Saturday, February 08, 2003

I've had it. I understand that Islam is a world-wide religion, and not all of its members are as vicious as others, but they have got to understand that not standing up and saying that they do not support the extreme sects means that the rest of the world judges them by the passive acquiescence they apathetically display.

The "It's not my problem" mentality shown by many Muslims in free countries gives the rest of us nothing with which to combat the hate-filled venom being spewed by the most vocal (and religious) imams beginning the hajj (annual pilgrimage to Mecca) this year. Statements like that of Sheik Abu Hamza calling for Muslims to kill Americans, or the one by the semi-official mouthpiece of Arafat who says, "The younger the martyr, the greater and more I respect him".

Now, the senior Muslim cleric in Mecca, in ceremonies beginning this year's hajj, prayed for Islamic "victory or martyrdom" in the upcoming war. He went on to say, "[Believers] should expect either victory or martyrdom, both of which should be sought."

Of course, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has "expressed concern" that the changing of the Terrorism Threat Level (from yellow to orange) "seemed to link the Muslim religious observance of Hajj to terrorism".

Really. No kidding. Of course, I can't imagine how people could think that. "...Victory or martyrdom, both of which should be sought."

Religion of Peace, my ass.

If that's too broad a brush, then tell your imams to stand up against murder, no matter who commits it "in the name of Allah". If the extreme members of my religion were planning on killing large numbers of people, simply because of their religion or skin color or choice of shoe style, I would drop a dime on 'em in a New York minute. I don't know how many millions of people who agree with me, but for some reason, Extreme Muslims groups who think it's okay to kill the Jew or American, simply because they are a Jew or an American, seem to find shelter in Muslim communities and mosques.

Like I said, Religion of Peace, my ass.
I slept really late this morning. If it hadn't been for the ringing phone a few minutes after 9am, I'd probably still be sleeping. LOL

My wife is working at peeling potatoes and chopping them into small pieces. Once she's done, I'll be frying them up with some sausage links, eggs and biscuits for breakfast. I'm a pretty good cook, if I do say so myself. Being forced to eat your own cooking over a period of years will do that to you, I guess.

I'm trying to form a coherent rant this morning, but my mind keeps spinning off into lots of different tangents. The Columbia disaster, the abyssmal stupidity of most Hollyweird celebrities, the anti-war protestors (why can't they ever come up with something more original than 'Give Peace a Chance'?), Governor "Shades of" Gray Davis and his frantic search for essential services to cut, you name it.

I've also been looking at the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution, but it doesn't seem to make much sense. Let me work on that, and I'll try and figure out what they were trying to say when they phrased it the way they did. The Twelfth is much easier...

Keep checking back. I've gotta go, because the potatoes are ready. Two big breakfasts, comin' up!

Friday, February 07, 2003

I remember an occasion in Junior High School (so long, long ago) when I was curious about how many dozens of synonyms there were for a certain word. Depending on context, there are literally hundreds of words that can be easily used to replace the word "said".

Spoke, mumbled, stated, recited, complained, shouted, expostulated, repeated, argued, whined, drawled, whispered, joked, joshed, sniped, bitched, moaned, laughed, cried, spat, sneered, chuckled, roared, bleated, judged, articulated, prayed, cursed, implied, recalled, blathered, lilted, sang, and just plain said. I'm sure that you can come up with a few more on your own, without even trying. But not one of those examples will include "is like".

I hear conversations that include the liberal use of the words "like" and "goes" to replace "said", and I have to bite my lip to keep from making fun of them for their complete lack of comprehension. ("He's all, like, 'I gotta go' ..." "Yah, I know, and then he goes, "I'll call ya...' I'm, like, "I'm so sure, I'll be holding my breath, whatever..." Gaaahhhhh!!!)

A question: Why do they call them apartments when they're so close together?

Another thing that I was saying to my poll worker compatriots in the dead times between the Nine. Teen. Voters. was mentioned tonight on the O'Reilly Factor, and I'm glad I said it first. (If you had been there, you would remember it and tell everyone else to believe me...)

I think the fact that men have absolutely no say in "a woman's reproductive freedom" is a good thing. Women should have the right to choose for themselves whether they want to continue with a pregnancy. But her decision directly affects another human being - the baby's father. He has no say in whether or not she decides to continue the pregnancy, but if she does decide to keep the baby, he is instantly responsible for the support of this child, and for the next 18 years. Whether he wants to or not, in most states.

Let's turn it around and say that they are very much in love, intending to marry, decide to start a family right away, and formalize it next week. Great. She gets pregnant, but tragedy strikes on the way home from the doctor's office. Let us further suppose that she suffers almost no physical injury, but is put into a coma. They are not married, so he has no legal standing to oppose her sister's position as closest relative. She decides that she doesn't want her sister to bear a child while in a coma, and requests an abortion. Leaving the child to grow to term would do her no foreseeable harm, and the baby's father wants the baby. How would the court's rule? In many cases, they would order the doctor to perform the abortion. The law is fairly clear, the decision of the medical representative has standing over that of the "significant other".

I'm not asking for much. Just make it fair for both sides. If he decides to just walk away from the situation, and sign away all of his parental rights, he should be allowed to do so. She can have an abortion without even asking or even being required to inform him, even after the fact, and as I said above, if she decides to keep the baby, he's on the hook for almost two decades. He should have the right to walk away, within a specified time of being told about the pregnancy, say thirty days or maybe as much as six weeks. This should also apply even if he has not been told about the child until long after it has been born.

Fair is fair, after all.
I hear rumors that many states are now charging sales tax for any Internet sales that occur within their borders. I'm unsure about the constitutionality of such laws, since it is spelled out in Article I, Section 9, Clause 5 ("No tax or duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State") which means that if the item you are buying is coming in from any state other than your own, neither your state nor the one sending it to you can charge sales tax on it. The laws are different if it's coming from another country, but if I buy something on a web site, and their offices and warehouse are in some other state than California, then I cannot be charged sales tax in California, because I didn't buy the item here, and the other state cannot charge me sales tax, either, because it is exporting it to another state.

Of course, if they do have warehouses and business licenses in California, that would be legal. You'll see it occasionally on a web site (Residents of CA, WA, VA, & NY add sales tax), and I'm not suggesting that all Internet commerce should be tax free. I'm suggesting that people buy from a different state, and ignore those new taxes.

I eagerly await the chance to follow the first law suits from people who (rightfully) refuse to pay Danegeld these "taxes".
Former Marine (I mean that literally, since this pusbag has surrendered his U.S. citizenship, and the Marines have probably repudiated his ass in return) Ken O'Keefe was leading a group of people to Iraq to be "human shields" (as though human flesh will stop bombs falling from 30,000 feet). You probably have your own opinion of this idiot. Personally, I was kind of hoping he made it as far as Baghdad, and was there to catch that first Tomahawk. The gene pool always needs a dash of chlorine from time to time, and the mathematically average IQ of a human being would have actually climbed a fraction. These are good things.

But, sadly, he got stopped short. Y'see, to get to Iraq from Europe, the shortest route goes through Turkey. And Turkey stopped this bonehead at the airport, then sent him back the way he came. Oh, well, I guess he can feel good about the attempt. This way, he now has another (pro-U.S.) country to hate. I don't think the Turks actually wanted the death of this dumbass on their collective conscience.

I'm wondering why he didn't just fly directly into Iraq? if Hans Blix can do it, couldn't the founder of the "Human Shield Mission" make it as well? I'm sure he'd love to get that photo-op with Saddam... and our UAVs could use a position fix on Saddam... LOL
Good morning to one and all. At least it's morning from where I'm sitting, so it'll have to do.

The Government is raising the Threat Level from "Moderate" to "High" (Yellow to Orange). I'm sitting here watching the press conference by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and Attorney General John Ashcroft, and one phrase caught my ear. Ashcroft said something like, "We hold to our convictions that an alert public can deter terrorism."

It's a fallback position. If nothing were to happen, they would then point to that statement and say that the terrorist attack that is being threatened was deterred by an alert citizenry and call the raising of the level a success. If an attack does happen, they would point to the raising of the level and call it a success. It's a win-win situation for the Guv'mint, no matter what happens. I'm not rooting for an attack to happen or anything, and I pray that it's just like that situation in the old Westerns... You know, "Y'know, Clem, it's purty quiet out hyar." "Yeah, Zeke, it is quiet. Maybe it's too quiet..."

When you're talking about a group that targets civilians and will strike without warning and without any thought to their own safety, it's not whether you're paranoid, it's whether you're paranoid enough.

In other news, my friend Q now has his own Blog page. Why not stop by and see what he's got to say about life? Tell him Drumwaster sent ya, and I'll earn bonus miles for my next Vegas vacation... :-)

Thursday, February 06, 2003

I haven't been blogging very much recently, and I apologize to you all. It has been kind of a stressful period, and I've been a little under the weather, as well.

I'll try to increase my output, and try to keep track of things as they occur, but the world is a big and busy place. Just today as I've been resting on my couch, I saw stories that fairly screamed for sarcastic commentary, but I just couldn't muster the righteous anger necessary... I'll touch on a few, just to keep my hand in.

Wacko Jacko may have talked himself into a jail cell by proudly proclaiming that he still sleeps with little boys. "Oh, nothing sexual...". Then could you explain the $25 million out of court settlement (don't forget the confidentiality agreement) with the father of the young boy who accused you a few years back? The Santa Monica DA is opening an investigation based on the interview that is scheduled to be airing tonight. I have no intention of watching it, primarily because "Friends" is on.

The Space Shuttle blame game has already started. I never believed the foam insulation could have done the kind of damage necessary to damage tiles to the point where they no longer worked. We're talking about a foam that started from just a few feet away, and we are not talking about absolute velocity (which would have been several hundred mph by this time), but relative velocity (it couldn't have had much time to actually build up a large delta-V). I've also seen rumors that some anti-Zionist agent must have disabled the tiles or misattached them because of the Israeli astronaut. There is no part of the Shuttle that is not tested, checked and double-checked by at least three different people. And that's just the stuff that they're planning on getting rid of anyway. Stuff that actually keeps our astronauts alive get many, many safety checks and inspections. If you've ever seen a pre-launch countdown, you've seen just the culmination of the massive checklists of tasks that have been done, redone, checked off, and inspected by at least three supervisors. A conspiracy would have had to have subverted all of these, because it only takes one "No Go" to stop the countdown.

Dimocrats are threatening a filibuster if a Hispanic judge is put up for a vote on the Senate floor. The very same judge that a Democratically-controlled Judiciary Committee refused to even put up for a vote. And they are claiming that a "Highly Qualified" rating from the American Bar Association (the highest rating given) is not enough. Is it that he's a conservative Hispanic, and thus, not Hispanic enough? Aren't the Dims supposed to be supporting and encouraging minorities who improve themselves, or do they say it, but not mean it?

Senator Barbara Boxer (Idiotarian-People's Republic of California) accused Powell's State Department of "designed neglect" regarding North Korea. Is this because we've told Kim Jong-Il that we're not going to negotiate regarding nuclear weapons, and we are refusing to sign a non-aggression treaty? Or is it that we've decided to stop the shipments of free oil and food in exchange for them not developing a nuclear weapon (figuring that if they weren't going to obey the treaty, we didn't have to either)?

Gray Davis (Coward-Hiding Under His Desk) is trying various means of "revenue enhancement" without actually raising taxes, but raising fees instead. Legislation which raise taxes require a 2/3rds majority in both State Houses (which Dims don't yet have), but raising fees only require a simple majority (which the Dims do have). Davis is beginning to realize that since the budget shortfall (of $32 Billion, more than the other 49 states combined) cannot be covered simply by raising fees and cutting essential services (police, schools, roads), he needs the Republicans just to pass his budget. So long as the Republican State Senate and Assembly members stand strong, maybe they will start cutting things like welfare for illegal immigrants...
People in Texas have apparently been turning in all sorts of stuff they found on the ground that they cannot instantly identify, thinking that it might be pieces of Columbia. Reports indicate that people have turned in bits of eggshell, a generator from a Chevy, a mudflap from a truck, and even a piece of burnt toast.

NASA officials kinda chuckled and said, "We'd rather sift through a thousand pieces of junk than miss a single piece of the Shuttle." Ya gotta love their sense of humor, though. Some of this stuff must be kinda obvious. (The first thing I wondered was if the mudflap had one of those reflective cut-outs of a naked woman on them...) LOL

In other news, Happy 92nd Birthday to former President Ronald Wilson Reagan. He has already surpassed John Adams' record to become the longest-lived President. I wish him much happiness, and would love the chance to shake his hand, and tell him how much he has changed the world. He brought freedom to more people in the world than any President in history, even today. Because he killed the "Evil Empire" (even though he was no longer President when it fell, he's the one who pulled the trigger), which granted freedom to the whole of Eastern Europe, they are now backing us in the Battle of Iraq, which shows that his legacy still lives on.

Happy Birthday, Sir.
Iraq has now replied to Colin Powell's speech to the UN Security Council. It boils down to, "Everything he said is based on false allegations, or statements taken out of context. The electronic intercepts are manufactured by the evil government of the Great Satan, and we won't even dignify their existence with a response. The peace-loving government of Iraq has been cooperating fully, and all claims to the contrary are ludicrous."

I cannot say that I am surprised in the least. One new thing I did hear is that the Iraqis are now defending the UN Security Council as "the highest legal authority in this world".

If that's the case, then why haven't they followed the dictates of that "authority"?

When South Africa decided to unilaterally disarm and divest itself of nuclear weapons (which they did have for a short time), they called the UN and said, "Please come get this stuff." The inspectors arrived at the Johannesburg airport, the government officials met them, and immediately took them to the weapons manufacturing facilities, storage sites, and handed over everything they had. It was clear that South Africa was truly cooperating.

Iraq has been bird-dogging the UN inspectors, threatening them, denying access, thousands of inspections made over 7 years, and managed to find huge quantities of WMDs (due to Iraqi defectors) that Iraq had denied ever having. They have threatened their scientists (and their families) with death if they commit "treason" by cooperating with the UN interviews. They have done everything they can to delay, deny, and obfuscate reality. They have stored classified data about Iraq's weapons programs in the homes of top scientists (to make it more difficult to find this material). They have sent Iraqi intelligence personnel to pretend to be scientists.

And then they accuse us of making stuff up.

North Korea is yet another problem. My wife told me that the headlines this morning involved statements by North Korea that they would use their nuclear weapons (thanks for nothing, Billy Jeff!) if we tried to invade them the way we're invading Iraq.

Great. We have now been threatened with nuclear weapons. I think we're going to overtly move our forces in the region to a very public spot between North Korea and Japan, so that our Aegis cruisers stand a chance to defend Japan against a North Korean missile launch. We keep them in the open, and then smoke Pyongyang during one of those military parades (to take out the military leadership) using a Stealth Bomber and a few cruise missile. Maybe use that new HRM warhead (that will short out electronics, but not harm any people) on board a dozen Tomahawks to take out their weapons along the DMZ. Then start telling them that the reactor will either be shut down by the Koreans, or by the U.S. If we have to shut it down, then it will not only be unusable, they won't even be able to approach the site for a few generations.

So rattle those sabres a bit more, Kim. We'll get to you and all your buddies in a few weeks. You'll never realize it until the bombs start going off it your bedroom.

Realistically, they are running out of time, and they know it. They have already been reports of "official [North Korean] concerns of public uprisings" in some regions of North Korea. They want us to start sending them food and fuel in massive quantities, and right now, dammit! Much like kids going through the "Terrible Twos & Threes", he wants what he wants when he wants it, and "I'll scream and yell until I get it."

Daddy Dubya is saying, "I'll get to you in a moment, Kim, so just relax and be patient." Patience is the one thing the North Koreans don't have the luxury to have, because patience requires time, and time has already run out for Kim Jong-Il. And his cadre.

The only question is whether they will go with a bang or a whimper.

A joke:
Q: How many North Koreans does it take to change a light bulb?
A: What's a light bulb?

Heh.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

The post I made a few days ago (about the CBC reporter allegedly laying the blame for the Columbia disaster on American "arrogance") also inspired me to write an angry letter to the CBC Ombudsman, spelling out exactly why I thought that the reporter was wrong, and demanding some sort of corrective action. I was angry (and rightfully so, IMHO), but I used rhetoric rather than invective. I kept it on an adult level, and I received this reply from David Bazay, who included the response of Mr. Mark Bulgutch, a Senior Executive Producer at the CBC. I am repeating the entirety of that response here, with his kind permission, followed by my response to his letter. As I said, I respect him for actually stepping up and giving a response.

I wish I had kept my original letter...

********************************************
As is the custom here I have asked CBC News management to respond to your concerns about Newsworld's
coverage of the shuttle disaster. Attached is the response of Mark Bulgutch, Senior Executive Producer of CBC
News and CBC Newsworld.

Yours truly,

David Bazay
Ombudsman

===================================

The CBC Ombudsman has sent me your complaint about part of our coverage of the Space Shuttle disaster last week.
I must tell you that I was driving to the CBC building when the remark in question was made so I didn't hear it. But since I was in our control room producing our coverage beginning about 15 minutes later and ending after midnight, I know the tone we set. There wasn't a hint of anti-Americanism in what we did. So I was very surprised to hear about the nature of the complaint.

I have now watched the videotape of the interview you cited. You are, of course, accurate in saying that our anchor used the word, "arrogance" in a question. It came in a conversation with a writer about how confident NASA had become with shuttle flights. The shuttle had a proven track record, said the writer, so naturally there was a high level of confidence at NASA.

Our anchor then asked, albeit in an awkward fashion, if that "confidence" had spilled into "arrogance". Her intent, it seems to me, is clear. She wondered if healthy confidence had become willful blindness to trouble, based on the belief that any problem could be overcome with NASA's combination of brain power and ingenuity. I think, in the context of the conversation, that was a reasonable thing to ask.

But I concede that the anchor mangled enough words into her question to blur her meaning.

I have spoken to her about the question. She is aghast at the interpretation that some people have put on her words. She says anti-Americanism never entered her mind. I believe her.

I think her true sentiments were expressed just a minute or two earlier when she said, "We are all watching horrified..."

As I am sure you appreciate, anchoring a LIVE news special as a story is happening, is not easy. The anchor is getting information from untold numbers of sources and trying to formulate articulate questions at the same time.

As I said, I think the question could have been worded much more clearly. I'm sorry it wasn't. It left some viewers reaching conclusions we had not intended.

Mark Bulgutch
Senior Executive Producer
CBC News and CBC Newsworld


*******************************************

And my response:
*******************************************

Dear Mr. Bulgutch:

I'm sure you can understand our concern, given the attitudes expressed by your government's senior officials (calling our President a "moron" when speaking to a reporter), and the poll of the alleged "man on the street" (one showing public opinion in Canada) where it was reported that almost 80% of Canadians interviewed believed that the United States and/or its citizens bear at least "some responsibility" for the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001.

The recent decisions by your PM concerning the situation in Iraq, and then your reporter using the word "arrogance" (whether it may have been inadvertant or not) when searching for an explanation for the Columbia tragedy tends to make me (among many, many thousands of others) wonder what kind of world-view is coloring these incidents.

The use of the word "arrogance" may have not been the word that was meant, and I understand (perhaps better than you realize) the kind of stress that can come with being caught by a tragic event while in public. But the fact that she even thought the word, and then let it slip out (a "Freudian slip"), makes me wonder what else she might have been thinking without actually saying it aloud.

You know as well as anyone on the planet that there are occasions when a reporter is asked to interview a subject whose opinions that reporter might not personally share (such as the KKK or a Neo-Nazi party member). Those reporters are required to dissemble, evade, and twist their own beliefs, so as not to offend those who are being interviewed. I understand the need to do so. But when something like this incident occurs, it may have been an accidental slip, but exactly what slipped? Perhaps her self-control? If so, what else did (does) she really believe?

I am still disappointed in the Canadian government, and many Canadians in general, and I am also wondering where our international relationship is headed, but I respect you for responding to my e-mail and answering some questions. Thank you for that.

Since I respect your personal and professional right to privacy, I will ask this: With your permission, I would like to post your letter (and this reply) in their entirety on my web site. Please let me know by return e-mail whether you will grant permission for this.


Sincerely,


*****************************************

I'm willing to let it lie at this point, and give the woman the benefit of the doubt. I still have my questions about some Canadian-U.S. issues, but the comment was made in the heat of a very stressful moment, and I have n oway to prove that I could have done any better. I'd like to think so, but I hope that I would have perhaps used the word "complacency" instead of "arrogance". One suggests contentment; the other, contempt.

We shall see how things go with this Terrance and Philip thing, eh? ;-)

UPDATE: It turns out that it was basically nothing more than a Press Release sent out as a mass-mailed form e-letter. I shall be keeping a much closer eye on our "allies" of the Great White North.

I know that there are quite a few Canadians who do not agree with their governments position on this issue. It becomes incumbent upon you to let your government know that they are acting "not in your name" to coin the oft-abused idiotarian phrase. If you just meekly acquiesce, that is your right, but be aware that your apathy is included in the rather broad brush being used...

It doesn't matter. We're going to go take down Saddam, with or without help. From anyone.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

I'm back. It was a very long day. 13 hours of keeping the polls open and you wanna know how many voters we had?

There were more than 860 registered voters in that precinct, and we had exactly 19 show up.

That's nineteen. One-Nine. All Day. Fortunately, we had a chance to chat and kill some time, and the people who did come in to vote usually stayed to chat, at least for a little while. I wanted to catch the shuttle ceremonies, but California Election Laws prohibit radios and TVs from the polling places (because they might accidentally air an ad, and influence a voter.

Oh, one amusing point from today. We were warned by the higher-ups that one of the candidates (hoping to take over the newly recalled board positions) had been caught by the roving inspectors going from precinct to precinct trying to cast ballots in every precinct (using the provisional paper ballots). This, as it must be explained, is an unsubstantiated rumor, since only an utter idiot would try to do something so stupid

With a extraordinarily high potential cost (a felony conviction and jail time), a dangerously high risk of being caught (since all provisional ballots have their signatures checked with the signatures on file at the Registrar's office), and a dangerously low probability of any benefit whatsoever (even assuming there were enough votes to recall the incumbent, he must assume that his one extra vote per precinct would tip the balance in his favor), he would need a "check-up from the neck up", as the saying goes...

I'm pretty wiped out, and I'm going to bed. God bless each and every one of the 24 visitors who have come by today, because I had warned you that I wasn't going to be posting today, and you two dozen came by to check anyhow, just in case.

I'm flattered. Thanks.

I'm going to bed. G'nite.

Monday, February 03, 2003

I'm going to wrap up early tonight, because I have to be up at 5am Tuesday morning, in order to be at my polling place by 6:15. Polls open at 7am, and close at 8pm. The four pollworkers then split into two teams of two people each, and while one team is supposed to remove all the printed instructions and other signs from the polling place (general clean-up), the other team is supposed to collect all the electronic ballot cartridges, provisional and absentee ballots turned into our station, and turn all those votes into the collection center (some central location).

I should be home to fill you guys in at about 9 or 9:30pm. I doubt any results will be published in the big papers, but I do have a question.

Why are elections almost always on a Tuesday? Even the Primaries for President seem to clump up on Tuesdays. The Constitution says that each State can set its own rules for holding elections (Article I, Section 4). The Elections for Congress are set on the "Tuesday after the first Monday in November" (why that day? why not make it a specific date, like Nov. 4th?), and the Presidential elections are combined to every other one, but this is a strictly state-wide election. I'll see if I can find out, and waste your IQ points and clutter your personal memory storage let you know.

You can check back tomorrow evening, about 26 hours from the time stamp on this post. That will be my next one.
The very first prototype of the Space Shuttle was never designed to operate in space, but just to find out whether the shuttles could make a dead-stick landing from altitude. The people at NASA wanted to give it a name, and a ground-swell of public support, mostly from Star Trek fans, gave them thousands of letters requesting... no, demanding, that the shuttle be named Enterprise. It served as a test bed for the first truly usable Shuttle, Columbia.

We lost Columbia on Saturday, and I mourn for those seven brave souls that were lost. As one blogger put it, "They weren't heroes when they died on re-entry. They were heroes when they strapped in prior to lift-off."

I do have a few questions, and I hope that anyone reading this will begin to ask their friends and relatives and especially their Congressmen and Senators.

1) Why was the Shuttle up there for 2 weeks without ever once joining up with the International Space Station? I know what they were doing - conducting various experiments. The question is perhaps better phrased as : Why weren't those experiments being done on board the ISS? The Shuttle, after all, was designed to be a reusable truck, to transfer people and materials back and forth to the ISS, not a mobile laboratory. Thus, the term "Shuttle", rather than "Orbital Laboratory".

2) Other heat-protection tiles had been damaged and lost during lift-off before, and each time, nothing bad has happened. Lucky us. The question: Has no one at NASA bothered to figure out a way to replace these tiles while out in space?

(Look, let's assume that they had been able to see the tiles, and determine that they had been damaged. What could possibly have been done? If a plane breaks down, but is able to make it to its destination, other ways can be found to bring spare parts to the plane, to enable it to fly away again. But once the shuttle lifts off and anything happens, how would we get help to them? They could survive on the ISS, and even escape using the Soyuz module. But that can only hold three people. There were three in the ISS and seven on board Columbia. What next?)

3) Why are we still using computers aboard these Shuttles (and Navy ships) that are at least two decades out of date? My desk-top computer has more processing power than the average Shuttle, since those shuttles were built with computers bought in the late 70's-early 80's. Specialized code, and hand-written programs, using 20 year old equipment. I hope that if any replacements are built (which we have got to have happen) that they use some modern stuff. Fiber-optic cables and Gigahertz processors.

4) Why would we just waste time letting our space fleet (miserable though it may be) sit and rust while we let committees argue over how much money to spend on paperclips to hold the copies of their eventual report's appendices and evidentiary supplementals when we know that there are still missions to be run? Sure, run the investigations, determine the root causes, fix the problems. But don't stop!!

More questions will be posted as they come to me. Think about how you want them to be answered, and let your Government know. We should have had a colony on the Moon by now... I want to be able to vacation in space when I'm older, so we need to get busy. Right away!
I've just been handed this post from my vast secretarial staff (who apparently pay their rent with sarcastic comments they've picked up from me...) (UPDATE: I also had it mailed to me by my friend Q even while I was typing this... I guess Great Minds Think Alike)

It seems like Bush's habit of saying "Nook-yoo-lerr" (instead of the correct "noo-klee-urr") may actually be a deliberate thing. To make him sound "folksy", rather than a Harvard-educated, third-generation-oil-fortune-family, sports-team-owning aristocrat, with an MBA (Master's in Business Administration).

Y'see, I've lived in Midland, Texas, and because it's in West Texas, people see it with lots of images of cattle and oil wells and wide open dusty places. Yes, those things do exist in Texas, and in large quantity, but not in Midland. There's the occasional oil well (I had one literally across the street), but no cattle. Just some really good steak restaurants (Cattleman's comes to mind).

Midland is the economic center of the Permian Basin, and the thousands of oil wells that cover almost 75,000 square miles (almost the size of South Dakota) over West Texas and New Mexico. That means that Midland handles billions of dollars worth of oil and natural gas every year, and some of that money sticks. They had 6 people who were on the "Forbes 400" (the 400 Richest Americans) living in Midland.

But I guess Bush wants to be seen as just a "good ol' boy".

In other news, Michael Jackson has utterly denied ever having plastic surgery. Except for the (somewhat vague) surgery he admits. He repeats that denial in a documentary that is supposed to air tonight. Yeah, right. I believe him. I believed him about that kid who he molested and had to pay off with millions of dollars whose father just wanted to beat the shit out of Jackson filed that slanderous lawsuit against the King of Pederasts Pop.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

I think I've left that greeting up long enough... Thanks to all of you who stopped by today, and I welcome back all you repeat visitors. Stats show that AOL and RoadRunner make up over one-fourth of my "customers".

Not much happening today (except for hours of Columbia retrospective), and I thought that it would be nicer to leave the Blog-A-Day tour entry up, because Laurence has been kind enough to include me in the tour. I've refrained from adding things today because I wanted to give his entry the whole day. I've held off all day long, and thanks, Laurence, but this is my blog, and I want to get an entry in before the day's out.

I've never been big on poetry, whether rhyming verse, free verse, limericks, sonnets, haiku, iambic pentameter, or whatever. I'm more of the "There was a young man from Nantucket..." variety. Not that poetry can't be beautiful and lyrical and emotive, with phrasing that can wring your heart, I was just never very successful at writing it. I applaud those who can make the language sing in that fashion.

Some languages are lyrical just in the way they are built. You could read the phone book in French or Spanish, and it would sound better than the most beautiful verse in Russian or German. Not make more sense, or move people more eloquently, but just sound more lyrical. It's not the fault of the Russian (with its six-consonants-in-a-row words) or German poets, the inherent harshness of their languages give them a handicap.

English is a mish-mash of many languages mixed together. Latin, Greek, Spanish, German, French, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, you name it. If there's a word in the other language that covers a new concept, we add it to our next dictionary. ("Dictionary" is from the Latin, by the way.) But its very cosmopolitan (from the Greek) nature makes it difficult to make rhymes sound any good.

Shakespeare was an accomplished master at it. Some of the dialogue in Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet can bring tears, and the humor in The Taming of the Shrew still brings aching sides.

But I'm no Shakespeare. I'm just a guy who has time to sit and think. And blog about it when I'm done.

If there was a better time in history in which to live, it hasn't happened yet. Good night to you all. And to all, a good, er...., night. (Ahem)
GROUNDHOG DAY HAIKU
BY LAURENCE SIMON
(Part of the Amish Tech Support Blog A Day Tour)

The groundhog wakes up
He sees a red laser dot
I blow his head off


Greetings to all the Amish Tech Support visitors