Friday, September 28, 2007

Baseball Standings

Well, the Superior league at least knows who has made the playoffs, while the Inferior league is still guessing. The Halos have clinched the AL West, and the Tribe has the Central, while the Evil Ones and the Cool Ones still duke it out for the East, with the Yanks trailing by two with three left to play, but both are in the playoffs. Yanks likely to take on the Tribe while Boston and the Halos mash it out in the other divisional series.

Over in the NL, it's still just about anyone's game. The Snakes lead the Priests by a game in the West, the Little Bears lead the Brew Crew by two, and the Quakers and Stupids are tied up! The WC is even more confusing - the Priests have a one game advantage, but the Quakers, Stupids and the Stones are all but a single game behind. For the last series of the season, the Quakers host the Senators, Little Bears are at Cincy, Stupids have the Fish come to town, Snakes visit the Stones, and the Priests try to bless the Brew Crew in Milwaukee. Should be an interesting weekend with all the spots still on the line.

Firefly Quote of the Day

Jayne: Mal! Looks like we got us some imminent violence!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

NASA Launches Space Probe to Asteroid Belt

NASA's Dawn space mission to the asteroid belt lifted off without a hitch this morning. The spacecraft, on a mission expected to last eight years, will visit two of the larger objects in the asteroid belt.

"Dawn is expected to rendezvous and orbit the 330-mile (530-kilometer) wide Vesta between August 2011 and May 2012, then move on to Texas-sized Ceres by February 2015. With its spherical shape and 585-mile (942-kilometer) diameter, Ceres is so large it is also considered a dwarf planet."

The mission's results are expected to give scientists much more data on the composition of both space rocks, which may shed new light on the formation of the solar system. It will be the first mission ever to visit a dwarf planet. (The New Horizons mission to Pluto will rendezvous with that dwarf planet several years after the Dawn mission visits Ceres.)

The craft carries a variety of instrumentation, including a camera, a spectrometer, and a gamma ray and neutron detector. The craft utilizes one of the most powerful solar arrays ever built, with a 65 ft wingspan capable of generating 10 kilowatts of power to operate these instruments. In addition, the craft has 3 ion engines utilizing xenon gas, which provide a gentle thrust that builds up momentum over the course of the journey and yet allows the craft to enter into orbit around stellar objects and change directions during the mission. This is the first use of this type of engine in a spacecraft by humanity, popularized by the science fiction TV series Star Trek.

Very cool, Star Trek meets NASA space probe. Excellent times we live in, not that many notice.

Economic Misconceptions

Economics Professor Bryan Caplan (of George Mason university) writes @ Reason magazine exploring the economic misconceptions of the common voter. (HT: RCP)

"the general public’s views on economics not only are different from those of professional economists but are less accurate, and in predictable ways. The public really does generally hold, for starters, that prices are not governed by supply and demand, that protectionism helps the economy, that saving labor is a bad idea, and that living standards are falling."

First, let's tackle supply and demand. Profits aren't a form of stealing from the poor to the rich, but rather a reward for providing a good or service that others are willing to pay for - they're an incentive to reduce operating costs, bring new goods to market, and propel resources into more valued market sectors. Similarly, interest is the reward to a lender for postponing his consumption so the borrower can consume today.

Prices are not set by the whim of some executive in a boardroom, nor are wages. Workers earning low wages are generally low skilled, less productive and have limited options for employment. Caplan also points out that many business strategies that would result in a quick profit are counter-productive - they wind up eliminating the business in the long run. No one will buy from a business that routinely sells shoddy products or cheats its customers.

Next, people question the benefits of trade, which on the balance appears nothing more than a bias against foreigners. Almost no one would rather spend months growing their own food than taking a few minutes to go down to the grocery store and buying their food. Specialization allows all of us to benefit - I can do what I'm good at and make money to buy stuff I can't make or don't have the time to invest to make. No one worries about a balance of trade between Omaha and Lincoln, or Nebraska and Iowa, but once you start buying stuff from foreign countries, look out!

Then there is the crazy idea that people have that making more with less effort is bad. The obvious worry is about lost jobs, but what most don't realize is that labor saving machinery frees up people to do other things. Caplan illustrates with a classic example of agriculture. In 1800, 95 out of 100 Americans worked in agriculture. In 1900, 40 out of 100 did, and today that number is 3 - and we are eating better than ever. Those 92 other people today are doing other (and much more productive and valuable) stuff - like computer programming or running an MRI machine. The same thing is just as true for the manufacturing sector today as it has proven to be for agriculture over the last two hundred years.

Finally, there is this odd perception that everything was better in Granpa's day - despite overwhelming evidence that it wasn't. Not only do we eat better, but our technology is radically improved, our water and air is cleaner, and people live far longer. In addition, the planet is not getting overcrowded and resources are actually much more readily available for most of humanity than at any time in human history. (There are places where living standards have declined - mostly places with a high degree of centralized economic planning, like Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Iran and Burma). And this brings out his last point - these misconceptions color people's views of other aspects of their lives, such as their beliefs in the political system and government.

"This pessimistic bias is a general-interest prop to political demagoguery of all kinds. It creates a presumption that matters, left uncontrolled, are spiraling to destruction, and that something has to be done, no matter how costly or ultimately counterproductive to wealth or freedom. This mind-set plays a role in almost every modern political controversy, from downsizing to immigration to global warming....
Students of economics are not blank slates for their teachers to write on. They arrive with strong prejudices. They underestimate the benefits of markets. They underestimate the benefits of dealing with foreigners. They underestimate the benefits of conserving labor. They underestimate the performance of the economy. And in doing all that underestimating, they overestimate both the need for the government to solve these purported problems and the likely efficacy of its solutions."

Great analysis, and quite sobering when examined in this level of detail. Now we know where liberals come from.

Firefly Quote of the Day

Mal: If someone tries to kill you, you just try and kill 'em right back!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Firefly Quote of the Day

Mal: [about River] She's a mite whimsical in the brainpan.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

College FB Results

No surprise last Friday, Sooners are dominant and definite contenders for a BCS game. Red River shootout on Oct. 6 likely to decide the South, OU get to warm up with some Bison meat this weekend.

First the actual upsets:

Biggest upset special Saturday was Syracuse blowing up Louisville's season, winning 38-35, sending the Cardinals staggering out of the rankings and falling to 2-2 despite 555 yds and 4 TDs from QB Brian Brohm.

The other big surprise for me personally was Virginia upending Georgia Tech 28-23, never thought the Cavs would be able to move the ball like that on the Yellowjacket D.

The Wolverines bounce back and drop formerly #10 Penn St 14-9, big win for Lloyd Carr.

Okie St (49) out gunned the biggest gun in the Big 12, Texas Tech's (45) Graham Harrell, who threw for 646 yds and 5 TDs in a LOSING effort, with the teams combining for 1300 yards in the game. Maybe the Husker D isn't so bad after all. OK< yes it really is just as bad.

Next some of the near upsets:

NU 41, Ball St 40 - Huskers avoid the upset due to a missed 55 yd FG with only a couple tics remaining. Ouch. Blackshirts looking quite inept, give up 600 yards.

Florida gets a unexpected challenge on the road from Ole Miss 30-24. This one wasn't over until a late INT and a nearly six minute drive resulted in a Gator FG to stretch the lead to 6 and almost finish off the clock.

Navy had a near thing with Duke, 46-43, and Wyoming stages a late comeback to edge Frank Solich's Bobcats 34-33. Wake takes out Maryland 31-24 and Georgia stops Nick Saban's Crimson Tide in OT 26-23. Wisconsin holds off Iowa with a late score 17-13.

In the Big 12, Kansas beats up another grade school squad (Florida International) 55-3, Mizzou continues to roll taking out Illinois St 38-17, Baylor knocks off Turner Gill's Buffalo squad 34-21, and Colorado(?) shuts out Miami of Ohio 42-0. Texas bombs Rice 58-14, while Iowa St falls due to a botched punt recovered in the end zone to Toldeo, 36-35. Mizzou and KU both have bye weeks this weekend.

Husker Reaction, Thoughts on Season

After the near debacle Saturday against Ball St, I thought it better to wait a day or two to recover my wits rather than lash out blindly, but ARGGHHHH! Part of me wants Cosgrove's head on a platter, part of me believes the team has bottomed out and that we can only get better on defense. Zac Bowman giving up his Blackshirt showed the leadership that I wish the other starting defenders would emulate. The boos this last weekend were telling - when the product on the field is so atrocious the home fans are booing their own team, there is definitely something rotten in the state of Denmark.

On the other hand, Sam Keller appears to be the real deal, and the wideouts have apparently eliminated the dropsies. If we could get the run game going to take some pressure off Sam and then find somebody (ANYBODY) to slow down the opposing running game and get some pressure on opposing QB's, we'd be fine. Unfortunately, I don't see much of that happening yet, but ISU comes to town and that should have a good confidence building effect on the team - I hope. While failing to gain bowl eligibility is almost unthinkable, it's looking as if it might become the case without another miracle or two from Sam and Co, or some senior defenders start losing their jobs in favor of some kids that actually get after the ball.

The defensive issues beg the question what makes a good defense, or what I think makes a good defense. First of all, there has to be an attitude, a swagger. A good defense gets off the ball and ATTACKS the ball like a pack of rabid hyenas and puts four or five hats on the ball carrier. QBs facing a good defense face unrelenting pressure all day long, are repeatedly hit, abused, hurried and harassed. Receivers catching the ball are leveled flat within a step of catching the pigskin. None of this is happening nor is readily apparent to begin with the current scheme and this crop of players. Unfortunatley, Cos is not likley to get fired during the season unless we fall even further off the map - like losing three or four in a row.

Firefly Quote of the Day

Mal: Jayne, your mouth is talking. You might want to see to that.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Firefly Quote of the Day

Wash: River? Psychic? Sounds like something out of science fiction.
Zoë: We live on a spaceship, dear.
Wash: So?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Firefly Quote for the Weekend

Mal: This job I would pull for free.
Zoë: Can I have your share?
Mal: No.
Zoë: If you die, can I have your share?
Mal: Yes.

Prime Real Estate

It's been awhile since I posted anything form our from our good friends at Astrobiology, but I ran across a outstanding lecture by Vicki Meadows of CalTech on what astronomers are looking for when they seek out new life on other worlds.

The first item is planetary mass - obviously if the planet is too big, then it develops into a gas giant and the atmospheric turmoil and pressure on such planets is not conducive to life developing. At least life as we know it. Interestingly enough, a rocky planet up to ten times the size of Earth might be a potential life harboring planet.

The other thing a planet would need is an atmosphere that would protect the planetary surface and allow watery oceans to develop. Oceans are important as they provide the lubricant for plate tectonics to occur, which is critical in sequestering carbon dioxide and preventing a runaway greenhouse effect. However, a world has to be large enough for plate tectonics to develop and anything less than one third the size of the Earth doesn’t cut it. So sorry, Mars. Other important attributes to the atmosphere are its reflectivity and how well it absorbs radiation to warm the planet.

“I’m sure you’ve all heard of global warming. If you don’t have plate tectonics on your planet, over very long periods of time the carbon dioxide builds up, and that leads to global warming. So it’s always nice to have enough mass to have plate tectonics. Mars, for example, doesn’t have plate tectonics –- it’s too small. You need to be about a third of the size of the Earth to have plate tectonics that function over a reasonable amount of time.

In our search for habitable planets, we also look at atmospheric composition, what the atmosphere is made of. We’ll look at how well the atmosphere reflects light, how well it absorbs radiation and warms the surface of the planet.”

In addition, the orbit of the planet is critical, as the planet needs to be at a relatively constant distance from its parent star to keep it warm. Some variability is alright if the atmosphere is thick enough, but you don’t want the temperature too warm or too cold. The other major factor is the distance from the star. A planet has to be in the star’s habitable zone where liquid water can develop, rather than freeze or boil away. The star also has to be stable over the long term to allow life to develop. Large stars run through their stellar fuel far too quickly, usually under a billion years, which isn’t likely to let one celled organisms time to evolve into higher life forms. However, the star can’t be too small either, because a small star’s habitable zone would be so close to it that a planet might become tidal locked to it and only present one side of the planet to the star.

So you need a stable, middle aged middle sized star (more than half the mass of our sun). Another item astronomers have identified is that planets tend to form more readily around stars with a high metal content. Stellar types likely to have stars are F, G, K, and M (the sun is type G). Another issue is that the habitable zone will “migrate” outward as the star ages and grows brighter over time. The Earth will fall inside the inner edge of the zone around the Sun in another 500 to 900 million years – so we’d better get on the stick and get some O’Neill colonies going pronto!

Underwater Ruins or Just Rocks?

Good article at NG explaining the controversial "ruins" off the Okinawan coast at Yonagumi. The formations, discovered in 1986, have been the subject of some study by local scientists, but apparently no systematic research has been done. The History Channel did film a TV episode at the site (History's Mysteries?) and it's pretty hard to tell just what the formations are. Japanese marine geologist Masaaki Kimura has studied the area extensivley and believes he has found evidence of human activity at the site.

"Kimura said he has identified ten structures off Yonaguni and a further five related structures off the main island of Okinawa. In total the ruins cover an area spanning 984 feet by 492 feet (300 meters by 150 meters).

The structures include the ruins of a castle, a triumphal arch, five temples, and at least one large stadium, all of which are connected by roads and water channels and are partly shielded by what could be huge retaining walls.

Kimura believes the ruins date back to at least 5,000 years, based on the dates of stalactites found inside underwater caves that he says sank with the city.

And structures similar to the ruins sitting on the nearby coast have yielded charcoal dated to 1,600 years ago—a possible indication of ancient human inhabitants, Kimura added."

However, Boston U geologist Robert Schoch, who was one of the team sent by the History Channel, believes the site is simply a natural phenomenon, the regular angles and fractures caused by natural cleavages in the sandstone and the holes and "markings" formed by wave actions against weak areas in the rock or the work of marine organisms.

Whether formed by an ancient civilization or not, the formations are still a very interesting and oddly beautiful and unique piece of the planet.

College FB This Weekend

Last night's big win for Miami over #20 Texas A & M (34-17) makes Oklahoma's earlier dismantling of the Hurricanes look even more impressive, but one has to wonder if the Aggies are for real.

Games this weekend of interest:

Friday - #4 OU travels within the state over to Tulsa. How many points will the Sooners ring up?

Early Games on Sat:

Goergia Tech travels to Virgina - how do the Yellowjackets bounce back after the loss to BC? Can the Cavaliers move the ball against the Tech D?

East Carolina takes on another big challenge in #5 W. Virginia. Can they control the Mountineer running attack? They've come close a couple of times in the past, and looked pretty solid against Va Tech a couple of weeks ago.

Army travels to #14 Boston College, who have looked great to start out the season, including a convincing win vs Ga Tech last week.

#25 Mizzou host Illinois St - how many yards does Chase throw for this week against another outmatched opponent?

Ball St @ #24 NU - pivotal bounce back game for the Huskers after getting gutted against USC last week.

Afternoon games:

Wyoming @ Ohio - both teams looking to recover following losses last week.

Texas Tech travels to Okie St for an early conference matchup. Will State get it going offensively after struggling again against Troy last week?

Michigan State @ Notre Dame - When will Charlie get the Irish O moving the ball?

#10 Penn St @ Michigan - a huge win here at home for Lloyd Carr if he can pull it off. Otherwise, it might be a lost season if JoPa embarasses the Wolverines again.

#12 South Carolina @ #2 LSU - can the ball coach pull off a huge upset against the talented Tigers in Death Valley? Biggest game of the week.

Miami (OH) @ Colorado - can the Buffs beat even a MAC squad? OU lurks around the corner next week.

In the evening (great Led Zep song, BTW):

Baylor travels to Buffalo - interesting matchup of two historically troubled programs, can Turner pull off an upset of the Big 12's weakest sister? BU has put up some big offensive number since finding a QB.

#21 Kentucky @ Arkansas - can the Razorbacks bounce back after the heartbreaker to Bama, or will the talented UK passing game put up big numbers again?

Rice @ #7 Texas - how long will it take the Longhorns to put this one away?

Iowa State @ Toledo - will Gene get his second win or will the Rockets win their first game of the season?

Florida Intl @ KU - will the Jayhawks dominate another patsy before Big 12 starts?

#22 Georgia @ #16 Alabama - can Nick Saban continue his magic against the Bulldogs in the biggest game of the week under lights?

Iowa @ #9 Wisconsin - UW looks to right the ship after a scare last week, while the Hwakeyes search for an identity after losing a hearbreaker to ISU.

#1 USC hosts Washinton St. - how long can the Cougars reasonably expect to hang with the Trojans?

Kansas St gets the week off to prepare for Texas next week.

The Rise Of Asia

via RCP, Robert Kaplan writes an excellent strategic essay at the NY Times about the rise of Asia's military powers - China, India, Japan, and Pakistan in particular. Japan, with over 100 warships, now boasts a navy three time larger than the UK, for example.

"The twin trends of a rising Asia and a politically crumbling Middle East will most likely lead to a naval emphasis on the Indian Ocean and its surrounding seas, the sites of the “brown water” choke points of world commerce — the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, the Bab el Mandeb at the mouth of the Red Sea, and Malacca. These narrow bodies of water will become increasingly susceptible to terrorism, even as they become more and more clogged with tankers bringing Middle Eastern oil to the growing middle classes of India and China. The surrounding seas will then become home territory to Indian and Chinese warships, protecting their own tanker routes."

The major issue for the US is to remain engaged, without taking sides in the multitude of territorial disputes between these new Asian powers. Traditional balance of power statecraft in this region will have to employed, but very subtly. China and several of its neighbors have shaky relationships. The US, as a Pacific power without territorial ambitions, can and should be an indispensible honest broker for the region, but we can't afford to be incapable of leveraging our own assets in the area either.

"In the vast oceanic spaces bordering the Pacific and Indian Oceans, air, sea and space power will be paramount both as means of deterrence and of guarding the sea lanes. A global power at peace still requires a navy and an air force deployed as far forward as possible. That costs money. Even with the gargantuan cost of Iraq, our defense budget is still under 5 percent of our gross domestic product, low by historical standards.

Furthermore, the very vitality of nation-states in the Pacific and Indian Oceans will take us back to an older world of traditional statecraft, in which we will need to tirelessly leverage allies and seek cooperation from competitors. Thus we should take advantage of the rising risk of terrorism and piracy in order to draw the Chinese and Indian Navies into joint patrols of choke points and tanker routes."

I think the idea here is to stay relevant in the region without stepping on too many toes, and try to find common ground on the issues that threaten civilization. I'd agree the nations in this area have alot more to gain by cooperation than they do by confrontation, but it will be up to their governments and their citizens, particularly the big bad dragon and its ruling oligarchy. A lot will depend on the actions of other nations, but it would be very wise of the US to maintain a vigilant yet postive outlook on the changes in Asia, and follow the wise words of America's last turn of the century president.

Firefly Quote of the Day

Inara: It sounds like something this crew can handle. I can't guarantee they'll handle it particularly well.
Nandi: If they've got guns and brains at all...
Inara: They've got guns.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Look at Ball State

The MAC's Ball State travels to Lincoln this Saturday to face the Huskers. Ball State has won its last three games on the road, including both this year. Facing the 80,000 plus at NU shouldn't be as intimidating for the team as you might think - the Cardinal went to the Big House last year and almost upset the Wolverines, losing by only 7 points.

QB Nate Davis is off to a very good year, going 57-107 (53%) for 8 scores and only 1 INT. RB MiQuale Lewis has 325 yds rushing on 73 carries and a score, and is also a receiving threat with 8 catches for another 129 yards (16 yds per) and another TD. Lewis had his first 100 yard effort against Navy last week as State put up big offensive numbers vs. Navy - 539 total yards including 277 in the air and 262 on the ground.

Throw in WRs Dante Love (21 receptions for 285 and 4 scores, AND 8 rushes for 77 more yards) and 6'6 matchup nightmare TE Darius Hill (14 catches for 208 yds and 2 TDs) and the Cardinal can apparently move the ball down the field. However, the kicking game is an open question; the competition between Jake Hogue and Ian McGarvey has apparently re-opened, but the incumbent Hogue appears to have resecured the job with 2 FGs, including the game winner. P Chris Miller is among the nation's best.

Defensively, State has given up the fifth most rushing yards (806) in the nation, but 521 of that came last week against the Midshipmen's option attack. However, the secondary was ranked #115 last year and a cause for concern going into the season. The linebacking corps is supposed to be the core of the D, led by Wendell Brown and Mike Dorulla. The team is allowing an average of 20 points a game.

Firefly Quote of the Day

Sir Warwick Harrow: You didn't have to wound that man.
Mal: No, but it was funny.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Duncan D. Hunter - Marine Congressional Candidate

via Human Events, the amazing story of Duncan D. Hunter, son of presidential aspirant Congressman Duncan Hunter. The younger Hunter, who has already served two tours in Iraq as a Marine, is now currently deployed to Afghanistan - but still running a Congressional campaign for his father's seat. while he is serving his tour, his lovely wife has picked up the slack, making appearances and raising funds.

"Hunter’s wife Margaret stepped in to carry the campaign on after he was called from the reserves to go overseas. Now that her Marine husband has been gone for three months, Mrs. Hunter takes on the main fundraising and campaigning responsibilities with three young children in tow. Hunter, who decided on a Congressional run before the deployment, is scheduled to return in November."

The DoD allows reservists like Hunter to campaign for office if they are deployed less than nine months, although he isn't allowed to communicate directly to voters or campaign while overseas. Great story.

Baseball Standings

With around two weeks left in the season, it's probably time to examine the pennant races. We'll start out in the exciting West of the Inferior circuit.

My Snakes are all on the plane and looking dangerous at this point, holding a narrow 1 game lead on the Priests with the former Brooklynites on the outside looking in 4 behind. Although 5 games over .500 the Stones are 6 back and we can safely ignore the Midgets and the home run king - they're 16 1/2 out.

In another exciting race, the Little Bears have another slender 1 game lead over the Barley Pops. The Redbirds have faded to 8 back, and the original Red Stockings, Corsairs and Asteroids are all 10+ games out and waiting for next spring.

Over in the east, the Stupids hold a 2 1/2 game lead over the Quakers and the Angry Natives are 6 1/2 back. The Senators and the Fish continure to duke it out for the #1 pick, 16 1/2 and 18 1/2 out respectively, although the they have some competition from the bottom feeders in the Central and the usual AL suspects.

Over in the Superior circuit, the Halos continue to rule the roost in the West, with Team Starbucks 5 back. Team Green and the Lawmen are 15 and 18 back, although neither are threatening to get the top pick.

Over in the Central, Chief Wahoo's outfit has broken open a close race, climbing to a 7 game lead over the Kittens. The Spongecakes are 15 back and it only gets worse for the White Hosiery and the Peasants, both of whom are in the running for the top draft pick at 23 and 23 1/2 out.

In the East, the Evil Ones have had their lead narrowed to 3 1/2 over the Coolest Team Ever. Team Canada is at .500 14 back and the Chesapeakans and the Ugly Fish are also involved in the arm wrestling for the top pick, 25 and 27 back. As of right now, the Uglies would have the top pick yet again.

WC standings have the Priests holding off the Quakers with a game and a half lead and the Cool Ones holding a 3 1/3 game lead over the Tiggers. Brooklyn is 3 out in the NL and Team Starbucks is fading 6 1/2 out in the AL. Yanks schedule looks promising to secure at least a playoff spot with only 2 series against the O's (first one in progress), Jays, & Rays remaining. Evil Ones have Jays (in progress), Rays, A's and Twinkies yet. However, the Yanks are on the road for the last 2 series while the Sox stay at home @ Fenway. Tiggers have 2 more vs. the Tribe, then series against the Royals, Twins, & White Sox.

Firefly Quote of the Day

[standing over his wounded opponent, refusing to kill him]
Mal: You know, they say mercy is the mark of a great man.
[stabs the man]
Mal: Guess I'm just a good man.
[stabs him again]
Mal: Well, I'm all right.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Shuttle Mission STS-120

via, all appears to be in readiness for the launch of yet another in a series of complicated shuttle missions to construct the International Space Station. The tentative launch date for the two week mission is set for October 23.

"Led by veteran shuttle flyer Pamela Melroy -- NASA's second female shuttle commander -- Discovery's STS-120 mission will deliver the Harmony connecting module to the ISS, where the cylindrical module will serve as the connecting point for European and Japanese laboratories. The crew will also move the station's mast-like Port 6 solar array tower and perch it at its permanent home on the port-most edge of the orbital laboratory's metallic truss backbone."

Also on tap is a fifth space walk to test a sticky goo like substance that may enable the astronauts to repair the shuttle's fragile heat shield tiles in case of damage. The substance is to be applied via a caulk like gun to intentionally damaged sample heat tiles identical to the ones used on the bottom of the orbiter.

College FB This Weekend

Ouch. Huskers got schooled over the weekend, falling to the mighty USC Trojans 49-31; the game was not nearly as close as the score would indicate. After taking a 10-7 lead, the Huskers allowed a seemingly endless 35 unanswered points before scoring three 4th quarter TDs. The inexplicable item for me is that the Blackshirt defense again got torn up on ground, allowing over 300 yards and 14 first downs. Sam Keller had a big day in the absence of any like minded Husker ground game, going 36-54 for 389 and 2 TDS, but also threw 2 INTs. NU drops to ten spots in the polls to #24 as a result.

Elsewhere around the Big 12:

Iowa State broke through into the W column upsetting arch rival Iowa 15-13.

Mizzou beat up on another MAC victim, this time Western Michigan to the tune of 52-24.

Texas Tech punishes Rice 59-24, with Graham Harrell again going for over 400 yds and throwing 6 TDs.

The Sooner wagon also rolled Saturday, decleating Utah St 54-3 and running up 617 yds of offense in doing so.

South Division also had yet another big win with A & M beating up on Louisiana Monroe 54-14.

The Loghorns struggle mightily against my favorite Florida school, Central Florida, eeking out a 35-32 victory against the Golden Knights.

Baylor edges Texas St 34-27, BU QB Blake Szymanski going for over 400 yards and 5 TDs, along with a pair of INTs.

Another pair of blowouts in the form of Big 12 North action was Kansas St 61, Missouri State 10 and Kansas 45, Toldeo 10, with KU QB Tim Ressing reeling off 300 yards and 4 TDs.

On the other hand, the Buffalo fall again, this time to Florida State, 16-6, despite a meager 10 FSU first downs.

Around the rest of the land:

#9 Wisconsin avoids an upset defeating The Citadel 45-31.

#10 Penn St. outmuscled Turner Gill's game Buffalo squad 45-24.

Michigan spanks Notre Dame 38-0, too bad someone had to win this one.

#8 Ohio St breaks Ty Willingham's bubble, downing the Huskies 33-14.

#17 Virginia Tech knocks off Frank Solich's Ohio Bobcats 28-7.

Florida hangs 59 points on the Volunteers to win by 39.

#16 Bama edges the Razorbacks 41-38.

#21 Kentucky outscores #18 Louisville 40-34.

Shocker of the Day: Utah 44, UCLA 6, knocking the Bruins clean out of the top 25.

NU's next opponent, the MAC's Ball State U, edged Navy 34-31.

More on them later in the week.

Where are American Jobs Growing?

Interesting article at NRO by Greg Kaza comparing the job growth rates between the Red and Blue states. He identifies 18 Blue states that voted for Gore and Kerry in the last two presidential elections, and compares them the to 29 Red states that voted for Bush. The results are perhaps not surprising.

"Total Blue-state employment growth has been only 3.3 percent during the current expansion, which began in November 2001, compared with the U.S. rate of 5.5 percent. Meanwhile, total Red-state employment growth has been 7.5 percent, more than double that of the Blue states."

Job growth has trailed the US average in 13 of the 18 of the Blue states, with only Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Delaware and Maryland exceeding the US average, with the Western states exceeding the average rate by significant margins. High tax liberal bastion states Michigan and Massachussets were the only two states to actually LOSE jobs.

Meanwhile, in the Red states, 18 of the 29 have performed better than the US average, and there is also another interesting tidbit in the analysis. The seven states without a state income tax are all on the list, with high growth Nevada leading the list. So in most of the states that let you keep more of your own money, the labor markets are doing just great.

Kaza notes that trend is not a new one, just not reported on very frequently (if at all). Perhaps the real story here is that MSM outlets are once again ignoring the facts on the ground because it doesn't meet the proper narrative (the economy is doing poorly) that their intellectual blinders force them to keep repeating.

Firefly Quote of the Day

Jayne: If wishes were horses, we'd all be eatin' steak.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Firefly Quote for the Weekend

Jayne: [to Simon] Little Kaylee here just wishes you was a gynecologist.
[Jayne laughs]
Mal: Jayne, you will keep a civil tongue in that mouth, or I will sew it shut. Is there an understanding between us?
Jayne: You don't pay me to talk pretty. Just because Kaylee gets lubed up over some big-city dandy...
Mal: Walk away from this table. Right now.
[Jayne loads his plate with food and leaves]
Simon: What do you pay him for?
Mal: What?
Simon: I was just wondering what his job is - on the ship.
Mal: Public relations.

College FB This Weekend

W. Virginia topped Maryland last night 31-14, and Air Force toppled TCU with a stunning 4th quarter comeback featuring a 71 yard TD run in the waning moments and a FG to win it in OT, 20-17. Okie St. takes on Troy tonight at Troy, interesting because it's a bit unusual for one of the big BCS conference schools to go on the road to a Sun Belt school.

Games of interest on Saturday:

Turner Gill's job gets harder as Buffalo visits #12 Penn State.

Iowa and Iowa State clash in Ames, will State win a game this year?

Frank Solich's Ohio squad also faces a tough challenge at Va. Tech.

Mizzou takes on another patsy, this week Western Michigan.

Texas Tech travels to Rice, how many TDs does Harrell throw this week?

The battle of ineptitude this weekend is Notre Dame-Michigan, both 0-2.

#22 Tennesee squares off against #5 Florida in Gainsville.

Army goes to Wake, can the Black Knights pull off the upset over the defending ACC champs, now 0-2?

Ohio State goes on the road to Washington, will Ty Willingham surprise another ranked foe?

NU's next opponent Ball St travels to Navy.

#9 Louisville faces cross state rival Kentucky, can either defense slow down the offenses?

Boston College goes to Ga. Tech for a big ACC matchup.

Utah State travels to get a spanking at Oklahoma, while Texas goes on the road to Central Florida. Will Colt & Co. go to see the mouse?

Florida St goes to Colorado to kill buffalo.

Toledo tests the high flying Jayhawks this week, are they for real?

Texas State at Baylor, La-Monroe at A & M, Mizzou St at Kanssa State are the other Big 12 games.

Then there is the big kahuna visting Lincoln. #1 USC faces off against #14 Nebraska.

USC is definitely a talented team, and gets a lot of press clippings, recruits great athletes, and is very well coached. Can NU pull off the upset? I'd like to think so, but the Huskers had better play a perfect game - no turnovers and stupid penalties.
The 3rd largest city in Nebraska will most definitely be rocking come 7 pm.

While it's not likely, the Fearless prediction is: NU 24, USC 23.
Buckle up your chin straps.

Firefly Quote of the Day

Mal: Now, you can luxuriate in a nice jail cell, but if your hand touches metal, I
swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I *will* end you.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Vietnam Memorial Vandalized

I have a pretty long fuse, but one thing that will light the volcano underneath is disrespecting the sacrifices made by our veterans in the name of freedom. And the anti-war crowd has apparently decided the way to make their political point in the nations's capital (and elsewhere) is to deface and vandalize some of our most sacred monuments. I have a particular affinity for this monument; I've visted it twice and I am named after one of the brave heroes who died trying to keep Southeast Asia out of the evil hands of Communism.

Link above to more on this story from Michelle Malkin.

via Human Events:

"Col. Harry G. Riley (US Army, Ret.) who is heading up the “Eagles” group — one of the veterans groups coming to Washington to protect the monuments this weekend said “When you see there is some type of a substance on the wall down and on the base for 50 to 60 feet, its pretty hard for me to rationalize how that could be anything other than purposeful…”

“Who ever did this, if they were trying to enrage the Vietnam Veterans, they did,” said Riley. “We have been stomped on and ridiculed and spit on simply because we went when our nation called. It wasn’t that we are pro war — when the nation called we went.”

Vandalism of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial has not occurred since 1989 said Jan Scruggs, who conceived the idea of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall and raised the money to have it built 25 years ago."

This is beneath contempt, utterly dispicable and the cowardly person(s) involved ought to be sent to a real police state (maybe my good buddy Fidel will take them) to see what a real dictatorship feels like.

Asteroid Mission Returns to Launch Pad

via, the oft delayed Dawn space probe, set to visit two of the larger asteroids in the solar system, returned yesterday to the launch pad.

"Engineers hoisted the space agency's Dawn asteroid probe atop its Delta 2 rocket at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station following a series of launch delays and scrubs earlier this summer.

"From here, the only way to go is up," said Dawn project manager Keyur Patel, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in a statement. "We are looking forward to putting some space between Dawn and Mother Earth and making some space history."

The probe, delayed from a July lift-off by bad weather and to allow for the launch of both the shuttle's last mission as well as the the Mars Polar Lander, should rendezvous with the asteroid Vesta in 2011 and later the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest rock of the asteroid debris filed found between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Reagan and Fred Thompson

Long time Reagan foreign policy advisor Richard Allen compares Reagan and Fred Thompson at NRO - and believes the similarities outweigh the differences. In fact, he believes Thompson to have more foreign policy experience than did Reagan when he ran in the 1980 election, given Fred's role on the International Security Advisory Board and his work with the American Enterprise Institute.

"Reagan clearly set the gold standard for modern conservatives; one only needs to watch the Republican candidates lay claim to positions “identical to Ronald Reagan’s,” appeal to his presidency as a model and strive to appear as friendly and outgoing, able to work effectively with everyone to understand this Republican “fact of life.” I have known Thompson for many years, have met and spent time with him since, and conclude that he’s the genuine article. He also has in his wife, Jeri, as did Reagan in Nancy, a well-informed and capable partner. There will likely never be another Reagan in our times, but in my own experience, lawyer-senator-actor Fred Thompson may well be providing the closest approximation for 2008, and that’s not an unworthy or invidious comparison."

With every Republican in the race trying to adopt the Reaganesque mantle, it's interesting to see what someone who worked for Reagan and knew him well thinks. Of course, Fred's acting career evokes the comparison, but Allen also notes both men's communication skills and also notes the parallels in their evolving positions on the abortion issue, positions that evolved through their own personal convictions, not changed for electoral purposes at the 11th hour to gain votes.

Firefly Quote of the Day

Wash: I've been in a firefight. Well, I was in a fire. Actually, I was fired from
a fry-cook opportunity.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Firefly Quote of the Day

Jayne: Well, I don't like the idea of someone hearing what I'm thinking.
Inara: No one likes the idea of hearing what you're thinking.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Firefly Quote of the Day

Book: I'd forgotten - you're moonlighting as a criminal mastermind now.
Simon: Yes; I'm thinking about growing a big black mustache. I'm a traditionalist.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Thoughts on the Weekend College FB

Well, the Huskers survive a very scary trip to Wake Forest, 20-17. A W is still a W, but I have to express a lot of disappointment with the play of the offense. Sam Keller looked very shaky at times with a couple of fumbles and 2 INTs, and the wideouts showed hands of granite on at least a half dozen occaisons. The O-line did a poor job of clearing lanes for Marlon Lucky (although some credit must be given due to the stout Wake run defense) but my biggest criticism is for the coaching staff. Coach C chose to call a very predictable game in his play selection, particularly on 3rd down, where NU was a miserable 3 of 15! A great deal of credit must be given to the Blackshirts for repeatedly stepping up to save the game, although I would have liked to see the adjustment to stop the WR end around a little earlier than mid way in the 3rd quarter, Coach Coz.

Around the Big 12, Oklahoma looked pretty scary blasting Miami, and Texas did not impress against TCU. A & M barely held on against Fresno, blowing a 19 point lead to survive in multiple OTs. Mizzou jumped out to a lead against Ole Miss and then nearly gave it back, allowing over 500 yards of offense by the Rebels. KU blew out yet another weak opponent (SE Lousiana), while ISU lost to one (Northern Iowa). Baylor secures a victory against Rice, while Tech goes wild on UTEP in the second half after trailing, with Graham Harrell going 48-64 for 4 TD passes and nearly 500 yards passing. Okie St recovers from the Georgia loss by smoking Florida Atlantic, Kansas St wins convincingly against San Jose St, and CU blows a 14 point first quarter lead to Arizona St and drops 33-14.

Around the rest of the nation, LSU looks VERY good in taking down VA Tech 48-7, West VA struggled a bit early but downed Marshall 48-23, Florida puts a bunch of points away on Troy 59-31, Wisconsin struggled mightily with UNLV 20-13, Cal holds off Colorado St 34-28, Penn St manhandles Notre Dame 31-10, Michigan gets crushed by Oregon 39-7, Ohio State looks sloppy in a 20-2 win over Akron, and Hawaii's Colt Brennan barely manages to keep Hawaii undefeated in throwing 43-61 for 548 and 4 scores against Louisiana Tech in eaking out a 1 point win, 45-44 in OT.

A number of upset specials this week - Washington knocks off Boise St 24-10, Georgia falls to South Carolina 16-12, and Auburn gets clipped by South Florida 26-23. Huskers move up to #14 in both polls at a result.

Upcoming NU opponent USC had the week off, and the last non-conference opponent, Ball St, won pretty convincingly on the road at Eastern Michigan, 38-16. Turner Gill's Buffalo program downs Temple 42-7, and Frank Solich's Ohio Bobcats also gut out a win over Louisiana - Lafayette 31-23.

More on USC later in the week.

Firefly Quote of the Day

Jayne: Hey, do you have any funny whorin' stories?
Inara: Oh, do I ever. Funny and sexy. You have no idea. And you never will.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Firefly Quote for the Weekend

Wash: So... two days in a hospital. That's awful. Don't you just hate doctors?
Simon: Hey.
Wash: I mean, present company excluded.
Jayne: Let's not be excluding people. That'd be rude.

College FB This Weekend

A couple of minor surprises last night, with Oregon State getting spanked by Cincinnati 34-3 and #8 Louisville having some real difficulty slowing down the Sun Belt Conference's Middle Tennessee State, with Louisville winning a slugfest 58-42. The two teams combineds for almost 1300 yds of offense and 13 TD's.

Tonight, #15 Rutgers hosts Navy and their option orineted running game. Rutgers won 34-0 last year and held the Midhsipmen to only 113 yards in that game.

Early & Afternoon Games of Interest on Saturday:

Miami (FL) at #5 Oklahoma - can OU's running game establish itself against a more capable opponent, or will Sooner QB Sam Bradford be forced to go more to the air than last week? UM has lost its last two road openers.

Buffalo at Temple - this might be Temple's best shot at winning a game this year.

#22 Boise State at Washington - Bronco's putting their nation leading 15 game win streak on the line against Ty Willingham's best looking UW team so far.

Oregon at Michigan - How do the Maize and Blue bounce back from last week's debacle?

Fresno State at #23 Texas A & M - Can A& M QB Stephen McGee repeat last week's success and will the Wrecking Crew defense step up after allowing over 400 yards to Montana State?

Evening Games:

Notre Dame @ #14 Penn St. - Can Charlie Weiss get the Irish offense untracked against Joe Pa?

Missouri at Mississippi - Can the Tigers D step up and stop anyone? Will it matter if Chase Daniels lights up the Rebel's D?

#19 TCU @ #7 Texas - will the real Colt McCoy show up this week or will the Horned Frogs surprise?

Hawaii @ Lousiana Tech - how many TD will the other Colt throw in the first half this week?

VA Tech @ LSU - will Tech be able to move the ball on the Tiger's talented D? Can LSU QB Jeff Flynn mix it up as well this week against the almost equally talented Tech D?

Colorado @ Arizona State - will Rudy Carpenter or Cody Hawkins step up bigger in the late late late show (game starts at 10:15 Eastern).

Look at Wake Forest

NU opponent Wake Forest is the reigning ACC Champs and coming off a historic 10 win season for the program. Wake lost to Boston College 38-28 last week, and also lost starting QB Riley Skinner, but fellow sophmore Brett Hodges filled in admirably last week, going 17-23 for 130 yards with a TD but also a costly INT. WR Kenneth Moore grabbed 15 receptions last week, so look for NU to keep a close eye on the senior.

The Demon Deacons running game, however, was non-existant last week, with neither Micah Andrews or Kevin Andrews gaining more than 10 yards despite what appears to be a pretty decent o-line including 3 seniors and a RG tipping the scales at 360 lbs.

On defense, Wake employs a standard 4-3 scheme that is stout upfront but likely to be missing DE Matt Robinson. The LBs, all juniors, appear to have good size and range, particularly SAM LB Adam Curry, who led the Deacons with 11 tackles last week. The secondary is a cause for concern as BC ripped them for over 400 yards passing last week.

I'd look for the Huskers to mix it up a bit more offensively this week due to Wake's run defense, especially with the return of WR Maurice Purify. Coach C may try to utilize the passing game to set up the run rather than the reverse. On defense, I see the Blackshirts stepping up and making Wake one dimensional and then pinning their ears back and getting after Hodges. NU appears to be healthy with Ty Steinkuhler making the trip, although he may not start due to the lingering effects of last week's knee injury, being listed as day-to-day.

While NU has had road woes in the past, I don't think Wake matches up very well against the physical Huskers, and new kicker Adi Kunalic's kickoffs almost certainly insures Wake will have to drive the length of the field to score. I think NU will go for a more balanced approach offensively, still control the clock and get the Wake QB off his game by bringing a lot of heat.

Fearless prediction: NU 38, Wake 17.

Firefly Quote of the Day

[flipping through Simon's journal]
Jayne: "Dear diary: Today I was pompous and my sister was crazy...
Today we were kidnapped by hill folk, never to be seen again. It was the best day ever."

Thursday, September 06, 2007

New Theory on Dinokiller Impact

Now for a little science post, from National Geographic.

The dinosaur killing meteorite that hit the Yucatan penninsula 65 million years ago might have been the result of an cosmic event from far earlier - a collision far out beyond Mars between two enormous asteroids. This family of asteroids, the Baptistina (who knew asteroids had families?) family caused by this collision spewed fragments throughout the solar system, one of which might have been the K-T impactor, which is the reference used to identify the impact event dividing the Cretaceous and Tertiary geologic periods on Earth thought to have ended the Age of Reptiles.

"The new discovery was an accident, said study leader William Bottke of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. "We didn't actually set about to track down the K-T impactor," Bottke said. Rather, his team of U.S. and Czech scientists stumbled onto the find while studying a group of asteroids called the Baptistina family. By studying the Baptistina asteroids' orbits, Bottke's team concluded that the group was formed in a collision about 160 million years ago."

The collison that caused these fragments is thought to have occurred between two space rocks, one around 100 miles in diameter, the other about 40 miles, and resulted in the creation of approximately 300 fragments greater in size than 6 miles, the estimated size of the K-T impactor. Another of these Baptistina fragments may have also impacted Earth's moon, resulting in the famous Tycho crater on Earth's satellite, 110 million years ago, and may be the cause of as much as 20% of the near Earth asteroids found today.

Very interesting how the orbital data from today can allow us to examine the very distant past.

Fred Video Announcement

Fred first announced on Leno last night, and now has a new video announcement on his web site, click the link above. Some first thoughts:

Fred is a strong Federalist, and makes no apologies for it, and in fact criticizes the growth of the federal bureaucracy, and mentions the report his Senate committee released critical of gevernment in 2001, and potential remedies. He also has a healthy respect for private property and the free market, and the role of the US for good around the world.

He also mentions his observations of the two judicial camps and prefers the one that believes the Constitution shouldn't be altered from the bench. He also makes an often ignored point - that Iraq and Afghanistan are two fronts on a much wider conflict, one in which the enemy has the potential to threaten American citizens and American interests worldwide.

Firefly Quote of the Day

Book: If you take sexual advantage of her, you're going to burn in a very
special level of Hell, a level they reserve for child molesters and people who
talk at the theater.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Thoughts on the Weekend

New College FB polls are out, and we have had some significant movement due to last weekend's games. The big news of course, was giant slayer Appalachian State going into the Big House in Ann Arbor and shocking the Wolverines, who fell completely out of the Top 25 from #5. The Huskers moved up a few spots to #16/17 (AP/USA) after their impressive victory over Nevada, and have the nation's top rusher in Marlon Lucky and the top rushing offense in the land after one game. Earlier this week, Coach C also got himself a nice five year contract extention with a nice quarter million raise as well.

I watched parts of several games over the holiday weekend as well as the Husker game, and will also take a quick look at the Big 12. The only way the weekend would have been better is if CU had lost like ND and UM.

East Carolina looked pretty stout on defense but had problems moving the ball against VA Tech, which definitely needs to figure out how to run the ball but will have a pretty stiff test against LSU this weekend.

Notre Dame looked really pathetic losing to Georgia Tech, could not move the ball whatsoever or slow down the Yellowjackets. Domers go to Penn St this weekend, then play UM the week after, Charlie may wind up 0-3 if he can't get something going.

The big Tennessee-Cal matchup wasn't, Cal pretty much ran away with it, and Tennessee falls all the way to #24 in both polls. Hawaii's Colt threw 6 TDs in the first half, looks like a strong Heisman candidate. FSU-Clemson looked all Clemson until a late rally by FSU fell just short.

In Big 12 action, Colorado survived in OT against in state rival CSU, but didn't look particularly inmpressive, although new QB Cody Hawkins performed pretty well. The Buffs D will have to step up for the team to be succcessful facing Oregon this weekend.

Missouri had its hands full with Illinois, jumped out to a big lead and the Tiggers D nearly squandered it. They should look better this week against UNLV - but it is Mizzou.

K State looked pretty decent against Auburn, holding a lead into the 4th quarter before falling, but you have to wonder how good AU really is after their lackluster performance. Mildcats face another test this weekend vs. Michigan State.

Okie St did not ever get on track at Georgia on either side of the ball, but look to bounce back this week against Florida Atlantic.

KU looked very good against MAC champ Central Michigan, putting up over 500 yards of offense and giving up only a single TD. They get SE Louisiana this week, so expect more of the same.

Oklahoma looked very impressive against weak competition, and UT didn't, but OU moves up to #5/6 in the polls with UT at #7 in both. A&M and Tech both won as expected and A&M moves up both polls to #23. Also as expected, Baylor lost to TCU.

This week's NU opponent, Wake Forest fell to Boston College 38-28, gave up over 400 yards in the air, and may have lost their starting QB for this week's game to a separated shoulder.

More later in the week.

Firefly Quote of the Day

Mal: In case that happens it means he's the fellow who killed me and I don't like the fellow who kills me, not in general.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Firefly Quote of the Day

Mal: One of those will feed a family for a month. Longer if they don't like their kids too well.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Firefly Quote of the Day

Simon: I've never shot anyone before.
Book: I was there son. I'm fairly sure you haven't shot anyone yet.