Saturday, January 19, 2008

Welcome to Earth - Population 0

Life After People, the program that shows what happens to our infrastructure after humans are gone, will be shown on the History Channel on Monday at 9 PM. I can't wait to see it. It uses Chernobyl, a city now abandoned for over twenty years, to illustrate how rapidly infrastructure can decay.

Oh yeah, just in case you do happen to be the last person on earth, the website provides a fair bit of information on how to survive. Being able to sew is a big plus evidently.

In the same vein, I'm currently reading Earth Abides by George R. Stewart. This is a last man on earth book written in 1949. Ok, he isn't the last man on earth but people are few and far between. The main problem the hero, Isherwood, has is convincing survivors to do something besides live off the leavings of mankind. That, and the rise and fall of populations of ants, cattle, wolves, mountain lions etc.

BTW, doesn't London look pleasant in its decay (photo above from Life After People website)?

Treadwell & the Alternative Minimum Tax

Alexander "Sandy" Treadwell writes in the Friday Adirondack Daily Enterprise that Congress is too partisan. Mr. Treadwell thinks the way to change such partisanship is to elect him, a Republican, to replace Democrat Rep. Gillibrand to represent NY 20.
In the coming months, the members of the 110th Congress must end the partisan rancor and return civility to Congress. Nobody, of course, should expect real debate to occur without conflict and disagreement on how to solve our nation’s problems. But when that conflict occurs, we should be mindful of the words of Gerald Ford, a man who served in the House and as our president during difficult times and often said, “We can disagree without being disagreeable.”

He uses the alternative minimum tax as one example.
Another critical step that Congress should take this year is fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax once and for all.
I wonder why the alternative minimum tax hasn't been fixed thus far? Surely, it can't be because Republicans in the Senate refuse to vote for changing the AMT?

The vote was 46-48, 14 short of the 60 votes needed to began debate on the bill the House passed last month. Every voting Republican opposed proceeding.

In the House of Representatives the Republicans want to do away with the AMT. This means a loss of over $800 billion in tax revenue and Republicans do not want to raise taxes to recover that revenue. It's not enough that the last six years of Republican rule has increased the US debt from 5.6 trillion to over 9 trillion dollars. Democrats may be the party of tax and spend (although Democrats did leave a budget surplus in 2000) but Republicans have become the party of borrow and spend.

Mr. Treadwell also tells us that Congress must do more about the US addiction to Foreign oil.

Congress also must do more over the coming year to break our nation’s addiction to foreign oil by giving Americans control of our energy. Our economy is currently at the mercy of foreign nations whose leaders despise our way of life and use their vast control of oil reserves to harm us.
Can't argue with that statement. Mr. Treadwell proposes to "development of a robust domestic energy industry, including wind, solar and nuclear power as well as other forms of alternative energy like cellulosic ethanol" to solve the problem. But I'm pretty sure that, like most Republicans, he would surely go along with just looking and drilling for more oil.

Now to address the partisanship. Which party has had control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate for most of the past seven years. Hint: it wasn't the Democrats. The Bush administration with it's Republican-controlled Congress was built on partisanship. Replacing Democrat Gillibrand with Republican Treadwell is supposed to make things more bipartisan. I doubt it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

North Country Residents Told to "Grow Up"

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff wants us North Country residents to "grow up".
"It's time to grow up and recognize that if we're serious about this threat, we've got to take reasonable, measured but nevertheless determined steps to getting better security," he said in an interview with The Associated Press.

He said this concerning the new border crossing rules that will go into effect in a couple of weeks. Showing a US drivers license will not be enought to get you back into the USA from Canada.
Under the new system, which takes effect Jan. 31, Americans and Canadians who are 19 or older will have to present proof of citizenship when they seek to enter the United States through a land or sea port of entry. A passport will be fine. Or a birth certificate coupled with some other ID such as a driver's license.

Personally, I think Rep. McHugh and Rep. Gillibrand should walk into Sec. Chertoff's office and flip him the big bird. The North Country economy is bad enough without making it more diffcult for Canadians to cross the border.

To be fair, Rep. McHugh has spoken out against the implementation of these stricter border crossing rules.
"I am disappointed with reports the DHS intends to proceed with implementation of new border document requirements despite resounding opposition from Congress," McHugh said in a press release.

So, those of you without a passport better find a birth certificate otherwise you can forget about going to or from Canada. Need to get a new birth certificate. If you were born in NY you can go here. There are also commercial companies that you can use to obtain a birth certificate.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Saudis Hate Bush

Robert Scheer writing for Truthdig asks Why is it that George W. Bush gets only a 12 percent favorability rating in Saudi Arabia? Scheer points out that even Osama bin Laden and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad score higher in favorability than does G.W. Bush.

Scheer points out that G.W. has been really nice to the Saudis also.
He forgave them for nurturing the Wahhabism that spawned al-Qaida, and he never embarrasses them with the fact that bin Laden and 15 of the19 hijackers who attacked America on 9/11 were born and raised in the kingdom. Nor did Bush let the inconvenient fact that the Saudi government had backed the Taliban until 9/11 intrude on his cozy relations with the royal family.
So the Saudis promote radical Islamist teaching, attack NY city and Washington, DC, back the Taliban in Afghanistan and what do they get from the USA? 20 billion dollars in US weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and other Arab gulf states. Including JDAM kits which allows you to turn dumb bombs into a very smart bombs.

Foreign Visitors

Mornings are always interesting when I check out who visited this blog from foreign countries. It's always at least half of the first twenty visitors for obvious reasons - it's daytime there when it's very early morning here. Today visitors from Turku, Western Finland; Watford, Hertford, UK; Galway, Ireland; Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland; Krems, Niederosterreich, Austria; Perth, Western Australia; Istanbul, Turkey; Adelaide, South Australia; Islamic Republic of Pars, Tehran, Iran; Sydney, New South Wales; Tainan, T'ai-wan; Strasbourg, Alsace, France; neby, Akershus, Norway; Tsukuba, Ibaraki; Japan and Kokomo, Indiana.

Most people have found links to topics concerning parasites although there are occasional popular topics such as links to the "pcr song" and the post about the medical practice symbol. The person from the strange country of Kokomo was searching for "war pictures in snow storm". I have snow storm picts but whether they occurred in a war zone or not is somewhat debatable.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Smearing John McCain

What can you say about people that would stoop to something like this? There are no words.

More on Northern NY Prison Closings

NYCO has pointed to this editorial by the Kingston Daily Freeman concerning the closing of area prisons. It's hard to disagree with most of the editorial even though it was written with a downstate vs upstate attitude.
... the initiative of the Spitzer administration prompted a nearly unanimous outcry from the very Upstate political types otherwise most likely to flay Albany for mismanagement of a taxpayer's buck.

This is exactly right. Those NNY politicians, mostly Republicans, are the first to complain about high taxes and big government. But they are willing to settle for both if any change affects their rice bowl.
The prison, at base, is Upstate's idea of economic development, a government jobs program built primarily on the wealth-transferring business of incarcerating mostly Downstate convicts where Upstate residents can earn a living keeping an eye on them.
This is also right. Especially the part about downstate inmates being incarcerated in NNY. It can't be easy for the families of these inmates on visiting days.
The Hudson prison employs 277 workers, many of the semiskilled variety that require no college education. In the Empire State's postindustrial age, those sorts of jobs are increasingly hard to come by. Losing that number of jobs will hurt, even if all current employees are expected to be offered nearby jobs at other facilities.
Ok, true but a little harsh. These are great paying jobs. They pay as much as an area teacher or nurse probably makes. But I doubt a stupid person survives in these stressful jobs. Also, a fair amount of training is given to the employees of these prisons.
The truth is that Upstate is as addicted to the welfare statist model as anyone else.
This is what area people do not seem to understand. We, as a regional population, receive far more in State monies than we pay out. However, understanding that fact does little to help an area that is struggling for even half-way decent paying jobs.

Creation Science Prayer Alert

The Institute for Creation Research Graduate School wants to offer a Masters degree in Creation Science Education. So a couple months ago they asked for authorization from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to teach the course. Unfortunately, the ICR has had to ask the Board not to consider their proposal this month. It seems the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has a few questions that the ICR did not consider.

Online learning. “Given all the research that demonstrates that science is best learned by actually doing it, how are you going to give students the proper exposure to the experimentation side of science online?” Parades said that this question is one he would ask of any online science program and wasn’t related specifically to creationism.

Curriculum. “Their curriculum doesn’t line up very well with the curriculum available in conventional master of science programs here in Texas,” he said. “I wanted them to either revise the curriculum or explain why it departed from the norm.”

Research. Paredes said that the institute “claims that their faculty do actual research,” so he asked for “material that documented the research activities under way” and that show the research to be “based on solid scientific research.”

I can't wait to hear about the types of lab experiments that the students will do. I'm also eager to hear about specific types of research on Creation Science being done by ICR faculty. This should be interesting.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Amend US Constitution to Include God

Republican presidential candidate thinks we need to amend our Constitution. We need more God in our Constitution.
MIKE HUCKABEE: I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that's what we need to do, to amend the Constitution so it's in God standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.

By all means, let's amend the Constitution so we become more like the Islamic countries that are ruled by the Ayatollahs.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Democrats Should Vote for Romney

A political commercial from some dude you've never heard of.

Open Congress

Here is a new website that is going into my collection. It's called and it gives you all you need to know about what is going on in Congress. And, not just Congress in general. You can bring up individual representatives and senators, find out what committees they are on, what bills they have sponsored, how they voted, who they voted most with, who they voted least with and much more. You can also search for Bills and learn how Congress operates. On top of all that, the website also has a blog and a forum as well as allowing for comments all over the place. Definitely a website worth bookmarking and checking out every few days. The website is a project of the Sunlight Foundation and the Participatory Politics Foundation.

Info on Rep. John McHugh

Info on Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand

Info on Sen. Charles Schumer

Info on Sen. Hillary Clinton

Camp Gabriels Closing - Good and Bad News

The big news of the last week has been the announcement of the closing of Camp Gabriels, a State minimum security work camp. The State claims that the closing of Camp Gabriels, along with three other prison facilities in upstate NY, is due to a lower prison population and that it will save the State over $60 million in fiscal year 2009-2010.

Todays Plattsburgh Press Republican has an article briefly reviewing the history of Camp Gabriels which used to be a tuberculosis sanatorium run by the Sisters of Mercy. Find a bit more history here and here. Of more interest, is the amount of community work that has been done by Camp Gabriels "campmen". Anyone that has visited the Visitors Interpretive Center at Paul Smiths can appreciate the work that went into the immaculately groomed trails, the boardwalks and the overlooks - all work done by Camp Gabriels campmen. Campmen have also been instrumental in the construction of the annual Winter Carnival ice palace in Saranac Lake, NY. The campmen are even commemorated in a book, Ice Palace by Deborah Blumenthal.

The closing of Camp Gabriels was an odd announcement to make in conjunction with Gov. Spitzer's promise to help revitalize the economy of upstate NY in his State of the State address. On the other hand, it's important to make the distinction between "upstate" NY and Northern NY or the "North Country". Putting money into the major population centers of upstate NY is probably wiser politics than spending money on small communities in the North country and I don't see that a billion dollars is going to go too far. We spend more than that in one week in Iraq.

An editorial in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise gets it partially right - this is a mixture of good news, crimewise, for the State and bad news, jobwise, for the Tri-Lakes area. What the editorial failed to do is remind people that the North Country gets better than its fair share of money from the State. The best jobs in the area are with the State - prisons, State police, Conservation Dept. as well as State-aid funded school jobs. We also have jobs funded in large part by the Federal government - think the Federal prison, Trudeau Institute and our hospital (State and Federal funds). Government taxes help fund our airport and provides grant-aid for many area infrastructure projects.

But the residents of the North Country have been complaining that we are being taxed out of house and home. Just listen to the people that call in to "talk of the town" complain about taxes. Yet, when government spending cuts are proposed, the whining begins. Yes, we want tax cuts but not at our expense. We all understand that the way to save large amounts of money is to cut back on the number of government workers supported by tax money, whether it be in our schools, hospitals, prisons or wherever. Unfortunately, we do not want those job cuts in our own backyard.

However, it appears the State of NY may be investing more money into the treatment of drug offenders rather than locking those offenders up in prison. Would it not be wise to look into possibly converting the camp into a drug treatment facility? We already have the expertise in the area - St. Josephs Rehabilitation Center as well as a history of treating the sick.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Free Heating Oil

You've probably seen the TV commercial with Joseph P. Kennedy. You really can get 100 gallons of free heating oil, if you qualify, by filling out a very simple form at They did accept online applications but apparently have disabled that feature.

Of course, you need to be ok with getting your free heating oil from CITGO, Inc., a company owned by the people (government) of Venezuela. A government run by hothead socialist Hugo Chavez.

But the oil is all refined in the USA and it's better than freezing if you can't afford to buy heating oil.

Columnist Mona Charen is willing to tell you why you shouldn't accept this free heating oil.
One can understand Mr. Kennedy's desire to help the poor heat their homes in the winter. But to shill for a figure like Mr. Chavez? There are other options, including federal programs. Doesn't Mr. Kennedy cringe when he reads accounts like this from CNN last May?

"Venezuela's most-watched television station — and outlet for the political opposition — went off the air after the government refused to renew its broadcast license. ... Police on Sunday used water cannons and what appeared to be tear gas to break up thousands of demonstrators protesting the government's decision to close the country's most-watched television station. ... Inside the studios of Radio Caracas Television, employees cried and chanted 'Freedom!' on camera."

Unfortunately, G.W. Bush vetoes bills containing funding for Federal home heating programs while demanding that tax money be sent for the reconstruction of Iraq. There is no defending the Chavez clamp-down on the media or demonstrations in Venezuela. But neither can you defend throwing a US citizen out of a political meeting or out of the National Archive building (where the US Constitution is on display) for wearing t shirts critical of Bush.