available since 1987 has been recently analyzed showing this to be the case.

"The results fly in the face of many of the world's most sophisticated climate models, which predict that worldwide rainfall will increase at a much slower rate than temperatures.
The findings also cast doubt on the ability of climate models to accurately predict precipitation on regional scales."

Most climate models tend to predict that dry areas will get drier, and wet ones wetter with additional warming, but the evidence does not appear to be stacking up in this fashion, which is good news for regions such as the Americna Southwest.


Polynesians Brought Chickens to South America

via National Geographic.

Polynesian sailors, already credited with discovering and colonizing most of the Pacific islands, apparently also made it to South America - explaining the mystery of how chickens arrived there before Columbus "discovered" the New World. Ancient chicken bones found at a site in central Chile have been genetically identified as coming from SE Asia, the origin of the Polynesian seafarers. The bones appear to date from the 14 or 15th centuries.

"The researchers used carbon dating on the same bone used for DNA testing. The analysis suggested the bone was buried between A.D. 1320 and 1410. These dates, which fit well with those of other artifacts found at the same site, were determined with a dating technique called thermoluminescence. The dates of the Chilean chicken bones also roughly fit with when Polynesians would be expected to have reached the Americas, since they probably traveled eastward from Easter Island, which was first settled as late as A.D. 1200."

Hoffman First to 500 Saves

San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman extended his MLB record for career saves to 500 last night. He set the record last year, bypassing Lee Smith's mark of 478. While Hoffman wasn't an immediate success with the club (fans booed him in some his early appearances), he is probably second to only long time teammate and Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn as the most recognized member of the club today. The Padres started surefire HOFer Greg Maddux last night in defeating the Dodger's Randy Wolf 5-2 at Petco Park. Geoff Blum made the game for the Pads with 4 RBIs.

"Hoffman set the career record with his 479th save on Sept. 28 against Pittsburgh, breaking Lee Smith's old mark of 478. Hoffman finished the 2006 season with 482. While noting that 500 is only 22 more than Smith's old record, Hoffman said, "It's special in its own right. I think it's like trying to compare your kids to one another. They're special in their own way."
Hoffman said he was thinking of Mark Merila, the Padres' longtime bullpen coach who has been battling a brain tumor for years and wasn't at the ballpark Wednesday night.
The right-hander was an unknown rookie with two saves when the Padres obtained him in a controversial five-player deal on June 24, 1993. It was one of the big trades of the Padres' "fire sale" that summer as they shed as many big salaries as they could. Gary Sheffield, who won the NL batting title the season before, was one of the two players who went to the Marlins in the trade."

SD is on a four game winning streak, and has won nine of its last eleven. They are currently in first place in the NL West.

First Nebraskan in Space

via Omaha's KETV, the shuttle is carrying the first Nebraskan in to space as well. Pretty cool.

The shuttle Atlantis will also carry the first Nebraskan in space, Clay Anderson of Ashland, NE to the ISS where he will take over mission specialist duties from fellow astronaut Sunita Williams. The weather report in Florida indicates a 70% chance of a launch on June 8, although there is a possibility weather could delay it. The current launch window expires June 12th. If the shuttle launches successfully tomorrow, it will return on June 19th.

Alot more on our Mr. Anderson at here. Apparently, he was a late add to the crew in order to bring Williams home at a regular ISS mission interval of about six months. He was orignally scheduled to go to the orbiting station in August on the STS-118 mission. He 's been workign with NASA since 1983 and joined the astronaut corps in 1998. He'll serve as flight engineer and science officer while aboard the ISS.

"Anderson holds a bachelor's of science degree in physics from Nebraska's Hastings College and a master's of science degree in aerospace engineering. He joined NASA full-time in 1983 to help design shuttle and ISS rendezvous and docking operations within the Mission and Planning and Analysis Division at JSC. Anderson joined NASA's astronaut ranks in 1998, where he has trained for a long-duration spaceflight from the start. He served as a crew support astronaut for the station's Expedition 4 mission, and later as a backup crewmember for Expeditions 12, 13 and 14 for the orbital laboratory."

Atlantis Readies for Launch


Shuttle Atlantis and its seven person crew is prepped and ready to go on its STS-117 construction mission to the ISS. Two rookie astronauts get their first taste of spaceflight, and also get to go spacewalking as well.

"First-time spaceflyers John "Danny" Olivas and Steve Swanson, along with five fellow crewmates, are due to launch spaceward June 8 aboard NASA's space shuttle Atlantis on a construction mission to the International Space Station (ISS)...Of the mission's three planned spacewalks, Olivas will take part in the first and third excursions while Swanson will participate in the second."

The shuttle is to deliver two trusses and an additional solar array to the station on this misison in preparation for two further construction missions later this year delivering additional Japanese and European modules to the base.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Hagel gets some Press

Meanwhile, the New York Sun begins to wonder whether or not Chuck Hagel could survive a priamry fight against Nebraska Attorney General John Bruning. Uhh...probably not, as I am a guy that voted for him....once upon a time in land far, far away. But I will never do so again, so help me God.

"It'll be interesting to see how Mr. Hagel's weakness on foreign policy plays in the American heartland when challenged by a strong candidate such as Mr. Bruning. There's been talk of Mr. Hagel mounting a Republican presidential campaign or joining with Mayor Bloomberg on an independent presidential ticket, but it looks to us as if the senator from the cornhusker state may be lucky if he even manages to hold on to his Senate seat."

Fred's Website is Up

A bit scanty today, but I'm sure more will be added over the next month.

A lot of press for Fred over the last few days as well, some of it not terribly flattering, but not terribly accurate either. See here, and a bit on his fund raising here, as well as his post Republican debate interview by Hannity & Colmes here.

Also, the Rasmussen Poll has him in second nationally among Republican candidates to Rudy, six points behind, good news on either front, in my opinion. At least both are serious about the war and growing the economy.