Friday, June 13, 2008

Supreme Court Decision - Not a Slam Dunk

Lot's of spin coming from Bush and the White House concerning the recent Supreme Court decision. It's such a divided court; this was not a slam-dunk by the Supreme Court etc. The Republicans sang a very different tune back in 2000 when the Supreme Court made G.W. Bush president by a 1 vote decision.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Supreme Court Rules Again

In a 5-4 ruling the Supreme Court has once again ruled that detainees held at Guantanamo have rights under our Constitution. This is the third time they have made this type of ruling. The last two times the Bush Administration got around the ruling by changing the laws. I really like what Justice Anthony Kennedy had to say:
"The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times."
Many conservatives don't agree with that statement - afterall, the Constitution is not a suicide pact.

G.W. Bush doesn't trust the Constitution. Somehow, giving a person their day in court could endanger us all. Bush has had the opportunity, with a Republican controlled Congress, to change the laws the Supreme Court told him to follow. That's ok, that's the way things work. He might not have much luck changing the law this time around however. But that may not even matter. G.W. Bush believes the law doesn't apply to the President or the executive branch. He can enforce laws that he likes and ignore those he doesn't like. Only 221 more days of G.W. Bush - we can do it, we can survive (hopefully).

We Need More Oil - How do we get it?

Talk about a national energy plan with a conservative and it begins, and almost ends, with "drill for more oil". There is lots of oil off the coast of Florida but the environmentalists won't let us drill for it. The fact that Republican Senator Mel Martinez is opposed to drilling for oil off the coast of Florida is rarely mentioned (ironically, Martinez is all in favor of drilling for oil in ANWR).

Yeah, but the Chinese are drilling for oil (for Cuba) almost within sight of the Florida keys say our conservative friends at Heartland!
China Drilling Near Florida

The presence of Chinese oil rigs, there by agreement with Cuba, within view of the Florida coastline has irked state residents. Cuba has announced it will expand those operations.

"I saw all kinds of wells with Chinese writing on them just south of the Keys," Leonard Gropper, a Marathon, Florida retiree, told the June 20 Orlando Sun-Sentinel.
Old Lenny better get his eyes checked. It's just not true that China is drilling for oil within sight of Florida. Ask Sen. Martinez:
The China-Cuba connection is "akin to urban legend," said Sen. Mel Martinez, a Republican from Florida who opposes drilling off the coast of his state but who backs exploration in ANWR.
Ok, fine then. What about those 16 billion barrels of oil in ANWR. Sixteen billion barrels according to whose estimate - well for one, the group that supports drilling for oil in ANWR. The problem is that estimating the amount of oil in ANWR is not so simple. There is technically recoverable oil and there is economically recoverable oil - it depends on the price of oil. A certain amount of oil is easily recoverable but then it becomes more and more expensive to recover the oil. Obviously, at todays oil prices it becomes very economically feasable to recover more oil (hmmmm, that makes one think of several conspiracy theories).

You can find a discussion of this issue here.

Ok, our conservative friends argue, but no matter what we will always need oil, global climate change or not.

Fine. How about genetically engineering bacteria that take the greenhouse gas CO2 out of the atmosphere and convert it into fuel? So-called 4th generation biofuels (we laugh at your sugar-based ethanol production) Yeah it can be done. In fact it could be done before any oil from ANWR would ever be available to us. Imagine that, a bacteria that produces unlimited fuel and solves the greenhouse gas problem at the same time. Theoretically, you could ferment your own fuel at your home.

Dr. Craig Venter (the guy who mapped the human genome) is one scientist behind this research.
Venter is trying to tackle the problem from another angle, using “biofuels by design.” He says his own startup, Synthetic Genomics, could deliver in as little as 18 months a biofuel that turns carbon dioxide into octane.

He also during the talk delivered his usual verbal jabs aimed at the traditional industries that he hopes to disrupt. He quipped that in a meeting with oil executives he told them if they don’t want to invest to solve the problem they helped create, then he would be perfectly happy developing the solution without them. That’s classic Venter.
Just how interested are oil companies in funding Venter's research or for that matter any alternative energy research that doesn't include finding more oil?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bobby Jindal - Exorcist

Bobby Jindal would be excellent as John McCain's vice president. He would bring a lot to the office - including experience in casting out demons. True he's only done it once and needed the help of some friends but who else in DC has done this? Dick Cheney watch out.

John Sweeney - Jack Abramoff

Here is a little article in the back section of todays NYT.
The raid was part of an investigation of former Congressman John Sweeney, an Albany-area Republican with ties to Mr. Abramoff. During the raid on Friday, about 10 F.B.I. agents spent several hours collecting computers and files from the office of Powers & Company, the lobbying firm.

The company is run by the former chairman of the state Republican Party, William D. Powers. Mr. Sweeney’s ex-wife, Gayle, worked for Powers & Company until early last year, and Mr. Powers was a longtime political patron of the congressman.
Looks like the Federal government is still interested in the involvement of John Sweeney with Jack Abramoff. Always nice to see Mr. "shut them down" Sweeney get investigated again.

Your Cell Phone Can Fry Your Brain?

[Thanks DD for pointing this video out]

I'm going to use the above youtube video in my proposed scientific critical thinking course. Watch that popcorn pop from being heated by the cell phone microwave radiation. This is, of course, a complete fabrication. You can prove that simply using your mind and thinking a bit critically.

First, the cell phones were only cell phones transmit microwave radiation when they ring?

Second, the microwave energy output of a cell phone is pretty low - maybe 0.1 - 1 watt at most.

Try this experiment. Put a few kernels of popcorn in your microwave oven and turn it on full blast. Let's say the average full size microwave puts out 1000 watts of microwave energy. How long does it take to pop the popcorn? More than 5 seconds I bet.

Third, the people in that video seem just a little too professional - not like a regular group of stumblebums trying something cool.

In any case, this whole cell phone microwave radiation can cook food thing was debunked a couple years ago by NYT's Paul Adams. He couldn't cook an egg using cell phones as he had been told that he could. Some Canadian skeptics also disproved this theory a couple years ago, complete with pictures.

Now this isn't to say that microwave energy is dangerous. The Raytheon Corp. has made a microwave energy transmitting weapon for crowd control. This to be used when the majority of Americans get fed up with their dysfunctional government and finally decide to revolt. It hasn't been mounted on black helicopters yet, but give them time. The LA County Sheriff can't wait to use this weapon.

But back to my point. It's important to ask questions, experiment and gather evidence prior to coming to a conclusion.

US Nuclear Standoff with Iran?

Being the America-hating, liberal, commie fool that I am, I have a question or two. There is an article by the liberal mainstream press reporter DEB RIECHMANN called "Bush says diplomacy is 1st choice in Iran standoff". Here is the first sentence:
President Bush, in a fresh warning to Tehran, said Wednesday he favors a peaceful resolution to the nuclear standoff with Iran but has not ruled out the possible use of military force. [bold my emphasis]
Now the question. Just what precisely is this so-call "nuclear standoff" we are having with Iran. Do they have nuclear-tipped missiles aimed and ready for firing at the USA? Maybe they have nuclear armed drones they can use to bomb us. They could have gotten some of Saddam Hussein's drone aircraft.

Joking aside, is it accurate to say we are at a nuclear standoff with Iran. That seems like such a loaded phrase. One of those types of phrases that were used to convince us we needed to attack Iraq before they attacked us.

So how about asking a few questions. Just how close is Iran to refining enough uranium to make an atomic weapon? It's my understanding that building a uranium-based atomic bomb is pretty easy once you have enough uranium. But getting the uranium is the trick - it's really, really difficult.

Now that you've convinced me that they have the uranium or are close to getting it, just precisely where is this nuclear facility? Was it the one someone (USA or Israel or combination) destroyed a few months ago? And, by the way, just what was that all about? No one seems to want to discuss it, not even the liberal mainstream media.

Ok, so Iran has an idiot for a President (a few other countries do also)that claims they want to nuke Israel. But Iran's idiot president has no power, power is held by the mullahs. What is the policy of the mullahs? And why does Iran's president remind me so much of Ringo Starr? Do the Iranian people really support using a nuclear weapon against the USA or Israel? I've read that most Iranians are actually pretty politically moderate these days. We know that Israel has nuclear weapons already. Do the Iranians think Israel is going to sit back and let itself be nuked? Israelis are known to be militarily a quite feisty group of people.

Well, we invaded one country already to get rid of their weapons of mass destruction (which were not there). Now we are being told we are in a nuclear standoff and need to invade or bomb to the stone age another country in the middle east. I guess we can thank Shiva that our idiot only has 7 more months to reign.

A(nother) Tree Fell on My House

Unfortunately, I was away in Burlington when it happened. Missed all the action and came home to a house with no power. Getting home from VT is another story entirely. This tree was actually uprooted from down in my "wetland" area. It doesn't seem to have done much damage other than destroying a portion of my roof gutter system. Pictures will follow when I get the time....also a post on my excellent, long journey home from Burlington, VT. Believe me, the Grand Isle ferry saves time and money these days.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Some Weather in North Elba

At 13:10 it was 87 degrees hot. Twelve minutes later it is is 76.5 degrees and falling. Nice wind gust about 5 minutes ago. I went out on our deck to hear trees cracking and falling all over the place. As I turned around I stepped aside as the tip of a fifty footer hit the deck. It was only about 4 ft. of pretty thin tip but it would have smarted if it had hit me. Now I have fifty feet of tree to chainsaw. That's ok because I've been wanting to build a rustic staircase down to our "wetlands". Should be just enough timber for that job. Is a tornado going to hit us? I've never heard of one in the tri-Lakes area, but we did have that waterspout several years ago that ripped some of the roof of the N. Elba Town House off and did a fair bit of damage to a marina on Lake Flower. 13:28 and it is now 73.2 degrees cool, a 14 degree drop in 18 minutes. The wind has let up a bit, no rain but dark skies. 13:33 and 71.1 degrees.

UPDATE: 66 degrees at the Lake Clear airport.

Did Bush Actually Lie?

Yesterday, Fred Hiatt, Washington Post editorial page editor, did his disingenuous best to prove President Bush did not lie us into a war with Iraq.

For example, Hiatt writes:
On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information."
But what did the report actually say? But Hiatt conveniently does not finish the sentence which ends but did not convey the substantial disagreements that existed in the intelligence community. Hiatt in his own way does exactly what the Bush administration did.....tell just part of the truth.

Here is Scott McClellan with more comments on how we got into the Iraq War (dishonestly).

When you are dishonest....are you lying?

Kucinich Introduces Articles of Impeachment

Not that it will go anywhere. Bush hasn't lied about sex yet.

Science Tuesday - The Fisher

An article about the Fisher in this mornings NYT Science section caught my eye. The Fisher is a weasel-like animal that normally lives in the deep woods. It rarely eats fish and was probably called a Fisher due to the French name for the animal - fichet. I think I saw a Fisher run across the road in our development a couple years ago. At first I thought I was seeing a black panther because it had a very long tail and from a distance appeared fairly large. I'm now convinced it was a Fisher. The length of the tail can make this animal look quite large, although they range in size from 4-15 lbs and 29-47 inches in length.

Todays NYT article is about the Fisher invading the suburbs. This is not good news as these animals are described as pretty aggressive.
It has the aggressive, carnivorous temperament of a wolverine and can climb trees like a marten. Like weasels, a fisher will kill multiple animals at a time in a confined space.
Their populations are expanding for better or worse. At least the porcupines need to be worried now and maybe your German Shepherd.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Most Popular Post

My most popular post by far is here.

Scott McClellan to Sing for Congress

Scott McClellan has agreed to testify before a Congressional House Judiciary Committee about whether Dick Cheney ordered McClellan to lie about the involvement of Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby in outing CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Bush better get the DOJ to put a muzzle on Scotty. But it probably won't be necessary. I bet McClellan will sing a very different tune from his book when he is sitting in the hot seat.