Thursday, January 31, 2008

Boston Legal Quotes

Denny Crane: Now, Alan, if all else fails and you think you've lost... pretend you've won! Works for our president.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Shuttle Scheduled for Feb 7 Launch

via ScienceDaily, NASA has announced a new scheduled launch date for the delayed Atlantis shuttle mission for Feb. 7 to deliver the European Space Agency Columbus laboratory module. The new module is by far the most important European contribution to the station and will be the cornerstone of their operations on the ISS.

"Atlantis is now scheduled to lift off from launch pad 39-A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center near Cape Canaveral, Florida at 14:45 Eastern Standard Time (EST) / 20:45 Central European Time (CET).

Docking with the ISS is scheduled for Saturday 9 February at 12:23 EST (18:23 CET). Landing is currently slated to take place at KSC on Monday 18 February at 09:57 EST (15:57 CET)."

German astronaut Hans Schlegal will take part in two of three space walks on the mission connecting the module, and French astronaut Leopold Eyharts will take part in activating the module during his extended mission at the station. Interestingly enough, the module will be monitored from a German facility near Munich over the life of the station.

Boston Legal Quotes

Gil Furnald: I just like wearing women's clothes sometimes. It's not a sexual turn-on, it just feels right sometimes.
Denny Crane: So basically you're a sicko.
Gil Furnald: I'm not sick.
Denny Crane: Lighten up, man. So what, you got caught in a skirt? That what you're saying?
Gil Furnald: My employer found out, and, yes, I got fired. They asked me a lot of questions, like whether I'm gay.
Denny Crane: Well, are you? Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Asteroid Making a Close Earth Pass

via Astrobiology, a recently discovered near Earth asteroid called 2007 TU24 is making a very close pass (334,000 miles) past our lovely blue orb early tommorrow morning (2:30 AM Central), going by just outside the Moon's orbit of 250,000 miles. it was discovered last October by the NASA sponsored Catalina Sky Survey. The Jet Propulsion Lab has acquired imagery of the asteroid, which is around 800 feet in diameter.

""This will be the closest approach by a known asteroid of this size or larger until 2027," said Don Yeomans, manager of the Near Earth Object Program Office. "As its closest approach is about one-and-a-half times the distance of Earth to the moon, there is no reason for concern. On the contrary, Mother Nature is providing us an excellent opportunity to perform scientific observations."

While there is no danger to the planet, it might be noted that the impact of such a object on Earth would cause consderable regional damage and would likely have a substantial global impact as well.

Dinosaur Killer Made Quite a Splash

via ScienceDaily, a new analysis of the Chicxulub crater off Mexico's Yucatan penninsula, shows the asteroid impact that formed it 65 million years ago landed in much deeper water than previously thought. The asteroid is thought to be the major factor in the KT Extinction event which eliminated an estimated 70% of life on Earth. The amount of water vapor released into the atmosphere from the impact is now estimated to be 6 1/2 times greater than initially theorized, and that the sediments at the impact site contained far more sulfur. Sulfur released from the site would have caused an even deadlier result in two ways - by altering climate due to the cooling effect caused by sulfate aerosols and generating acid rain.

"The greater amount of water vapor and consequent potential increase in sulfate aerosols needs to be taken into account for models of extinction mechanisms," says Sean Gulick, a research scientist at the Institute for Geophysics at The University of Texas at Austin's Jackson School of Geosciences .

An increase in acid rain might help explain why reef and surface dwelling ocean creatures were affected along with large vertebrates on land and in the sea. As it fell on the water, acid rain could have turned the oceans more acidic. There is some evidence that marine organisms more resistant to a range of pH survived while those more sensitive did not.

Gulick says the mass extinction event was probably not caused by just one mechanism, but rather a combination of environmental changes acting on different time scales, in different locations. For example, many large land animals might have been baked to death within hours or days of the impact as ejected material fell from the sky, heating the atmosphere and setting off firestorms. More gradual changes in climate and acidity might have had a larger impact in the oceans."

Gulick's original intent was to determine the asteroid's trajectory, which he hoped would lead his team to the locations where the most extreme consequences of the event would be found, but instead found that the conditions at the impact site itself had more to do with the resulting extinciton event.

McCain's Record & ACU Ratings

Randall Hoven at The American Thinker examines the McCain record inlight of the widely touted 82 career American Conservative Union rating for the Senator. What is particularly interesting to me is that I was thinking about the same issue myself over the weekend. In short, an 82 rating is not all that good - solid conservatives are usually in the 90s.

"It puts Senator McCain in 39th place among senators serving in 2006, the latest year for which the ACU has its ratings posted online. For that most recent year in particular, McCain scored only 65, putting him in 47th place for that year. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE), for example, scored 64 and 75, respectively, in 2006."

Any Republican comparable to Ben Nelson is pushing the envelope for liberalism. McCain has gotten far more libeal the longer he has served in the Senate - his pre 1998 rating is 88, while it is a 74 since that point.

Hoven analyzes each vote where McCain differed from the ACU position from 1998 through 2006 (48 votes), and finds that many of these votes (16, or 1/3) were quite close - the swing of even a pair of senators might have altered their outcome. The major issues of disagreement were taxes (15 votes alone), the environment (5), campaign finance reform (10) and lately immigration (3, all from 2006).

In ranking all the Senate Republicans since 1998, McCain score rates him on the far left wing of the party, with only four Northeastern Republican Senators with lower scores (Chaffee, Collins, Snowe, and Spector). Obviously, McCain is from reliably conservative Arizona, and his peer from that state, John Kyl, has a lifetime rating of 96.9, so one has to wonder who he is actually representing - himself? It obviously isn't his constituents.

Hoven repeats a line regarding McCain that is quite telling - "As someone remarked, McCain is like a baseball player who gets all his hits after two outs and no one on base, and all his outs with men in scoring position."

Boston Legal Quotes

Judge Harry Hingham: A ho-mo-sexual? That's where we're at now? Santa Clauses being played by ho-mo-sexuals?
Alan Shore: [mockingly] I believe "homosexual" is one word, judge. But to avoid confusion, let's say "gay".

Monday, January 28, 2008

Will the Ice Caps Really Melt?

Much has been made of the possibilities of the polar ice caps melting due to "global warming", and the consequences (dramatic rise in sea levels, coastal flooding, millions of people displaced) have been described in dramatic detail as a rationale for taking "action". However, an engineer recently looked into the possibilities of the caps actually melting at The American Thinker (as claimed by a certain former vice president) and found the math involved....rather fuzzy.

As the engineer, Jason Schmidt puts it:

"Al Gore's claim that ocean levels will rise 20 feet thanks to global warming seems to ignore the laws of thermodynamics. I am no climatologist, but I do know about physics. Anyone who has ever spent time in a temperate climate following a snowy winter realizes that when the air temperature rises above 32°F the snow and ice do not melt immediately. We may experience many balmy early spring days with temperatures well above freezing while snow drifts slowly melt over days or weeks. Similarly, lakes and ponds take some time to freeze even days or weeks after the air temperature has plunged below zero. This is due to the latent heat of freezing/melting of water, a physical concept long quantified in thermodynamics.

That aspect of basic physics seems to have been overlooked by climatologists in their alarming claims of dramatic and rapid sea-level rise due to melting of the Antarctic ice caps and Greenland glaciers. But of course, we have learned that models predicting global warming also failed to take account of precipitation, so overlooking important factors ("inconvenient truths") should not cause much surprise anymore. The scientific data necessary to calculate the amount of heat necessary to melt enough ice to raise ocean levels 20 feet is readily available on the internet, and the calculations needed to see if polar cap melting passes the laugh test are surprisingly simple. Nothing beyond multiplication and division, and because we will use metric measures for simplicity's sake, much of the multiplying is by ten or a factor of ten."

He then goes about to step us throught the math involved in both raising the atmoshperic temperature of the Earth 5 degrees centigrade and the math involved in heating the ice caps to melt, and finds a rather large discrepancy.

"Heat needed to raise the temp of the atmosphere 5° C:
~2.5 x 10 to the 19th power kJ (kilojoules)

Heat necessary to melt ice to achieve 20-foot sea-level rise
~7.4 x 10 to the 21st power kJ

There is a difference of 300* between these two figures. Even if I am wrong by an order of magnitude, there is still an enormous difference. This does NOT mean that ice caps have not melted in the distant past nor that ice-age glaciers have not grown to cover much of the northern hemisphere; it simply means that the time scales involved to move sufficient quantities of heat to effect such melting or freezing occur over what we scientists commonly call "geological" time scales, i.e. hundreds of thousands and millions of years.

Even if sufficient heat is trapped in the atmosphere to raise it the maximum value predicted by anthropogenic "global warming" alarmists (5°C) over the next 100 years, hundreds of times more heat energy must be imparted into the ice-caps to melt sufficient ice to raise sea-levels the catastrophic levels prophesied by Al Gore.

I humbly submit that this might constitute a flaw in his equations."


Boston Legal Quotes

Denny Crane: Because we're friends, I'm gonna tell you something nobody else knows. I'm homophobic.
Alan Shore: [deadpan] I'm stunned.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Boston Legal Quotes

Alan Shore: You know what I miss most about our country, Denny? Not the loss of our civil rights so much as our compassion, our soul, our humanity.
Denny Crane: Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh. Soul, that's a religious thing. State... church... it's unconstitutional for the United States to have a soul.
Alan Shore: Apparently. We seem to be becoming a mean people. Learned Hand once said, "Liberty lies in our hearts, and once it dies there, no constitution can save it."
Denny Crane: Just once I wish you'd quote a Republican.
Alan Shore: I want a kindler and gentler nation.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Republican Nomination

Earlier this week, my preferred candidate, Fred Thompson withdrew from the presidential race. He had been almost every conservative blogger's favorite (with a few notable exceptions) even before announcing. Thompson's late entry (compared to others running) and anti-establishment stance, which put him in an early hole with the media establishment (from which he never recovered, and in fact, hit pieces on him have still been appearing all week), inspired a great deal of enthusiasm online and among many conservative activists. His detailed policy papers and formidable debate performances also served the conservative cause well, forcing the other, more moderate candidate's policies on several issues to the right in response.

As I've posted last week, my next choices are Rudy Guiliani and Mitt Romney, who I would rate as about equal, but substantially less appealing. The current front-runner and media darling, John McCain, and Mike Huckabee are even less appealing, representing far more centrist and populist impulses. McCain owes his status primarily to independent voters from open primary states; Huckabee is supported almost entirely by fundamentalist values voters.

Steven Stark has an interesting piece at RCP concerning Thompson, given the state of the race, and he has an interesting historical parallel - the election of 1920, when a dark horse candidate emerged from the convention to not only take the nomination but the presidency - Warren G. Harding.

"If McCain loses in Florida, the Republicans may well be headed to a deadlocked race and convention. And history teaches us that the likeliest candidate to emerge in that scenario is someone like Warren G. Harding: the prototypical, less-than-stellar candidate to which conventions turn when the going gets rough. This year's Harding? Believe it or not (are you sitting down?), despite the fact that he's withdrawn from the race, is Fred Thompson."

Harding ran quite poorly in 1920 - the leading candidates were a California senator, the governor of Illinois, and a retired Army General, Leonard Wood. However, none of them received the majority of delegates, and Harding had two distinct advatanges - he looked presidential, and he hadn't generated any significant antagonisms from the various party candidates or their supporting interests. This year, Fred Dalton Thompson also fits this mold. As Stark points out, Huckabee and Guiliani aren't likely to be the nominee unless they can get a delegate majority, which appears impossible at this point. McCain is strongly opposed by the both the party establishment and conservatives, and Romney is (for whatever reason) intensely disliked by the other candidates, despite strong support in some quarters, such as National Review and columnist/blogger/talk radio host Hugh Hewitt, leading it questionable that he could gather any support at the convention either.

That leads us to a brokered convention, and the emrgence of a consensus candidate, like 1920, that is everyone's second choice - Fred. Cross your fingers.

Boston Legal Quotes

Denny Crane: [walking through a crowd of reporters] Pictures, bios, hobbies. I once captained my own spaceship. Muli-talented.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Future Army - Effective or Not?

A military officer takes issue with some of the Army's plans for the future fighting force in the Armed Forces Journal. He advocates a different approach than what is being forcast, and has some powerful emprical arguments from past engagements to make his point. The future weapon systems of the Army force call for a much lighter and leaner force composition, using netcentric communications to call in lethal force from standoff distance. The good major believes the "new" approach to warfare ignores some basic tenets of the profession - such as the fact that there are times when all your nifty tools might not work as well as advertised.

"But given the current state of technology, the probability of future development in nations across the globe, and a historical perspective on the performance of new and emerging technologies in the past, does this theory stand up to rigorous examination? I argue that it does not. Aside from a near-faith-based, unsubstantiated belief in the efficacy of technology to do anything and everything imaginable, one of the primary factors upon which this assessment is based is its failure to give proper consideration to the capabilities of the future enemy force."

In short, the Army plans to reduce both the survivability of the force and the number of ground vehicles in the force, replacing many of these with pilotless airborne drones - ignoring the fact that these vehicles may encounter weather conditions that preclude their deployment, and the experience we have encountered in the current campagns in which we are adding armor to our existing vehicle inventory, despite facing a technically much inferior enemy today than we are likely to face in the future (say a large populous nation located in East Asia). Another item this officer takes issue with is the planned elimination of the heavy divisional cavalry squadron (quite dear to my heart, since I served in one) which allows for ground based reconaissance when conditions prevent air based recon, and also allows for some serious toe-to-toe butt-kicking if needed, with 27 tanks and 41 Bradleys.

His recommendations, which go far beyond the above mentioned issues (really, read the whole article, it is quite worth the read):

"To summarize, the following nine changes and additions should be made to the Defense Department modernization program:

1. Improve the armored protection of our armored fighting platforms.

2. Increase the ability of reconnaissance forces to fight for information in a degraded mode.

3. Implement a counter-UAV and space-defense program.

4. Return air defense to the tactical formation in recognition of improving threat capabilities.

5. Expand our air transport fleet to enable rapid strategic and operational movement and maneuver.

6. Improve the ability of land forces to engage in operations worldwide via fast sealift and sea basing.

7. Field significant numbers of advanced fighter aircraft to ensure air superiority.

8. Strengthen missile defense.

9. Place an increased emphasis on training the force in light of emerging capabilities with a focus on the realities of ground combat."

Can't say I disagree with any of his arguments.

Distant Stellar Collision?

From ScienceDaily, astronomers have discovered a very odd object orbiting a brown dwarf known as 2M1207A. The object, known as 2M1207B (those astronomers are awfully clever with those names, aren't they?) is about the size of Saturn, but many of its charateristics do not match up. The system itself is very young, around 8 million years old, but the planet is far too warm, at 2400 degrees F, than it should be.
Conversely, given that temperature, it should be up to 10 times more bright than observations show it to be. The only hypothesis that answers the contradiction is that the object has suffered a cosmic collision in the recent past. If true, it would be the first such recently collided object we have ever observed.

"The planets in our solar system assembled from dust, rock, and gas, gradually growing larger over millions of years. But sometimes, two planet-sized objects collided catastrophically. For example, the Moon formed when an object about half the size of Mars hit the proto-Earth. If planet formation works the same way in other star systems, then 2M1207B might be the product of a collision between a Saturn-sized gas giant and a planet about three times the size of Earth. The two smacked into each other and stuck, forming one larger world still boiling from the heat generated in the collision."

Observations on the object will continue which could confirm the theory, including a surface gravity calculation from a spectrum analysis, which could give us the answer within a year or so. Even if 2M1207B's odd characteristics are not the result of a collision, astronomers believe we will discover many such objects with the next generation of space and Earth based telescopes being planned or built.

Hydrothermal Sea Vents Different than Theorized

A new study of the mid-ocean ridge system running throughout the Earth's oceans has given the researchers studying them a bit of a surprise. The study, the first of its kind, shows these deep ocean hydrothermal sea vents are much different than was expected.

"The hypothetical image of a hydrothermal-vent system shows water forced down by overlying pressure through large faults along ridge flanks. The water is heated by shallow volcanism, then rises toward the ridges' middles, where vents (often called "black smokers," for the cloud of chemicals they exude) tend to cluster. The new images, from a 4-kilometer-square area show a very different arrangement.

The water appears to descend instead through a sort of buried 200-meter-wide chimney atop the ridge, run below the ridge along its axis through a tunnel-like zone just above a magma chamber, and then bubble back up through a series of vents further along the ridge."

The interest in these vents comes from the fact they have an important contribution to both the study of planetary geology (they bring to the surface many interesting and valuable minerals from the Earth's interior, such as gold, as well as drive the Earth's plate tectonics system) and these vents also create areas of superheated water which have unique life forms generally classified as extremophiles, which have given us new insights into the possible areas in which life might exist on other planets.

This particular Pacific system appears to show the seawater entering into the system from a series of small cracks rather than a large fissure and that it processes much more water than believed - as much as a billion of gallons of water a year. It may also contribute insight on ocean currents, whether or not the life forms found around the vents relocate or not and how they might transport themselves, as well as how heat and chemicals are cycled throughout the deep ocean and mineral deposits form in these areas.

Boston Legal Quotes

Denny Crane: [several lawyers from the firm are squeezing past a throng of reporters] Denny Crane, Trix are for Kids... Denny Crane, coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Boston Legal Quotes

Alan Shore: Objection, your Honor. You can't preface your second point with "first of all."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Republican Delegates Counts

RCP is tracking the delegate counts for the presidential nominations. Through Saturday, Romney leads with 59, Huckabee has 40, McCain 36, Fred 5, Ron Paul 4, and Guiliani one, which goes to show you how far we have to go in the primary/nomination process. 1,191 delegates are needed to gain the party's nomination.

The real interesting thing is how the different states decide their delegate counts -the next big state up, Florida on Jan. 29th, is a winner take all state and has 57 delegates, half its normal allotment due to the party penalty (that may or may not end up being imposed at the convention) for moving up its primary date. (Maine votes today for its 21 delegates). Thus, the winner in Florida is likely to take the lead in the delgate count and should get a big boost in momentum for the 22 state bonanza on Feb. 5th. Another factor is that this is the first "closed" primary - only registered Republicans will be able to vote. Current polling in FL has John McCain with a very slight lead (23-20%) over Rudy, who has oriented his entire campaign on the state. Romney and Huckabee are right behind in the high teens, with Fred trailing just under double digits.

Other winner take all states having primaries on the 5th, and their delegate counts -New York (101), Missouri (58), Arizona (53), New Jersey (52), Utah (36), Connecticut (30), Montana (25) and Delaware (18). You have to figure NY and NJ in the Rudy camp, AZ for Mac, and Utah and Conn. for Romney. There are another 700 delegates available in the other states on the 5th as well, which are likely to be split up at least between four candidates. There are a little over a thousand delegates available after Super Tuesday as well.

Boston Legal Quotes

Alan Shore: [referring to a book about parasites found on salmon] This book, "A Stain Upon The Sea" it's all about these sea lice.
Denny Crane: Interesting.
Alan Shore: They call them cling ons.
Denny Crane: Did you say Klingons?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Boston Legal Quotes

Alan Shore: [listening to the news on TV at the office] That's Bernie!
Tara Wilson: Who?
Alan Shore: The little skillet-welding client from last week, he's whacked another one. He promised me he wouldn't.
[knocks on Bernard Ferrion's front door repeatedly]
Bernard Ferrion: [open's door] Alan.
Alan Shore: [walks inside] What have you done now?
Bernard Ferrion: There's a awful lot of excitement.
Alan Shore: I saw, both live and on the news. You've been flaying again with your frying pan, haven't you, Bernard?
Bernard Ferrion: I never meant for it to happen.
Alan Shore: I am very disappointed. I gave you a terrific speech last week, Bernie, appealing to the kind inner you. It was wonderful - poignant, even, and how you have completely mooted it by committing murder again.
Bernard Ferrion: I never meant to kill her!
Alan Shore: Well, what? You just went over there to make an omelet and things got out of hand?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Older Stars Forming New Planets

via ScienceDaily, astronomers have discovered two odd stellar system in which new planets are forming around two different stars that actually quite old.

""This is a new class of stars, ones that display conditions now ripe for formation of a second generation of planets, long, long after the stars themselves formed," said UCLA astronomy graduate student Carl Melis, who reported the findings today at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin, Texas.

"If we took a rocket to one of these stars and discovered there were two totally distinct ages for their planets and more minor bodies like asteroids, that would blow scientists' minds away," said Benjamin Zuckerman, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy and co-author of the research, which has not yet been published. "We're seeing stars with characteristics that have never been seen before."

The stars are BP Piscium, 200 light years form Earth in the constellation Pisces, and TYCHO 4144 329 2, in the constellation Ursa Major. Both stars have the standard cloud of dust and gas surrounding them, a characteristic of young stars, which form small stellar bodies called planetesimals, which later tend to clump together to form planets. They also exhibit high infared light emissions like many younger stars. However, in the case of these two stars, things did not add up, as both stars spectroscopic analysis showed much smaller amounts of the element lithium (which stars burn up as they age) than should be the case for a relatively young star. The lithium signature for BP Piscium is seven times less than a normal young star of similar mass. Other spectral measurements also indicate these stars are much older than they initially appeared as well. Conversely, their infared emissions are also at an unusually high level for a mature star.

Both the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory have been making and will continue to make observations of the two systems along with other Earth based telescopes, and astronomers are seeking other examples of older stars exhibiting the same characteristics.

Boston Legal Quotes

Denny Crane: You left me, Shirley. Women don't leave Denny Crane. And for a secretary!
Shirley Schmidt: It was the Secretary of Defense

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Unusual Double Binary System Found

also via NG, a University of Hawaii astronmer has discovered a very unusual double binary system in the constellation Aquarius 166 light years from our solar system. The four stars all reside within an area smaller than the orbit of Jupiter in our own system.

"University of Hawaii researcher Evgenya Shkolnik reported another odd finding: a unique quadruple star system that packs four stars into a region smaller than the orbit of Jupiter. The stars are grouped into two closely spaced pairs, 12 and 50 million miles (20 and 80 million kilometers) apart, respectively.

"It's really quite amazing that four stars all orbit each other at this distance," Shkolnik said. It's not possible for all four stars to have formed that closely together, she said. Rather, they must have formed at greater distances and then spiraled together as interstellar gas slowed their orbits."

While certainly very rare, the system isn't one of a kind. In my trip to Kitt Peak observatory in 2006, we observed a similar double binary system in the constellaiton Lyra, but the two pair of stars in that system are much further apart. This system's stars probably drifted together into their uniquely close paired cosmic gravity dance within 100,000 years of forming.

Plate Tectonics on Exoplanets

via National Geopgraphic, a new Harvard study theorizes that our planet is on the small side of rocky worlds where plate tectonics operates. Plate tectonics, the theory which describes the "drift" of continental landmasses on the Earth's crust, is believed to play a large role in keeping the planet sutible for life.

"Tectonics—the continent-shifting forces that build mountains and fuel volcanoes—recycle Earth's crust by drawing it underground, where it melts and later re-emerges as magma, pointed out Diana Valencia of Harvard University. That helps keep carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere more or less stable, as excess gas is removed from the atmosphere by reacting with fresh rocks in a process called "weathering." The carbon dioxide is later returned to the atmosphere via volcanic gases."

This makes it more likely that we will find a terrestrial counterpart in our search for habitable worlds elsewhere, given that it's easier to find large worlds than small ones. Larger worlds are more likely to have warmer interiors, producing the convection currents in the planetary mantle responsible for the cracking of the planetary crust into interactive segments. On Earth, it is thought that the process is enhanced by the amount of liquid water in our planetary oceans. Large planets with water might have continental plates moving up to ten times faster than our planet.

Boston Legal Quotes

Alan Shore: You know I'm not about to go to Texas and not ride the mechanical bull, Chelina. That would be like going to Los Angeles and not sleeping with Paris Hilton.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Early Results, Thoughts on Presidential Race

I've been meaning to comment a bit on the Presidential race, which has been an interesting see-saw, with first one candidate then another appearing to be the front runner for each party.

On the Democratic side, I am a bit undecided about the race, since the only candidate I had any respect for (Bill Richardson) is pretty much out of it and could be a likely Veep for whichever of the other candidates eventually wins out. None of the leading Democrats running have any significant experience, with only Hillary having served more than one Senate term. Of course, she hangs her hat on 8 years as First Lady, but she had no real official policy making or advisory position in the administration, with the lone exception of Healthcare Reform, which was a bad idea that went no where, and on which she apparently feels strongly enough to emphasize again in her candidacy. As several pundits have pointed out, being someone's wife (even in a close relationship, which I tend to believe isn't the case with the Clintons) doesn't automatically allow the spouse to presume the husband's professional role.

As far as Obama and Edwards go, both are not only even more ridiculously underqualified than Hillary, they both appear to be woefully ignorant of even the basic tenets of sound economic policy. Don't even get me started on their foreign policy views, I want to keep this short.

On the other side of the aisle, we have several candidates that appear to have the requisite experience to lead the nation, but almost all of them have some flaws. While I generally vote Republican, I don't always, and there are a couple of these candidates for which I would have to seriously question casting a ballot.

Governor Mike Huckabee has executive experience, and appears to be a good pro-life Christian gentleman, but has some very odd policy positions for a Republican - he's anti-free trade, raised taxes in his state considerably, and is almost Carteresque in his foreign policy views. Yet he won Iowa and is running pretty well nationally.
My grade for him is an F.

John McCain has a wealth of experience in the Senate, has voted to control spending, is a genuine (rather than make-believe) war hero, and has the type of foreign policy and miltary experience that makes him an attractive candidate - however, there is that Freedom of Speech thing, the judges deal, the immigration issue, the fact he has voted against tax cuts and several other issues that make me question whether or not you can call him a Republican - indeed, there has been talk that he might switch parties at some points in the past - perhaps even as John Kerry's running mate. While not as bad as Huck, he definitely leaves alot to be desired, grading him a C- only for taking a principaled stand on the war, which is the definitive national issue. Many fellow bloggers dislike him even more than I. McCain is the current front runner right now with a win in New Hampshire, running well in Michigan, South Carolina and nationally.

Mitt Romney has not only government executive experience, but private sector experience as well. He is also proposing many of the right things on economic policy, social issues, and immigration - but on all those issues, his position has "evolved" since beginning his career in the political process. Simply put, I have to doubt the veracity of those beliefs, and I also have to question whether or not we want to have a wealthy candidate giving at least the appearance of trying to buy an election with his vast personal fortune. While he cut taxes, he raised regulatory and licensing fees in Massachussets, and his commitment to the 2nd Amendment is questionable to say the least. While probably better than McCain in general, and definitely better than Huckabee, I have to barely pass him with a C+.
Romnye finished second in both Iowa and NH, and is running nose to nose with Mac in Michigan.

This leads us to Mayor Rudy Guiliani, which I strongly considered early in the race, and whom I have heard speak personally at one of those odd business seminars that they stage on occaisson. I liked what I heard, then did some research. There is a lot to like about the Mayor, particularly on the economic front, and he has a strong law and order reputation. You have to also make the case he would make a strong foreign policy stand. Some of his social views are questionable, but those aren't factors I consider strongly. However, he does have some troubling issues, starting with (again) the 2nd Amendment, and you have to wonder about how strong his commitment to stopping illegal immigration really would turn out to be if elected. He passes with a B- due to getting the biggest issues (war/foreign policy & the economy) right, but mostly blowing it on much of the rest, particulary 2A. Rudy's been pretty invisible in the early states with the idea of focusing on Florida next week.

Then we have the best of the bunch, someone that I have supported from day one (and even before he announced) - Fred Thompson. On issues, he is pretty spectacular, giving us detailed (and excellent) policy positions on foreign policy, rebuilding the military, illegal immigration, tax policy, spending, entitlement reform, judges, and the 2nd Amendment, issues on which he is almost always spot on. The one minor weakness is his orignal support for McCain-Feingold, which he has since labelled as a well-intentioned mistake, which I can readily accept in exchange. His support for tax reform, an optional Flat Tax and cut in the corporate tax rates (along with a host of other tax proposals) is simply outstanding economic policy. Another important philosophical tenet of Fred's is his support for Federalism and the Constitutional rights of states and their citizens to decide some issues for themselves, reigning in the reach of the national government, which is simply icing on the cake in my view.

I have to grade Fred the only A of the mainstream candidates, (although I would give Congressman Duncan Hunter a solid Honorable mention grade of B) and I will openly state I've given him more of my hard earned dollars than any candidate in my entire life. I generally have given $10-15 contributions in the past. While not be any means a wealthy person, I've contributed far over that to Fred in both single contributions and in sum total hit a figure well into three digits.

Can he win? I don't know, he put a lot of effort into Iowa garnering third there, and has picked South Carolina as his next big effort and raised over $1 million to campaign strongly there. The last Rasmussen poll showed him 4th behind McCain, Huckabee and Romney but moving up four points into a statistical tie for 2nd at 16%, evidently drawing support from Huckabee, who dropped five points from the previous poll. Michigan votes today with McCain and Romney neck and neck, I'm not sure what Huckabee's strategy is, while the Mayor's has long been to focus on Florida to stop the other candidates' momentum, generate his own and move on to Super Tuesday.

If nothing else, it will prove to be an intersting race on both sides.

Boston Legal Quotes

Alan Shore: You have a job to do, and so do I. Yours is to sell socks and suspenders. Mine is to cross examine people like you and crush them.
[indicates to Denny Crane]
Alan Shore: This man here would fire me if I didn't.
Denny Crane: Denny Crane.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Boston Legal Quotes

Alan Shore: Shirley? What about senior partners? There would be nothing wrong with me, lusting, say, after... you? Would there?
Shirley Schmidt: Go subscribe to National Geographic. Make a list of the places you'll never get to visit. Add to that list, Schmidt.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Kling on the Fair Tax

Arnold Kling at TCS Daily looks at the Fair Tax, which proposes to replace the Federal Income tax with a consumption based national sales tax. Kling has proposed a similar idea himself in the past, but has some issues with the proposal as it stands today. One thing proponents like to tout is that you get your entire paycheck with no taxes taken out, which sounds like a good deal until you dig into a bit further.

First, the advatanges of such a plan, as Kling sees it:

"Potential advantages include reduced complexity, weaker incentives to lobby for tax breaks, and stronger incentives to save. Potential drawbacks include difficulty raising revenue and major shifts in the tax burden relative to the current system."

The Fair Tax proposal is to tax all purchases, even those made by government agencies, at a rate the proponents claim is 23%* (see Kling's note below), with the exception of educational costs. There is also a exception for repurchased goods, even big ticket items such as houses and cars, so only newly produced items and services would be subject to the tax. The tax would replace all Federal taxes, including the payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare. The personal tax exemption would be $2352 for adults and $732 for children. One thing he doesn't examine is that the plan calls for the government would send a check to those making under a certain income figure (or maybe it was everyone) to defray living costs - but I haven't seen how that would be implemented.

"(*The FairTaxers quote a 23 percent rate. If a boombox costs $100 and I pay a $30 sales tax, then to me that is a 30 percent tax. What the FairTaxers are saying is that if I have to lay out $130 for the boombox and $30 of that is taxes, then I am paying $30/$130 = 23 percent in taxes. This is consistent with the way we think of income taxes--if you earn $130 in income and pay $30 in taxes, then you think of your tax rate as 23 percent. However, it is not the way we typically think of sales taxes.)"

Kling compares the Fair Tax with his own proposal and finds it wanting in several regards, but suffice it to say that it is lacking - for example, the exemptions from his own plan for a family of four would be $20,000 versus $6288 under the Fair Tax, and he also believes proponents are ignoring the transistion costs, which might puts the real rate as high as 45%. But one biggie he points out is that the vast majority of the current income tax revenues come from the upper end of the income distribution; the top 10% of income earners, those making over $104,000 a year, contribute 70% of the income tax revenues. As he puts it:

"The problem with a consumption tax is that the top 5 percent of earners do not consume at the same rate that they earn income. As a result, the government cannot abolish the income tax without sacrificing hundreds of billions in revenue from the subset of high earners who also are high savers. To make up for this loss, the middle class has to be socked with either higher taxes or fewer entitlements."

A while back the Skeptical Optimist looked at the proposal and pointed out another huge issue: if I have money in my savings account that I've already been taxed on from the current income tax regime, why should I pay another tax when I spend it after the Fair Tax is implemented? I've seen no good answer from the Fair Tax proponents on this one.

Kling goes on to make a more practical middle proposal, one in which you flatten the income tax to three rates: zero for those earning under $100,000, 10% for those between $100-150,000, and 35% over that figure, abolishing the payroll tax and institute a national sales tax at a rate of around 20%, with all future tax adjustments being address on the sales poriton only. This would certainly make tax payers sensitve to the cost of new govenrment programs (as well as the politicians elected by the taxpayers).

Interesting discussion, but I'm still not sold - either way, both systems are fairly complicated, and the transition is likely to be messy. I'm still drawn to a much more appealing proposal that has been empirically shown to work to unleash the engine of economic growth - the Flat Tax.

Boston Legal Quotes

Denny Crane: How can you ban red meat?
Dominick Ryan: Well, they've got a whole campaign, they're going to go with it. They plan to promote Summersport as the seafood capital of the world.
Denny Crane: We're carnivores. When the pilgrims landed, first thing they did was eat a few Indians.
Dominick Ryan: [Shirley and Dominick stare at him] Is there anything we can do?
Shirley Schmidt: We'll get an immediate TRO.
Denny Crane: I'll argue it myself. Ban red meat. That cannot pass Constitutional mustard.
Shirley Schmidt: The word is "muster", Denny, but you're right, the law lacks condiments.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Goose Elected to Hall, Going in as a Yank

The Goose finally got elected into Baseball's Hall of Fame, on the ninth season since he became elegible. For whatever reason, the electors have something against relief pitchers, but the recent election of Bruce Sutter may have paved the way for Goose and others. Goose is going in as a Yankee, where he saved about half of his 300+ career games and around 1/3 of his 1500 punchouts. Gossage was nearly elected last year but just missed.

"This is from my heart," said Gossage, now 56, who was elected with nearly 86 percent of the vote on his ninth attempt on the ballot. "I had the privilege and the honor to play for nine different teams in the big leagues, and I loved every moment on every team. Playing in San Diego and turning around baseball in that city for the first time holds a warm spot in my heart. We turned that city on.

"But I grew up in Colorado and [members of] my family were huge Yankees fans. And then getting to play for the Yankees was kind of an out-of-body experience. Putting on the pinstripes did something for me that no other team did. I don't mean to take anything at all away from all the other ballclubs, but getting to play for them and the success we enjoyed there both personally and as a team [was outstanding]."

Managing great Dick Williams, Gossage's manager at San Diego from 1984-87, was also elected to the Hall. Williams goes in as an Athletic, where he won two World Series titles in 1972 and 1973. Their 1984 SD club was the first in that franchise's history to make the playoffs. Boston's Jim Rice was almost elected as well, with almost 73% of the voters putting him on their ballots, just missing the 75% threshold for election. 20 balloters would need to add him to their slates next year, which is likely to occur.

Energy Prices & Washington DC

Dr. Arthur Robinson take the American voter to task for complaining about high energy prices - after all, we elected the idiots that are causing the problem in the first place. This might be the most clear headed piece of writing I've seen in a number of months of energy issues.

"If American voters are disgruntled about fuel and electricity prices, they should look in their mirrors. These prices have been determined entirely by the politicians whom they have sent to Washington -- politicians who now want voters to believe that oil companies, futures speculators, Arab producers, Chinese consumers, and natural resource shortages are responsible.

Moreover, these politicians are increasingly promoting the false claim that Americans should not use energy anyway because this is bad for the planet. Of all the current contenders for the Presidential nominations of both parties, only two -- Ron Paul and Fred Thompson -- have failed to parrot this idiot brainchild of Al Gore and the United Nations."

The good doctor points out the only reliable abundant forms of energy on which all of our wonderful technology depends are nuclear power and fossil fuels, and we import $500 billion in fossil fuels from people that aren't really very friendly towards us, and we also pay to a pretty high price in dollars and the blood of our military members to protect our access to these sources of energy.

So why don't we produce more of the enrgy we need ourselves? I've been asking myself that question for a long, long time. Answer: Private energy producers face a very unfavorable business climate her in the US.

"This stagnation has been caused by United States government taxation, regulation, and sponsorship of litigation, which has made the U.S. a very unfavorable place to produce energy. Moreover, the U.S. government has spent vast sums of tax money subsidizing inferior energy technologies for political purposes."

We possess 25% of the world coal supply, and coal can be economically converted into petroleum at a cost far lower than current world oil prices, and we have far more coal than the Saudis have oil. Instead, the US government has prevented the development of these alternate technologies and the exploitation of our own energy reserves and the construction of new nuclear plants for two generations. Instead, we subsidize the liquification of our food supply and legally mandate its use in the form of ethanol.

Doc does give some credit to the current administration in trying to jump start our nuclear industry, but Congressional opposition has stopped anything significant from occurring so far. Just one additional 10 reactor nuclear plant in each of the 50 states would generate enough electricity to replace all the enrgy we currently import, and allow us to EXPORT another $300 billion in electricity to other nations. The cost of such a program would be about $1 trillion - the same approximate amount of the annual US trade deficit. Even better, this cost wouldn't necessarily have to be born by the US taxpayer.

"Moreover, these plants could be constructed without the expenditure of any tax money. Simple legislative repeal of the taxes, regulations, and incentives to litigation with which our politicians have hindered nuclear power development is all that would be necessary. The domestic hydrocarbon industry could be similarly revived.

All government subsidies of energy industries should be repealed, which would save the tax payers money and end damaging political distortion of the free market. There are many ideas concerning innovations in energy production. While nuclear and hydrocarbon solutions are the only practical methods for solving America’s immediate energy problem, future developments may provide additional methods. The worst possible means by which to encourage these developments, however, is for politicians and bureaucrats in Washington – who are obviously clueless about energy technology --to choose technology and supervise development by means of tax subsidies."


The Mysterious Outer Solar System

Livescience examines the outer reaches of the solar system and finds a lot of rather interesting questions that we can't yet answer. First of all, Kyper Belt objects (the area of the solar system outside the orbit of the planet Neptune out to about 100 AUs) have a variety of colors, which indicate that their composition varies a great deal - far more so than the objects found in the asteroid belt, for example.

A very mysterious color labelled "ultra-red" matter exists on about half of all Kyper Belt objects and objects known as centaurs (KBOs that have recently moved between the orbits of Neptune and Jupiter). This matter is not found closer to the Sun, suggesting it is unstable at higher temperatures, and might even consist of organic molecules. We simply don't know right now what this stuff might be.

Another interesting item is that theoretical calculations seem to indicate there should be a LOT more stuff in the Kyper Belt. What happened to most of the objects out there? Over 99% of the mass that we think should be there - isn't. There are a couple of theories, or perhaps our best calculations are way out of line.

"One conjecture suggests when Saturn and Jupiter shifted their orbits roughly 4 billion years ago, their gravitational pulls slung Kuiper belt objects out of the solar system. Another says the Kuiper belt objects pulverized themselves to dust, which then was swept away by the sun's radiation."

Then there is the Oort cloud, which lies out even further - a fifth of the way to Alpha Centauri, our nearest solar neighbor, in fact, 100,000 AUs. We've never directly seen a Oort cloud object except the comets that come into our system from all directions, which infers the cloud is spherical, but there are also short period comets (like Halley's comet) whose orbits don't jibe with the Oort cloud being shaped like this - Halley's orbit around the Sun suggests there is an "inner" Oort cloud shaped like a doughnut.

There is also the rather contentious debate the scientific community has been having regarding planets that was kicked off by the discovery of large KBOs such as Eris and Sedna. Pluto wound up being "demoted" from a planet to a "dwarf" planet; the former asteroid Ceres and the recently discovered (by Caltech astronomer Mike Brown) Eris have joined it, but Brown and others think there may be as many as 200 other dwarves in the belt, and if you get out into the further reaches of the belt, 100 AUs or more, a object the size of Mars might be lurking around.

We still have alot to learn here on Earth as well, but a couple of future observatories might begin to shed some light on these questions. Two projects, Pan-STARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope And Rapid Response System) and the LSST (Large Synoptic Survey Telescope) are being planned within the decade.

Supreme Court Hearing Vote Fraud Case

John Fund at the Wall St. Journal discusses the Indiana Voter ID law being challenged in the US Supreme Court by liberal groups.

"Supporters say photo ID laws simply extend rules that require everyone to show such ID to travel, enter federal office buildings or pick up a government check. An honor system for voting, in their view, invites potential fraud. That's because many voting rolls are stuffed with the names of dead people and duplicate registrations--as recent scandals in Washington state and Missouri involving the activist group ACORN attest.

Opponents say photo ID laws block poor, minority and elderly voters who lack ID from voting, and all in the name of combating a largely mythical problem of voter fraud."

Both sides have their points to make - while Indiana elections appear to have been well run and doesn't have any evidence of fraud occurring, (one rationale the liberal challnegers use to justify their case) just the possibility should be enough, in my view, for the court to uphold the lower court ruling in the state's favor. I find the liberal argument that such laws depress minority and poor voter turnout to be pretty specious, and in this case any voters without valid ID can cast provisional ballots. Such voters would then have ten days to go a a clerk's office to either show ID or sign an affadavit attesting to their identity. It will be interesting to see how the case is decided when the court releases them in June. My take is that they will likely let the lower court ruling stand.

Boston Legal Quotes

Alan Shore: Denny, I refuse to shoot you.
Denny Crane: You... Democrat! Protesting war and banning guns. If you Nancys had your way, nobody would ever shoot anybody! And then where would we be?"
Alan Shore: "Where would we be...”

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

How Bo Came to NU the First Time

HuskerExtra has the story of how Frank Solich, smarting from a subpar 7-7 season, went about looking for a new defensive coordinator to replace Craig Bohl after the 2002 season.

"How did Pelini go from a Green Bay Packers linebackers coach to the toast of Nebraska? The short version: Solich called Monte Kiffin of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kiffin called Pete Carroll of the USC Trojans. Carroll told Kiffin: “Monte, you could not find a better guy than Bo. He’s enthusiastic and he’ll get players to play for him.”

Solich explained that he wasn't necessarily looking for an NFL coach, but he wanted to keep the process simple, interview two or three cnadidates, and thought Kiffin, with ties to the program, would be able to point him toward some talented coaching assistants. Kiffin in turn asked his former Defensive Coordinator Pete Carroll for advice, and Carroll, in turn mentioned a guy he'd worked with in San Fransisco, and whom he had hired as an assistant when Carroll was hired at New England - Bo.

Solich also looked at Bud Foster of Virginia Tech and John Tenuta of Georgia Tech, ultimately deciding on Pelini over Tenuta for his 2003 DC, while Carroll inteerestingly enough wound up with a job at USC. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Mars Rovers - 4 Years and Still Going Strong

via Livescience, this month is the 4th anniversary of the landing of both the Mars rovers. At the time, NASA researchers expected the golf cart sized robotic explorers to last just 90 days.

"We never thought we'd still be driving these robots all over Mars," said Mark Lemmon, a planetary scientist at Texas A&M University and member of the rover science team. "We joked about driving Opportunity into Victoria Crater, but now we're there, and we're looking at doing even more science. Each day they still work is an amazing one."

The rovers have traveled nearly 12 miles on the Martian surface and collected over two hundred thousand images. More than 100 scientific studies on the planets past have been compiled due to the data sent by the rovers. The most important discovery of the rovers has been the findings of evidence of water on Mars, at least at some point in the past, and probably still found deep underground.

Martian weather has proven challenging to the explorers, with a massive dust storm obscuring the Martian sky and covering their solar arrays with a particularly sticking dust that limited the light reaching the arrays by 96%. The rover Spirit has an additional problem; with one of its front wheels jammed, it has been forced to drive backwards into a winter "resting" position facing northward to gather energy from its solar panels on a rock outcrop named Home Plate, but is still making observations. Sister rover Opportunity, on the other hand, has much cleaner panels and is currently activley exploring Victoria Crater on the red planet.

Boston Legal Quotes

Denny Crane: May I express a thought, because I so rarely get one, and I should preface this by saying that I'm so far up the ass of big business I view the world as one giant colon.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Shuttle Launch Delayed Further

MSNBC reported last week that the shuttle launch delayed by a fuel sonsor glitch ahs been pushed back until at least January 24 if not further.

"Deputy shuttle program manager John Shannon said the mission to the international space station is off until at least Jan. 24. “Everything has to go exactly right for us to make the 24th,” he said."

If delayed further into early Febuary, a launch could be complicated by the planned launch of a Russian Progress cargo vehicle to the ISS. Current docking rules at the station prohibit a shuttle docking while another vehicle is linked to the station. The shuttle would likely have to launch before January 26 for both mission to proceed without conflict. The issue with Atlantishas already impacted the scheduled Feb 14th launch for the next mission being flown by Endeavor, which was to have delivered a Japanese built lab module to the ISS. NASA procedures mandate a five week period between shuttle missions.

Bo Doubters Need to Chill

Apparently some fans have spouted off about the number of decommits from the initial recruiting list being compiled from the previous regime. The Nebraska State Paper's Sam McKewon is telling the Husker naysayers (back on the 19th of Dec) to relax and give the new coach the benefit of the doubt, and lists the repairs our new coach has to conduct, and how it appears he's going about it. Of course, people might chill out now that Bo has a NC ring to go along with his Superbowl ring.

"Overhaul the defense in attitude and aggression. Simplify the offense while keeping the essence of it. That's what Pelini's staff is built to do.

Now think about two of the great failures of the Bill Callahan era. The defense looked lost, ticked off, and trapped inside its own collective brain. The offense, meanwhile, had its moments, but often couldn't get out of its own way when it really needed to score. So Pelini's staff is designed to perform triage on two major wounds of Callahan's regime.

And Pelini's doing a bad job? You wanted more credentialed assistants? Why? Staff continuity and chemistry is far more crucial than credentials. Phil Elmassian had a ton of credentials as a defensive backs coach. His guys also made an art out of face-guarding. You wanted better recruiters? Give it time.Clearly, Pelini's hitting the trail with a different message than Callahan's troops did.

There's a difference between straight talk and sweet talk."


Another Husker note is that the staff is complete with the addition of former Kansas WR coach and "Passing Coordinator"(? it's s new one to me) Tim Beck as the new RB coach. Beck is also from the Pelini's hometown of Youngstown and a fellow grad of Cardinal Mooney High. The word with Beck is that he is a good to excellent recruiter with some strong ties to Texas from a period as a high school coach there.

Also, we gained a QB recruit out of the Lone Star state, Kody Sprano, who is billed as a dual threat run/pass type. He runs about 6'2 and 200 lbs, and will get a jump by enrolling at NU for the spring semester.

Youngest Exo-Planet Discovered

via, astronomers have announced that they have discovered the youngest extra solar planet yet orbiting a star very similar to our own. The planet, estimated to be only 10 million years old, orbits the star TW Hydrae 180 light years from Earth in the constellation Hydra at .4 AUs and is around ten times the mass of Jupiter.

"The extrasolar planet is an estimated 8 million to 10 million years old, a mere toddler compared to Earth, which is 4.5 billion years old. Until now, the researchers say, no planet younger than 100 million years old has been detected circling a sun-like star."

The most interesting item about the discovery is that the planet has formed before the protoplanetary dust disk has dissapated, the first a planet like this has been observed directly. Other systems have shown evidence of young planets by astronomers noting clear trails in the dust cloud surrounding these stars.

Boston Legal Quotes

Denny Crane: It's fun being me!
[after thoughtful pause]
Denny Crane: Is it fun being you?
Alan Shore: Most of the time.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Sporting News' Matt Hayes on Coaching Hires

Sporting News columnist Matt Hayes spouts off about the college football coaching changes, and apparently holds a curious opinion about Husker hire Bo Pelini. C-?

Matt appears to favor Jim Grobe, who interviewed but I don't believe was ever under serious consideration - I mean, Callahan beat Wake TWICE. Hayes gave NU an "A" for hiring BC in a column in 2004, and we all know how well that went.

"Michigan got it right. Nebraska and Texas A&M didn't. Arkansas? Check back in two years. Want the definition of a good hire? Just ask me."

He gives UM an A for hiring Rich Rodriguez, which I would grade a "B+" myself - we'll see how he adjusts his spread attack to the talent on hand, and what kind of staff he assembles. Curious RR turned down Bama last year, and also curious he was apparently not the school's top choice.

A bigger joke is giving UCLA an A for hiring "tricky Rick" Neuheisel. I don't care if he's a Bruin alum, he's been a complete disaster everywhere he's been. Betting scandal, rape/sex scandals, using ineligible players, etc. There's a damn good reason no one has touched him in years since getting fired at Washington. He was 13-10 his last two years at CU and 15-10 his last two at UW, hardly what I'd describe as stellar. I say "C+" based on splash alone, there is no way he will be able to compete any time soon with the Carrol juggernaut at the school crosstown.

Hayes also gives Georgia Tech an "A" for bringing in Navy's Paul Johnson, which I
agree with - Johnson has shown a great deal of offensive flexibility in his jobs, and also give Arkansas an A for hiring Bobby Petrino - if he sticks around.

He also pans A & M's hiring of Mike Sherman, which I'm a little ambivalent about - true Sherman is a NFL coach, which historically has been an issue, but he did spend over a decade in the college ranks first, and has A & M ties, coaching the o-line there for six seasons. He recruited A&M's career rushing leader, Leland McElroy, during his earlier tenure at the school. I'd have to give it at least a "C".

The Pelini rating is an absolutely dumb - not only was he one of the hottest coordinators around the game and most definitely on a lot of schools short lists, the job was almost definitely going to either him or Turner; given the defensive issues on the team, Bo is the best hire. Anyone else, Grobe included, was for appearances sake only. The fans love him, players love him, and he schemes incredibly well. I'd give the hire a B+ only because it's his first permanent head gig, but he does have a Hall of Fame coach upstairs.

Plate Tectonics May Be Sporadic

via ScienceDaily, plate tectonics may not be a permanent geologic process, it might temporarily "grind to a halt" when the continents group together to form a "supercontinent" such as Pangea 350 million years ago.

"Writing in the January 4 issue of Science, Paul Silver of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Terrestrial Magnetism and former postdoctoral fellow Mark Behn (now at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) point out that most of today's subduction zones are located in the Pacific Ocean basin. If the Pacific basin were to close, as it is predicted to do about in 350 million years when the westward-moving Americas collide with Eurasia, then most of the planet's subduction zones would disappear with it.

This would effectively stop plate tectonics unless new subduction zones start up, but subduction initiation is poorly understood. "The collision of India and Africa with Eurasia between 30 and 50 million years ago closed an ocean basin known as Tethys," says Silver. "But no new subduction zones have initiated south of either India or Africa to compensate for the loss of subduction by this ocean closure."

If this theory proves correct, it would go a long way toward explaining why the Earth has not lost as much heat as expected given its age. When the continents form these supercontinents, subduction of the seafloor stops and heat begins to build up underneath the supercontinent, leading to massive volcanic activity explaining the far out of palce igneous rocks found in the middle of continents far from the subduction zones where they are usually found.

Boston Legal Quotes

New for 2008 - Boston Legal quotes!

Denny Crane: You hear the one about the fella who died, went to the pearly gates? St. Peter let him in. Sees a guy in a suit making a closing argument. Says, "Who's that?" St. Peter says, "Oh, that's God. Thinks he's Denny Crane."

Friday, January 04, 2008


Happy New Year.

Blogging to resume fully on Monday - still enjoying the break, plus not much to comment on until today, so expect me to unload next week early and often.