Thursday, November 27, 2008

Boston Legal Quotes

Shirley: Your Honor, Mr. Tiggs has a history of ruining women's lives. There's one out there right now. It's going to take her years to get over this.
Ivan: No, she'll get over me, she's like a goldfish. She has a three second memory.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Eating too much turkey makes you sleepy, so fill up on stuffing and pumpkin pie instead.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Yet Another Cimate Model Issue

In another item of interest, ScienceDaily reports that soil studies of black carbon, the organic residue from burned and decomposed matter found in the earth, indicates that global climate models are consistently overestimating the release of carbon dioxide gas from black carbon. In fact, climate models are generally supposing a postive reinforcement of these releases, one in which warming leads to the release of more Co2 which in causes more warming. However in the largest study of black carbon ever conducted, it has been found that the Co2 remains sequester far longer than initally thought, perhaps as much as 2,000 years.

"Climate models try to incorporate these increases of carbon dioxide from soils as the planet warms, but results vary greatly when realistic estimates of black carbon in soils are included in the predictions, the study found. Soils include many forms of carbon, including organic carbon from leaf litter and vegetation and black carbon from the burning of organic matter. It takes a few years for organic carbon to decompose, as microbes eat it and convert it to carbon dioxide. But black carbon can take 1,000-2,000 years, on average, to convert to carbon dioxide.

By entering realistic estimates of stocks of black carbon in soil from two Australian savannas into a computer model that calculates carbon dioxide release from soil, the researchers found that carbon dioxide emissions from soils were reduced by about 20 percent over 100 years, as compared with simulations that did not take black carbon's long shelf life into account. The findings are significant because soils are by far the world's largest source of carbon dioxide, producing 10 times more carbon dioxide each year than all the carbon dioxide emissions from human activities combined. Small changes in how carbon emissions from soils are estimated, therefore, can have a large impact."

In addition, the modelers genreally assume a relatively uniform distibution of black carbon, but the new study shows that the substance can vary from as much as 80 percent in a soil sample to nearly zero. So what we have here, again, is a major Co2 source (actually THE major source. 10 times that produced by all of humanity), one completely out of the control of humanity, being over estimated in global climate models.

And Al Gore says "the science is settled." What a load.

Gov. Mitch Daniels, Indiana

I discovered another biographical sketch of a prominent (and perhaps appealing) Republican leader, Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana at Forbes (via RCP) from Reihan Salam. Daniels has gone on record against the auto bailout, and might make an a formidable contrast to President Obama in 2012. Daniels certainly understands economic policy and budgets, having served as OMB director under President Bush and managing the Indiana state budget extremely well as governor.

"He has also managed to keep Indiana's state budget in the black despite the downturn, thanks in large part to aggressive budget cutting in his first term. In fact, Daniels is known for his personal stinginess as well. Even as a successful business executive, rumor has it that he kept his own family on a tight allowance. He took a number of controversial steps to secure Indiana's fiscal future, among them a decision to lease the Indiana Toll Road to raise revenue for infrastructure improvements throughout the state. Though he was attacked for this measure early on, he's won the grudging respect of voters in the state, Republican and Democrat. It's worth noting Daniels won reelection with the help of thousands of voters who also voted for Obama."

Interesting that there are already pundits looking at potential 2012 before Obama even has taken office. I'd say there should be more interest and focus squarely on the 2010 races and improving the Senate seat count in particular.

Ken Blackwell for RNC Chair?

Another hat may get into the ring for RNC chair - Ken Blackwell of Ohio. Blackwell, a former Mayor and City Councilman from Cincinnati, was also Ohio Secretary of State and State Treasurer, Under Secrtary of Housing & Urban Development under Bush Sr., as well as US Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission. He lost the 2006 Ohio gubernatorial race to Ted Strickland. Blackwell is a well known conservative columnist at Townhall (like Fred Thompson) and is a strong propenent of limited ogvernment and a flat tax. Blackwell espoused the following principles in his failed 2006 run in an interview with Terence Heffrey:

"When Blackwell was running for governor of Ohio in 2006, I asked him what he believed to be the core principles the Republican Party must defend. "First, that the individual is at the center of our political system, not the state, not government," he said. "I believe in limited government. I actually believe that free men and free women and free markets can overcome any kind of economic challenge."

"I trust in people to make good decisions," he added. "I understand there are things, but only a limited number of things, that government can do that individuals and communities of individuals cannot do by themselves."

Club for Growth President Pat Toomey appears inclined to support Blackwell, stating:

"I think Ken would be a great chairman," Club for Growth President Pat Toomey told me this week. "He understands the importance of holding the coalition that can restore the Republican Party to its majority. He's a solid conservative. He's a very appealing guy. He will go over well with not just the Republican base but also with the moderate Republicans and independents that we need to attract and energize. "I think he would be a great choice," said Toomey."

Like another RNC candidate, Michael Steel, Blackwell is African-American. Blackwell's latest op-ed at Twonhall is here. In it he reminds readers that things looked pretty dark for the GOP after the 1992 election defeat, but the party took both houses of Congress just two years later.

Republican House Leaders

A little more on politics today, as Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn reports on the House Republican elections at Human Events (Disclosure: I contributed to Lamborn's 2006 and 2008 campaigns). While the caucus re-elected John Boehner to Minority Leader, (despite opposition from Dan Lungren of California) they did bring in some new blood in the persons of Eric Cantor of Virginia as minority whip and Mike Pence of Indiana as conference chairman. The return of Pence to a leadership will have strong endorsement from the conservative establishment, and was a bit of a surprise. It was expected that the outgoing chair of the Republican Study Group, Jeb Hensarling of TExas, might make a ply for the spot but he passed in favor of Pence. Pence does brign a lot to the table for a party struggling with its identity and how to reach voters.

"In Pence’s acceptance statement, he made three points. Every single member must be highly involved in taking back the House, Republicans need to be happy warriors, and the Republican Party needs once again to be the party of ideas.

Pence’s acknowledged media skills -- he worked previously in broadcasting -- make him a natural for the high-profile conference chairman slot. He will not only be working frequently with Boehner and Cantor to fashion and express the Republican message but will be helping individual House members be effective communicators within their own spheres. Pence also has a history of standing up to Republican leadership when he believed they departed from Republican values while he was chairman a few years ago of the conservative Republican Study Committee."

Policy chair Thaddus McCotter of Michigan was re-elected and Pete Sessions of Texas was elected as NRCC chair. Lamborn believes that some of the criticism of Boehner is a bit unjustififed, as he has held the leadership only one term. Unencumbered by a Republican administration that often asked for compromise with the opposition, the House is likely to quite a bit more vocal on many issues.

Boston Legal Quotes

Alan: If I should ever like to drive your car...
Denny: I toss you my keys.
Alan: If I should ever need any money...
Denny: My check is blank.
Alan: Or need to pick your brain...
Denny: My mind is blank.
Alan: Anything you have, or once did have, is there for me.
Denny: Except for Shirley. Keep your root away from Shirley.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Consequences of an EMP Attack

Brian Kennedy @ yesterday's WSJ takes a look at the consequences of an electro-magnetic pulse attack on the US, and the results aren't pretty. There are now nearly thirty nations with ballistic missile capability on the globe, and the number is only likely to increase in the near term. While the number of nations that could conceivably directly threaten the US isn't large today, it also will only increase over time, and many of these nations DO threaten US strategic and regional interests, such as the Straight of Hormuz, the Staight of Malacca and the Horn of Africa.

Here's a scenario for you that isn't terribly far fetched.

"Let us say the freighter ship launches a nuclear-armed Shahab-3 missile off the coast of the U.S. and the missile explodes 300 miles over Chicago. The nuclear detonation in space creates an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

Gamma rays from the explosion, through the Compton Effect, generate three classes of disruptive electromagnetic pulses, which permanently destroy consumer electronics, the electronics in some automobiles and, most importantly, the hundreds of large transformers that distribute power throughout the U.S. All of our lights, refrigerators, water-pumping stations, TVs and radios stop running. We have no communication and no ability to provide food and water to 300 million Americans.

This is what is referred to as an EMP attack, and such an attack would effectively throw America back technologically into the early 19th century. It would require the Iranians to be able to produce a warhead as sophisticated as we expect the Russians or the Chinese to possess. But that is certainly attainable. Common sense would suggest that, absent food and water, the number of people who could die of deprivation and as a result of social breakdown might run well into the millions.
Let us be clear. A successful EMP attack on the U.S. would have a dramatic effect on the country, to say the least. Even one that only affected part of the country would cripple the economy for years. Dropping nuclear weapons on or retaliating against whoever caused the attack would not help. And an EMP attack is not far-fetched."

Kennedy goes on to say the Iranians have been testing just such missile launches in the Caspian Sea teice over the last eight years.

The only defense against these potential and future threats is the full scale development of ballistic missle defenses. I've been a believer in this technology for over twenty years, and nothing I've seen or heard since that time has convinced me the idea of developing DEFENSIVE weapons capable of stopping a nuclear, chemical or biological attack on US or friendly foreign soil is a bad idea. The best way to accomplish this is through a multi-layered approach consisting of a method to stop missiles shortly after launch, in mid flight as they temporarily leave the atmosphere, and once again as they approach their targets. This strategic direction was pointed out by Army General Daniel Graham almost twenty-five years ago in his book High Frontier. President Reagan adopted much of Graham's proposal in 1983.

The technology for much of this already exists; we have both a "point defense" capability to track and shoot down incoming missiles based in Alaska (and are negotiating to place a similiar site in Europe), and also have a forward looking "boost phase" capability to destroy a missile shortly after launch using the US Navy's Aegis system, along with an air-based laser system place on a Boeing 747. The sea-based system is currently the most promising, with the Navy's SM-3 interceptor missile showing a robust capability in testing. It also has a modest price tag, costing about only $20 million to modify a ship, and with the added bonus that allied vessels of naitons such as Japan are also capable of being upgraded.

But the most critical component is desperately starved of funds. We are currently lacking a space-based boost and/or mid flight defense that would likely be the most capable and effective leg of the defense triad, although the tehcnology exists, it was killed under the Clinton administration, and has yet to be revived.

Boston Legal Quotes

Denny: Welcome, to Boston Legal.
Claire: Jeffrey, the gross man is fondling me.
Denny: It's the official firm greeting.
[squeezes Claire's butt]
Denny: Cue the music.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Carbon Dioxide Discovered in Alien Planet Atmosphere

Astronomers have announced the discovery of carbon dioxide on an alien exoplanet orbiting a star 65 light years from our own system. While the planet, HD 189733b, is a"hot" Jupiter orbiting too close to its parent star to support life, it is remarkable that we have now been able to determine how to discover three of the four major chemical compounds that are indicators of alien life.

" "This is the first detection of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet, which means that three of the Big Four biomarkers for habitable/inhabited worlds have now been seen: water, methane, and now carbon dioxide," explained Alan Boss, a planet-formation theorist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington who was not involved in the finding. "The only one that has not yet been detected is oxygen/ozone."

Boss told that the detections provide "proof of concept" for what astronomers would search for in looking at an Earth-like world. The detection of carbon dioxide, Boss said, was made with a low degree of resolving power, the sort that could be provided by NASA's planned Terrestrial Planet Finder."

The discovery was made by Giovanna Tinetti of University College in London, England, and used a novel technique of measuring the light from the star both when the planet was in front of the star and behind the star, and using the difference to determine what light was coming from the planet and doing a spectral analysis.

Pretty cool.

Obama Cabinet, Economic Team

via MSNBC, the incoming Obama administration named the major players of its economic team to attempt to smooth the financial roller coaster the globe has been riding the last two months. Current NY Fed President Timothy Greithner will be nominated as Treasury Secretary, while his mentor Lawrence Summers (former Treasury man under the Clinton administration) will chair the National Economic Council. New Mexico Governor and former Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson will be nominated for Commerce. In addition, it is expected that Hillary Clinton will accept the position of Secretary of State.

"The emphasis on the economy began Saturday when Obama outlined the framework to save or create 2.5 million jobs by the end of 2010. The scope of the recovery package is far more ambitious than Obama had spelled out during his presidential campaign, when he proposed $175 billion of spending and tax-cutting stimulus. The new plan will be significantly larger and incorporate his campaign ideas for new jobs in environmentally friendly technologies — the "green economy." It also would include his proposals for tax relief for middle- and lower-income workers."

In a mild surprise, Obama is not calling for a tax increase on upper income households, instead expecting to merely let the Bush tax cuts expire in 2011. One number being bandied about for the size of the package is $600 billion, although there is apparently no indication where it all going to come from. I imagine the presses at the Fed are going to be very busy in the coming months.

Libertarian Defense of Social Conservatives

Randal Hoven at the American Thinker defends the social conservative movement from a libertarian perspective. As he points out, the soc cons are not the ones telling us to wear our seatbelts, motorcycle helmets, banning smoking in public places or restricting gun onwership - it's our liberal friends preventing you from doing those things. As he puts it:

"I can get pornography right at my keyboard, or drive a mile and get all the sex toys I can fit into my car. I can walk to the nearest casino to gamble (but can no longer smoke there). I do need to travel to Nevada for a legal prostitute. If my teenage daughters had wanted abortions, they could have had them free and without even notifying me. (However, had they taken Advil to school, we'd all be in trouble.)"

None of this makes a great deal of sense to me, but this is world we all live in. You cna't have a nativity scene on public land at Christmas, but a government sponsored art program subsidizes tremendously offensive depictions of the crucifixtion and that's OK. Hoven also points out that is was Lenin, Mao and Pol Pot that wanted to create a "new man" that left us with tens of millions of dead. He also points out that the economic conservative, social liberal is pretty much a myth. Those that tend to vote conservative on social issues are also economic conservatives, and vise versa. In short, the social cons are also financial cons and we all just want to be left alone in peace, government be damned. Amen.

Boston Legal Quotes

Alan: Shirley, the truth is I only took this case to be in court with you. I enjoy your company. So, if I can't join you on cases, I'll just have to oppose you. Or I could just oppose you right now against the wall. That would certainly make me happy

Friday, November 21, 2008

Weather on Eris

Astronomers examining the dwarf planet/plutoid Eris, which orbits far outside even fellow dwarf Pltuo, has weather related to its position in its orbit around the sun. Winds are generated from the warm sun facing side to the cold side facing away from the sun, resulting in nitrogen and methane "snow" being deposited around the cold side pole. Eris is the largest of the dwarf planets, larger than Pluto, with a diameter of 15-1800 miles.

"Currently, Eris is at its farthest distance to the sun, called aphelion, along its about 560-year orbit, meaning the planet is nearly 100 astronomical units (AU) from the sun, or about 9 billion miles (14 billion km). Along its orbit, Eris sweeps as close as 38 AU to the sun when at perihelion. Due to Eris' tilt, a different hemisphere faces the sun when at perihelion and aphelion."

Nitrogen would sublimate (turn from ice directly to gas without passing through a liquid state) as the planet heated up, followed by the methane as the temperature increased. Researchers were looking for a reason to explain the amount of nitrogen buried below the surface of the pole they can observe at this point in the planet's orbiut and this theory appears to match the observable data.

Boston Legal Quotes

Brad: I was wondering if I could join you and Denny on the balcony sometime. Just trying to diversify my life with some male bonding and I was know.
Alan: Brad, any gathering of three or more men always seems like a team to me, and I've never been much of a team player, so if you're going to show count me out. [pauses] Was there something specific you'd like to talk about?
Brad: Are you a good kisser?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Boston Legal Quotes

Courtney: Mr Crane? I need you to stop staring at me like that.
Denny Crane: Of course. Marry me.
Courtney: I beg your pardon?
Denny Crane: Your fifteen minutes are almost up. Mine has lasted a lifetime. [to Barry] Tell her.
Barry: Marry him.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Beginning of Civilization?

found this via Foxnews, a report on a potentially revolutionary ground breaking discovery in South-Eastern Turkey near the city of Sanliurfa. An ancient temple complex of massive stone construction reminiscient of Stonehenge called Gobekli Tepe (meaning Hill of the navel in Turkish) which was discovered in 1994 and has been under examination by a German-led archaeological team headed by Klaus Schmidt is now estimated to be over 10,000 years old. This means organized society capable of monumental architecture existed before agriculture, before pottery, before the rise of urban cities, and long before the written word.

Stonehenge dates back to around 2000-2500 (although people likely gathered at the site before the stone megaliths were located there). The date for the beginning of civilization usually begins in Sumeria around 3500 BCE, around 5-6,000 years ago. The Gobelki Tepe temple is more than twice as old, dating back to 9000-10,000 BCE. Prior to this discovery, the oldest stone structure known, found on the island of Malta, dated to around the same period as the rise of Sumerian civilization. The idea that a primitive hunter-getherer society could undertake such enormous scale monument building is unprecedented.

"These T-shaped ochre stones loom abruptly from the exhausted earth. Most of them are carved with bizarre and delicate images – mainly of animals and birds. One image is a sexualised representation of a woman. Sinuous serpents are another common motif. The stones themselves seem to represent men – some have stylised ‘arms’, which angle down their sides. So far, 43 stones have been dug out. They are arranged in circles from 5–10m (16–32ft) across. Around the circles are benches of rock, smallish niches, and walls of mud brick. The unearthed megaliths stand 1–4m (3.3–13ft) high.

There are indications that more is to come. A few years ago, Schmidt and his team found a very weathered, half-quarried, T-shaped stone lying in a limestone bed, 1km (0.6 miles) from the main site. This enormous stone is 9m (30ft) long, and was, it seems, designed to join the other pillars at Gobekli. “The stone is cracked, so it must have broken,” Schmidt explains. “When this happened the builders probably left it and started on another.” All of which means there may be other stones of similar size as yet undiscovered; indeed, geomagnetic surveys of the various artificial hills at Gobekli Tepe imply that there are at least 250 more standing stones waiting to be excavated."

What is even more interesting about the site is that is also the area from which einkorn wheat originated. Einkorn wheat is the wild purcursor to modern domesticated wheat. Schmidt theorizes that the large number of hunters gathering at the site for religious activitities may have exhausted game animals and turned to the wild ceral crops for a food resource. In other words, the hunters turned to farming and herding to support the population gathering at their religious site. The domesticated pig has been also traced to the area nearby, within 100 miles. However, the switch to farming and herding had a ecological impact. The rich savanna and forests existant at the time began to wither as forest were chopped down to clear the area for farming and the soil was depleted. Sometime near 8000 BCE, the temple complex was deliberately buried by the local inhabitants.

Much more here, which includes the quote above.

And also here.

Boston Legal Quotes

Denny: Canada, Japan, England. Any number of those pinko countries, I'd be in jail for shooting somebody.
Alan: God bless America.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Economic Woes Threaten Chinese Government

Joshua Kurlantzick at The New Republic (good lord, never dreamed I'd be linking this outfit) examines how the global financial meltdown has effected the growing Chinese middle class, and they are not very happy.

"As the global financial crisis hits Western consumers' wallets, orders for the Delta's products have dried up. And angry factory workers, many owed back pay, have taken to the streets. In one recent incident, some 300 suppliers and creditors "descended on the River Dragon complex [a factory where the owners vanished] looting warehouses in the hopes of salvaging something," As USA Today reported.

This unrest is likely to spiral. As the Chinese economy sours for the first time in years, the government this week announced a $586 billion stimulus package. But in some ways, much more is at stake: While, in the U.S., a financial failure would simply mean another dent in George W. Bush's reputation, in China it could mean the breakdown of the entire political order."

While political unrest in China has been widespread in rural areas, (often instigated by widespread pollution and local government land grabs) the growth areas along the eastern coast have been largely silent in return for the jobs and growing incomes fed by the booming export sector. With up to 40% of the Chinese economy involved in the export sector, the economy has taken a huge hit as foreign consumers have closed their wallets, leading to shuttered Chinese factories and widespread layoffs. Some 10,000 factories closed over the summer of 2008 and up to 20,000 more could shut down operations by the end of the year. In addition, the Shanghai stock market has dropped almost 70%, from over 6000 to 1800, and the Chinese banking sector is thought to have over a trillion dollars worth of bad loans outstanding. Home prices in some cities have dropped by half.

"the economic downturn is hitting Chinese home prices and urban jobs, too. Those urban middle classes, the key base of support for Beijing, now find their only asset, their first home, is collapsing in value, while their sons and daughters cannot find jobs right out of college. In several major cities, home prices have dropped by more than 50 percent in just the past year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, urban middle class protests over land prices and land evictions are rising in cities like Shanghai too."

In attempts to forstall the unrest, the Chinese government has announced a $586 billion dollar stimulus package, handing out payments to unemployed workers. It can certainly afford the cost, with its $2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves.However, it migth not be enough, and a Tianamin style crackdown would be difficult with the much larger middle class today as opposed to 1989. Unless the economy turns around fairly quickly, the government could face its first sustained protests. Keeping them separate and local will be paramount for the government to maintain control; if a national movement starts, it could get very, very ugly. While I'm no fan of the regime, I'd much rather see an incremental movement toward democracy than a violent explosion, which could likely wind up dashing even more hopes as we've seen in other former dictatorships such as Russia.

Boston Legal Quotes

ADA Kupfer: You know if the US really wanted to torture detainees, they'd sentence them to be you for a day. I imagine it's excruciating.
Alan: You have no idea.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Joe Ganz, Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week

The Big 12 Conference rewarded Joe Ganz's performance against Knasas St. with Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors. This comes on the heels of last week's Defensive winner also coming from the Huskers in the person of Ndamukong Suh.

Joe Ganz, Nebraska, QB, Sr, Palos Heights, Ill.
Joe Ganz accounted for 365 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in Nebraska’s win at Kansas State. He was 16-25-1 through the air for 270 yards and two touchdowns in addition to rushing for a career-best 95 yards and two scores. Ganz set the NU season record for completions in a game and became the program single-season leader in total offense (3,351 yards). The Palos Heights, Ill., senior has guided Nebraska to at least 30 points in nine of 11 games this season and 12 times in 14 career starts."

Interestingly enough, our opponent has the Big 12 Special Teams Plyer of the Week in Brian Banks, who returned a NU kickoff 98 yards for a score.

Brandon Banks, Kansas State, KR, Jr, Garner, N.C.
Brandon Banks returned four kickoffs for 167 yards against Nebraska, including a 98-yarder for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The return tied for the second-longest in the Big 12 this season and tied for the longest in league games. It was the 13th kickoff returned for a touchdown in school history and the first since James Johnson went 85 yards for a score at Texas on Sept. 29, 2007."

Baylor's talented LB Joe Pawelek garnered the Defenisve conference honors this week in BU's victory over Texas A & M.

Joe Pawelek, Baylor, LB, Jr, San Antonio, Texas
Joe Pawelek recorded seven tackles and two interceptions, plus an additional pass break up in Baylor’s victory over Texas A&M. He leads all Bowl Subdivision linebackers with six interceptions, the most by a BU player since 1991. The San Antonio, Texas, junior intercepted a pass for the third straight game and grabbed two picks for the first time in his career. Three of Pawelek’s six interceptions this season have come in the end zone, including one of his two against Texas A&M. He is sixth nationally in tackles per game (11.0)."

Congrats to all the players involved. NU has had two other honorees this season, both on Special teams, Niles Paul on Sept. 8 for his play against San Jose St. and Nate Swift on Sept. 29 for his game against Virginia Tech, both players making big TD returns in the kicking game for NU.

Boston Legal Quotes

Denny: I hear you misplaced a client.
Alan: Not really. Like car keys and sunglasses, he'll show up somewhere.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Milt Friedman

Peter Robinson at Forbes relates a story regarding the famous economist Milt Freidman. Robinson had complimented Friedman for postively influencing economic thought against the socialist model, but Friedman disagreed.

"Academia as a whole may have continued its long, sorry wobble to the left, I continued, but the economics profession had proved an exception, moving the other way. Departments of economics across the country now grasped the importance of free markets. "Mises, Hayek, Stigler and you," I told Friedman. "You've transformed the intellectual climate. You've won."

Friedman shook his head. "We may have won the intellectual battle," he replied, "but in practical politics, it's difficult to see that we've had any effect at all." Government spending had continued to grow, he explained. After a pause during the Reagan years, regulations had once again proliferated. For a moment, Friedman grew silent. Then he looked at me.The challenge for my generation," he said, "was to provide an intellectual defense of liberty. The challenge for your generation is to keep it." "

Robinson then recounts his disappointment with the marginal accomplishments of the Republican Congress and President, a list which makes you wonder if they were Republicans at all. The Medicare drug benefit. The farm bill. Huge discretionary spending increases. The nomination of John McCain, primarily responsible for the most signifigant threat to the First Amendment in the nation's history.

And now it just gets worse. There is the proposed auto bailout, which the current administration seems inclined to sign even before the new one takes office. Federalizing the healthcare industry. The proposed tax rebates for nearly half the population. Collectivization at its worst in the form of card check regulaiton and the Fairness doctrine. So much for freee markets and individual liberty.

Maybe I finally decide to make that trip to Australia and check things out Down Under.

First Photographed Exoplanets

the OWH reports that two separate teams of astronomers have directly imaged 4 exoplanets in two different star systems. A team led by Bruce MacIntosh of Livermore National Labs used two ground based telescopes and the other team used Hubble imagery. The system studied by the MacIntosh team managed to image three distinct planets in a single system, while the Hubble imagery was able to compare photos taken in 2006 with another taken from 2004 to show that planet's orbit lies within the system's dust ring, making it quite unlikely to be a brown dwarf, an alternative explanation that some of their more skeptical fellow researchers have proposed for these bodies. All four planets are Jupiter type gas giant planets.

"The planet discovered by Hubble is one of the smallest exoplanets found yet. It's somewhere between the size of Neptune and three times bigger than Jupiter. And it may have a Saturn-like ring.

It circles the star Fomalhaut, pronounced FUM-al-HUT, which is Arabic for "mouth of the fish." It's in the constellation Piscis Austrinus and is relatively close by - a mere 148 trillion miles away, practically a next-door neighbor by galactic standards. The planet's temperature is around 260 degrees, but that's cool by comparison to other exoplanets.

The planet is only about 200 million years old, a baby compared to the more than 4 billion-year-old planets in our solar system. That's important to astronomers because they can study what Earth and planets in our solar system may have been like in their infancy, said Paul Kalas at the University of California, Berkeley. Kalas led the team using Hubble to discover Fomalhaut's planet."

The MacIntosh team discovered its first planet in 2007 and follow up study showed the two additional planets. All three planets are several Jupiter masses and ths system astronomical name is HR8799, It is visible form Earth with binoculoars, lies in the constellation Pegasus and is 767 trillion miles from our solar system.

Boston Legal Quotes

Denny Crane: Ah, Denise. Rodney King?
Denise: Rodney King. Uh, severely beaten by the police over ten years ago.
Denny Crane: See? You remember. Why? Branding! They didn't call him Rodney King: wifebeater, alcohol abuser, who swung a tire iron at a convenience store clerk. They called him Rodney King: a motorist, a motorist: Rodney King. Brings to mind images of a jaunty man riding hat in cap in a Model-T. That's what we want. Russell Blayney: American Homeowner. Not Russell Blayney: eats them broiled, baked or fried.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Endeavor Ready to Launch

Space shuttle Endeavor leared its pre-flight checks and is ready to launch, possibly as soon as Friday. A cold front entering the area still threatens the schedule but forecasters predict a s60% chance of launch.

"Endeavour and its seven-person crew are set to deliver home improvement equipment that is essential if NASA is to double the size of the space-station crew. The shuttle is loaded with an extra bathroom and kitchenette, two additional bedrooms, another exercise machine and a recycling system that will turn urine into drinking water at the orbiting outpost. The plan is to add three more astronauts to the space station by the middle of next year, making for a permanent crew of six."

The launch needs to occur before Nov. 25th or it would have to be rescheduled for next January due to the angle of the sun when the ISS and shuttle are docked together and potential year end computer glitches.

Boston Legal Quotes

Denny Crane: Brad's the best. I just made him partner.
Bev: Denny, I want reassurance.
Denny Crane: The man served in the Gulf War. The one that turned out okay. He was top of his class at West Point and Harvard Law School. I'd put my own life in his hands.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Husker News

Husker coaches handed out Blackshirts for the top 11 defenders at practice yesterday, ten games into the season, based on the level of effort from the victory over KU. Also, starting WILL LB Cody Glenn has been suspended from the team indefinitely for an unspecified violation of team rules.

"The current Blackshirts are: (Tyler) Wortman, middle linebacker Phillip Dillard, defensive ends Zach Potter, Pierre Allen and Clayton Sievers, defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Ty Steinkuhler, and defensive backs Armando Murillo, Anthony West, Eric Hagg and Larry Asante.

Just 11, and it’s not solely based on starters, as backup Sievers and Hagg, who’ s not officially No. 1 on the depth chart, both got them, while safeties Matt O’Hanlon and/or Rickey Thenarse did not. Weakside linebacker Cody Glenn was indefinitely suspended Tuesday by head coach Bo Pelini."

In other news, bowl speculation is abounding, with Gator Bowl officials saying they would "strongly consider" a 8-4 Husker squad should they win out and the Big 12 land two teams in the BCS bowls. NU has never played in the New Year's Bowl played in Jacksonville, FL. Story on that here.

"the Gator Bowl pits the No. 3 ACC team against one of the following: a Big East school, Notre Dame or, twice every four years, a Big 12 school. Texas Tech came from behind to beat Virginia 31-28 in the game last year. The payout to each team is $2.5 million. Although it’s presumed that the Gator Bowl would select the Notre Dame should the Irish finish 7-5, Catlett (Gator Bowl Association President) said an 8-4 NU team would make a compelling argument.

Under those circumstances, the Huskers would have won five of their last six games. ND, should it lose to USC, would have finished 3-4 to end its season. Nebraska has historically traveled well to any bowl game, and NU nearly matches ND in name recognition. The Irish also hasn’t beaten a team with a winning record in 2008."

While a number of things might happen, the general consensus is that the league will land the winner of the Big 12 Championship game and another school, probably from the South division, (OU/UT/TT) in the BCS. The Cotton Bowl then gets the third selection, likely to be either North division winner Mizzou (should they lose the title game) or another South school and the Holiday Bowl is thought to be interested in Oklahoma State. NU could also end up in the Alamo, Sun or Insight bowls should the Gator decline to pick a Big 12 school.

Economics Doesn't Start in DC

John Stossel points out the fallacy that economic improvement comes from policies initiated in Washington. The New Deal extended the Great Depression instead of solving it, and wishing it weren't so doesn't change the fact. A Soviet style centralized economy is not the answer to our economic issues and government politicians taking our money and giving it to someone else is no way to create wealth.

"But we cannot raise wages or create jobs or eliminate poverty by executive order. We can do so by freeing people to save and invest and accumulate capital. We can't make medical care universal and inexpensive by legislative fiat. But we can approach that goal by permitting a free market in medicine to work.

Government is force, not eloquence. And force is an attempt to defy economic logic. The consequences are often opposite of those intended. "A subsidy for medical insurance increases the demand for services and raises prices. A price ceiling makes those services less available. A floor under wages makes jobs for unskilled workers more scarce, as employers find it a losing proposition to hire them. A subsidy to production means too much produced relative to something else consumers want. A trade restriction lowers living standards at home and abroad," writes Sheldon Richman on the Foundation for Economic Education website."


Boston Legal Quotes

Judge Paul Resnick: I've had enough of all this. Mr. Crane, you've had no excuse to be carrying a gun.
Denny: 2nd Amendment. Founding Fathers. You probably knew them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gingrich & Steel Candidates for RNC Chair

Ralph Hallow at the Washington Times reports on rumors that former House Majority Leader Newt Gingrich and former Maryland Lt. Gov Michael Steel are quietly vying for the job of Republican Committee Chair.

"Neither man will acknowledge his interest in the post, but Republicans close to each are burning up the phone lines and firing off e-mails to fellow party members in an effort to oust RNC Chairman Mike Duncan in the wake of the second consecutive drubbing of Republican candidates at the polls.

A bevy of backers for each man, neither of whom is an RNC member, say the committee needs a leader who can formulate a counter-agenda to President-elect Barack Obama's administration and articulate it on the national stage."

Michael Duncan, the current chair is still considering whether or not to run for the position again. Gingrich is denying his interest, stating he was focused on American Solutions and the Center for Health Transformation, two policy think tanks. Steel is current head of GOPAC, a Republican fund raising group.

Boston Legal Quotes

Chelina: God, the last time I saw you...
Alan: I believe it was a Sunday. Then I was taken off the air, you went off to do movies, I got switched to Tuesdays and...
Chelina: Here we are...with old footage.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Suh Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week

via HuskerExtra, Husker DT Ndamakong Suh has been named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week for his preformance Saturday against Kansas. Suh led the Huskers with 12 tackle, 4 for losses and 2 1/2 sacks, and also scored a touchdown playing at fullbakc in a goal line situation and catching a 2 yd TD pass. The Husker line dominated KU as defensive ends Zach Potter and Pierre Allen also had big games. Potter had six tackles, two of them for loss, 1½ sacks and an interception and Allen had seven tackles and a 15-yard sack. Ty Steinkuhler was also solid.

KU was held to 118 yards rushingjust 3 yards a carry and Jayhawk QB Todd Reesing was held to 15-30 passing.

Suh stole the show however. Consider these little nuggets:

"His 12 tackles were the most by a defensive lineman since Titus Adams had that many against Kansas State in 2005.

* His 2½ sacks were a career-high and most by a Husker in 70 games since Demorrio Williams had three against Utah State in 2003.

* His four tackles for loss were the most by a Husker in 38 games since Bo Ruud had five against Kansas State in 2005.

* His team-leading 60 tackles this season are the most by an NU defensive lineman since Ryon Bingham had 67 in 2002. A Husker D-lineman had not led the team in tackles since John Bell had 96 in 1973.

* His average of six tackles a game leads all Big 12 linemen."

Been a long time since we had that kind of defensive effort, major kudos to Suh and the entire defense.

Obama's Secretary of State Candidates

Real Clear World looks at five of the leading candidates in the incoming Obama administration for the most important of the cabinet level positions, Secretary of State.

The first is former NSC staffer Richard Beers, who served under Presidents Reagan, Clinton and both Bushes. What's that you say, a bi-partisan? No, Beers resigned his post five days before the invasion of Iraq and has now formed a progressive national security think tank called the National Security Network and was alos a campaign advisor to the John Kerry campaign in 2004.

Next under the spotlight is Richard Lugar, Republicna Senator from Indiana who has developed a close relationship with Obama in the Senate. He is the GOP's ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations committee and its former chairman. One of Lugar's signature issues is nuclear proliferation, but it is doubtful he would get the post.

"But appointing a prominent member of the opposition party to be Secretary of State, the top cabinet post in any administration, would be rare if not unprecedented since the early days of the republic. In addition, Lugar has indicated that he would like to serve out his term and then seek re-election in 2012."

The next possibility is yet another Richard, this one former UN Ambassador Holbrooke. However, Holbrooke has a long history of association with the Clintons, being a finalist for Sec State after the departure of Warren Christopher in the Clinton administration (which went to Madeline Albright) and has advised both the Kerry 2004 campaign and Hillary's this election. However, Holbrooke does have signifigant experience in both Asia and Europe, having served as Asst. Sec of State for both regions during his career.

Finally a non Richard, New Mexico Governor and former Democratic Presidential hopeful Bill Richardson. Richardson is also a former UN Ambassador and served as Energy Secretary under Clinton, but came out early with an endorsement of Obama and certainly helped Obama carry New Mexico in the election. Richardson, raised in Mexico City, speaks fluent Spanish and would be the first Hispanic appointed to Sec of State.

Then there is the final possibility, one that makes me shudder personally, John Kerry. Kerry was another early and enthusiastic Obama supporter, and is the third ranking Democratic Senator on the Foreign Relations committee. Kerry is also thought to have a good relationship with VP Joe Biden, but did just get re-elected to the Senate.

I'd have to go with Richardson or Holbrooke personally, but there may hav ealready been a deal in the works for Kerry. Ugh.

Shielding Could Allow Long Space Flights

via National Geographic, new research indicates that even small magnets might allow for the devleopment of radiation shielding that would allow long term manned spaceflight to Mars or beyond.

"One of the greatest dangers facing future astronauts is radiation, much of which comes from the sun via solar wind, a stream of particles from the sun's atmosphere.
Solar flares can be as deadly to life on Earth, and prolonged exposure to lower doses can cause cancer. Until recently, however, scientists thought shielding spacecraft would require an impractically large magnet—one capable of generating a field 60 miles (100 kilometers) or more across."

Boston Legal Quotes

Denny: (To Alan) I don't think I've ever seen you this nervous, except for night terrors, clowns and word salad.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Boston Legal Quotes

Marlene: Denise.
Denise: Marlene.
Marlene: I hear you're getting married.
Denise: I am.
Marlene: Congratulations. It must be a relief to have some financial security. Does Buzz know?
Denise: Buzz?
Marlene: Buzz Lightyear. Isn't that the nickname for the Ken-doll with benefits?
Denise: Marlene, I'm finding it extremely difficult not to assault you right now.
Marlene: [deadpan] Oh, I'm sorry. Am I being too familiar? I thought we were girlfriends. I was hoping the

relationship wouldn't change when I made partner and you didn't but I guess it has. Oh well.

Pence Up For Conference Chair

via Human Events, Elizabeth Meinecke reports that Republicans in the House make an important move towards rebuilding their brand by nominating Indiana's Mike Pence as Republican Party Conference Chair, the #3 spot in the House. Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Republican Study Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling of Texas both nominated Pence, a former radio talk show host, due to his communications skills.

"The Conference -- formerly chaired by Rep. Adam Putman -- is the medium of communicating the House GOP’s message to the media and American public. It also elects House Republican leadership and is an internal organizer for Republican representatives. The chairman is the voice of his party’s message."

Pence is a former RSC Committee Chair and is running unopposed for the position to this point. Pence serves on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees in the House.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Boston Legal Quotes

Denny Crane: This is completely disrespectful. You don't come home to papa by suing his government.
Donny Crane: Someone has to, Dad. Our policy is denying thousands of people life-saving medical care, based on the personal religious views of our leader. Nothing says democracy like imperialism.
Denny Crane: Why can't you for once come to town and we just toss the pigskin? That's American.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Boston Legal Quotes

Marlene: You missed your ten o'clock.
Alan: Um, something came up.
Marlene: Something was supposed to come up, at the closet, at ten o'clock.
Alan: I've got a few minutes now if you'd like to go somewhere and... grab a bite.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Domestic Drilling

Livescience takes a look at the domestic drilling issue, noting the US is still the third leading oil producer in the world. Of course, we're also the leading consumer, using 20 million barrels a day while producing 8 million barrels.

"Polls have shown that a majority of Americans want an increase in offshore drilling. In response, Congress let a 27-year-old moratorium on offshore oil drilling expire at the end of last month. This put into play about 16 billion barrels of oil (or about 21 percent of U.S. offshore resources), according to the Department of Energy (DOE). However, this is just a drop in the bucket.

"We have significant oil and natural gas resources here in the United States," said Richard Ranger, a senior policy advisor for the American Petroleum Institute. He quoted government estimates that say federal lands have 116.4 billion barrels of undiscovered technically recoverable oil, which could power 65 million cars for 60 years."

They also point out that new techniques are allowing old wells to continue to produce, such as injuecting water or carbon dioxide into wells, known as EOR (Enhanced Oil Recovery). EOR techniques could put as much as 240 billion barrels into production in the US according to a 2006 estimate. They also point out the potential of unconventional resources such as oil sands and oil shale, which oculd add nearly 2 trillion barrels to domestic supplies.

Go Vote!

Whatever your beliefs and/or affiliations, be a good citizen and vote.

Boston Legal Quotes

Ivan: I brought wine, cheese, and condoms. I thought we'd picnic.
Shirley: Missy came to my office today.
Ivan: Aw. So just the wine and cheese.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Twin of Solar system Discovered

VIa OWH, astronomers have found evidence of a solar system much like our own, and it is relatively close in galactic terms. The system Epsilon Eridani, just 10.5 light years from Earth and the eighth closest to our sun has been observed to have two rings of rocky asteroids in oribit around it, somewhat like the geography of our solar system, and an icy outer ring consistent with our Kyper Belt. The gaps in the rings are likely spots for planets to lurk, and the inner ring is 3 astronomical units from the star, just as in our solar system.

"Epsilon Eridani is much younger than the sun — about 850 million years old, compared with 4.5 billion years for our system.

"This really is a system like our solar system was when it was five times younger than it is now," said one of the discoverers, Massimo Marengo, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. "It's like a time machine for our solar system."

"This system probably looks a lot like ours did when life first took root on Earth," said Dana Backman of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., the lead author of a report to be published Jan. 10 in the Astrophysical Journal.

SETI chose Epsilon Eridani as one of the first targets in its long — but so far fruitless — search for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence in 1960. The suspected planets are too far away to be detected directly, so their presence has to be inferred by indirect measurements."

At least one and perhaps three or more planets may be in orbit around the star, which is in the constellation Eridanus near Orion. The star is a bit smaller and cooler than our Sun, bringing the star's habitable zone closer to it than our own system. More on the discovery at Livescience here.

Boston Legal Quotes

Denny: I hear you misplaced a client.
Alan: Not really. Like car keys and sunglasses, he'll show up somewhere.