Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Yankees Hire Girardi

via ESPN, the Yankees make it official and hire Joe Girardi to replace Joe Torre as manager. Girardi beat out former Yankee 1B Don Mattingly and Coach Tony Pena for the job. Coaches are expected to include former Cubs pitcher Mike Harkey (likely as pitching coach), Pena, Kevin Long and Rob Thompson. Former Yankee OF Paul O'Neil, a good personal friend of Girardi, has expressed interest in a coaching position as well. Torre is widely expected to be offered the job of managing the LA Dodgers, and Mattingly is expected to join him there. Mattingly's son Preston is in the Dodger's farm system.

The biggest issue for Girardi and Yankee GM Brian Cashman is the status of free agents such as RP Mariano Rivera, C Jorge Posada, and SP Andy Pettitte, who has a $16 million player option, but has also contemplated retiring. 3B Alex Rodriguez has exercised his option to explore free agency and is not expected to return to the team.

Fletch Quote of the Day

[to Gail Stanwyck, who answers the door wearing a towel]
Fletch: Can I borrow your towel for a sec? My car just hit a water buffalo.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Thompson Breaking "the Rules"

Jay Cost at RCP has an interesting take on the Thompson campaign and speculates a bit on Fred's strategy. In a two part article, Cost lays out what he believes is the Thompson campaign strategy, and its strengths and weaknesses. Much of the issue that many pundits have with Fred is that he is more or less ignoring the conventional wisdom on how to conduct his campaign.

"I think that the confusion over the Thompson campaign is that what works about it is very similar to what does not work. So, at first inspection, the lines are blurry - and you can't quite tell if this campaign is genius or disastrous. Upon closer inspection, I think that there are some lines to distinguish - and we can make some sense about this very peculiar presidential campaign."

Cost divides the campaign into two sectors, which he calls the "perpetual" campaign, where the chattering classes, pundits and beltway insiders set the tone and the agenda, and the "real" campaign, where the voters make their decisions. Ths issue is that these insiders believe the perpetual campaign is more important than the real one, whereas it is only a means to get noticed and a spot at the table for when the real deciding is done by the voters.

The issue with the chattering classes (media) have with Thompson is that he isn't playing their game the way they think he ought to - he's ignoring their rules, and running the way he wants to instead.

"In the perpetual campaign - you are supposed to campaign non-stop. You are supposed to remember all of the minutiae of your campaign schedule. You are supposed to know the details of symbolic events that happened over a year ago. You are supposed to know the specifics of local political issues so you can pander to the residents. Those are the rules. Thompson isn't following them."

However, Fred remains a viable candidate - despite what the pundits think. This is possible, in Jay's view because the pundit's rules aren't real rules, but imaginary ones, and that Thompson might just be the kind of trailblazer to challenge these preconcieved notions. It benefits him in two ways.

"First, breaking the rules has earned him notice. This is ironic, as most candidates follow the rules of the perpetual campaign for precisely this reason. They do a lot of stump speeches to get on the evening news. They do the Sunday morning show circuit. They take any opportunity to appear on Hardball that they can get. And so on. But not Thompson. So, is the media ignoring him? Hardly! Instead, his rule breaking has earned him more attention. My favorite example of this so far was Thompson's declaration of his candidacy. The fact that he announced his candidacy on Jay Leno was taken as rule breaking. But consider the net result. Thompson announced on Leno - and got the Leno audience. And then the next day, all the talking heads did was talk about Thompson! Far from being punished, Thompson was rewarded for his defiance.

But much more importantl, I think Thompson has assessed that breaking these rules could win him support. People outside the Beltway, whose daily lives are not regimented by the news cycle, appreciate that the perpetual campaign has reached a point of asininity. Accordingly, a candidate could win supporters over in the real campaign by claiming that he ignored all of these rules, which essentially mandate twenty-two months of nonstop campaigning. This is a twist on running against Washington. It is running against the Washington press corps."

Cost goes on further to say that this appears to be a calculated risk that Thompson is willing to take, particulary running as a Republican, whose base is often suspicious of the media elite anyway. However, he points out that in order to break the rules, you have to be nearly perfect - and some of Fred's appearances haven't been terribly exciting, at least to many observers. If you combine the rule breaking with mistakes, you just might alienate many of those whose support you are seeking, but Cost also states that the campaign is still in its very early stages, that Fred appears to be gaining some traction and momentum, and that the jury is still out.

Nice analysis, and I have to agree with almost all of it.

Origin of Atmospheric Oxygen Discovered

via ScienceDaily, some new evidence has been discovered from the analysis of ancient rocks regarding the origin of oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere 500 million years ago. The surprising part is that the oxygen developed extremely quickly by geologic standards - only 2 million years. Tectonic upheavals led to an increase in terrestrial weathering from the sulferous atmosphere at the time, which caused a decrease in the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, leading to the then much warmer Earth to cool globally. The carbon levels dropped from as much as 20 times greater than today, trapped in seabed sediments after the weathering process. This oxygen increase in turn led to the evolution of oxygen producing algae spreads in the oceans, further tipping the balance of gasses in the atmospheric blanket towards oxygen.

"Tectonic activity led to increased weathering, which pulled carbon dioxide from the air and cooled the climate. Then, as the oceans cooled to more hospitable temperatures, the plankton prospered -- and in turn created more oxygen through photosynthesis."

This set of conditions persisted for around 50 million years, during which time new plant and animal species flourished, but the cooling trend accelerated with new tectonic events creating the US Applachian mountain range, leading to a severe cooling trend that resulted in a ice age so extensive that it killed off nearly half of all species living on the planet at the time, around 450 million years ago.

Issues on Shuttle Mission

via -

The shuttle construction mission, already extended by a day due to the discovery of a mysterious black grit that appears suspiciously like metal shavings caked within the gears of a starboard joint, hit yet another snag as the unfurling of one of the stations's solar arrays led to a torn wing!

"But during NASA mission control's unfurling of the relocated array truss segment, the right wing of the 4B solar array crinkled and tore on one edge. The array opposite of 4B, known as 2B, array without incident prior to 4B's unfurling."

No word yet on what the possible consequences of the mishap are, but it can't be good.

Fletch Quote of the Day

Fletch: Oh, you've remodeled the garage. Must have cost you hundreds.

Monday, October 29, 2007

New Theory on American Migration

via ScienceDaily, a new theory has been proposed regarding the migration of Native Americans to the New World based on DNA research conducted by the University of Illinois. The new theory speculates that the Bering "Land Bridge" connecting Siberia and Alaska 30,000 years ago didn't allow the peoples that entered the area to move on into the Americas initially. Rather, they tarried in the area for a period of up to 15,000 years, with some groups actually returning back to Asia, before moving on to populate the empty American continents.

"the ancestors of Native Americans who first left Siberia for greener pastures perhaps as much as 30,000 years ago, came to a standstill on Beringia – a landmass that existed during the last glacial maximum that extended from Northeastern Siberia to Western Alaska, including the Bering land bridge – and they were isolated there long enough – as much as 15,000 years – to maturate and differentiate themselves genetically from their Asian sisters."

623 DNA sequences were examined, including 20 new ones from the Americas and 7 from Asia, and 3 new sub-clades (a group of DNA sequences descended from a common ancestor) were discovered that covers nearly all of the American populations but not found in Asia. This discovery appears to solidify both the archaeological evidence in the Americas (nothing has been found from before 15,000 years ago that can be definitively dated) and the climate evidence showing that the Rocky Mountains were impassible due to glaciation before that time.

Fletch Quote of the Day

Fletch: Do you have any caviar?
Waiter: Si señor, Beluga, but it is 80 dollars a portion.
Fletch: Well, then I better just take two portions of that

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fletch Quote for the Weekend

Willy: What the hell you need ball bearings for?
Fletch: Awww, come on guys, it's so simple. Maybe you need a refresher course.
[leans arm on hot engine part]
Fletch: Hey! It's all ball bearings nowadays. Now you prepare that Fetzer valve with some 3-in-1 oil and some gauze pads. And I'm gonna need 'bout ten quarts of anti-freeze, preferably Prestone. No, no make that Quaker State.

Asia's Space Race

The CS Monitor takes a peek at the developing Asian space race. China, Japan and India have all developed a significant sapce launch capability. China's lunar probe was preceded by a Japanese one last month, and India is planning a similar mission next year as well.

"The moon shots, all designed to learn more about the lunar atmosphere and surface, have no military purpose, officials in the three new space powers are quick to point out. But in a field where civilian technological advances can easily be put to military use, nations closely scrutinize each of their neighbors' steps forward.

India is nervous about China's intentions, especialy in the wake of Beijing's test of an antisatellite missile last January. China worries that Japan's missile defense cooperation with the US might threaten its interests, and resents Washington's determination to remain the world's dominant space power. Japan is rattled by North Korea's ballistic-missile capability."

Some of the other rationales for these missions is national prestige and the high technology spinoffs and skills that acrue from such research. All three nations are focused on the moon due to its close proximity and the possibility of commercial exploitation of resources such as Helium-3, which is thought to exist in quantity on the moon and could eventually be used to power nuclear fusion technology.

There are also important military considerations for all three powers as they and the traditional space powers are treading the line between defense related space utilization and weaponization, as China demonstrated in its anit-satellite program last year.

Fletch Quote of the Day

Fletch's girlfriend: [Fletch is listening to a tape of him and his girlfriend having sex] You're not recording this, are you?
Fletch: No, never, never.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

US and India

R. Nicholas Burns at Foreign Affairs (via RCP) takes note of the opportunities that a stronger strategic partnership with India would entail for the US. First, the good stuff:

"We share an abundance of political, economic, and military interests with India today. Our open societies face similar threats from terrorism and organized crime. Our market-based economies embrace trade and commerce as engines of prosperity. Our peoples value education and a strong work ethic. We share an attachment to democracy and individual rights founded on an instinctive mistrust of authoritarianism. And in an age of anti-Americanism, according to the most recent Pew Global Attitudes survey, nearly six in ten Indians view the United States favorably.......The progress between the United States and India has been remarkable: a new and historic agreement on civil nuclear energy, closer collaboration on scientific and technological innovation, burgeoning trade and commercial links, common efforts to stabilize South Asia, and a growing U.S.-India campaign to promote stable, well-governed democracies around the world. And the United States is only just beginning to realize the benefits of this relationship for its interests in South and East Asia."

There are still some challenges, however, including the touchy relationship India has with another US ally, Pakistan, over the Kashmir region. There are also trade differences,climate and environmental concerns over India's growing energy needs, and some historical inertia from India's past leadership of the nonaligned diplomatic movement - India still often diplomatic support and cover to some of the globe's most notorious regimes, such as Burma. Burns' point, however, is well made - both nations have a lot to gain from one another, and far more issues in common than those which separate us.

College Football Coaching

MSNBC's College football expert Joey Johnston has a nice article about the success that coaches such as Pete Carroll, Dennis Ericson and Steve Spurrier, who left the college ranks for the NFL but have returned to college, are enjoying this season. Both coaches admit that they are far more comfortable in the college ranks. #2 ranked Boston College's Jeff Jagdozinski is also spotlighted. Johnston finished his column asnwering questions, and the lead was of vast import to the Husker Nation, concerning LSU's Bo Pellini.

Q: What are the odds that Nebraska could steal Bo Pelini away from LSU?
— Husker fan, Des Moines, Iowa
A: I think the odds would be excellent for Pelini, the LSU defensive coordinator, to return to Nebraska, where he also served in that role and as interim head coach for the Cornhuskers’ bowl game after the firing of Frank Solich.

Pelini would have been a good head-coaching choice then — and Nebraska players were lobbying for him — but the Cornhuskers opted for NFL head coach Bill Callahan. You’ve seen how that turned out. At this point, with Nebraska’s proud program unraveling by the minute, it would be stunning if Callahan saves his job.

Pelini’s work speaks for itself. LSU’s defense has played lights-out at times. He has a knack for getting the players on the same page and getting them to buy into the cause. He’s a motivator and an excellent strategist.

But Nebraska can’t assume anything. Plenty of schools with job openings will be chasing Pelini. The Cornhuskers better throw their hat in the ring sooner rather than later.

I have to agree absolutley with the response.

Fletch Quote of the Day

Fletch: In the court ruling US vs. Fishbine, a man subjected to potential incineration while wearing another man's suit is entitled to $10,000 worth of airline tickets. It's an obscure ruling, but a very important one to me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fletch Quote of the Day

Gail Stanwyk: I didn't know you knew the Underhills.
Fletch: Yeah, well, I saved his life during the war.
Gail Stanwyk: You were in the war?
Fletch: No, he was. I got him out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Shuttle Mission STS-120

via, Shuttle Discovery is slated to launch on yet another ambitious ISS construction mission. Seven astronauts are slated to lift off this morning at 11:38 EST. Nebraskan Clayton Anderson, currently serving on board the ISS, will return home after being replaced by fellow mission specialist Daniel Tani.

"Commanded by veteran spaceflyer Pamela Melroy, the shuttle Discovery is slated to launch from Pad 39A here at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) at 11:38 a.m. EDT (1538 GMT). Melroy and her crewmates plan to swap out one ISS crewmember, deliver an orbital hub to anchor future laboratories to the station and perform the complicated move of a 17.5-ton solar array segment to boost the outpost's power grid...

Set to launch spaceward with Melroy and Parazynski are Discovery pilot George Zamka and mission specialists Stephanie Wilson, Douglas Wheelock, Daniel Tani and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli. Together, they will install the Italian-built Harmony node - the connecting point for European and Japanese laboratories waiting to fly.

During five planned spacewalks - the most-ever during a shuttle flight to the ISS - the STS-120 astronauts will also test new space shuttle heat shield repair methods, move the station's $276 million Port 6 (P6) solar power truss segment from its mast-like perch to the station's port-most edge, and then unfurl its expansive arrays. Parazynski compared the P6 relocation to moving an entire house from one neighborhood to another."

The installation of the Harmony module will increase the available space on board the station for the first time since 2001. The mission will be the shuttle program's 120th mission, and the third ISS construction mission this year. Three of the shuttle astronauts are making their first trips into orbit.

Fletch Quote of the Day

Fletch: Can't do that, Frank. Fat Sam isn't the story, there's a source behind him.
Frank Walker: Who?
Fletch: Well, there we're in kind of a grey area.
Frank Walker: How grey?
Fletch: Charcoal.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fletch Quote of the Day

Waiter: Excuse me, Señor. You are a member of the club?
Fletch: No, I'm not, I'm with the Underhills.
Waiter: They are left, Señor.
Fletch: It's all right, they'll be back. He went out for his urinalysis.
Waiter: Would you like some drinks, Señor, while you wait? I will put it on the Underhills' bill.
Fletch: Yes, very good. I'll have a Bloody Mary and a steak sandwich and... a steak sandwich, please.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fletch Quote for the Weekend

[driving away from police in car with startled teenager]
Teenager: Are you a cop?
Fletch: As far as you know.
Teenager: Are you gonna take me to jail for car theft?
Fletch: Why? Did you steal the car?
Teenager: I sure did.
Fletch: Well, I'm not even sure that's a crime anymore.
There've been a lot of changes in the law.

Earliest Evidence of Modern Humans Discovered

via ScienceDaily, new evidence has been uncovered at a site near Pinnacle Point in South Africa that pushes back the origin of modern humans to 160,00 years ago. Droughts during this period may have forced human populations to coastal areas where they supplmented their diets with a variety of shellfish and other marine resources.

"Our findings show that at 164,000 years ago in coastal South Africa humans expanded their diet to include shellfish and other marine resources, perhaps as a response to harsh environmental conditions," notes Curtis Marean, a professor in ASU's School of Human Evolution and Social Change. "This is the earliest dated observation of this behavior."

These early humans also exhibited the use of bladelet technology thought to have not occurred until 70,000 years ago, and the team also discovered evidence of the use of red ochre, a pigment used for ritual behavior that has been thought to also date from the same later period as the bladelet use.

"These new findings not only move back the timeline for the evolution of modern humans, they show that lifestyles focused on coastal habitats and resources may have been crucial to the evolution and survival of these early humans."

The period from 195,000 to around 125,000 years ago was heavily glaciated, and much of the continent of Africa experienced repeated severe droughts. In fact, it is thought that there might have been as few as 5 or 6 sites on the continent capable of supporting early modern humans, and the researchers studied ocean currents, climate data, geological formations and other evidence to theorize where a probable location would be located. These finds also extends back into time the period when early people began to utilize marine resources by as much as 40,000 years.

"Generally speaking, coastal areas were of no use to early humans -- unless they knew how to use the sea as a food source" says Marean. "For millions of years, our earliest hunter-gatherer relatives only ate terrestrial plants and animals. Shellfish was one of the last additions to the human diet before domesticated plants and animals were introduced."

Before, the earliest evidence for human use of marine resources and coastal habitats was dated about 125,000 years ago. "Our research shows that humans started doing this at least 40,000 years earlier. This could have very well been a response to the extreme environmental conditions they were experiencing," he says."

With the knowledge of how to exploit ocean resources, the coastal areas of the continent would have allowed long distance human migrations, and the use of bladelets as compound stone tools as well as the use of pigments for symbolic purposes is often tied to the development of human cognitive functions and human lanaguage skills. These developments had also been tied to the later 70,000 before present period as well. Human language and communications skills are thought to have greatly aided early human survival by allowing cooperative behvior and the establishment of trade and exchange networks between groups of our early ancestors.

"This evidence shows that Africa, and particularly southern Africa, was precocious in the development of modern human biology and behavior. We believe that on the far southern shore of Africa there was a small population of modern humans who struggled through this glacial period using shellfish and advanced technologies, and symbolism was important to their social relations. It is possible that this population could be the progenitor population for all modern humans," Marean says."

Pretty amazing find, and I'd say it lays a pretty definitive nail in the coffin of the Out of Africa skeptic community being so far in advance of other archaeological finds showcasing evidence of similar behavior.

Fletch Quote of the Day

Alan Stanwyck: You'll be wearing rubber gloves. Do you own rubber gloves?
Fletch: I rent 'em. I have a lease with an option to buy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Reporters Without Borders

Jay Nordlinger over at NRO made a brief mention of the annual release of the Press Freedom list from the group Reporters Without Borders. Every year they rate all the world's nations on the amount of press freedoms that the people of each nations enjoys (or doesn't). Bottom of the list (#169 to #162):

Eritrea, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Iran, Cuba, Myanmar, China and Vietnam.

All top rated vacation spots, to be sure, particularly the hermit kingdom of Dr. Poofy Hair. I had to wonder where our new wackjob nutcase from Venezuela is at, and its rather surprisingly only at #114.

Top of the list:

Iceland, Norway and Estonia

The US is rated 48th, down from 17th in 2002, mostly due to terrorism and war related limitations on journalists. Interestingly, they also pointed out the increasing amount of attention that the bottom dwelling governments are paying to the blogging community.

"In Malaysia (124th), Thailand (135th), Vietnam (162nd) and Egypt (146th), for example, bloggers were arrested and news websites were closed or made inaccessible...
At least 64 people are currently imprisoned worldwide because of what they posted on the Internet, most of them in China which ranked 163rd. China maintains its leadership in this form of repression, with a total of 50 cyber-dissidents in prison. Eight are being held in Vietnam."

Makes one thankful to be an American blogger, doesn't it? The entire list can be found here.

UN Needs a New Member Nation

David Kopel and Michael Krause discuss the curious political situation that the island nation of Taiwan finds itself, and the shameful way in which that nation is being treated by both other democracies and world institutions.

"Originally used to identify the anti-Axis coalition of nations in World War II, today's "United Nations" members are rarely united on anything. And as the UN's latest actions against Taiwan's membership application demonstrate, the UN doesn't even live up to its own definition of "nations." And the mechanics of that rejection reveal a growing internal danger at the UN for the United States.

Article 4 of the United Nations Charter states that "Membership in the United Nations is open to all other [non-founding] peace-loving states which accept the obligations contained in the present Charter and, in the judgment of the Organization, are able and willing to carry out these obligations."

In July, Taiwan applied for membership in the United Nations. By the Charter's standards, Taiwan should have been speedily admitted."

By any objective standard, Taiwan meets all of the criteria of nationhood, with a permanent population, a defined territory, a government, and the capacity of having relations with other states, although it only has formal diplomatic relations with 23 states (more on that in a moment).

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon rejected Taiwan's application on the basis of the 1971 General Assembly resolution changing the permanent Chinese Security Council seat from the Chiang Kai-shek government of Taiwan to the Mao TSe-Tung government of the People's Republic. However, the resolution doesn't define anything about what consitutes "China" and China has only one period of 17 years in which it ever claimed sovereignty over the island previous to the Communist revolution, nor does it say anything regarding Tibet, which has a long history of independence before the 1951 invasion by the PRC. Of course the governments of both Taiwan and the PRC long held that they were both the legitimate government of China, but Taiwan has abrogated that claim with the development of its democracatic government following the collapse of the Chiang's dictatorship.

Unfortunately, the US delegation did not protest the rejection, which violated UN procedures because the request should have been forwarded to the Security Council - the Secretary General had no right to make any decision regarding the application himself. The US itself does not maintain formal diplomatic ties to Taiwan, which is unfortunate as it puts the government there in the same boat as such rogue regimes as Iran, North Korea and Cuba. Along with another 100 or so nations, the US does maintain "unoffical" relations, purely to maintain the legal fiction and kow-tow to the PRC.

While most Taiwanese (over 90%) do not consider themselves Chinese, the PRC most assuredly claims Taiwan as a rogue territory and continues to pressure other nations from recognizing Taiwan. In the 1960s over 60 nations recognized the island's government, but that has been reduced to 23 today due to the growing diplomatic, military and particularly economic might of the mainland. Beijing often blackmails small nations into withdrawing support from Taiwan as a pre-condition for economic agreements or developmental assistance. Of course, this is in addition to the thousands of ballistic missiles the mainland points at the island.

Taiwan plans a national referendum next year on whether to reapply to the UN, this time as the nation of Taiwan, as opposed to the "Republic of China", on of the leftover remnants form the days of Chiang. The piece ends with a rather interesting, poignant and thoroughly ironic comment.

"In the short run, China would use its Security Council veto to defeat the application, but China should at least start paying a diplomatic price for its hostility to Taiwan's right of self-determination. The more countries that support Taiwan's membership, the more that the Chinese government will fear that an invasion of Taiwan would be devastating to China's economic relationship to the rest of the world.

Deterring dictatorships from attacking democracies, and preserving the peace, are, after all, the reason the UN was founded in the first place."

Fletch Quote of the Day

Gail Stanwyck: What are you doing here?
Fletch: I ordered some lunch.
Gail Stanwyck: You ordered it here?
Fletch: Well, I knew this is where my mouth would be.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fletch Quote of the Day

Fletch: I'm afraid I'm gonna have to pull rank on you. I didn't want to have to do this. I'm with the Mattress Police. There are no tags on these mattresses.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Osborne Name Interim AD

via OWH.

As widely expected and anticipated, former Head Coach and Nebraska Congressman Tom Osborne has been named interim athletic director for the University of Nebraska. The arrangement is "open ended" until UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman finds a permanent AD for the athletic program. Rumor on some of the boards is that Dave Rimington might still be in the running for the permanent position, but my take is that it is probably wishful thinking.

"He may be the only figure who can unite a state divided over Pederson's firing of Osborne's coaching successor, the transition to a new regime, on-field disappointments, Pederson's own firing, and questions over what should happen with the current coaching staff.

Osborne has been a fan favorite for the job — many even wanting him to take it on a permanent basis.

Since Osborne's retirement in 1997 at the end of a remarkable 60-3 run that produced three national titles in four years, both Osborne and the football program have had their share of ups and downs.

Osborne, who had retired for health reasons and to spend more time with his family, initially missed the game sorely and on more than one occasion was nearly lured out of retirement by other schools.

He found a new life in politics, elected three times as a Republican congressman from western Nebraska's 3rd District.

But in 2006, he sought to finish off his public career with a run for Nebraska governor. Challenging incumbent Gov. Dave Heineman, he lost in the GOP primary, effectively ending his political career."

Great news and perhaps the only man alive who could rally the state back around the program. Hopefully the media circus will die down a bit in the coming days and the coaches can focus on getting the team prepared for A & M on Saturday.

Methane, Nitrous Oxide, Cows & Warming

The LA Times points out the elephant in the global warming debate isn't what people do, it's what they eat. Methane and Nitrous oxide emissions emitted from livestock are greenhouse gasses with a far greater impact than that of the entire tranportation industry. Methane emissions cause 21 times the warming effect that Co2 does, and nitrous oxide's effect is 296 times that of C02. While ruminant livestock belch methane, both chemical compounds are released from the management of livestock manure pens. If you're really concerned with global warming, focusing on what we drive is a spurious strategy. You should also be concerned with volcanic eruptions, but that's another (and later) post.

So how bad are the releases from livestock operations?

"All told, livestock are responsible for 18% of greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide, according to the U.N. -- more than all the planes, trains and automobiles on the planet. And it's going to get a lot worse. As living standards rise in the developing world, so does its fondness for meat and dairy. Annual per-capita meat consumption in developing countries doubled from 31 pounds in 1980 to 62 pounds in 2002, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, which expects global meat production to more than double by 2050. That means the environmental damage of ranching would have to be cut in half just to keep emissions at their current, dangerous level."

So why isn't this getting more media play? Easy - the political influence of America's cattle and dairy lobbies, and the fact that legislating food choices is about as popular with people as former athletic directors in Lincoln. The Times seems to believe the only thing to do is eat less meat, but that's about as likely as pigs flying. Small steps could be made in waste management, but only about 20% of these emissions would be effected. It would give us more time to think of something else, which is my preferred strategy for the whole issue in the first place, if indeed the impacts of the "crisis" can be shown as such. Still, a very illuminating piece.

Congrats to the Rockies

Congratulations are in order for the Colorado Rockies, who defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-4 last night to sweep the National League Championship Series 4 games to none. The Rockies have earned their first trip to the World Series in only their second playoff run.

The Cleveland Indians are currently up 2 games to 1 on the Boston Red Sox after winning the ealry game last night 4-2. BoSox send up knuckleballer Time Wakefield and soft tossing control man Paul Byrd for the Tribe tonight at 7 pm EST.

Chinese Tyrants Unhappy

The government of China is unhappy with the US and Germany due to both nations honoring the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exhiled spiritual leader. Boo Hoo.

“Such a person who basely splits his motherland and doesn’t even love his motherland has been welcomed by some countries and has even been receiving this or that award,” Tibet’s Communist Party boss, Zhang Qingli, told reporters.“We are furious. If the Dalai Lama can receive such an award, there must be no justice or good people in the world,” Zhang said."

Obviously, the fact that some Communist party hack could even say the Dalai doesn't love his homeland when the fact is that he's devoted his entire life to freeing his homeland from the occupation of the tyrannical oligarchy that this buffoon represents is pretty ironic.

President Bush will be honoring the Dalai with the US congressional Medal of Freedom tomorrow at the White House. China cancelled an annual human rights dialogue with Germany after German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the Dalai Lama last month.

China brutally invaded Tibet in 1952 (if I recall correctly) and the Dalai Lama led a unseccessful revolt against the communist regime in 1959, after which he escaped to lead the opposition to Chinese rule from exile.

The Dalai has actually lowered himself to enter into negotiations with the Communist dictators of his homeland, but the negotiations "aren't going well", which is probably the understatement of the year in the arena of international relations given the Dalai is still the most outspoken advocate in the world for Tibetan independence.

Fletch Quote of the Day

I've decided that I like having a daily humor post, and with all the Firefly quotes used up I've decided to reach way back to a classic.....Fletch, starring Chevy Chase.

Fletch: I'm John.
Gail Stanwyk: Ohhhh, John.
[they laugh]
Gail Stanwyk: John who?
Fletch: John Cock... tos... ton.
Gail Stanwyk: That's a beautiful name.
Fletch: Well, it's Scotch/Romanian.
Gail Stanwyk: That's an odd combination.
Fletch: Yeah, well, so were my parents.

Monday, October 15, 2007

NU AD Peterson is OUT

Steve Peterson has been relieved of his duties as Husker Athleteic Director.

And there was much rejoicing throughout the land.

Cancellor Perlman will have a 4 pm press conference.

Film at 11.

Difference Between Legal & Illegal Immigration

Doug Bandow has a great article at The American Spectator on the benefits legal immigrants bring to our shores, as opposed to the costs imposed to our society by the illegal crowd, and the issues this raises regarding our offical immigration policy. First the benefits:

"Researchers at Duke, Harvard, and New York University have been studying the impact of immigration on economic competitiveness. They discovered that between 1995 and 2005 immigrants founded one in four engineering and technology firms, which in 2006 generated $52 billion in revenues and employed 450,000 people. The largest number of entrepreneurial immigrants came from India; United Kingdom, China, Taiwan, and Japan followed as sources of productive immigrants.

The latest study by the same researchers found that immigrants "were named as inventors or co-inventors in 25.6 percent of international patent applications filed from the United States in 2006. This represents an increase from 7.6 percent in 1998." The rate of increase has been rising, growing fastest since 2004."

Next, the issue with the official policy's limitations.

"Yet for all of these benefits, the U.S., a nation of more than 300 million people, awards only 120,000 employment-based visas for permanent residence every year. Moreover, fewer than 10,000 are available for any one country, even those, such as India and the United Kingdom, which provide so many talented entrepreneurs. Yet there are about 560,000 principals and 620,000 family members, for almost 1.2 million overall, in employment-based categories awaiting visas."

Overall, the wait time to get a visa application approved is approximately 4 1/2 years. The primary issue is the low number of visas, which needs to be increased (how much is certainly debatable). The second is the horrible wait times in processing the applications, and the solution might be to turn it over to a private firm (IMO). Certainly something has to be doen when up to 1/3 of those waiting are considering dropping out of the process entirely and returning home.

Long story short, we have to make distinctions on who is allowed to both enter the country and who is to remain, and the better we can control this entire process, the btter off we will be.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Picture Says It All

They say a picture is worth a thousand words - this one might be worth a million.

I never thought I'd live to see this day.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Firefly Quote for the Weekend

Mal: Looks can be deceiving.
Jayne: Not as deceiving as a low down, dirty... deceiver.
Mal: Well said. Wasn't that well said, Zoe?
Zoë: It had a kinda poetry to it.

This most likely is the end of an era as I don't think I have any further quotes, but I'll double check on Monday.

Firefly Quote of the Day

(to Inara) Mal: How about I keep out of your whoring and you keep out of my thieving?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Our Old Friend Bo Pellini

Great article on our old friend former Husker defensive coordinator Bo Pellini, now at LSU. Oh, what might have been, had a certain athletic director been a little wiser. Pellini is on many school's short list for a likely head coach, possibly as soon as next year. Former NU linebacker great Barrett Ruud, now with Tampa in the NFL, said he was actually surprised it hadn't happened already. Speculation is that Texas A & M might be a school that could be interested in him given the current issue surrounding current head man Dennis Franchione. Pellini was the NU head man for the Alamo Bowl game against Michigan St. after the ouster of Frank Solich, with NU winning 17-3.

"Pelini said Nebraska athletic director Steve Pederson "stopped talking" to him in the days leading up to the bowl game and, following the victory, Pederson didn't fly back to Lincoln with the team.

Pederson eventually spoke with Pelini about the opening, but Pelini said it was clear he had no chance of landing the job.

"It was just a token interview," Pelini said. " (Pederson) brought me in because he had to bring me in. He told me I was being considered, but I don't think I ever was. He wanted to hire a name guy. He would've hired anybody that had a big name." "

Pellini's Tiger D have the third rated pass defense in the country, are number four in rush defense and are allowing a scant 9.3 points per game for the top rated team in the nation. Tiger HC Les Miles first noticed Pellini when Miles was the head man at Oklahoma St and faced NU's Pellini, who came out with a completely different defensive scheme than Miles had expected and threw the Cowboys for a loop. Miles hired Pellini away from Oklahoma after the 2004 season.

Baseball Playoffs, Todd Helton

Baseball playoffs resume tonight in Arizona with the Stone's ace Jeff Francis facing off against the Snake's top dog Brandon Webb, a former NL Cy Young winner.

Nice story at the link about long time Stones firstbaseman Todd Helton, one of my favorite players. Helton suffered for a long time before playing for a winner, and had contemplated about asking for a possible trade, potentially to the Evil Sox. Helton is thrilled with the surrounding young talent like Brad Hawpe, Matt Halliday, Garrett Atkins, Troy Tulowitski and could now wind up staying for the forseeable future despite an enormous contract.

"For 1,578 games, Helton's lone view of the postseason came from the television. When the Rockies beat San Diego in a one-game playoff to capture the NL wild card, the champagne bottles Helton popped served as an apropos metaphor for himself.

"I don't think you can put it into words," Helton said. "It's kind of like somebody asking you, 'Well, how'd you feel when your first child was born?' You can throw any adjective you want out there and it's really not going to do it justice."

Firefly Quote of the Day

Jayne: [Jayne, himself a tough guy, describing a mobster's goons] These are stone killers. They ain't cuddly like me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Republican Debate

Byron York at NRO has a good rundown of the Republican debate yesterday in Michigan. I watched much of it myself, although not every minute. It was the most notable debate so far due to the presence of Fred Thompson (yes, I'm a supporter). It was Fred's first debate, and the general consensus around the blogs and MSM appears to be that he did pretty well after a slow start. The debate was focused almost squarely on economic issues, so there was not a great deal of disagreement on the Republican mantra of lower taxes, free trade, spending restraint and a moderate regulatory environment, although with some exceptions from the fringe guys.

Moderator Chris Matthews went after Fred on a couple of times, and Fred showed that he couldn't be pushed around. Matthews pressed him to name Candian PM Steve Harper, which he did, and then Matthews spouted off on Thompson's answer about whether the govenrment should intevene in the case of an auto strike - Thompson said no, paused a bit to gather his thoughts for a more thorough response and delivered that the economy and national security consideration should be given to such a situation, but that it should not really involve government outside those parameters. Matthews voiced his opinion Fred should have stopped at "no" and Thompson countered by stating "that's your opinion, Christopher", which I thought was an excellent counter to Matthews' bluster.

Rudy and Mitt went after each other's respective records on taxing and budget issues, and there were several mentions and critiques of Hillary Clinton. John Henke of QandO fame is Fred's online outreach guy and live blogged the event here. Ed Morrissey also has reaction at CQ here.

I thought Fred did very well myself, along with Rudy and John McCain. I thought it was interesting how Fred responded to a Social Security question. When asked what he would do to fix the entitlement issue, he responded that he would change the growth in payments for younger workers (not anyone in retirement or near it) to be indexed to the inflation rate rather than the wage rate (which would lower benefit payments) but also form personal accounts for these younger workers, which is a trade off I would heartily endorse with enthusiasm. It was one of the more detailed responses from any of the candidates on any issue, but I expect someone or another to try to beat him up with it, but I'm pretty sure given his performance that he will be able to handle it pretty deftly.


Obviously, the team missed the shootout memo I issued from last week. Egad. OWH and LJS both ran articles yesterday on the woes of the Blackshirts. OWH had a nice chart whose info I've copied here.

Defensive struggles
Nebraska ranks near the bottom of several Big 12 defensive categories.
Category Avg. Rank

Pass defense 25.1 yds/gm 9

Rush defense 190.5 yds/gm 12

Total defense 441.5 yds/gm 12

Opponent 1st downs 136 12

Sacks 6 T-11

Red zone def.
(% pts. allowed) 88.5% 10

In addition, the LJS/Husker Extra article I linked gave the historical backdrop to the defensive breakdown. NU has given up more than 40 point in three games this half of a season so far - the last time this happened at NU, it was over the course of the full 1943 season. Huskers did not allow 40 point in a game in the entire decade of the 70s and only twice in the 80s.

The yardage mark above (441) would be the most yards given up by a Husker team in the history of the program. Previous high was 379, given up in by a 1948 team that wnet 2-8. The 32 first downs given up Saturday were the most ever in a game, and the defense is on a pace to give up more points and yardage than any team in the history of the program as well.

The question is, will it get any better? While I certainly hope so, Oklahoma State has an offensive club ranking #14 in total offense, but the Huskers have historically always played well at home, even in the Callaghan era, so I'm calling this one for NU, 30-28 in a nail biter.

Scientist Excited by New Telescopes

Nice article at MSNBC about the new generation of space science instruments that are planned or coming on line over the next decade. They could unlock mysteries such as how galaxies form, how solar system formed, and discover terrestrial type planets orbiting other stars.

"Instruments such as the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), the Expanded Very Large Array, the European Extremely Large Telescope and the Giant Segmented Mirror Telescope could answer these questions and raise new ones, scientists said at the "Astrophysics in the Next Decade" conference in Tucson, Arizona, last month.

The instrument many scientists are most excited about, however, is NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), hailed as the successor to Hubble and set to launch in 2013."

The current findings about the beginning of the universe are missing a few pages between the era immediately after the Big Bang when the universe was around a million years old and the formation of the first galaxies when the universe was about a billion years of age. The new instruments, particularly the Webb, might shed light on the formation of these primordial galaxies and determine their chemical composition, perhaps even mapping their early movements.

The Webb telescope would also be capable of finding planets transiting in front of their parent stars, and will be designed to be sensitive enough to see smaller earth type planets and measure their atmospheric composition, temperatures and more accurately determine their mass than current instruments. Webb and the ALMA will also be able to closely examine many of our own system's distant Kyper Belt objects outside the oribit of the planet Neptune, which could help us determine how our own system was formed.

Definitely a good time to be starting out as a young astronomer.

Firefly Quote of the Day

Mal: You are very much lacking in imagination.
Zoë: I imagine that's so, sir.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Climate Change Caused Human Migration From Africa


New evidence has been uncovered that suggest the primary reason for the migration of early human populations from Africa between 135,000 and 90,000 years ago was a series of severe and unprecedented droughts in Eastern Africa. Core samples from southeastern Africa's Lake Malawi, one of the world's deepest lakes, dropped almost 600 meters over the drought period. These samples show that the amount of vegetation and animal life much reduced from both earlier periods and their current diversity.

Present day Africa's lush vegetation and wildlife returned to the area around 70,000 years ago, and the lake refilled at that time to near its current level of 700 meters. University of Arizona researcher Steven Cohen compared the rainfall patterns area around the lake today to the southeastern United States, but during the drought period 100,000 years ago, these precipitation patterns would have been much more like the southwestern US's Sonora Desert region around the city of Tucson, AZ.

Firefly Quote of the Day

Zoë: [about Serenity, on first seeing her] You paid money for this, sir? On purpose?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Baseball Playoffs

Three of the four playoff division series were decided this weekend, and I was actually on hand to witness one of them, which was pretty cool.

In the American League, the Evil Stockings stuck it to the Halos last night behind Curt Schilling, to conclude their series sweep. Meanwhile, the Yanks stay alive for another game tonight beating the Tribe 8-4. Johnny Damon's 3 run dinger put the cap on a four run 5th to put NY ahead after they fell behind 3-0 due to an ineffective Rocket. Rookies Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain stepped up to shut down the Tribe after the nicked up Rocket (battling a bad hammy) was lifted in the third. Paul Byrd faces Ching Ming Wang tonight for Game 4.

In the National League, the Snakes sent the Little Bears home on Saturday 5-1 behind Livan Hernandez and the power of three dingers, including Chris Young's on the first first pitch, his second of the series. Steven Drew batted .500 for the series and also hit 2 bombs, including one on Saturday as well. Eric Byrnes also homered.

The Snakes are set to meet up with the division rival Stones on Thursday. I was on hand for Colorado's first playoff series victory in franchise history, and the citizens of the Mile High City were elated with their club. Rookie P Umaldo Jimenez threw 6 1/3 strong innings, then turned it over to the bullpen which continued to effectively close things out behind Brian Fuentes and Manny Corpas, who's saved 21 of 22 chances.

The Stupid's castoff 2B Kaz Matsui was the big series hero with 6 RBI, including a RBI triple in the fifth of the deciding Game 3. After Philly tied it up on Shane Victorino's 7th inning bomb to right, Stones Manager Clint Hurdle played yet another hunch and sent reserve 1B/OF Jeff Baker to the plate in the eigth with two men on and he responded with a clean single to score 3B Garrett Atkins for the eventual game winner.

It was the first game Colorado had won at home while scoring 2 runs or less since July 9, 2005. A very poignant moment came before the game, when the two sons of deceased AA coach Mike Coolbaugh, ages 5 and 3, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Coolbaugh was killed by a line drive to the neck on July 22nd of this year. The team has voted his pregnant widow Amanda a full share from the team's playoff bonuses.

Firefly Quote of the Day

Kaylee: Don't you just love this party? Everything's so fancy, and there's some kind of hot cheese over there.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Firefly Quote for the Weekend

Simon: Captain, why did you come back for us?
Mal: You're on my crew
Simon: Yeah, but you don't even like me. Why'd you come back?
Mal: You're on my crew. Why are we still talking about this?

Weekend in College FB

Kentucky got exposed a bit by the ol' ball coach last night, falling 38-23 and perhaps nicking Andre Woodson's Heisman chances with 2 fumbles that were returned for TDs as well as throwing an INT as the Cats were in the red zone. Cock's DE Eric Norwood returned both for scores to tie a NCAA record. Utah at Louisville tonight.

Saturday Games of Interest:

#13 W. Virgina @ Syracuse - can the Orange stun another ranked foe or do the Moutaineers recover their balance after being shocked last week by South Florida?

Kansas @ #24 Kansas St - I never saw that his one would be a huge game. KU is undefeated and State is 3-1 coming off its upset of the Longhorns,with only a late 4th quarter swoon against Auburn blemishing the record. Winner has to be considered a Big 12 North candidate.

#5 Wisconsin @ Illinois - can the Badgers keep winning the tight games or does Ron Zook pull off yet another upset of a Big 10 title contender, like they did last week against Penn St?

Georgia Tech @ Maryland - will the Yellowjacket swarm prevail or does Maryland keep up the momentum after last week's upset of Rutgers?

Ohio @ Buffalo - Frank's Bobcats against Turner's Bison. What's a Husker fan to do? Cats really need a win after dropping to 0-1 in conference in losing to Kent St last week.

#10 Oklahoma vs #19 Texas in Dallas - Red River shootout lost a lot of luster with both team's fall from grace last week, but it still could wind up deciding the Big 12 South.

#12 Georgia @ Tennessee - can UT's Phil Fullmer get a big conference win over a ranked team to silence the critics?

#15 Virgina Tech @ #22 Clemson - Can Tech frosh QB Tyrod Taylor stay undefeated against a Tiger squad looking for a rebound after a hard fought 13-3 loss to Georgia Tech?

Iowa State @ Texas Tech - how many yards does Tech QB Harrell throw for this week against one the most porous defenses in the conference?

Colorado @ Baylor - can CU keep up the momentum against the South division's weakest sister?

Okie St @ Texas A & M - Which team responds best with both coaches under fire for off the field issues?

#4 Ohio State @ #23 Purdue - major battle of two unbeatens in the Big 10.

#9 Florida @ #2 LSU - still a huge game, likely the best of the day, but has lost a bit of cream off the top with Florida's loss to Auburn last week. Look for the LSU defense to try to hammer at UF QB Tim Tebow.

#20 Cincinnati @ #21 Rutgers - surprising and unbeaten Cincy looks to continue its winning ways against a Rutgers squad stunned by Maryland last week. Conference opener for both schools.


#25 Nebraska @ #17 Missouri - NU looks to control Mizzou's potent QB Chase Daniels, possibly with last year's 3-3-5 defensive look while Husker look for QB Sam Keller to make enough plays to stay with the Tigers. Hopefully the Blackshirts show up better than the equally anemic Tigger D and NU can run the ball to keep Daniels off the field.

Irresponsibly crazed prediction: NU 42, UM 34.

Baseball Playoffs

We're in mid week of the Divisional Series, and we have discovered a couple of things already. One, the Stones are still red hot, like magma out of a volcano, having downed the Quakers twice to go up 2-0. Likewise, the Snakes have bit the Little Bears, who also face elimination now.

Over in the AL, both the Oysters and the Angry Native Americans are up 1-0 over the Halos and Yanks. Kelvim Escobar goes for the Halos against Dice K tonight, while Andy Pettitte draws a matchup against 19 game winner Fausto Carmona. Yanks had won all six of the regular season meetings with the Tribe, only to get blasted yesterday. Figures.

On Saturday, the Snake's Livan Hernandez goes up against Rich Hill in Chicago while the Quakers ageless wonder Jamie Moyer faces up with the Stone's Ubaldo Jimenez, and I will actually be attending this one in person, thanks to an old friend with an extra ticket and enough time in the schedule to drive to Denver before Saturday's evening start time.

However, my joy at actually attending a premier sporting event where tickets are going for up to a grand a piece is tempered by the angst of being unable to see the Husker-Mizzou game being played at the same time. I do understand our gracious host will be TiVoing the Husker game, so the real angst is that I'm not sure I want football score updates during the baseball contest or not. !?

Firefly Quote of the Day

Simon: [after Kaylee is shot] Kaylee, can you move your feet?
Kaylee: Are you asking me to dance?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Early Polynesian Trade Network

National Geographic had a good piece the other day about the analysis of stone artifacts found in the east Polynesian islands of the Tuamoto group, about 1,000 miles east of Tahiti. These stone wood working tools were found to have come great distances, further supporting the idea that these Polynesian seafarers not only went long distances in their exploration and settlement, but also maintained a vast long distance trade network.

The clincher for this idea is that one of these stone tools has been chemically traced back to Hawaii, over 2500 miles to the north, and the only spot on the entire planet that a particular type a volcanic basalt is found. These findings corroborate the oral traditions of the Polynesian poeples that describe long voyages conducted with careful planning and skill, and the artifacts might suggest that the Tuamoto group might have been an important center of trade between the Hawaiian chain and older sites of Polynesian colonization such as Tahiti.

Firefly Quote of the Day

Mal: You've only got to scare him.
Jayne: Pain is scary.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Astronomers Spot "2nd Earth" Forming


Astronomers utilzing NASA's Spitzer Telescope have spotted a planetary disk around a star 424 light years from Earth that seems to be undergoing the process of forming planets. The exciting news is that this protoplanet dust area is apparently forming within the star's habitable zone, where the temperature would allow liquid water to exist on a planet after it develops.

"The dust belt, which scientists suspect is clumping together to form planets, is located in the middle of the star system's terrestrial habitable zone where temperatures are moderate enough to sustain liquid water. Scientists estimate there is enough material in the belt to form a Mars-sized world or larger. At approximately 10 million years old, the star is just the right age for forming rocky planets, the researchers say."

A younger star system the protoplanetary disk would consist more of gases that would most likely form a Jupiter type gas giant, while an older system would already have the planets formed into stable orbits. The dust cloud also appears to have the right chemical composition to form a terrestrial type rocky planet.

Firefly Quote of the Day

Mal: You know, you ain't quite right.
River: It's a popular theory.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Why Fred Wins

The American Thinker has an interesting piece by J. Peter Mulhern on why he believes Fred Thompson will not only win the Republican nomination, but also the Presidency, and his analysis mirrors mine to a large degree. He first relates the usual MSM dribble about Thompson - lazy, no fire, tired, no executive experience, inconsistent, etc.

"Of course, conventional wisdom rarely gets anything right. When it does, it's only by accident. In this case conventional wisdom is not just wrong but comically so. Thompson will win the Republican nomination for two reasons. First, he's a very impressive candidate. Second, there's no realistic alternative. He will win the general election for the same two reasons."

Mulhern then goes on to relate the various shortcomings of the other candidates in detail.

McCain? While he's long been a media darling, he's effectively been ostracized by his own party's base due to the twin issues of campaign finance reform and illegal immigration. While I am a big fan of McCain's unswerving devotion to the troops and their misison, and deeply appreciate his sacrifices during his time in uniform, John never had any realistic chance of winning the nomination.

Romney? The only places he is polling ahead of the front runners are places the front runners haven't really spent any time or money on, which will change dramatically over the next couple of months. Romney's hope has been that the early states give him enough momentum to gain ground nationally. However, his penchant for MBA style lectures gives him a communication gap to the average voter and his flexible, inconsistent positions on the issues lead voters to distrust his motives.

The Mayor? Conventional wisdom (again) believes the Republicans can win only by swallowing hard and reaching out to moderates, which is pretty much hogwash, as Mulhern puts it:

"This argument is a hardy perennial of conventional commentary, and it is utterly inane. You can't win by appealing to people who won't vote for you under any imaginable circumstances at the cost of alienating your core supporters. Trading a perfectly good cow for a handful of beans only makes sense in fairy tales."

Mulhern points out a significant distinction between Republican and Democratic parties is that R's fight back when traditional social institutions are threatened by vandalizing extremists, while Dems hand over spray paint to the vandals. He goes on to relate that Rudy had his chance to reach out to the base at the very beginning of the campaign, and he blew it. He would have had to admit the Roe v. Wade was a badly decided case, but he didn't. As a result, millions of values voters will likely stay home if Rudy is the nominee.

But wouldn't Rudy be a strong leader on the war on terror? Mulhern doesn't think so, and I tend to agree. He has mouthed some platitudes, but doesn't seem to understand the strategic situation and connected the dots leading back to Tehran.

"When Rudy mentions Iran at all he gives no hint that he understands that, one way or another, the road to victory leads through Tehran. He says, as does George W. Bush, that Iran can't be allowed to have nuclear weapons. Like the President, he never says how we are going to stop Iran from getting them. Giuliani has very little foreign policy experience and he seems to be in thrall to the same establishment groupthink on the subject that has largely paralyzed the Bush administration. Giuliani was level-headed on September 11. That doesn't make him a latter-day Patton, or LeMay."

Mulhern then goes on to list the things that make Fred a different candidate. He doesn't pander to special interests, as his response to some local questions in Florida illustrate. Fred simply said that he preferred local repsonses to local issues in reponse to the Shiavo case, and believed that the nation couldn't afford to restrict itself from domestic energy supplies in response to a question about drilling for oil in the Everglades. Political consultant Dick Morris (who's never met an interst group he didn't try to curry) was aghast, but it sounds to me like a man with some strong principles.

The response to the charge Fred hasn't run anything is that the President isn't supposed to run the nation, just one branch of the government, and his strong commitment to Federalism shows that he is outside the mainstream politicians that believe the solution to every problem runs right through DC and the Federal money trough.

Another strong point for Thompson is that he understands the strategic situation far more thoroughly than any of the other candidates. Iran has pretty much been at war with the US since the hostages were taken almost forty years ago. Fred would not have let the Iranian president into the country to speak at Columbia University. He also noted that General Petraeus testimony pretty clearly linked Iran to those groups killing American troops in Iraq and that this should clearly have far more serious consequences to the Iranians than has been the case to this point in time.

Another point in Thompson's favor is his communication skills. He speaks calmly and sensibly about large important issues, such as reforming the tax code and overhauling social security, but doesn't come across as some crazed radical. This is worth its weight in gold to the commonplace voter seeking a candidate they can trust with their security and our collective future.

"Political strategists aren't known for consensus, but they all agree that the public loathes passionate and polarized politics. Attacking Hillary with self-righteous zeal like St. George all set to slay the dragon would be a tactical mistake. The best way for a Republican to beat Hillary is to talk to the American people calmly, simply and sensibly, and let her be the poster child for all the bitterness and anger of the last decade. Fred is just the man to do that.

After a recent Thompson speech in Iowa a member of the audience called out: "Kill the terrorists, secure the border, and give me back my freedom." Thompson replied "you just summed up my whole speech." No other candidate could have carried off that quip because no other candidate is capable of delivering a convincing speech focused on those powerful themes."


Gore Ducks Debating on Warming

Great article at TCS by Dr. Bonner Cohen -
An inconvenient truth for Al Gore is that he has been ducking numerous attempts by global warming heretics to engage them in a debate on how much humans contribute to actual increases in the planet's temperature. Gore refuses to respond to Czech President Vaclav Klaus's offer to debate, nor the earlier offers from Hudson Institute fellow Dennis Avery or Britain's Lord Mornton.

Klaus is pretty unequivocable on the subject, as he stated in a piece published in the Financial Times in June of this year.

""As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not in communism. This ideology wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning."

Gore's also been offered a bet in June of this year by University of Pennsylvania's Professor Scott Armstrong for $10,000. Both men would predict the change in the global average temperature 10 years in the future, and the one closest to the actual increase at the time would donate the $20k plus the accumulated interest to the charity of his choice. Gore hasn't responded to Armstrong's offer either, despite his substantial earnings from his movies, books and lecture fees on this subject.

Interestingly enough, there has been a debate on the subject, as Cohen relates:

"Gore's reluctance to go toe-to-toe with global warming skeptics may have something to do with the - from the standpoint of climate change alarmists - unfortunate outcome of a global warming debate in New York last March. In the debate, a team of global warming skeptics composed of MIT scientist Richard Lindzen, University of London emeritus professor of biogeology Philip Stott, and physician-turned novelist/filmmaker Michael Crichton handily defeated a team of climate alarmists headed by NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt. Before the start of the nearly two-hour debate, the audience of several thousand polled 57.3 percent to 29.9 percent in favor of the proposition that global warming is a "crisis." At the end of the debate, the numbers had changed dramatically, with 46.2 percent favoring the skeptical point of view and 42.2 percent siding with the alarmists."

One has to wonder if the results of this effort have led Gore to be a bit reluctant to respond to his critics.

Republican Polling

Most polls of the presidential primary races show Hillary Clinton leading big among the Democrats, and Rudy Guiliani among the Republicans. The RCP Septemeber average of 4 or 5 different polls shows Clinton up 18 points over Barak Obama, and Rudy up 5 over Fred Thompson. See their numbers here.

One poll, the Rasmussen, shows a bit different results, however. It has Fred Thompson up two points, and has a slightly different methodology. Rasmussen screens for Likely Republican Primary voters, while the other polls generally simply survey adults. I would have to think Rasmussen is therefore a great deal more accurate as a result. While the Gallup poll, for instance, has Rudy up 8 points, when they examine the numbers from likely primary voters, his lead shrinks to three points. As Rasmussen puts it:

"It gets even more interesting when Gallup combines their last four surveys and takes a look at the more informed voters. Gallup says “Indeed, among Republicans who have an opinion of the four leading candidates -- less than half the party base -- the ballot looks very different, with Thompson at 33% support, Giuliani at 26%, Romney at 15%, and McCain at 10%.”

Those Gallup numbers are very similar to the Rasmussen numbers. Not only does Gallup’s sample of informed voters show Thompson ahead of Giuliani, they also match Rasmussen by showing Romney ahead of McCain.

Why does Gallup’s sample of informed voters look so much like the Rasmussen sample of Likely Voters? Because those more informed voters are precisely the kind of people who show up and vote in a primary."

Of course, Thomspon is perceived as the leading conservative in the race, and primary voters tend to be a bit more conservative than the average voter. Thus, most observers are overlooking Thompson's strength with the party base, and the poll numbers generally overstate Rudy's support. I'd also note that there is still a great deal of undecideds out there looking for a candidate to step up - and I beleive it will be Fred.

Stones to Face Quakers

Crazy game last night, going 13 innings after being tied at 6 runs after nine. All time saves leader Trevor Hoffman gives up a three run rally after the Priests had taken the lead in the top of the inning on Scott Hairston's 2 run dinger.

A pair of controversial calls had a big impact on the game. In the seventh, Stones 3B Garrett Atkins hit an apparent homer that was ruled a ground rule double. The replay I saw appeared to show it clear the wall, hit a wheelchair and bounce back into play, but the umpire crew believed it hit the top of the wall instead. The LF ump appeared to me to blow the play by being way out of position, being about only 10-15 behind third instead of out in the outfield where he belongs. And that, my friends, is why they have extra OF umps for playoff games in the first place.

On the game's final play, Stones MVP candidate Matt Holliday, who had earlier tied the game with a triple off Hoffman, scored on a shallow fly to right, but it wasn't clear that he touched the plate, being blocked by Priest C Michael Barret, but the homeplate ump ruled him safe after Barret dropped the throw.

Amazing topsy turvy affair all night long, and much superior in excitement to watching the New England Traitors demolish the Cincinnati Bungels on Monday Night Football. Stones travel to Philly to take on the Quakers, with Jeff Francis facing up against Quaker Cole Hamels and Mark Redman to follow the next day against former Spongecake Kyle Lohse.

Firefly Quote of the Day

Mal: The wheel never stops turning, Badger.
Badger: Only matters to the people on the rim.

Monday, October 01, 2007

College FB Results

While it was an very interesting weekend for baseball, there was also a ton of exciting things happening in the world of college football. ESPN's Pat Forde has a good run down of this weekend's crazy results, where a number of contenders were shown to be pretenders by the underdogs. Fortunately for NU, the Huskers weren't one of the victims, winning 35-17 over Iowa State despite three early turnovers.

First on Friday, #5 W. Virgina gets dropped by South Florida, then #3 OU falls to CU, blowing a 24-7 lead, #4 Florida loses to Auburn on a last second FG, and #7 Texas gets thumped by Kansas State 41-21, while #10 Rutgers gets upended by Maryland. Adding to the mayhem, #13 Clemson lost to Georgia Tech, and #21 Penn St falls to the Fighting Illini, and Florida St drops #22 Alabama. Zoinks!

And that wasn't all, #2 LSU had to hold off a pesky Tulane bunch (LSU led only 10-9 at half) with 24 second half points, and Washington gave USC all it wanted, with the Trojans finally prevailing 27-24. How bout some more? #9 Wisconsin survives against Michigan St, 37-34.

Elsewhere in the Big 12, A & M spanks Baylor 34-10, Tech lights up Northwestern St 75-7 and Oklahoma St. blast Sam Houston St 39-3. Mizzou and Kansas had the week off.
Lots of poll movement, but NU actually falls a spot in the USA Coach's poll to #23, and hold at #25 in the AP.

LSU moves around USC for the top spot in the AP, but the Trojans stay put at #1 in the USA poll. #3 in both polls is Cal, followed by Ohio St and Wisconsin. South Florida is 6 (AP) and 9 (USA), Boston College is 7/6, Florida drops to 7/9, and Kentucky is at # 8 and the Sooners drop to #10 in both polls. Upcoming NU opponent Mizzou moves up to #17 in both polls, Longhorns are at #19/16, and Kansas St enters the AP poll at #24.

Baseball Playoffs

While the regular season is finished, there is still some questions about the MLB playoffs. First what we know is in the AL, Team Evil hosts the Halos, while the Tribe visits the Yanks. John Lackey faces Josh Beckett on Wednesday for the first game, while the Yanks send Ching Ming-Wang up versus a very dominant down the stretch CC Sabathia for the Tribe on Thursday.

The Little Bears won the Central, and will host the Snakes, who have home field advantage throughout despite winning only 90 games. Carlos Zambrano faces Brandon Webb on Wednesday, then Ted Lilly goes against Livan Hernandez. We also know that The Stupids choked and the Quakers made my day by winning and making the playoffs.

The big news is we do not yet have a WC winner to face the Quakers. The Brew Crew took out the Priests yesterday while the Stones rallied to beat the Snakes, forcing a one game playoff today. The winner then gets to take on the Quakers. Stones have won 13 of their last 14, and Stone fans were pumped as the scoreboard kept putting up the Brew Crew-Priest score. Stones host the Priests tonight at 7:35 EST, with Jake Peavy going for the Priests and Josh "Dragon Slayer" Fogg (name comes from the fact he's pitched really well against opposing aces all year long) for the Stones.

Firefly Quote of the Day

Badger: The situation is... fluid.
Jayne: The only fluid I see here is the puddle of piss refusing to pay our wage.