Friday, November 30, 2007

Fletch Quote for the Weekend

Detective #2: Got a gun, creep?
Fletch: Shamu's got one, borrow his.
Detective #2: [searching Fletch] What have we here?
Fletch: That's my dick.

Breakthrough in Heavy Oil Recovery

via ScienceDaily, the story of a fantastic new method of recovering previously difficult (and expensive) to extract heavy oil deposits. This new method, developed in Britain, has been in the works for almost 17 years, with the necessary breakthroughs occuring just in the last 18 months. Called THAI (Toe to Heel Air Injection), it utilizes the injection of air into the ground and then igniting it, heating the material and allowing the oil to be recovered more easily. The method not only uses less energy than previous methods using natural gas and water, it also expands the percentage of oil recoverable from the field.

"THAI™ uses a system where air is injected into the oil deposit down a vertical well and is ignited. The heat generated in the reservoir reduces the viscosity of the heavy oil, allowing it to drain into a second, horizontal well from where it rises to the surface. THAI™ is very efficient, recovering about 70 to 80 per cent of the oil, compared to only 10 to 40 per cent using other technologies."

The exciting prospect behind this is that there is far more of this more difficult to extract oil in areas such as Canada than there is of the usual "light" oil in the entire Arabian penninsula. The process is already being used in a Canadian test site on bitumen deposits (even harder to produce from than oil shale or tar sands) is producing 3,000 barrels a day, and this is expected to more than triple in capacity soon, with the potential to grow as high as 100,000 barrels daily. The bitumen at this particular site alone holds as many as 2.6 billion barrels of oil. The other amazing item is that the THAI system is economical at prices as low as $10 a barrel.

With oil prices currently almost $100 a barrel, and these deposits available in more politically stable locations, this new extraction method promises to help us bridge the gap until better energy alternatives (like hydrogen) become available.

Fletch Quote of the Day

Fletch: Mr. Stanwyk's parents Marvin and Velma of Provo, were unable to attend the wedding. Those are
three names I enjoy; Marvin, Velma, and Provo.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Husker Reaction, Thoughts on Season

Well now I've gone and done it - I decided to look into the Husker season statistics. The defense, as has been noted by everyone, was (ahem) historically atrocious - yards and points allowed, most first downs allowed, fewest sacks and turnovers, you name it, it stunk. One has to wonder how the season would have gone had the defense been even average.

However, the offensive numbers were pretty darn good, so the new coaching staff will have some things to work with assuming they can keep the kids in school and out of troubles off the field. So let's review a bit.

Sam Keller is obviously gone with his 2400 yards and 14 TDs (with 10 INTs) on a 63% completion percentage, but we return new cult hero QB Joe Ganz, he of the school records for passing and total yardage and passing TDs in a game. Joe went over 1400 yards and 16 TDs on 58 percent passing and 7 picks. I'm thinking as long as the new coach has any passing game credentials, he can use the very mobile Ganz in a variety of ways, including the spread.

The running game was often ignored over the course of the season due to the defensive struggles, but junior Marlon Lucky went for over 1,000 yards on the ground with 9 TDs and averaged almost 5 yards a tote. Freshman Quentin Castille and Roy Helu both averaged over 4.5 yards a pop as well, and Castille had 4 TDs. The intriguing part is Joe Ganz went for 4.7 yards a carry and had 3 TDs running as well. I'd also note that the "missing" in action Cody Glenn also returns, as well as the redshirted Marcus Mendoza, so the stable is pretty full. I'd also note none of the players listed as FB got a single rushing attempt all season long, although they were involved in the passing game to a small degree. FB Thomas Lawson had 3 receptions, all for TDs.

In the receiving game, we lose the very talented Mo Purify, who led the team in receiving yardage with 814 on 57 receptions and had 9 scores, as well as Terrence Nunn (35 catches for 452 yards and one score) and Franz Hardy (15 for 305 and 3, along with a nifty 20 yard per catch average). However, the third and fifth leading recievers, Nate Swift (36-520-3, 14 yd average) and Todd Peterson (18-359-5, almost 20 per catch), both return, along with the leading receiving TE, Sean Hill (18-288-3 16 yd average). Lucky was also the team leader in receptions with 75 for 705 and 3 scores. Of the underclassmen, Menelick Holt had a 24 yd per catch average, and frosh Niles Paul, as well as TE Mike McNeill are likely to get into the receiving rotation next season.

Assuming the new staff can get the D straightened out to any extent, what I'd like to see is a little more balance in the offensive attack, possibly utilizing Ganz's running skills and getting the bigger backs (Glenn and Castille) to chip in a few more carries when appropriate as Lucky had just under half the total carries last year. It would also be nice to get Helu some additional experience as we did this year and to see what Mendoza can do, perhaps in the return game. Hopefully Holt can step into Purify's shoes as the big passing target (he's 6'4) and the young wideouts will get some experience and we can firm up the number 2 QB spot (Witt? Lee? Davis?)so the cupboard isn't bare for 2009. With 8 home games next year, including the first 5, I'd like to think a winning record and a bowl game aren't out of the question - 7-5 or 8-4? Anything more after this season would almost be too much to think about.

BEA Releases Q3 GDP

Bureau of Economic Research released revised Q3 GDP numbers this morning, and they are SMOKING - as Larry Kudlow, says, it's a Goldilocks economy, not that you'll ever see the mainstream media ever admit it.

"Real gross domestic product -- the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States -- increased at an annual rate of 4.9 percent in the third quarter of 2007, according to preliminary estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter,real GDP increased 3.8 percent. The GDP estimates released today are based on more complete source data than were available for the advance estimates issued last month. In the advance estimates, the increase in real GDP was 3.9percent (see "Revisions" on page 3)."

Fantastic numbers, best in several years if they hold up through the future revisions (the BEA periodically goes over the numbers as additional data is compiled and revisions often happen years down the road, but the quarterly numbers are a very good indicator of how the economy is doing overall).

Fletch Quote of the Day

[Fletch is driving in the car with the Teenager]
Fletch: I always use a little chewing gum on these rides. It filters out the pollutants.
Teenager: [Fletch swerves to avoid another car] Oh shit!
Fletch: Of course you've got some good grillwork there to keep out the ozone. I gotta get this thing up
to 95, uh, check out the fluorocarbon output.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fred's Tax Reform Plan

The Wall Street Journal examines Fred's tax reform plan announced Sunday on Fox, which is simply outstanding.

Fred's plan is to:

Eliminate the Alternative Minimum tax and the Estate tax.

Lower the Corporate tax rates to no higher than 27% from the current 35%.

Make the Bush tax cuts permanent, permanently extend small business expensing
and update and simplify depreciation schedules.

All this and here's the kicker -

As well as introduce the option for taxpayers to pay their taxes at a flat rate of either 10% (for single earners earning under $50,000, or $100,000 for a couple) or 25% for those earning more than those figures, while eliminating most deductions, or stay with the current system. Some 20 mostly European nations have Flat Tax rates of between 13 and 25 percent. TOUCHDOWN!

"Mr. Thompson's plan is based on one introduced by GOP Representatives Paul Ryan and Jeb Hensarling that is in any case not designed to lose revenue. It is intended to allow federal receipts to grow at the rate of the economy, which would leave them at some 18% or 19% of GDP--roughly their average of recent decades. When critics object to revenue losses, they are really saying that the tax share of GDP should be allowed to rise to 20% and higher, which is where we are headed if the Bush tax rates expire."

The Club for Growth's Pat Toomey had this to say:

“While other candidates have adopted pieces of this plan, Thompson goes a step further by offering a specific corporate tax reduction and offering taxpayers the option of a simple tax plan,” said Club for Growth President Pat Toomey. “His plan is based on the fundamental fact that lower rates and simpler rules across the board promote economic freedom and enhance economic growth. This is the kind of plan economic conservatives can rally around.”

I'm really looking forward to the results of the Republican debate tonight.

So far Fred has announced an immigration reform plan, this new tax reform plan, Social Security reform, has a plan to expand the military and fight the global war on Islamic fundamentalism, come out strongly for an individual interpretation of the 2nd Amendment, and denounced government run healthcare, among other critical issues.

Fletch Quote of the Day

Fletch: (singing)Strangers in the night, exchanging clothing, strangers in my pants...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fletch Quote of the Day

[Fletch has just been incarcerated by the chief of police]
Fletch: Can't keep me here, chief.
Chief Karlin: Maybe I'm not going to keep you in here. Maybe I'm going to blow your brains out.
Fletch: Well, now, I'm no lawyer, but I do believe that's a violation of my rights.

Monday, November 26, 2007

"Peak Oil" Myth Debunked Again

via Canadian (?) Globe and Mail, a very illustrative article reporting on a US government report again debunking the "Peak Oil" myth that the world is running out of petroleum. (HT: McQ of QandO fame) The real facts are that there is more oil left in the ground in North America than we've removed in all the years of pumping oil out of the ground.

"On the one hand, it says, the country has already consumed, in 150 years, 446 billion barrels of its own fossil-fuel endowment. On the other hand, it says, the country has 8.59 trillion barrels left - or more "oil equivalent" than the rest of the world combined. More than 95 per cent of America's oil reserves, in other words, are still in the ground."

The key here is the word "oil equivalents" - resources like oil shale and tar sands from which black gold can be extracted, albeit at a higher price than sweet light Texas crude. There are 3.5 trillion barrels of such resources in Canada alone, and the US also has a 260 billion ton supply of coal, which can be (and has been since the WW2 - note Nazi Germany) liquified as an unconventional fuel supply economically at world oil prices as low as 40-50 dollars a barrel. The US coal alone could supply the US electricity needs for the next 250 years at the current usage of 1.1 billion tons per year. Who compiled the report, you ask? Your US Congress via the much maligned Energy Act of 2005, that's who.

"Mandated by the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005, the 11-member Strategic Unconventional Fuels Task Force submitted its final report in September. Its members include the U.S. secretary of energy, the secretary of defence and the governor of Colorado, Bill Ritter, who was in Alberta just last week checking out oil sands technology partnerships."

The report indicated that the US could supply over a third of its fuel needs from these unconventional sources by 2035, and the US military could switch its 300+ million barrel a day fuel habit to these sources by as early as 2011. The report indicates the US could save as much as $130 billion a year in import costs by swwitching to these oil alternatives, reducing imports to around 3.65 million barrels a day, one quarter of current levels.

Fletch Quote of the Day

Fletch: I saw Alan this morning and you know what I can't figure out?
Gail Stanwyck: Alan's in Utah.
Fletch: I... can't figure out what I was doing in Utah this morning.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Callahan Fired

Rare weekend post due to the happenings at the alma mater.

Just finished watching the press conference where UNL interim AD Tom Osbourne announced that Husker Head FB Coach Bill Callahn has been fired, as expected. Bottom line, two losing seasons out of four just doesn't get it done in this neck of the woods. The nine assistants will continue to work on recruiting and will be under contract through January 2009, with NU making up any difference in pay from their current levels if they wind up taking another job later elsewhere.

Osbourne said he has not talked to anyone about the head position yet, but he has had an unnamed individual or firm approach some coaches to gauge interest in the job if it opened up. The head coach will make all decisions on all current or potential assistants according to Osbourne, but he also said that he would give his opinion if asked about particular individuals that he is familiar with from past experience.

Coaches with Nebraska ties are expected to be among those that might be interested in either the head job or position coaching spots, but the search will not be exclusive to such persons. Osbourne said the most important factor in the search would be finding someone of integrity, and one that knows football and can motivate the players. The Lincoln Journal-Star is reporting that Bo Pelini has been contacted through an Atlanta search firm, but that report could be just another rumor - but I'd certainly welcome Bo back to Lincoln with open arms.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fletch Quote of the Day

Stanton Boyd: What kind of a name is Poon?
Fletch: Comanche Indian.

Absolutely had to save this one for Turkey Day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fletch Quote of the Day

Fat Sam: I got some reds.
Fletch: You don't mean communists, do you, Sam?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sea Level Rise Led to European Farming

via National Geographic, the theory that the melting of the North Amercian ice sheet at the end of the last Ice Age 8000 years ago may have inadvertently led to the expansion of farming in Europe shortly afterward, as well as the myths generally known today (via the Hebrew Bible) as "Noah's Flood". Rationale? The increase in the ocean levels might have initiated the flooding of the Black Sea basin, which has a substantial amount of evidence of early farming settlements.

"Scientists have speculated for some time that the biblical account of Noah's flood was rooted in a real event thousands of years ago. One theory is that it could have been a flooding of the Black Sea, an inland sea wedged between southeastern Europe and the Anatolian peninsula. Such a flood could have been caused by the melting about 8,000 years ago of a gigantic ice sheet that once covered most of North America. The deluge may have also contributed to an explosion in European agriculture—especially throughout inland regions near the Black Sea, where farms were previously scarce, the researchers found."

Sonar maps show the shoreline of an ancient lake some 100 meters below current water levels of the Black Sea today. Once these low level areas around the Black Sea were flooded, the theory is refugees from the area evacuated to Europe where they spread the agricultural methods and technologies known today as the Neolithic Revolution. The transistion of the Black Sea from freshwater to salt has been narrowed to around 8,300 years ago. The number of archaelogical sites with evidence of farming in southeastern Europe expands greatly in the period from 8,200 to 7,300 years ago, fitting neatly into the the proposed explanantion.

What My Pizza Says About Me

You have a hearty appetite. You are likely to complain if a restaurant has small portions.

You consider pizza to be bread... very good bread. You fit in best in the Midwest part of the US.

You like food that's traditional and well crafted. You aren't impressed with "gourmet" foods.

You are dependable, loyal, and conservative with your choices.

You are cultured and intellectual. You should consider traveling to Vienna.

The stereotype that best fits you is guy or girl next door. Hey, there's nothing wrong with being average.

Fletch Quote of the Day

Fletch: I had to keep digging... without a shovel.

Monday, November 19, 2007

US Military and Desertion

The liberal press is at it again - this time claiming that members of the US military are deserting rate has climbed 80% since the start of the Iraq campaign. Alan Fraser at The Americna Thinker pokes holes big enough to drive a tank through the claim.

First the bad news, as reported by AP reporter Lolita Baldur headlined ""Army Desertion Rate Up 80 Pct. Since '03."

"Soldiers strained by six years at war are deserting their posts at the highest rate since 1980, with the number of Army deserters this year showing an 80 percent increase since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003....While the totals are still far lower than they were during the Vietnam War, when the draft was in effect, they show a steady increase over the past four years and a 42 percent jump since last year....Army desertion rates have fluctuated since the Vietnam War - when they peaked at 5 percent."

OK but percentages can be pretty tricky things - if one guy deserts out of 1,000 soldiers, and the next year two do, there you have a 100% increase in desertions!
Another note is that the historical total force has had a substantial fluctuation in numbers over the years. The best objective measure would be to examine the rate of desertions rather than the total numbers.

Fraser explains the historical record, as well as noting that this reporter apparantly doesn't know the difference between desertion and being AWOL - the AP article repeatedly refers to the AWOL rate, which is not the same as the desertion rate. AWOL is simply being absent without permission (with attendent penalities under the UCMJ, but most likely returning to duty at some point), while desertion is the much more serious offense of leaving and never returning to your unit.

Fraser looks at the rate per 1000 people in uniform from Fiscal years 1997-2004 for the Army and Marines and notes that the rate of desertion went from 4.58 per 1000 in 1997 to 9.50 per 1000 Army soldiers in 2001 - before the war in Iraq. The Marine rate peaked in 2000 at 11.66 in 2000. The three years 2000-2002 all had higher Army rates than being reported today, and the 2004 rate was 4.91 per thousand - the second lowest of the period. It is this historically low 2004 number that Baldur(apparently unable to keep fiscal years straight) refers to when claiming her 80% increase. The current Army rate of 7.6 is the same number as the figures given for 2003.

In an even more broad historical context, Fraser notes that WWII desertion rates were far, far higher than those today.

"Desertion during World War II was no less a problem than in previous wars. Desertion rates peaked at 6.3% [that's 63 per 1,000] in 1944, but dropped to 4.5% [45 per 1,000] the following year. During the war, 21,049 soldiers were sentenced for desertion..." Desertion And the American Soldier: 1776-2006, Robert Fantina, Page 116."

As Fraser points out, the rate was also much higher in Vietnam and Korea than it is today, most likely because of the draft. How many members of the current US military have been drafted? Ah, that number would be ZERO - it is an all-volunteer force. The AP report mentions Vietnam only briefly, and the other 20th centruy conflicts not at all.

Again, what we have here is an obviously liberal reporter that can't get even simple facts straight, knows little or nothing about the military or its history and one who has a political agenda slanting their reporting in an attempt to foist a sense of hopelessness and demoralization in the American public and ruin their confidence in the military and their mission.

Fletch Quote of the Day

[after Fletch gets kicked in the crotch]
Gummy: Are you okay?
Fletch: Yeah. I feel like a hundred dollars.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Fletch Quote of the Day

Fletch: Well, the traffic was murder, you know. One of those manure spreaders jackknifed on the Santa Ana.
Godawful mess. You should see my shoes.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fletch Quote of the Day

Pathologist: Ever seen a spleen that large?
Fletch: No, not since breakfast.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Another Hydrogen Article

Another interesting tidbit on a hydrogen economy also at SD - researchers at Penn State have developed a new method of extracting hydrogen from cellulose and other organic materials.

"The researchers used naturally occurring bacteria in a microbial electrolysis cell with acetic acid -- the acid found in vinegar. Acetic acid is also the predominant acid produced by fermentation of glucose or cellulose. The anode was granulated graphite, the cathode was carbon with a platinum catalyst, and they used an off-the-shelf anion exchange membrane. The bacteria consume the acetic acid and release electrons and protons creating up to 0.3 volts. When more than 0.2 volts are added from an outside source, hydrogen gas bubbles up from the liquid."

Water hydrolysis, the most common method of hydrogen production, is only 50 to 70 percent efficient, but this new process is being rated at 144%! The researchers suggest that hydrogen produced from their new method could be added to existing natural gas (methane) supplies to produce a cleaner and more efficient fuel burning energy resource. Couple this breakthrough with the one below, and we could actually see a hydrogen based energy industry finally making an appearance, with all the attendant positive political, environmental and security implications you could hope for the world.

Possible Breakthrough In Hydrogen Tech

via ScienceDaily, the University of Virginia is reporting a novel breakthrough in the materials used in the storage of hydrogen. The new material can store twice as much hydrogen as previously used materials, and store the fuel at room temperature.

“In terms of hydrogen absorption, these materials could prove a world record,” Adam B. Phillips of the University of Virginia said. “Most materials today absorb only 7 to 8 percent of hydrogen by weight, and only at cryogenic [extremely low] temperatures. Our materials absorb hydrogen up to 14 percent by weight at room temperature. By absorbing twice as much hydrogen, the new materials could help make the dream of a hydrogen economy come true.”

The promise of a hyrdogen economy has long proven elusive due to the issues involved in the storage and transportation of the energy source. This new material could have a considerable impact on reformulating the economic dynamics of a hdrogen based energy industry. Huge news.

Against the Gold Standard

Jerry Bowyer at Townhall makes the case against the gold standard, which historically has been used to back national currencies. The problem is that gold is not a reliable indicator of economic growth. Bowyer correctly points out that the price of gold has skyrocketed, but that it is not necessarily an indicator of future inflation and/or economic growth. Here's the historically good part of the Gold Standard.

"Over long periods of time human production of gold had increased at roughly the same pace as human production of everything else. At times when the worldwide economy was growing at about 1%, the worldwide growth of gold reserves was also running at about 1%. This meant that a currency backed by gold would grow and shrink at roughly the same rate as the economy in general. This fact is the basis of what economists call the “Gold Standard”. If the money supply grew at the same pace as the supply of goods and services, then the prices would remain stable."

The issue now is that we've decoupled gold from our currency and instituted a free floating currency, which rises and falls against other currencies in foreign exchange markets. Some politicians (notable Ron Paul) have proposed returning to the Gold Standard. Thus would be an enormous mistake, as there are considerable issues with tying the value of gold to either national currency or the rate of economic growth - sometimes they don't correlate, as in times of major gold discoveries and in times of high economic innovation.

"For example, after Christopher Columbus discovered the New World, European conquerors swept through Central America and plundered its gold. The yellow metal flowed back across the Atlantic by the boatload for the entire 16th Century. The explorers had found an extremely efficient way of producing gold—by stealing it. However, the economy of Europe had not been as successful at finding highly efficient ways of producing any other goods and services. Not surprisingly, prices exploded upward, destabilizing both Europe’s prices, and its political systems.

The opposite occurred in the 19th Century. For example, the 1830s were characterized by enormous explosions in wealth generation in the English-speaking world due to the commercial application of railroads. But gold supplies did not expand at the same pace. Goods increased, gold didn’t, and price deflation was the result. In fact, it wasn’t until 1849 and the discovery of gold in California by the now-famous 49ers that this long drought of deflation ended. I could multiply examples, and so could you if you simply went to Google and typed in the words ‘panic of’. You will learn about the panic of 1837, the panic of 1893, and 1907. And of course we all know about the panic of 1929."

Bowyers point is that we are in such an innovative and explosive economic growth phase right now globally, as nations such as China, India, and Eastern Europe (as well as many others) adopt free market economic reforms, adopt new tax regimes, and develop knowledge based industries such as computer programming. The fastest growing secotr of the global economy is based on sand and electrons, which have nothing to do with the price of gold - therefore either basing our currency on gold and/or looking at gold as a future price level indicator is not valid.

Fletch Quote of the Day

Fletch: For an extra grand, I'll let you take me out to dinner.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fletch Quote of the Day

Alan Stanwyck: If you reject the proposition, you keep the thousand - and your mouth shut.
Fletch: Does this proposition entail my dressing up as Little Bo Peep?
Alan Stanwyck: It's nothing of a sexual nature, I assure you.
Fletch: Yeah, I assure you.
Alan Stanwyck: One thousand just to listen? I don't see how you can pass that up, Mr...?
Fletch: Nugent. Ted Nugent.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sun's "Twin" Discovered

via, astronomers have discovered a solar "twin" of our own Sun, some 200 light years distant. The star HIP 56948 is located in the Draco constellation in our sky and may be as much as a billion years older than the Sun's 4.6 billion years.
One of the most unique features of our Sun's composition is that it contains a very low level of the element lithium, found in most other stars in far higher concentrations. A spectrostopic analysis of HIP 56948 shows it to have a level of lithium much like that of the Sun.

"The wayward star challenges the idea that our backyard star has a unique composition, as it has a similarly low quantity of the element lithium--a lightweight byproduct of the fusion reactions that power stars...Three other solar twins were previously proposed: 18 Scorpius, HD 98618 and HIP 100963. While similar to the sun in many ways, spectrographic analysis revealed that their lithium contents are dramatically higher. Because of those observations, astronomers wondered if the sun's low amount of lithium was unique. The newfound twin now shows that it isn't."

Fletch Quote of the Day

Fletch: If you shoot me, you're liable to lose a lot of those humanitarian awards.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Fletch Quote for the Weekend

Gail Stanwyk: I'm very flattered, but I'm also very married. You are trying to hit on me, aren't you?
Fletch: How did you guess? I'm such a heel. I don't know what came over me.
Gail Stanwyk: If I had a nickel for every one of Alan's flyboy buddies who tried to pick me up, I'd be a rich woman.
Fletch: You are a rich woman.
Gail Stanwyk: See what I mean?

Next Husker FB Coach

A nice run down of the two leading candidates for the soon to be vacated Husker HC job, Mark (Bo) Pelini and Turner Gill at HuskerExtra. While a number of other coaches have been mentioned (Wake's Jim Grobe, Navy's Paul Johnson, & TCU's Gary Patterson are the most notable) these are the two that have everyone in the state the most excited about.

Gill is 6-16 in two seasons at Buffalo, but 4-6 (4-2 in conference) this season with the school's first wins over conference programs like Toledo and Akron, and defeated his former boss Frank Solich with a win against Ohio. Buffalo had been 10-69 over the last seven seasons at Division 1-A. Gill has shown a great deal of offensive flexibility - running elements of the West Coast offense, spread option and power I. He run series with four wideouts and a tailback followed by two tight end sets with a fullback. He would likely bring DC Jimmy Williams and D-Line Coach Toby Williams, both former Huskers, along with him for his staff if hired.

Since leaving NU, Bo Pelini has been DC at Oklahoma (co-DC w/ Brent Venables in 2004)
and LSU (2005 to current), and the teams he's coached have combined for a 51-9 record - including 2004's 10-3 year at NU. His defensive teams have finished no lower than 11th in Total Defense as a coordinator, including this season's #2 ranking. He would likely bring in at least former Husker (and coach) Marvin Sanders, with whom he apparently remains close friends with after the 2004 season at NU, and the article also states he would be interested in three other unnamed individuals with NU ties. Tom Rathman, anyone? He is also said to favor a spread option type attack offensively.

BTW, KMTV's Travis Justice reported yesterday that Bill C has been asked to resign but refused. (HT: Huskerzone)

Fletch Quote of the Day

Fletch: Frank, I need to go to Utah.
Frank Walker: Utah?
Fletch: Yeah, Utah. It's wedged in between Wyoming and Nevada. You've seen pictures of it, right?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Fletch Quote of the Day

Fletch: Why don't we go lay on the bed and I'll fill you in?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

5th Planet Found Around Star

via ScienceDaily, a new record setting 5th planet (the most ever found in a single system outside our own) has been discovered in the 55 Cancri system 41 light years from our own solar system. The exciting element of the discovery is that the new planet, while a gas giant, is in the star's habitable zone where liquid water could exist. The really interesting part is the gap between the four inner worlds and the outer planet - a gap in which another, smaller and possibly rocky terrestrial type world might lie. The researchers indicate anything in this area would have to be smaller than the planet Neptune to have eluded discovery so far.

"the fifth planet is within the star's habitable zone in which water could exist as a liquid. Though the planet is a giant ball of gas, liquid water could exist on the surface of a moon or on other, rocky planets that may yet be found within the zone. "Right now, we are looking at a gap between the 260-day orbit of the new planet and the 14-year orbit of another gas giant, and if you had to bet, you'd bet that there is more orbiting stuff there."

Fischer noted that what occupies this gap has to be another planet around the size of Neptune or smaller, because anything larger would have destabilized the orbits of the other planets. All of the planets around 55 Cancri are in stable, nearly circular obits, like the eight planets in our solar system. Jupiter is located at 5.2 AU from the sun, while Mercury and Venus are closer than 0.72 AU. Earth and Mars are in the gap at 1 AU and 1.5 AU."

The 55 Cancri system's innermost planet, the size of Jupiter, was only the fourth exoplanet discovered when found in 1996, and orbits the star every 14 days. The second planet and third planets were found in 2002, the second discoverd being the outermost (14 year orbit) and four time the size of Jupiter, the third discovered about half the size of Saturn and outside the orbit of the first discovery with a 44 day orbit. The fourth planet discovered in 2004 is around the size of Neptune (14 Earth masses) and the innermost planet in the system, extremely close to the star with an orbital period of only 2.8 days.

The new planet is around half the size of Saturn, or about 45 Earth masses, and orbits the star every 260 days at around .78 astronomical units (the distance of Earth from our Sun). The new planet, along with the previous four planets, was discovered by the "wobble" technique, which analyzes the effect the planets' gravity has on the light form the star. The habitable zone around the star is slightly closer to the star than that of our own system due to the star being slightly older and dimmer than our sun.

Fletch Quote of the Day

Gail Stanwyck: Are you always this forward?
Fletch: Only with wet, married women.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New US African Command

Robert Kaplan explores the strategic possibilities that the recently announced US African military command offers at The Atlantic (HT: RCP)

"Africa Command, or AFRICOM, will consolidate under one bureaucracy what European Command has been doing on most of the continent, what Central Command has been doing in the Horn of Africa, and what Pacific Command has been doing on some Indian Ocean islands.

The hub of U.S. military activity has been Dakar, Senegal, the westernmost point on the African continent, where European imperialists first began moving into the interior in the mid-19th century and creating the structure of weak West African states that the U.S. military is now trying to shore up. Without seeking to conquer or govern anything, the American military is pursuing a strategy of security linkages similar to those of the French 150 years ago."

Small teams of US Special Forces and Marines are scattered throughout the continent, training indigenous forces and conducting humanitarian missions. A number of quiet and efficient operations have been conducted in the war against terror in the area, including the Ethiopian operation that moved against radical Islamists in Somalia.

Strategically, it also allows the US to quietly deploy a counter-weight to Chinese initiatives on the continent, such as their involvement with the dictatorships in the Sudan and Zimbabwe. The US will couple this aid with developmental assistance to allow African nations to hopefully develop into liberal democracies, utilzing military and diplomatic personnel along with non-governmental organizations and civilian relief agencies.

The establishment of this command might be a bigger factor in shaping the future of our planet than anyone ever realizes today.

Fletch Quote of the Day

Gail Stanwyk: I really should change.
Fletch: No! I think you should stay the same wonderful person you are today.
Gail Stanwyk: I mean, put clothes on.

Monday, November 05, 2007

How to Build Space Cufflinks

It appears the patch job on the solar arrays of the ISS was successful. These are the instructions on how to make a set for yourself, you might need a trip to the hardware store for materials. :)

Here's how we got there.

"Discovery's pilot George Zamka along with ISS Expedition 16 commander Peggy Whitson who were called upon on Thursday to exhibit their inner-MacGyver. Using strips of aluminum, a hole punch, a bolt connector and 66 feet (20 meters) of wire, along with detailed instructions sent by mission control, the duo assembled half a dozen space station-saving cuff link contraptions. If all proceeds as planned, Parazynski, suspended at the end of the boom-arm assembly, will slip the cuff link-like tabs through holes in the array's blanket, enabling it to support the tension exerted when the solar wing is fully extended."

The array was patched Saturday on an extended spacewalk by veteran astronaut Scott Parazenski, full story here.

"Veteran astronaut Scott Parazynski led the unprecedented spacewalk, patching up the solar array at the far end of the unfinished space station.

"What an accomplishment, beautiful," Parazynski said as he watched the freshly repaired array unfurl from his vantage on the end of an extended robotic arm. "It's as taut as a sail. Everything looks completely intact."

The repair appears to be holding and the shuttle is due to land in Florida on Wednesday. The next mission is likely to address the other issue discovered on this flight on October 28th, the one of the metallic grit in the gears that rotate the other set of solar arrays to track the sun. The station is at reduced power until repair or cleaning of the gears is completed. Nebraskan Clayton Anderson returns to Earth after his five month sojurn on the ISS, having conducted three spacewalks in his stay and having filled in his NASA colleagues of all 597 famous Nebraska towns.

Space Elevator

Jack Uldrich at TCS Daily explores the idea of constructing a "space elevator" to quickly and cheaply allow humanity to lift items into low earth orbit. While the idea might appear crazy to most, many, if not all of the technical details have been thought out already, see here and here. Carbon nanotubes have already been created that would support far greater weights than that required for such a system. Popular Science had a recent article on the subject as well, and the primary issues preventing the construction of such a device appear to be mostly political and expense. Up to this point, no one has apparently had the gumption to make the thing at a cost of $12 billion or more.

"In its simplest form, the elevator would consist of a ribbon of super-strong carbon nanotubes be tethered to a large platform located near the equator and attached to a space structure at the other. To get from earth to space a cab would climb the ribbon."

However, it would greatly reduce the cost of lifting a pound into orbit from the current $10-20,000 per pound, down to something like $10 over time, as well as make it quicker and much easier. Uldrich compares our current rocketry system of achieving orbit to carrying bags of flour by horseback. The bigger issue is that 95% of the fuel costs of launching is eaten up just achieving low Earth orbit - the space elevator would solve that and allow us to go anywhere we wanted in the entire system, and one up those pesky Chinese on top of it. $12 billion, while not inconsequential, seems like a small price to pay for the future of space flight.

Fletch Quote of the Day

Waiter: Gracias, seƱor.
Fletch: Tierra Del Fuego.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Fletch Quote for the Weekend

Fletch: Do you mind if I ask you a question?
Gail Stanwyk: Depends on the question.
Fletch: Want some more champagne?
Gail Stanwyk: Yes.
Fletch: Are you still in love with Alan?
Gail Stanwyk: No! I mean, no, you can't ask me that question. Ask me another one.
Fletch: Why'd you let me in?
Gail Stanwyk: Um, because I'm bored.
Fletch: If you're so bored, why didn't you go to Utah with Alan?
Gail Stanwyk: Well, Utah's not exactly a cure for boredom.

Repairs Planned in Orbit

via, the shuttle astronauts are planning a complicated repair job for the torn solar wing on the International Space Station scheduled for tomorrow. The crew of the ISS have engineered cosmic "cuff links" to button up the tear from supplies on the station.

"Crewmembers scrounged around the orbital laboratory yesterday for supplies, crafting "cuff links" with them that will button up two rips in the solar array wing. Today, mission controllers here at Johnson Space Center (JSC) sent astronauts on another scavenger hunt to find tools for repairing the power-generating blanket."

Two astronauts will make the repairs during the mission's fourth spacewalk. Discovery is scheduled to depart the station on Nov. 5 and to land in Florida on the 7th.

Fletch Quote of the Day

Gail Stanwyck: She looks like a hooker. Look at her. Look at her! Could you love someone who looked like that?
Fletch: What are you talking about? Of course not! Five, ten minutes tops, maybe.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Fletch Quote of the Day

Fletch: You know, what tipped it for me was something your wife said while we were in bed together.
Alan Stanwyck: Oh? And what was that?
Fletch: Curiously, she said we had roughly the same build. From the waist up, I imagine.