Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sci Fi Quiz

Take the Sci fi sounds quiz I received 79 credits on
The Sci Fi Sounds Quiz

How much of a Sci-Fi geek are you?
Take the Sci-Fi Movie Quizdigital camera ratings

I really thought I would have done better.

You've Got to Love Mike Huckabee

Gov. Mike Huckabee has the Republicans number. Regardless of some of the nutball ideas Huckabee has, you've got to love him. Catch this interview of Huckabee with David Brody on CBN news.
There is a level of elitism that has existed, the chattering class if you will who lives in that corridor between Washington and Wall Street and they sort of live in their protected world, and frankly for a number of years many of them thought of people like me - whether it was because we were evangelicals or because maybe we were out from the middle of America. They were polite to us. They were more than happy for us to come to the rallies and stand in lines for hours to cheer on the candidates, appreciated us putting up the yard signs, going out and putting out the cards on peoples doors and making phone calls to the phone banks and - really appreciated all of our votes. But when they got elected, behind closed doors, they would laugh at us and speak with scorn and derision that we were, as one article I think once said "the easily led." So there's been almost this sort of, it's okay if you guys get a seat on the bus, but don't ever think about telling us where the bus is going to go.
That's Huckabee's take on his fellow non-evangelical Christian Republicans. It's nice knowing that at least one evangelical Christian understands Republicans. It would almost be worth donating to Huckabee's campaign just to make sure he can continue to bother the conservatives.

ID Fails in Polk County, FL

Five of the seven members of Polk County, FL school board have decided that teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution won't be necessary afterall.
Ask the Polk County School Board. The panel made news last month when five of its seven members declared a personal belief in the concept of intelligent design, the religiously based explanation of the development of life believed in by many Christians.

Four of those five sympathetic board members said they would like to see intelligent design taught in Polk schools as an alternative to Darwinian evolution, at a time when new state standards mentioning evolution by name for the first time are under consideration.

Just like that, it appeared the Darwin wars had found their newest battlefield.

Yet a few weeks later, the controversy is dying with a whimper. There's no board support for a challenge to the proposed standards. Some of the five school board members blame the local newspaper for trying to start a fight.

"It's not our agenda," said Tim Harris, one of the board members. "My personal opinion and how I vote don't always jibe."

What happened? You can start with the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

You heard right. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster actually exists. And, they piled so much ridicule on the school board that it became a public embarassment. It didn't hurt that a science-focused State polytechnic campus of the University of South Florida is being built in Polk County also.
Backers see it as a potential economic engine and keystone of a high-tech I-4 corridor. They envision creating business incubators and luring technology companies.

So what was the reaction to news of intelligent design talk?

"I was surprised," said Marshall Goodman, a USF vice president and CEO of the existing and future Lakeland campuses.

Goodman, who has worked to promote the new campus among Polk's civic, business and political leaders, stopped short of criticizing local school board members. Intelligent design, however, merited no such tact.

"It's not science," Goodman said. "You can't even call it pseudo-science."

Friday, December 21, 2007

Design or Evolution

The eye is way too complex to have evolved so it must have been "designed".....right?

Wrong. Read it if you can.

It Depends on What the Meaning of "Saw" Is

Mitt had an even more outrageous claim back in 1978:
Mitt Romney went a step further in a 1978 interview with the Boston Herald. Talking about the Mormon Church and racial discrimination, he said: "My father and I marched with Martin Luther King Jr. through the streets of Detroit."

Luckly, the conservatives have David Broder's book, "The Republican Establishment: The Present and Future of the GOP" which states that George Romney:
"has marched with Martin Luther King through the exclusive Grosse Pointe suburb of Detroit."
I guess it's up to Mr. Broder to prove that statement now since so very little evidence of George Romney and MLK marching together exists.

What Mitt Romney "Saw" or Didn't "See"

Mitt Romney had a dream. He has twice proclaimed that he saw his father, George Romney, march with Marting Luther King. It now appears that Mitt Romney didn't actually mean he "saw" his father in the march with ML King. What he meant was that he "saw" him, in the english literature major figurative sense. More like he imagined him marching with ML King.

Here is a CBS interview with Mitt questioning him about this march:
CBS News: “Did you actually see — with your own eyes — your father marching with Martin Luther King?”

Romney: “My own eyes? You know, I speak in the sense of I saw my dad become president of American Motors. I wasn’t actually there when he became president of American Motors, but I saw him in the figurative sense of he marched with Martin Luther King. My brother also remembers him marching with Martin Luther King and so in that sense I saw him march with Martin Luther King.”
The march that Mitt "saw" (imagined) supposedly took place in Grosse Point, MI in either 1963 or 1968. Unfortunately, the Grosse Pointe Historical Society has no record of Martin Luther King ever marching in Grosse Pointe. It would be very unusual for there to be no record of this march considering that George Romney was governor or running for President at the time the supposed marches took place. ML King did visit in 1968 and spoke at the local high school but Romney was not present.

Here is the Romney campaign explanation:
Following the Phoenix's investigation into the matter, Mitt Romney's campaign claimed that the march actually occurred in June 1963 -- and that his father made a "surprise" appearance in Grosse Pointe just a few days after King staged a march in nearby Detroit. Romney's campaign says the two events (King in Detroit and Romney in Grosse Pointe) were actually part of the same march -- therefore, the two technically marched together even though they were not physically in the same place.
So it appears that, if the campaign explanation is true, the "march" was also in the figurative sense.

Unfortunately, the NYT says differently:
However, this also has been called into question because The New York Times reported the day after the "Freedom March" that Romney did not participate because it was held on a Sunday -- and Romney, who was LDS, did not make public appearances on Sundays.
George Romney evidently was a civil rights advocate. It's too bad his son, Mitt, has to make untrue claims about his father in attempts to win the presidency.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush

"The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush" is the title of an article published in Vanity Fair. It's well worth a read. Here is a taste:
I can hear an irritated counterthrust already. The president has not driven the United States into a recession during his almost seven years in office. Unemployment stands at a respectable 4.6 percent. Well, fine. But the other side of the ledger groans with distress: a tax code that has become hideously biased in favor of the rich; a national debt that will probably have grown 70 percent by the time this president leaves Washington; a swelling cascade of mortgage defaults; a record near-$850 billion trade deficit; oil prices that are higher than they have ever been; and a dollar so weak that for an American to buy a cup of coffee in London or Paris—or even the Yukon—becomes a venture in high finance.

The article does not paint a pretty picture about the ability of a new president to extricate us from G.W.'s mess.
What is required is in some ways simple to describe: it amounts to ceasing our current behavior and doing exactly the opposite. It means not spending money that we don’t have, increasing taxes on the rich, reducing corporate welfare, strengthening the safety net for the less well off, and making greater investment in education, technology, and infrastructure.
These are all things that are unpopular but need to be done whether the next president is a Republican or a Democrat. It will also take a willing Congress. The article goes on to wonder what could have been accomplished in the USA with the probable $2 trillion dollars we have spent on Bush wars. Putting our economy back on track is going to take years.

Lewis Black Has More to Say

WAMC and NCPR Radio Reach Agreement

WAMC and NCPR have reached an agreement which I think everyone will be able to live with.
Under the agreement, WAMC will withdraw its current application for a full-power station at 91.7. If and when the FCC awards the license to NCPR, the existing translator license would be transferred to WAMC which will run it at a different frequency. The entire arrangement is subject to FCC approval.

Thank you WAMC

UPDATE: Please see additional comments on this issue at Adirondack Almanack and MOFYC.

Lakota Tribe Renounces US Citizenship

Yes, sometimes I do read FOX News.
The Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the United States.

"We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us,'' long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means said.


The exceptional Lie group E8 is one of the most complicated structures ever studied. It is also one of the most perfectly symmetrical mathmatical structures in the universe. The picture above shows E8 in an 8-dimensional form projected onto two dimensions. E8 is a 248-dimensional object that describes a 57-dimensional shape in the same way that three dimensions are needed to describe a sphere, which is two-dimensional. This structure appears to be embedded in the heart of physics and the quest for a unified theory.

It took 18 mathematicians four years using 77 hours of supercomputer time to describe the structure. The structure could help determine the deep inner structure of the universe. Find out as much as you want to know about E8 here.

Why the sudden interest in E8? Well, you will have to read The Wheel of Darkness by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child to find that out.

North Country Radio Wars - Gospel Radio

If you are not already familiar with the outside attacks by other radio stations on our beloved North Country Public Radio, you can find all you need to know here, here and here.

But how many people know that WAMC Public Radio out of Albany is not the only station attacking NCPR. It appears that gospel station WNGN also wants the lucrative Lake Placid airways. This radio station is part of the listener supported Northeast Gospel Broadcasting, Inc. presided over by President and General Manager Brian Larson. Larson blames NCPR for their Lake Placid problem. In an interview with the Adirondack Daily Enterprise Larson said: "St. Lawrence University could have solved this years ago by converting their translator to a primary station." NCPR General Manager Ellen Rocco responded in the same ADE article: "We're basically cheap. It's your money and we try to be very economical with your dollars." Explaining why NCPR has not put up a full power station in the Lake Placid area. North Country residents can certainly sympathize with that statement. But NCPR has applied for a permanent transmitter in the Lake Placid area consistently over the last 21 years.

WNGN's programming is mostly gospel teachings and Christian music. Oliver North is a regular guest on WNGN. The North Country is a primarily Republican area and I'm sure listeners would love to hear Oliver North. But I question how many area residents really want to listen to gospel teachings and Christian music, not to imply that North Country residents are not religious.

In the best of Christian traditions Larson says "We'd love to be the peacemakers."

According to the ADK article NCPR is applying for a 1500 watt transmitter. WAMC for a 6000 watt transmitter and WNGN for an 8000 watt transmitter.

It's unclear to me, but from what I can tell the FCC typically awards the license to the most powerful transmitter that reaches the most people. We will see how this all turns out. North Country residents are not afraid of a good fight and will not be intimidated by these larger radio stations.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Was....The Earth Created in 7 Days? No.

More Jewish bigotry towards Christians Mike Maddox? Think there are any Christians in that audience? You've got to admit this guy, one of the chosen people, is pretty funny.

Geek Vote Info - Compare Dems and Repubs

Popular Mechanics online has a handy little table that outlines the positions of the Presidential contenders on various science and technology issues. You have to do a bit of clicking to see positions the candidates hold.

Let's take science/education for instance. On the Republican side the candidates seem to treat the issue as an after thought. Here's Mitt Romney:
a.) "Emphasize math and science, while promoting innovative approaches such as charter schools and public-private partnerships, to ensure American workers have the intellectual capital and skills to compete in the 21st century economy."

b.) "Governor Romney will ensure that the workers of the future have the intellectual capital and skills they need to compete in the new global marketplace."
Compare that with Barrack Obama's sentiments:
a.) "Emphasize the importance of technology literacy, ensuring that all public school children are equipped with the necessary science, technology and math skills to succeed in the 21st century economy."

b.) "Strengthen math and science education to help develop a skilled workforce and promote innovation."

c.) "Work to increase our number of science and engineering graduates, encourage undergraduates studying math and science to pursue graduate studies, and work to increase the representation of minorities and women in the science and technology pipeline, tapping the diversity of America to meet the increasing demand for a skilled workforce."

d.) "Wants to make the Research and Development tax credit permanent so that firms can rely on it when making decisions to invest in domestic R&D over multiyear time frames."

e.) Double federal funding for basic research in the sciences.
Not only does Obama have more to say than Romney, he actually has a couple of specific proposals as in D and E.

Here is what Rudy Giuliani proposes:
a.) "Promote science and mathematics through technical certification or an associate degree."
Technical certification and Associate degrees are wonderful ways to provide skills to a large number of Americans. But it's the PhD scientists and engineers that are going to keep our country competitive.

Compare Rudy single position with John Edwards positions:
a.) "We all pay a price when young people who could someday find the cure for AIDS or make a fuel cell work end up sitting on a stoop because they didn't get the education they need. If we do not invest in science and math education now, the United States risks becoming a technology follower, rather than a leader."

b.) "John Edwards believes that policy should be science driven, and that science shouldn't be politics driven. He will make sure that government professionals charged with the collection and analysis of scientific data—from medical research to mercury emissions—are insulated from political influence."

c.) "Eliminate political litmus tests for government scientists."

d.) "Protect the integrity of government science by prohibiting political appointees from overriding agencies' scientific findings unless the chief White House science advisor concludes they are erroneous."

e.) "Reverse the demotion of the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and restore the office to a central role as an assistant to the president, a rank held in previous administrations."

f.) Make the Research and Experimentation tax credit permanent. "The credit has expired or nearly expired 11 times in the last 25 years, discouraging companies from making long-term commitments to research."

g.) "Increase spending on basic research at the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health and lift stifling research restrictions."

h.) Modernize "patent laws—which haven't been updated in 50 years—to provide incentives for research."

i.) "Invest more in teacher pay and training to attract good teachers in the schools and subjects we need them most ... math and science education."
Kind of embarrassing isn't it? You actually have to wonder whose side the Republican candidates are on. Maybe they are satisfied that all our science, engineering and computer expertise will be coming out of India.

Candidate positions on automotive technology, digital tech, energy/climate, environment, infrastructure, space and for some reason even gun control can also be compared.

The GOP - Gospel's Own Party

Harold Meyerson hits the nail on the head this morning with an op-ed in the Washington Post called "Hardliners for Jesus".
My concern isn't the rift that has opened between Republican political practice and the vision of the nation's Founders, who made very clear in the Constitution that there would be no religious test for officeholders in their enlightened new republic. Rather, it's the gap between the teachings of the Gospels and the preachings of the Gospel's Own Party that has widened past the point of absurdity, even as the ostensible Christianization of the party proceeds apace.
The gap is a big one. After all, what was Jesus' second greatest commandment? And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (Matt 22:39). Meyerson goes on to use immigration as an example.
But it's on their policies concerning immigrants where Republicans -- candidates and voters alike -- really run afoul of biblical writ. Not on immigration as such but on the treatment of immigrants who are already here. Consider: Christmas, after all, celebrates not just Jesus's birth but his family's flight from Herod's wrath into Egypt, a journey obviously undertaken without benefit of legal documentation. The Bible isn't big on immigrant documentation. "Thou shalt neither vex a stranger nor oppress him," Exodus says the Lord told Moses on Mount Sinai, "for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt."

The members of the Gospel's Own Party believe that it is not enough to stop illegal immigration, but you need to punish the illegal immigrants that are already here. And, that includes their children.

Finally, Meyerson points out that members of the Gospel's Own Party seem to be requiring an increasing amount of meanness from Republican presidential candidates in order to get their vote.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Income Inequality

I got this chart from Kevin Drum on Washington Monthly, he got it from Afferent Input The income inequality is so scewed that the Y axis needs to be exagerated in order to make room for the data at the bottom. The graph shows that the person in the top 1% got $8.73 out of $100 in 1979. In 2005 that same person got $18.39 out of $100. In the top 5% - 1% group, people got $2.71 out of $100 in 1979. In 2005, people in that group got $3.18 out of $100. All other groups, except the 5% -10% group get less out of the $100 in 2005 than they did in 1979.

Parasitic Worms - Trematode Infections

Trematodes, or flukes are often refered to as flatworms. Most trematode infections of humans are acquired via the digestive tract.

Trematodes can range in size from 0.16 mm to 5.7 cm in length. They are usually oval in shape, bilaterally symetrical and flattened dorsal-ventrally. They typically possess an oral sucker leading to a digestive tract and sometimes a ventral sucker which is used for attachment to the host. These suckers are sometimes decorated with spines and small crater like depressions called papillae. Trematodes have a rudimentary gut, but usually no anus and a simple nervous system. Most trematodes are hermaphroditic and are often capable of self-fertilization.

Trematode eggs typically possess a lid or operculum that can easily be seen in this Paragonimus egg (Lung worm). The egg measures about 80-110 x 50-60 microns.
The life cycle of typical trematode worms is illustrated by that of Paragonimus westermani commonly known as the oriental lung worm. This infection is found primarily in isolated areas of the far East, occasionally in West Africa and Central and South America.

Adult worms are found in pairs located in a cystic cavity in the lungs. Eggs are coughed up and usually swallowed, passing out in the feces. The eggs require water to hatch. A form of the worm called a miracidium hatches from the egg and proceeds to penetrate the body of a freshwater snail. In the snail the miracidium develops into a sporocyst, then rediae which finally give rise to many cercaria. The short-lived cercaria must infect a freshwater crab by penetrating and encysting in the crabs gills or muscles. This stage of the parasite is called a metacercaria and the crab is called an intermediate host.

If the crab is eaten raw, the metacercaria hatch in the intestine and the worm burrows from the intestines through the diaphram and into the lungs. Eggs are laid 5-6 weeks later and the cycle continues. Although these worms are hermaphroditic, two worms are necessary for fertilization to take place.

The clinical features of this infection resemble chronic bronchitis with a morning cough producing redish-brown mucous. The infection can be diagnosed by finding the trematode eggs in the feces. The infection can be prevented by simply cooking crabs prior to eating them (no sushi please). The infection can be treated with a drug called praziquantel (Biltricide).

Next time we will discuss Schistosomiasis, the most important trematode infection of humans.

Monday, December 17, 2007

9/11 Excuse for Surveillance?

We have to have extensive wiretapping because of 9/11 right? At least that is an excuse that is often offered. Why then were telecoms being asked to give intelligence agencies access to phone lines prior to 9/11?

Other N.S.A. initiatives have stirred concerns among phone company workers. A lawsuit was filed in federal court in New Jersey challenging the agency’s wiretapping operations. It claims that in February 2001, just days before agency officials met with Qwest officials, the N.S.A. met with AT&T officials to discuss replicating a network center in Bedminster, N.J., to give the agency access to all the global phone and e-mail traffic that ran through it.
BTW, the New York Times has known about this since November 2004. Oh yeah, there's liberal media for you.

Hmmmmm, maybe Ron Paul is worth another look.

TeleCom Immunity on Illegal Wiretapping?

Tomorrow the Senate is ready to debate and pass S. 2248 This is the Bill that will give giant TeleComs automatic retroactive immunity for their part in Bush's illegal, warrantless wiretapping program. This is also the Bill that Sen. Chris Dodd has promised to filibuster.

Sen. Dodd and Senator Feingold will point out that:
under current law, companies already get immunity for cooperating with government requests for information -- as long as the requests follow requirements that are clearly laid out in the law. If companies didn't follow this law, and cooperated with illegitimate requests for sensitive information, then we should not hand them a "get out of jail free" card after the fact. Judges should be the ones to make this determination -- and to rule on the legality of the warrantless program.
This is exactly right. Judges should be making this decision, not the legislative body.

Sen. Chris Dodd asks for help in removing retroactive immunity here.

You can find more detail on the Dodd-Feingold amendment that will be offered here and also here. This amendment will remove the retroactive immunity from the Bill.

Love him or hate him...listen to Sen. Ted Kennedy. He makes several excellent points.

Lieberman Supports McCain

He's not a blogger or pundit but Sen. Joe Lieberman came out in support of John McCain for President today. Not a big surprise. Joe believes John is the only one who can break partisan gridlock.

I guess Joe is another one of those flip-flopping politicians.
During his 2006 reelection campaign, Lieberman emphasized that he would support Democratic candidates in 2008. "I want Democrats to be back in the majority in Washington and elect a Democratic president in 2008," he said during a televised debate in July.

Happy Birthday Beethoven

Telecast March 22, 1952 from Carnegie Hall, New York City.

Ok, so this was the date he was baptized....his actual birth date is not known.

Republican Presidential Candidates

Is there any conservative website out there that makes a convincing argument for electing any of these Republican bozos?

It seems like Mitt Romney might be the least nutty of the group if you leave out the fact of his nutty religious beliefs and that he has "flip-flopped" on just about everyone of his political positions he has held in the past. Mitt claims he hasn't flip flopped, so I guess that makes him a liar as well.

Maybe John McCain would have had a chance at the nomination if he hadn't become such a huge Bush ass kisser, but then again he also holds a position on immigration that conservatives just cannot support. He's also really, really old.

How about Rudy? It's unlikely that the fast talking New York City boy would be electable after all his moral positions have been shown to the voters. But then again, 9/11 has worked in the past. Will the rubes fall for it again?

Fred Thompson might be a viable candidate if only he could keep the voters (and himself) awake long enough to listen to him. Maybe if they played that "Law and Order" ching chung sound everytime he appears it would keep people awake.

That leaves Mike Huckabee. What is there to say about Pastor Huckabee? He's a likeable sort of guy. Doesn't seem to be mad at anyone. The fundamentalists seem to like him. He likes subservient women. Doesn't mind tax increases either. Too bad no one is willing to fund his campaign.

Snow - Are We Dazed Yet?

About 12-15 in. of snow fell at my place yesterday. The driveway was shoveled twice -took 2 hours each time. News reports claim we are "dazed" by the snowstorm. Sorry, a foot of snow around here will not daze anyone.

Pictures to follow soon.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Champlain Bridge - Replace or Repair?

A picture of the bridge I took some time ago. In the foreground are the ruins of Ft. St. Frederic.

An article in this mornings Plattsburgh Press Republican concerns one of the most beautiful bridges in the North Country - the Champlain Bridge in Crown Point, NY. The bridge was built in 1929 and historic preservation experts want it preserved. So do I. This was the first bridge in the USA to use the continuous-truss style of construction.

Although architects and historic preservation experts want to preserve the bridge, comments by a local politician should be of concern.
Supervisor Ronald Jackson (R-Essex) said the Champlain Bridge is in poor condition now, with expansion rollers seized and holes in the steel.

"We should encourage New York DOT to speed up the process so we can get around to replacing that bridge."

Mr. Jackson pointed out the replacement of the bridge is likely to end up in the courts. It sounds like Mr. Jackson may be in favor of replacing this beautiful bridge with the standard flat bridge that is so common today. Lucky for us, the State of Vermont has some say in what will happen also. Vermonters are into preserving history.
Professor Robert McCullough is a consultant to the Vermont Agency of Transportation's Historic Bridge Program. He teaches historic preservation at the University of Vermont.

"We have a program (in Vermont) to maintain and rehabilitate our bridges," McCullough said. "We want to look at the historic importance of the Champlain Bridge. It's the first of its type in the country."

It would be a sad state of affairs if this bridge were not preserved given its location right next to the ruins of the British and French forts that were so important during the 18th century.