Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The state of the Reagan Coalition, as it is today

I've done two other posts, linking to articles that question whether the Reagan Coalition is as influential as it once was, or if it's even still the Republican base.

I think the questions are important. But to be clear, I'm not saying the Reagan Coalition is DEAD. But if we end up with McCain as our candidate, then clearly something has changed or gone terribly wrong. The situation we find ourselves in could possibly be explained thus:

1.) The coalition may be smaller; it's eldest members have certainly passed on, as has President Reagan himself. Have many new members of like mind replaced them? If not, then the coalition would be smaller, and therefor less influential.

2.) A coalition needs a leader to unite them as one political force. The coalition has not rallied around any of the candidates. It has, in fact, been split.

A segment of evangelicals has gone for Huckabee. These folks were once Democrats, and like big government. They are reverting back to their roots, and Huckabee has split them away from the coalition.

Giuliani and McCain may have split away many of the National Security member's of the coalition. The Fiscal conservatives drafted Fred Thompson into the race, but he entered so late that many potential supporters had already committed themselves elsewhere; his campaign staff was too small and couldn't cope quickly enough to build the support he needed.

The coalition has been fractured and scattered; now we find ourselves looking at John McCain as the potential front runner. I say "potential" because the primaries are hardly over yet; the MSM may be pushing him as having already won, but that's typical of them, trying to create the news instead of reporting it.

The coalition, however fractured and reduced it may be, it's members, however scattered about they have been, still have a chance to regroup. I see that they have two choices left:

1.) Rally around and support Mitt Romney on Super Tuesday February 5th. He is really the only alternative to McCain right now. He may not be your ideal candidate, but in politics we often don't get our ideal; we get reality. We vote for the best person AVAILABLE, and we work to make the most of it.

2.) Vote for McCain, and take the consequences. You might get a few things you want... if he can even win. The MSM wants him to be nominated, because they know he's unpopular with the base. Once he gets the nomination, I have no doubt the MSM will turn on him, play up the aspects about him that Republican's hate, play that tape of him ranting like a lunatic about lettuce and lazy Americans... you get the idea?

If Mitt gets the Nomination, he will also be given a very hard time. Either way, it's going to be a tough battle. But I believe that Mitt Romney is the best candidate, not necessarily the perfect one, but the best one available. He has many fine qualities, and should be given serious consideration. The left absolutely despises him, for reasons that conservatives would love. Even conservative Democrats. Yes, remember, conservative Democrats were always a part of the Reagan coalition too.

Now that the many candidates that have distracted and splintered the coalition have been narrowed down, we have an opportunity to unite again. The coalition may have changed; times change, the players change, but certain conservative truths don't change, and that is what unites the coalition. So let's not sweat the details too much, and unite and pick the BEST candidate on Super Tuesday.

I feel that candidate is Mitt. If it turns out to be McCain, I'll deal with it if and when I must. But I live in Oregon; our primary won't be until April. Those of you who get to vote in Super Tuesday have a chance to reunite the coalition, in whatever shape it might be today. I hope you will. It's up to you.


Related Links:

Is Romney appealing to a conservative coalition that no longer controls the GOP?

Is the Reagan Coalition Gone? What's next?

The early primaries are the problem
     

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Is Romney appealing to a conservative coalition that no longer controls the GOP?

Michael Scherer asks that very question:

Is Romney Fighting the Last War?
From the start, Mitt Romney had a clear strategy for winning the White House. He would run as the candidate of the ideological establishment, the Republican old-guard, the coalition of Ronald Reagan, with that three-legged stool of social, fiscal and national security conservatism. He would become the inside man in a presidential field filled with outsiders.

[...]

And yet, his candidacy sputtered. His narrow loss Tuesday to John McCain in Florida was just the latest in a series of disappointments that began in Iowa and New Hampshire, two states where he had outspent his rivals and once led in the polls. His failures have many causes, which will be raked over by historians. But they also suggest a broader shift: Romney may be running to lead a Republican Party that no longer exists.

As has become increasingly clear, the ideological coalition Romney so eagerly courted no longer controls the fate of the GOP, at least in the early voting states - which have favored Mike Huckabee, a populist who trumpets the occasional role of larger government, and John McCain, a legislative maverick who does not always play by the Republican rulebook. Romney tried to run as the establishment candidate, only to find that the establishment no longer held the power. [...]

The article goes on to talk about some of the new strategies the Romney camp plans to move forward from here.

I think it is quite possible he's been appealing to a coalition that either no longer exists, or is smaller, weaker or otherwise changed from what it once was. The Reagan Coalition was formed almost 30 years ago. Many of it's members, like president Reagan himself, have passed on. Times have changed.

The best winning strategy that Mitt can use right now is, IMO, to just be himself, and not try to fit into a conservative straight jacket. He won't be conservative enough for the extreme right, but how likely is he to get their votes anyway? He has potential appeal to a lot of more moderate conservatives, including conservative Democrats. He should use this to his advantage, rather than play it down.


UPDATE 01-31-08
I just want to state that I'm not saying the coalition is dead, but I am trying to understand what has happened to bring us where we are now, so we can understand what needs to be done next. I elaborate more on that here:

The state of the Reagan Coalition, as it is today


Related Links:

Is the Reagan Coalition Gone? What's next?

Hope!!
     

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Why I support Mitt Romney for President


Because Fred Thompson dropped out? Well yeah, there is that. ;-) But even then I wanted Mitt for veep. But here is why I now support Mitt for president:

1.) Mitt was a Governor. I much prefer Governors to Senators as presidential candidates. Seeing how they governed a state gives you some clues as to how they might govern a nation, and if they are up to the job or not.

2.) He was Governor of Massachusetts. A Republican Governor, in a state where only 14% of the population is registered Republican. That's quite a feat.

I grew up in nearby Connecticut, and went to college in Boston for a year. I dropped out, got a job and continued living and working in the state for a while, till I saved up money and moved to California. I explored a lot of left wing political groups while I worked there. I'm no stranger to Massachusetts and some of it's political workings.

Anyone who is Governor of that state HAS to work with Ted Kennedy; he isn't just a Senator; he's a local "god". Whatever you think of him, you'd better find a way to work with him, or you will accomplish NOTHING.

The fact that Romney had enough appeal to get elected in such a blue state as MA is a wonder in itself. The fact that he could actually work with Ted Kennedy to accomplish anything is... probably more than I could do! In college, I learned very quickly to choose my words about the Senator very carefully when talking to the locals. Blasphemy was not looked kindly on.

3.) Democrats DID vote for Mitt! Ronald Reagan also had that talent. In a national election, it can be a handy appeal to have if you want to WIN.

Some conservatives don't like that he was Governor of a blue state. Even so, he lived and raised a family there; why NOT be Governor there?


We live in a country full of blue states as well as red. Being able to talk to and negotiate with the other side is not a bad thing. In fact, many would say it's necessary and important.

4.) He is a successful business man, with a long track record of successes. He lives in the real world, not Washington D.C. He's turned around many a failing business. He has an excellent understanding of economics and the things that cause an economy to flounder or thrive. Clearly that's something we are in need of now.

5.) He's a Washington D.C. outsider. He understands why many of us think Washington stinks, and we are fed up with it. He wants to turn it around, like he's done with many a failing business. That's a tall order, but I think the can bring the experience, the diplomacy, and a fresh perspective and the know-how to get it done.

6.) He is now the most conservative candidate running on the Republican side. To those he claim he's not conservative enough, I suggest that you look at who you might end up with instead.

Different people have different requirements about what makes someone a conservative or not. I don't require a 100% conservative straight jacket for any Republican candidate, and I'm pretty sure that most of the American voting public doesn't either. Mitt is conservative enough in the ways that matter to most. We don't vote for perfect candidates, we vote for the best one available for the job. The "perfect" is the enemy of the "good". Accept the good when it's offered to you, or you're likely to get... less. Much less.

7.) The Editors of National Review have endorsed Mitt. This means a lot to me. I've been a National Review fan for many years. I've found it's commentary and analysis over the decades to be thoughtful, considered and well reasoned, and I believe the editor's endorsement of Mitt is likewise. Thank you, NR.


8.) As Governor of Massachusetts, he introduced health care reforms by making existing systems function more efficiently, by assembling a task force to find out where the problems were, why people were not insured, and what they could do about it, and all without creating more taxes or a socialist bureaucracy. Some conservatives have unfairly called this "Hillerycare". Romney is in fact one of the few Republicans that has even tried to address this issue by actually doing something tangible about it. And he is FAR MORE open to the private sector and non-governmental solutions than Hillery would ever dream of. He is willing to think outside of the box. That is often how solutions are found.

Mitt is my new horse in the race. I hope you will consider him, too.


Related Links:

Romney to the Rescue

The Real Mitt Romney? Is he electable?

The Romney Agenda: The Romney Economic Stimulus Plan
     

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Is the Reagan Coalition Gone? What's next?

It was often said that Fred Thompson was appealing to the "Reagan Coalition". JB Williams at AmericanDaily.com contends that it wasn't just Thompson's failure to unite that coalition that caused Fred to drop out, but that it was the Republican's failure to support an actual conservative:

No Conservatives Please
The Writing on the Wall in South Carolina - Thompson didn't fail the Republican Party. The Party that failed to present a conservative themselves, or support one even when conservatives drafted one, failed Thompson.

Shade tree political pundits, who worked around the clock to douse ice water on Fred Thompson’s conservative campaign for President, are busy with their “I told you so” follow-ups. For them, Thompson’s departure from the race is interpreted as hard proof that the candidate was indeed “too old,” “too unhealthy,” “too lazy” and “too disinterested” in winning or leading. But for those who know Fred best, those who drafted him and worked to support him, his departure confirms something quite different…something much worse.

Thompson is simply too Conservative

At a time in history when conservatives are referred to as only a “fringe” of the Republican Party, and when fundamental American values and principles are called “extreme right-wing ideas,” a truly conservative candidate can’t win.

Conservative candidates never do well in liberal strongholds like New Hampshire, where nearly 50 percent of all voters are registered Independent and even Republicans vote liberal, or Michigan, the labor union capitol of the United States. Losing in liberal stronghold states is no surprise; in fact, it’s more a confirmation of one’s conservative credentials.

But not so long ago, there was no such thing as “too conservative” for South Carolina and that’s why Thompson bet his farm on South Carolina. Due to how early primaries are scheduled in liberal leaning states, a conservative candidate must begin his quest for national office in South Carolina, the first traditionally conservative state to hold a primary.

The History Thompson knows too well


For any conservative (or Republican) to win a national election, he must unite at least two of the three primary branches of the Republican Party. History provides a vital lesson in this regard. [...]

I think this explains a lot about why Fred quit after South Carolina. But I still wish he had not quit so soon. Independents were allowed to vote, which skewed the results. The weather was bad for voter turnout. There were too many candidates on the playing field... oh well. It happened the way it did.

This article looks at the history of the Reagan Coalition and Republicans in elections since then. It's an interesting history, with lots of plausible explanations for what we are seeing now. It's not a really long article, and worth reading the whole thing. It's an education. But I won't necessarily agree with the conclusion.

The fight is not over yet. In the end, we work with what we have. I don't know if it's even realistic to talk about the "Reagan Coalition" anymore. That was then, this is now. Reagan created the Regan Coalition in his time. He's gone, and so is the coalition... as it was. Something else new could spring from the roots of that, but if it does, it will be NEW and different. Perhaps inspired by the former, but not the same as.

That is the reality. Lets deal with it, and keep moving forward. Something good may yet come of it.
     

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An invitation...

A post by Tagg Romney, at the "Five Brothers blog", part of Mittromney.com:

Welcome FredHeads
As I've been traveling around Florida this week I've met a lot of people who have approached me to say they had been with Fred Thompson prior to his leaving the race, but that they're now firmly with us. They like my Dad's position on the issues, his appeal to the Reagan coalition of conservatives, they like his business and executive experience, and they like his demeanor. I've had many say to me how much they appreciate that he is gracious but tough even to his enemies, he's not afraid to fight but they know he will fight fair (no push polls, no negative 527 groups, no personal animosity).

Over the last few days it's been an honor to pick up so many of Fred's former supporterson the team (Sen. Cochran, Morton Blackwell, former Rep. David McIntosh, numerous Georgia legislators, and several impressive legal advisors). We welcome all you FredHeads to Team Romney. He's in this to win it and to help fix Washington, and we really appreciate your support.

Some Fred supporters have already made the leap. I would definitely rather see Mitt than McCain in the Whitehouse.
     

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Bill Gates: "I got mine, so now capitalism sucks"

Ok, that's not EXACTLY what he said, but considering how he made his fortune, some may say the sentiment's the same. It sounds rather hypocritical to hear him grouse about capitalism now. From Lawrence Kudlow:

Capitalism Doesn't Work, Mr. Gates?
Bill Gates, bloviating at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is issuing a clarion call for a "kinder capitalism" to aid the world's poor. Gates says he has grown impatient with the shortcomings of capitalism. He thinks it's failing much of the world. This, of course, from a guy who's worth around $35 billion (give or take a billion).

Don't you just love it?

A guy without a college degree who invented a new technology process in his garage that literally changed the entire world, a guy who took advantage of all the great opportunities that a free and capitalist society has to offer and got filthy rich in the process, is now trashing capitalism and telling us it doesn't work. What chutzpah.

For all his do-good preaching, Gates is ignoring the global spread of free-market capitalism that has successfully lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and into the middle class over the last decade. Think China. Think India. Think Eastern Europe. (Maybe even think France under Nicolas Sarkozy.) Gates wants business leaders to dedicate more time to fighting poverty. But the reality is that economic freedom is the best path to prosperity. Period.

[...]

Gates says he has witnessed steep income and cultural inequities in his travels around the world, in particular to Africa. But for this he should blame the absence of capitalist principles, not capitalism itself. Even the most compassionate corporate executives are not going to bring prosperity to impoverished countries with statist economies. Until Africa's nations undertake the market-oriented reforms that have boosted China and the other Asian Tigers -- like South Korea and Taiwan -- they will continue to rank at the bottom of the world prosperity scale.

The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal 2008 Index of Economic Freedom reveals how free-market economics is spreading like wildfire, while state-run socialism is on the decline. And it's no wonder why. The free-market countries are prospering mightily, while the least-free economies are mired in poverty. We're talking North Korea, Cuba, Zimbabwe and Iran. Also noteworthy is Venezuela. As the neo-socialist Hugo Chavez attempts to adopt Fidel Castro's failed economic model, he's sinking his nation toward Cuba-type poverty.

Economist Mark Perry, on his Carpe Diem blog site, reports that both the U.S. share of world GDP and its global stock market capitalization are shrinking. But this isn't a bad thing at all. It doesn't mean that America is heading downward. On the contrary, it means that newly freed economies are heading up.

The reality here is that the rising tide of global capitalism is lifting all boats that employ it. Capitalism works. It's a good thing. It's the key to unlocking a nation's prosperity. In fact, free-market capitalism is the greatest anti-poverty program ever devised by man. [...]

George Soros, also at the Davos forum, is predicting that the era of capitalism is coming to an end. I have no doubt that he would like that. I'm sure it's a major reason why he funds so many left wing groups and practically owns the Democrat party. I'm sick of these exceedingly wealthy people who decide that once they've got theirs, capitalism has to be limited, so they can use their wealth to Lord it over the rest of us.

The entire article is worth reading, as it talks about what capitalism has done in China and India and many other places... and why it ought to be encouraged, not diminished.
     

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Fredheads and the Mitt Romney Campaign


What a concert it was! The hall was too small, the show started late, and it ended too soon. Yet it was great while it lasted. But now that Fred has dropped out of the race, what are all of us Fredheads supposed to do now?

It seems some folks at Mitt Romney's campaign website have some suggestions for us:






It's almost like they read my mind. I have a suggestion for them to consider, too:

Fred for Veep!


For us Fredheads, the debate continues about what comes next. Visit the link to see a discussion about Romney, and other issues Fredheads are dealing with. What's a Fredhead to do? See what other Fredheads are saying.


Related Link: Patrick Cox: An Epilogue to Fred's Campaign
     

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Health care solutions without Socialism

If you listen to the MSM, you would think that socialism is the only solution available for fixing health care in the USA. It's a ridiculous assumption, when you consider how many people DIE while waiting for treatment in countries where the government controls health care. If America embraces socialist medicine, where will the Canadians go for their health care? We need to fix what we have, not copy an inferior system.

During World War II, wage controls in the US prohibited cash raises, so employers started giving non cash benefits, like health insurance, to attract workers. After the war, the practice continued. Now decades later, many Americans have unfortunately gotten the idea into their heads that their employer is responsible for providing their health care. There is an assumption that it's someone else's responsibility to provide it for us, instead of providing it for ourselves.

If employers stopped providing health insurance, and we were allowed to shop around and buy our own insurance across state lines from whoever we chose, the free market would sort it out, competition would drive prices down making insurance rates much more affordable. Why should it be forbidden to us to buy health insurance from an insurer in another state? Restricting competition is keeping prices so high; the free market isn't given a chance.

The Democrats keep advocating "Socialized" Medicine, more government, as the answer, despite it's abysmal record elsewhere. What are conservatives offering? Not enough, it would seem. I think that is why we are seeing Socialist "Republicans" like Mike Huckabee gaining popularity. People want affordable health care. Conservatives have ideas for achieving that, but are they doing enough to bring it about? Unless costs are brought down, the answer from most people would probably be "no".

Yet there are non-socialist solutions to be found. Republican Mitt Romney, while Governor of Massachusetts, tackled the problem by creating universal health insurance without new taxes or government agencies:

Romney to the Rescue
[...] As the new governor, Romney consolidated state agencies, cut employees, and closed what he called loopholes in the corporate tax code. He also tackled the most difficult public policy issue of all, health insurance.

With input from the Heritage Foundation, Romney came up with a way to provide universal health insurance by requiring that everyone buy coverage, just as drivers are required to buy car insurance. If they don't, they lose their personal exemption on their state income taxes and part of their state tax refund. The idea was that in a reformed marketplace, everyone has the responsibility to have health insurance - no more free riders.

For those who cannot afford coverage, Romney cobbled together funds from Medicaid and the state's free-care pool to make sure everyone is covered.

By merging individual and group plans, Romney covered more healthy individuals, lowering prices.

[...]

Romney likes to contrast his health-care plan with the one proposed by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. "My plan is based on personal responsibility and allowing the free market to work in a more effective manner," he says. "Her approach was to build a large government bureaucracy and provide more controls to help the health-care system work."

He adds with a smile: "Perhaps the biggest difference between our two plans was that mine got passed, and hers didn't."

States such as Iowa, California, and New Jersey are looking into adopting the Massachusetts approach, and Bush is pushing other states to look into it. To conservatives who bristle at the idea of an imposed plan, Romney says, "The key factor that some of my libertarian friends forget is that today, everybody who doesn't have insurance is getting free coverage from government." [... ]

I'd like to see more ideas like this from Republicans, more private sector and free-market solutions. That is an arena in which Romney excels, and hopefully we will be hearing more from him on this important issue. Here is another solution without government involvement. From Nealz Nuze:

PRIVATE HEALTHCARE ... SAY IT AIN'T SO!
Somewhere across the country, a Hillary staffer is having a breakdown ... private healthcare offered directly from doctors? This is going backwards for the universal healthcare nuts. We need more government, not less! But now we have this program in Rhode Island called HealthAccessRI. You pay $30 for a "membership" in a primary care doctor's practice and you get 24-hour telephone access, sick visits, well child care, check-ups, school and sports physicals, family planning and yearly physicals. Each office visit is just $10. Thirty dollars! That's less than a cell phone bill or one tank of gas. Now this is not an insurance program – and politicians are already quick to point that out – but it offers an affordable solution for primary care. And it didn't take government to do it! All it took was a group of doctors. The private sector! There are now 21 participating doctors, brought together by Michael D. Fine who is taking the program statewide. [...]

Why can't we have more solutions like this from the private sector, that cut out insurance completely? Affordable pay-as-you-go treatment?


Related Links:

How to fix healthcare

Lowering Health Care Costs for Everyone

Health Insurance and Medical Expenses

There's No Place Like Home:
What I learned from my wife's month in the British medical system.

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Who is more open-minded? More tolerant?

Liberals believe themselves to be more open-minded, but that belief does not necessarily translate into tolerance. From Larry Elder:

Open-Minded Liberals?
[...] Are liberals more "open-minded" than conservatives?

To find out, a biennial survey conducted by the University of Michigan's American National Election Studies uses a scale from 0 to 100 -- 0 meaning shoot-the-person-on-sight hatred, and 100 meaning find-a-place-for-him-on-Mount-Rushmore adoration. The 2004 survey then asked 1,200 adults to define themselves politically.

Using this 0-to-100 scale, the survey asked those who described themselves as "conservative" or "extremely conservative" to rate "liberals." Average score -- 39. "Liberals" and "extreme liberals" gave "conservatives" a similar score -- 38.

But the survey then asked respondents to apply the scale to specific people. How did "extreme conservatives," in 1998, rate then-President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore? "Extreme conservatives" gave them both an average reading of 45. Twenty-eight percent gave Clinton a 0, with 10 percent giving that score to Gore.

How did "extreme liberals" rate President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in 2004? That group gave Bush and Cheney an average temperature of 15 and 16, respectively. Sixty percent of these extreme liberals gave Messrs. Bush and Cheney a 0. In other words, six out of ten Americans on the far left found that no evil, heinous person in the world could be worthy of more hatred than Bush and Cheney. For a little perspective, the then-alive Saddam Hussein received an average score of 8 from all Americans.

Dick Morris, a former aide to Bill Clinton, described how Clinton berated his 1996 Republican opponent, former Sen. Bob Dole. President Clinton said, "Bob Dole is not a nice man. Bob Dole is evil . The things he wants to do to children are evil . The things he wants to do to poor people and old people and sick people are evil. Let's get that straight."

After Republicans took control of the House in the mid-'90s, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., compared the newly conservative-controlled House to "the Duma and the Reichstag." Dingell referred to the legislature set up by Czar Nicholas II of Russia and the parliament of the German Weimar Republic that brought Hitler to power. [...]
One doesn't expect Democrats to like Republicans; that's just partisan politics, and completely understandable. But when they throw around the Evil Nazi rhetoric so frequently, they overstate their case, and I cease to take them seriously. They sound like children name-calling in a schoolyard; immature and emotional, incapable of serious critical thinking and analysis, and not to be treated like adults.

It's not just the Democrat politicians that do this, it goes right down to many of the party's membership. Read the whole article, and see the Barber shop conversation Larry has with another patron. It's a good example of fuzzy, sloppy emotional "thinking", and why I left the Democrats long ago, why I can't take them seriously, and why I despise the party today.
     

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Is it the World's Most Tiny Doggie Ever?



Mini mutt the smallest in world
IT’S gnaw joke for Brandy the smallest dog in the world as she tries to tackle a meaty bone bigger than her SIX-INCH long body.

The Chihuahua — who is just a fraction taller than a cola can — was named the world’s smallest hound by the Guinness Book of Records and has finished growing.

Four-year-old Brandy weighs only 2lbs and cannot even BARK as her lungs are too small. Owner Paulette Keller, of Largo, Florida, said: “When I saw her I just fell in love with her.”

Paulette, 53, whose pint-sized pooch has become a hit on US TV, added: “With a dog like this you have to be careful. She can’t even jump on or off anything because her legs are so tiny.”

We own two chihuahua mixes, a chihuahua pug, and a chihuahua dachshund. They are small, but this dog is so small it's scary. You would really have to watch out to make sure it doesn't get hurt.

See the link for another photo of her next to a coke can.
     

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Rocket Spaceliner now more fact than fiction


Recently in another post, I lamented that it seemed unlikely that I would, in my lifetime, see an elegant spaceship like the Orion Space Clipper featured in the Movie "2001: A Space Odyssey". I imagined that such a vessel or something like it would be a likely next step in the evolution of the Space Shuttle. But no. Instead, NASA has decided to retire the shuttle fleet by 2010, and replace it with it's New Orion Spacecraft, which is based on old Apollo capsule designs. While efficient and practical, it doesn't capture the imagination like the elegant Pan Am Spaceliner from the movie.

But could it be, that such an elegant vessel is not really so far off? In the movie, Pan Am had created the beautiful spaceship. Even back then, they were speculating that perhaps such vessels would not be created by government, but rather by private companies, free enterprise and capitalism.

Pan Am no longer exists, but other companies do. One such company, Virgin Galactic, has plans for a new Rocket Spaceliner that will fly passengers commercially... and sooner rather than later!




Virgin unveils spaceship designs
Virgin Galactic has released the final design of the launch system that will take fare-paying passengers into space.

It is based on the X-Prize-winning SpaceShipOne concept - a rocket ship that is lifted initially by a carrier plane before blasting skywards.

The Virgin system is essentially a refinement, but has been increased in size to take eight people at a time on a sub-orbital trip, starting in 2010.

Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson said the space business had huge potential.

"I think it's very important that we make a genuine commercial success of this project," he told a news conference in New York.

"If we do, I believe we'll unlock a wall of private sector money into both space launch systems and space technology.

"This could rival the scale of investment in the mobile phone and internet technologies after they were unlocked from their military origins and thrown open to the private sector."




The 'experience'

Virgin Galactic has contracted the innovative aerospace designer Burt Rutan to build its spaceliners. The carrier - White Knight Two (WK2) - is said to be very nearly complete and is expected to begin flight-testing later this year.

Both vehicles are being constructed at Mr Rutan's Scaled Composites factory in California.

The rocket spaceliner will carry two pilot astronauts and six ticketed passengers. They will fly initially from a new facility called Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert.

The journeys will last about two-and-a-half hours from beginning to end.

Eight individuals will be aboard each flight

Passengers on SS2 will climb to an altitude of 110km, from where they will get to experience weightless for a few minutes, and see the curvature of the Earth and the black of space.

Seats cost $200,000. Virgin Galactic says more than 200 individuals have booked, and another 85,000 have registered an interest to fly.

Tens of millions of dollars in deposits have already been taken, the company adds.

Satellite potential

Sir Richard said the launch system would also be made available to industrial and research groups.

"The fact that this system will have the capability to launch small payloads and satellites at low cost is hugely important," he told the launch event at the American Museum of Natural History. [...]

Yes, I know, it's sub-orbital, not quite the Orion Space Clipper... at least not yet. But it's a start! It does go high enough to launch payloads into real orbit. That's impressive. And Virgin Galactic is not the only company working on such ships. A whole new industry is developing in this direction. See the full article for more pictures and information.

The future is here! Or at least pretty darn close. ;-)


Related Link:

Virgin Galactic reveals SpaceShipTwo, plans open-source starships
     

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Oh no... Fred's out

Was it too good to be true? Seldom have I been so enthusiastic about a candidate as I was for Fred.

So long, Fred. It's been good to know you

A farewell to Fred

Here's something to remember as we move forward from here:

The perfect is the enemy of the good
     

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Monday, January 21, 2008

A Low-Cost Heating Alternative that uses New Convection Heating Technology

We closed off a porch on our house last year, and made it a kind of farm office/mud room/dog room (I keep a desk out there for managing farm-related stuff, I hang dirty overalls and boots there so I don't track mud in the house, and the dogs sleep out there at night). The room is very comfortable in the spring and summer months, but in fall and winter it gets quite cold.

We originally wanted to put a wood stove out there, but that proved prohibitive for a variety of reasons. I was going to get one of those kerosene heaters made for camping trips, when my sister told me about the solution she had used for the attic space in her house which she had converted into living space. The solution was electric heating panels by a company in Texas called Econo-Heat. They claim the panels only cost pennies to run. My sister claimed that they were indeed economical to run, and efficient too. I was a bit skeptical, but it sounded too good not to try so I ordered one.

Here is a description from their website:
[...] ECONO-HEAT electric space heater panels are the energy efficient, versatile and low-cost alternate heating solution to keeping warm in winter for a cheaper heat bill. The Econo-Heat electric heater operates mainly by heat convection. Designed to be left on for long periods of time, the ECONO-HEAT electric heater panel operates at relatively low surface temperatures, thereby giving a constant, gentle background heat whilst using very little electricity in any house / apartment room such as basement, wall, garage, office, or bathroom and locations such as any baseboard, desk, or wall. This concept is similar to a baseboard heater and performs the same task as central heating systems, however the ECONO-HEAT electric space heater is far less expensive to purchase, install and operate - keeping you comfortably warm, for a cheap alternate heating system!


NO FIRE RISK. Because the ECONO-HEAT electric heater panel has no exposed electric elements and there are no areas for dust to buildup, there is no fire or burn risk, giving you great peace of mind.

SAFE FOR CHILDREN AND PETS.. The surface temperature of the electric space heater panel does not exceed 165°F in normal operating conditions and there are no exposed elements, or fans to entangle hair, making them safe for children and pets. [...]

You can read the rest of the page for the full description. We've been using it for a while now, and haven't seen any significant increase in our electric bill. We bought two more panels, another for the back porch, and another for our RV. We got thermostats for them too, and they do the job quite well, we are really happy with the results.

If you are looking for an economical way to add heating to your living spaces, I would recommend trying the panels sold by Econo-Heat. You can read about the product and see it's specs, a photo and pricing here.

I give them a high recommendation, the panels are worth every penny.
     

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Don't give up on Fred, it's not over yet

Hang in there, Fred

Some people are discouraged that Fred didn't do better in South Carolina. I say with this many people still in the race, it's too early to give up. One has to take into account all the independents who were allowed to vote too. The results weren't entirely a reflection of Republican opinion. Then the bad weather also kept some people away, some polling places ran out of ballots... it wasn't an ideal situation.

"At the Last Minute, Thompson Shines"
“The Founding Fathers had it right from the very beginning,” Thompson said. “The wisdom of the ages, the fact that our basic rights come from God and not from government, the notion that a government big enough and powerful enough to give you anything is big enough and powerful enough to take anything away from you…respect for the rule of law…the institution of the market economy…[the belief] that if a person earned a dollar, that dollar belonged in the person’s pocket…” Those should be our guiding principles, he said.

“We’re having a little discussion in the party nowadays about what that means for the future,” Thompson told the crowd. “Some people think we need to get away from the Reagan coalition, because it doesn’t exist any more.” The audience erupted into boos. “Some people seem to think that we need to be a little bit more what they called progressive…Well, I reject that concept with every fiber of my being.”

[...]

Thompson, for his part, answered with Southern-fried aplomb. "Did you ever see the movie 'Walking Tall'?" he said, referring to the 1973 action flick about Buford Pusser, a Tennessee sheriff who single-handedly rid his town of crime and corruption. "You know the ax handle that old Buford used to carry? I got me one of them. I knew Buford Pusser. His daughter gave me one of those ax handles and I still got it. I thought about it many, many times. There's a lot you can do with that."

Yes, and there's a lot that NEEDS to be done like that. Read the rest for the bits in between.

Pat's also got a good summary of the South Carolina exit polls.

     

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Real Mitt Romney? Is he electable?


Smart, sober and chaste? Is the Real Mitt Romney a truly kind, nice guy?

“The Mitt Romney I know”
[...] I spent a lot of time with Mr. Romney that year, and I occasionally served as his volunteer driver, taking him to local campaign events. The Mitt Romney I got to know was warm and likable. He had an electric intelligence. He was unfailingly decent. He was totally committed to his family. He treated everyone with respect and kindness.

If you’re like most politically attuned Americans, you probably don’t agree with my description of Mr. Romney. You may consider him to be the personification of political ambition. You possibly believe he will say anything to get elected president. You might even consider him one of the least honorable politicians in the country.

As a longtime admirer of Mr. Romney’s, it pains me that many Americans believe these things. [...]

Follow the link to read the rest, including a convincing rebuttal to the claim that this is just political spin. I don't see any reason to believe it's not true.

Below is a photo of the Romney's, with their children (five sons), their wives, and the eight grandchildren: the extended Mormon family:



There has been talk about how electable he is, because of his Mormon religion. Personally, it's not an issue for me, but I have posted about it previously, because it would seem to be a concern for some people.

I came across this article in Meridian, an on-line LDS publication. It's an interview with Mitch Davis, an LDS filmmaker, who makes some interesting observations about Mitt making a bid for the presidency. It seems the interview was done before Mitt announced he was running, but it directly addresses the Mormon question, and some of the ways it might be dealt with. Some excerpts (bold emphasis mine):

Could a Mormon really become the President of the United States?
[...] MITCH: Right now the single largest impediment to Mitt’s election seems to be a widespread, negative impression of Mormonism. 35% of those polled nationwide by The Los Angeles Times said they could not vote for a Mormon for president. We conducted our own poll in South Carolina and got a 33% negative response to that same question.

We then asked South Carolinians why they felt so negatively about Mormonism. We didn’t have to go very far: 44% of them believe Mormons still practice polygamy, 50% believe we worship Joseph Smith, 27% think we don’t believe in the Bible, and 25% believe we are not Christian — with another 50% undecided on the topic.

On their face, those are very disappointing numbers. But I think they are actually good news for Mitt. They tell us that the basis of anti-Mormonism is ignorance rather than simple bigotry, and we can address ignorance.

MERIDIAN: How?

MITCH: We are going to produce a series of television ads that show who Mormons really are and why nobody should be afraid to elect one as President of the United States. Depending on funding, we will run billboards and newspaper ads as well. We just have to get rid of this widespread ignorance that breeds widespread fear.

MERIDIAN: Is it really possible for a grassroots organization to have that much impact on a national election?

MITCH: Absolutely! We modeled our organization after two groups: The highly conservative, “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” and the ultra-liberal, “MoveOn.org.” Both have been extremely effective in having major impact on major elections the last few years.

[...]

MITCH: Let’s just say there are a lot of successful Mormons out there whose religion has not stopped them from stepping onto the world stage and performing at the highest level; athletes, musicians, business leaders.

Could you imagine anyone saying with a straight face: “A Mormon could never be a quarterback” or “A Mormon could never run a hotel chain” or “A Mormon could never be Senate Minority Leader.”

MERIDIAN: Wait a minute! You’re going to use Harry Reid (a Democrat) to campaign for Mitt Romney (a Republican)?!

MITCH: We’re going to use every arrow we have in our quiver, and we have quite a few.

MERIDIAN: Any landmines you need to avoid?

MITCH: Our biggest concern will be finding a way to address the issue of anti-Mormonism without fanning those same flames. The last thing any Evangelical Christians want is to feel that by voting for Mitt Romney, they are voting for or promoting Mormonism.

MERIDIAN: Aren’t they?

MITCH: No. They are voting for the best candidate to run for the office of president in a long, long time, and he just happens to be a Mormon.
They are voting against ignorance and bigotry. They are voting for Article Six of the Constitution that prohibits a religious test “to any office or public trust under the United States.” They are voting for a man who is clean and smart and sober and chaste. They are voting for someone whose values mirror their own, never mind doctrinal quibbles.

MERIDIAN: Why are Evangelical Christians so key to this election?

MITCH: Because they wield tremendous influence in the Republican Party, and throughout the South.

MERIDIAN: Any bright signs?

MITCH: Jerry Falwell just stated that he wouldn’t have a problem voting for Mitt Romney, and Christian Broadcast News did a positive piece on him three or four weeks ago. You can find links to all of this stuff on our site.

MERIDIAN: www.RunMittRun.org?

MITCH: Don’t leave home without it.

One thing I have learned, as I've read more and more about the Evangelical community in the US, is that they shouldn't be seen as a big monolithic group that agrees on everything. They might well agree on many issues, like abortion, but even there they might disagree about strategies to deal with it. Evangelicals can be a diverse group, with diverse options about a lot of things. About how the majority of them would feel about voting for Mitt Romney, I can't say. But I do see some sense in Mich Davis' strategy for getting the word out. Give people the facts, so they can decide.

Mitt is not my first choice; I'm backing Fred Thompson for president. Yet there is no denying that Mitt is a major player, and if he doesn't succeed in getting the presidential nomination, he might still succeed in another role... perhaps as Veep? Whatever happens, he's still in the running, and I'm not counting him out.

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Hillary lies again; what she isn't telling you.

"Tax cuts for the wealthy" is a favorite complaint of Hillary and many Democrats. The "evil rich" aren't paying their share. Well apparently, the Congressional Budget Office doesn't support that contention. In fact, the wealthy are paying more taxes now than ever before. From Nealz Nuze:

[...] This comes from the Congressional Budget Office. Hillary has access to this information, as do all members of the media. So ... let's see what the Congressional Budget Office has to say about this "tax cuts for the wealthy" stuff.

First .. here's a chart you can refer to for verification. This chart was prepared by the Congressional Budget Office. There are two lines on this graph, one for the bottom 80% of taxpayers, the other for the top 1% of taxpayers. The trend there is so obvious that even Democrat voters should be able to see what is going on. The share of federal taxes paid by the evil rich is constantly going up, while the share paid by the bottom 80% is on a steady downward trend. Bear in mind that this chart shows a percentage of ALL federal taxes, not just income taxes.


Now ... some bullet points for you to consider:
  • The richest 1% of households in the U.S. are now paying a record 27.6% of all federal taxes and a record of 38.8% of all federal income taxes.
  • The richest 1% of households only earn about 17% of all income.
  • The top 1.1 million households (the evil rich) pay a greater share of the income tax burden than the bottom 90 million households combined.
  • The chart and the report from the CBO shows that the nation's tax burden has been shifting away from typical Americans to the wealthiest households since the early 1980s.
You are never going to see this chart or read this information on the news pages of America's leading left-wing newspapers, nor will you see this information presented on network newscasts. Why not? Because the more the people of this nation understand what is really happening with our tax situation, the less the demagoguery of people like Hillary Clinton --- that "tax cuts for the wealthy" line --- will work on the voters. Informed voters are the enemies of the MoveOn Democrat Party. The media admits that Hillary appeals to less educated voters. Well, there's no sense educating these voters. If you do, they might not be Hillary supporters any more?

Something else we need to cover. These evil, filthy rich people that are so much fun to hate ... these are the people who invest. These are the people who create the jobs. These are the people who start new businesses. These are the people the very people who hate them will have to depend on for a better job or a growing economy.

Spread the word. The other side is sure getting out the "tax cuts on the wealthy" line. We need to do a better job of getting the truth out there.

It's taxes on corporations that cause people to invest their money overseas; American jobs go overseas as well. You can't have your cake and eat it too, no matter how much Democrats like Hillary lie and say that you can.
     

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Benjamin Franklin's 302nd Birthday


It's today! Here is an interesting Ben Franklin quote:

"If you would not be forgotten,
as soon as you are dead and rotten,
either write things worth reading,
or do things worth the writing."


Scientist, inventor, statesman, printer, philosopher, musician, and economist... he was all of these things. Thank You Ben. The world is a better place because you were here.

Benjamin Franklin: Glimpses of the Man

     

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The French go about their business as usual

cartoon: Al-Jarida, Kuwait, January 15, 2008

From Tiberge at the Brussel's Journal: Sarko and the Saudis
[...] This is the sixth Muslim-Arab country Sarkozy has visited (if my count is accurate) to whom he has either promised or given nuclear energy for peaceful use. Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and now Arabia. He is scheduled to visit the Emirates where he will make the same offer.

This is the first time I recall him saying that nuclear energy is a right. It’s quite a sweeping statement. He means, of course, for peaceful purposes, but the underlying potential for something far more sinister cannot be disregarded.

Business was also part of his agenda. Besides a criticism of the price of oil, which he considers to be too high, Nicolas Sarkozy promised, on leaving Ryad, “large contracts” for French businesses, and spoke of “potentially 40 billion euros,” especially in armaments.

It might be worthwhile to point out that the news reports mention nothing about Sarkozy having criticized the treatment of Christians in Saudi Arabia. He was critical of the price of oil, and discreetly critical of the condition of women, but not a word on the fate of Christians. [...]

France has an agenda very different from the Anglosphere. This isn't surprising. It just must not be forgotten.

We hear so much about how "conservative" France's President Sarko is. Yet what they mean by conservative is very different from what we believe the term to mean. Here is another article by Tiberge. And the title isn't referring to Sarkozy's sex partners:

Who Is Sarkozy in Bed With?
[...] Nicolas Sarkozy has no interest or affinity for ANYTHING that isn't left-wing. Yes, he’s accused of being a “capitalist” because he sails on the yachts of his rich friends. And he’s accused of being friendly to religion because of ONE speech he gave in Rome (that will turn out to benefit Muslims, most likely). And he is accused of being an ARCH CONSERVATIVE because he wants to deport 25,000 illegals a year, allowing the remaining 575,000 on French soil to collect welfare. [...]

The article reports on an event in France where Tony Blair made a very socialist speech (and btw, say's in America he would be a Democrat), and was joined by Sarkozy on the stage, who praised the speech of his fellow socialist.

And then there is Sarkozy's ideas of freedom of religion... read the whole thing. It's not long, and full of insights. I don't find this surprising; one expects socialists to be socialists. It's just important to remember that what's called conservative in Europe is... not what we would call it. And France is definitly marching to the sound of a different drummer, as they are about to take the lead of the European Union. I see the potential for France to make a lot of big messes.
     

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An Anti-Christ, VS being anti-Christ

From the Memeri blog:



That's kinda rich, comming from people who aren't exactly pro-christian. Oh yes, they do believe in Christ... as a "corpse on a stick".

The DNC could use these videos, as it also expresses their point of view quite well. The Democrats and Hamas often use the same talking points.
     

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Huckabee and Clemency: The Song

I said I was going to do more posts about music this year! Check this song out:



It's ironic that while the song is funny, it so clearly points out why this man is dangerous. How somebody with such demonstrably bad judgment can even think they deserve to be president of the United States is astounding.

I admit he can be a very charismatic speaker. That's all the more reason to check the facts. About his supporters, I can only guess that they are "emotional thinkers", and aren't actually paying attention to the facts. Perhaps the Huckster thinks we're all not paying attention? Guess again, dude. Some of us can and do READ.

Here's more details on Huckabee and his Clemency decisions:

Huck not for law and order

Huckabee - not the law & Order candidate

Huckabee: "Dear Wayne. . . My desire is that you be released from prison"

It's bad enough that he let murders go free and kill again. But he doesn't even have the moral backbone to deal with crime in his own family. Look how he used his position as governor to cover-up for his son, who was being investigated for hanging a dog and disemboweling it while it was still alive:

Huckabee: Kids Who Kill

What does this tell you about his sympathy for killers? Bad judgment is an understatement. Shame on anyone who votes for this crook.

Hat tip to TammyBruce.com for the video.
     

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Monday, January 14, 2008

A Microsoft & OLPC Lovefest? A $75 Laptop?

In recent news, there has been a split between the OLPC Projct and Intel. I'm not surprised, it was just PR for Intel.

Microsoft, on the other hand, seems to be getting on just fine with the OLPC project. OK, "Lovefest" might be too strong a word, but it does sound like they are getting along:

CES: OLPC, Microsoft build dual-boot Windows, Linux OS
One Laptop Per Child Project (OLPC) and Microsoft are developing a dual-boot system to put both Linux and Windows on laptops.

"We are working with them [Microsoft developers] very closely to make a dual-boot system so that, like on an Apple, you can boot either one up. The version that's up and running of Windows on the XO is very fast, it's very, very successful. We're working very hard to do both," said Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of OLPC...
Whodathunkit? I think MS realizes what a unique piece of hardware OLPC has created; they want a piece of the action. Negroponte is no doubt happy to have a monied partner helping them.

I have read reports elsewhere that claim Microsoft denies the Dual Boot story. But it would seem the partnership is doing well. Negroponte seems to think so.

In another bit of news, Mary Lou Jepsen is leaving the OLPC Project to start her own hardware company. She created the amazing indoor/outdoor computer screen the OLPC XO laptop uses.

Jepsen claims that if she had been allowed to take more risks, she could have got the price of the XO down as low as $75.00! Will she do that now?

The $75 computer?
When the OLPC (One Laptop per Child) was first proposed, much was made of how impossible it was that there could ever be a $100 computer. Well, the naysayers were right. It turned out to be a $200 computer. Now, former OLPC Chief Technology Officer Mary Lou Jepsen says she can make a $75 laptop. [...]
I think I read elsewhere that Jepsen will still be a consultant to the OLPC project, and has agreed to sell them parts at cost. She wants her new company to be more than a design house, she wants to actually make parts and devices. Perhaps a $75.00 computer? I expect we are going to see some great things from her and her new company, "Pixel Qi".

I see much cheaper computers available soon... for everyone!
     

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

NASA goes Back to the Future

I remember when I was a teenager, when the first American Space Shuttle was unveiled. It was kinda fat and chunky looking, but it was still a real spaceship. It was a beginning. I was sure that within my lifetime, we would eventually have spaceships like the elegant Orion Space Clipper that was featured in the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey":




Wow. Well, here it is, 2008. NASA is going to retire our clunky space shuttle by 2010, and introduce a newer, next-generation spacecraft to replace it. Coincidentally, it's going to be called "Orion", and will be used to shuttle astronauts to and from the International space station, AND to the moon and back. That's right, we're going back to the moon, and it's scheduled to happen no later than 2020. Then, on to Mars...

Fabulous! Soon we will get to see this new Orion spaceship, which is being built right now. But we don't have to wait until it's finished to see it, NASA has already made the plans public! So here it is, the NEW Orion space shuttle:




But, but... that's an APOLLO space CAPSULE, isn't it? Well, it's a similar design. It's actually 2 and 1/2 times larger than the Apollo version, it can hold up to six astronauts for shuttle missions, and four astronauts for Lunar missions. Here is a picture of the Orion with a lunar module attached:




Looks familiar, doesn't it? I had trouble deciding wether to call this post "Back to the Future" or "Everything old is new again".

So what happened to our beautiful Orion Space Clipper? Why are we going back to designs from 40 years ago? There's two major reasons I can think of: cost, and safety.

These old designs are tried and true. We know they work. Update them with new technology, and they work really well. I also suspect that with new technology, they are cheaper to build than anything else. Here is a picture of the new Orion capsule with it's solar cells and antennae dish deployed:






We are simply building on old technology, using what we know works, and making it better. Click here for more pics of the Orion spacecraft.

The space shuttle aircraft we've used for the past three decades are made from a more bold and ambitious design, but are also more complex and fraught with dangers. Consider the Challenger accident, the shuttle that exploded after launching; the Columbia burning up while returning to earth.

The Challenger crew could not be saved. However, with the new Orion design, the crew can be saved if the rocket explodes on the launch pad, or in the air. The capsule has a rescue rocket on top, to lift it way from danger.

The Columbia crew died when their damaged heat shield failed on reentry. The Orion capsule's heat shield is protected from damage during liftoff, and is a round shape that is easier to build and maintain.

Every time astronauts die, people call for an end to the space program. By going back to old designs and improving them, we are saving both money and lives. It's hard to argue with that. So I may not see this in my lifetime:





But hopefully I will see this:





If we have to sacrifice elegant design for the safety of our astronauts and the efficiency of our space program budget, then so be it. As we learn more we can get fancier; but we need to grow into it at a natural pace. Slow but steady progress with it's attendant successes will get us where we want to go.

The new back-to-the-moon mission is called the Constellation Program. The link goes to NASA's website, where you can find out lots more details about the mission and photos of the various spacecraft being developed. I had lots of fun looking around there. If you are a space fan, be sure and check it out.






It's back to the future... are you ready? I am, let's go!





First, the moon once again. Then look out Mars, here we come...
     

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Which Operating System are You?

It's one of those silly Quizzes. I did it, and got:

You are Windows 98.  You're a bit flaky, but well-liked.  You don't have a great memory, but everyone seems to know you.  A great person to hang out with and play some games.
Which OS are You?


Eeew. Windows 98, an OS I know quite well, from having to struggle with it and it's problems for YEARS. It's the OS most responsible for making me want to move to Linux.

Dang, maybe I am a bit flaky, I should know better than to take these geek quizzes, especially late at night...
     

Bicycle Path?

This isn't my idea of fun. One wrong twitch and you're over the edge and falling. I've had nightmares that look a lot like this:







Look how narrow the path is in some places; I'd have trouble WALKING on this path. Fear of hights. Makes me light-headed just looking at the pics!

source: www.singletrackworld.com/forum

You can see more bicycling pics from the same photographer here:
www.freezefocus.com

You can see more scary roads pics here: Scary Roads
     

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Fred Thompson tells it like it is



It's not as if he hasn't said these kinds of things before. But I think it's the first time such comments by him have gotten major coverage on national TV. Therefore, it's the first time many people have heard it from him.

We need to hear a LOT more from Fred. Go Fred Go!


UPDATE 02:10pm

Michelle Malkin has a post about possible combinations of candidates for a GOP ticket. She offers a poll where you can vote for your favorite:

Choose or lose? A look at two possible GOP ticket pairings


In the poll four pairing combinations are offered, and a "none" option. I voted for Thompson - Romney, and so far that combination is the most popular. In fact it's far ahead of the others.


Related Links:

Fred kicks Huckabutt

The SC GOP debate: Fred was the winner
     

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Why Europe is a bad example to follow

Belgium has been unable to form a government since their last election. So the Belgian King is simply re-appointing the old government that was rejected by the voters. In the end, Belgian votes mean nothing.

European voters rejected ratifiying the constitution for the new European Union. Now European leaders are pushing to have it ratified anyway, without a referendum in any of the member countries.

What are European votes worth? It's sham democracy.

Michael Huntsman at the Brussels Journal examines some of the differences between us and them:

American Democracy v. European Oligarchy
[...] One feature of American democracy is that a considerable amount of political discourse is founded on the Constitution which thus remains a living and breathing embodiment of both the spirit of a Revolution and of the modern United States.

For example, the rights of states to conduct and legislate upon their own affairs is something which continues to engage politics and trouble the Supreme Court, with States fiercely protecting their own rights as against the Federal power with terrier-like tenacity.

[...]

In contrast the bombastic overblown popcorn rhetoric of the Constitution of the European Union is routinely debauched by a largely self-perpetuating oligarchy which mouths the mantras of democracy and transparency but which behind closed doors subverts that very same democracy. And given the deliberate obscurity and bloated nature of its language, no citizen of the Union will find himself inclined to use the Constitution as a touchstone for anything: he is, given its sheer size and weight, more likely to use it as a door-stop.

If you bridle at the phrase ‘self-perpetuating oligarchy’, just ask yourself what the current government of Belgium, which lost the general election in June 2007 but has recently been reappointed is if it is not such? [...]

This article starts of by looking at the 1776 pre-able to the constitution of the state of New Hampshire; it ends with looking at the concept of revolution in Britain's past... and how it may need to be revived in the present.


Related Links:


The New EU: Definitely a Superstate

European schools demonize capitalism
     

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Noahpad PC with Strange Keyboard

A computer with the keyboard on the BACK of the device? Where you type only using your fingers, not your thumbs? Where you see the keyboard keys (and your finger placement) THROUGH the screen?

The keyboard is actually a touchpad, but it still seems like it would be awkward to use. Fortunately it can be used like a regular laptop keyboard as well:



E-Lead Electronic Noahpad UMPC gets official
[...] The two 2.76-inch squares are actually clickable touch pads that can be used as both a full QWERTY keyboard that "mimics the feel of pressing down the keys on regular keyboards" and an oversized trackpad to control the on-screen pointer. When the 7-inch display, which uses virtual screen technology to expand the viewing area to 10 inches, is flipped 360 degrees to lay behind the touch pads, it becomes "semi-transparent" and allows users to "see" their fingers and the keyboard.





This illusion was designed to "maximize users' typing speed" because it allows typing with multiple fingers. Unlike most UMPCs, which rely on a user's thumbs for data input, the Noahpad UMPC ignores the thumbs and puts the rest of the fingers to work. [...]

It sure is... different. I'd like to see a video of someone actually using it. I suppose it must be possible, or they would not have built it. I find it hard to imagine actually using it myself. It will be interesting to see if it catches on.

It has many other functions as well, I believe it's meant to compete with the AsusTek eee notebook computer, it's in the same price range. See the link above for more photos of how the Noahpad can be used. See the link below for the Noahpad official website.

www.noahpad.com
     

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Clinton staffer phones Oregon resident urging her to vote in New Hampshire primary

This is a weird little story, from a woman in Portland, Oregon:

603, 503, whatever, just vote

It's creepy enough that they would be calling someone out of state who left New Hampshire 20 years ago, urging her to vote. But what they did to this lady's phone after the conversation... how do you do that with a long distance call?
     

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Monday, January 07, 2008

A Nice Desktop Wallpaper Website...

This site has got some great pics: http://wallpapers.verhau.de/

Here's a few samples:









I had to shrink some of these photos so they would load quicker on my blog. You can find the full size originals and many more excellent backgrounds by visiting the website. They are free to download and it's well worth the visit.
     

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An American "Christian Democrat" party?

In Europe, there are a number of "conservative" parties that call themselves "Christian Democrats". They were founded by religious people wanting to offer an alternative to secular socialism: Christian Socialism.

In many ways, Mike Huckabee seems to be trying to create such a movement within the GOP:

"The GOP's Time for Choosing"

The Democrats in the USA have gone so far left, they have fallen off the table. But they have also grabbed onto the table cloth on their way down to the floor, and are dragging everyone else to the left as well, even the GOP.

When conservatives become socialists, they extinguish themselves. Look what's happened to Europe's conservatives. Read the linked article. The GOP must not go there. American conservatives must never make the same mistake. Huckabee is on the wrong side of the aisle.
     

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Cheap, Fast & Easy... "Flip" & "Small Wonder"

Here are two small easy to use camcorders for technophobes and people who like to shoot spontaneously, quick and easy. These machines aren't fancy, don't offer a lot of options and are for making low-resolution (small-screen) videos for sending to friends and family over the internet. They are highly portable, and easy to use. If that is what you want, they may be right for you:

This photo is a front and back view of The Flip camcorder.


Pure Digital Flip Video Camcorder
Pure Digital's latest pocket camcorder lets anyone capture and share video--no technical knowledge or cords required-starting at only $119. While the Flip couldn't be easier to use, you'll want to remember that it's designed for making short, fun videos for posting online, not the birth of your next child.

The white-and-silver Flip is housed in an identical body to the previous-generation Point and Shoot Video Camcorder. It measures 4.1 x 2.3 x 1.3 inches and weighs only 4.8 ounces. (For more photos of the Flip Video, click here.) It doesn't have any complicated menus or confusing buttons; the lens and microphone are up front, and on the back you'll find a 1.4-inch LCD, three buttons (play, delete, and record), and a four-way navigation pad, which controls the zoom and lets you scroll through recorded clips. When it's time to transfer footage, simply flip out the USB plug on the side and connect it to your PC. Everything you'll need is in the package, including a TV connector and the two AA batteries it runs on.

Using the camcorder couldn't be easier: Turn on the power button and then press the red Record button to start shooting video. When you're done recording, press Record again. Play back your videos on the screen, and if you don't like one, simply press Delete twice. [...]

For more information and links, read the rest of the review. You can see the website for The Flip, which also features more of their newer models and samples of video clips here: Flip Video


RCA also makes a competing device: RCA's Small Wonder. You can find user reviews and purchasing information about both devices on Amazon.com and C-Net.com.

I can understand the appeal of such devices, but I think their use is limited. You can't use the footage on a TV screen, your very much confined to a small screen. You don't have any options for adjusting settings. The zoom is very limited. For many people that would be no problem, but ultimately I would like something more. There are many compelling reasons to go with a MiniDV camera, and I will post more on that later.
     

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