September 30, 2007

Wow

We scored 35 points *AGAIN* and we would've scored more if we hadn't stopped throwing halfway through the third quarter when we already had that 35 points. The running game is still unreliable, but so far, no team has forced us to need it. Romo had a little bit of an off game but was still really, really good.

At this point, I have a hard time believing we'll lose in Buffalo, but it is on the road and there might be bad weather, so you never know. The real test will be hosting New England in week 6, and while I don't think we would necessarily win that (our defense is still too suspect despite pitching a shutout today, giving up only a TD on a long punt return), I'm sure we would be competitive.

What I'm really looking forward to is playing Philly and Washington, each of whom we'll play twice in fairly short order. Division games are different, and so far, the only truly scary game we've had was against the not-so-great division rival Giants.

Posted by Observer at 03:10 PM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2007

Distraction

Nothing really to blog about today. Blame Humbaba for making me plow through the archives of Order of the Stick. The gamer in me thanks you, but the person who has lots of other things to do curses you.

Posted by Observer at 08:29 PM | Comments (2)

September 27, 2007

Track Meet?

Bob analyzes the next enemy, whose offense makes me a little more nervous than the Bears did:

I finally sat down and watched the Rams last two games, the loss against the 49ers, and the pounding they took at Tampa Bay.

A couple things jump our at me: First, they appear to have the number of necessary weapons to allow Marc Bulger to put up 300+ yards if he is only given time. Bruce and Holt still get open routinely for big yards down the field. But, the offensive line is in such a chaotic state that there is little chance for Bulger to get comfy back in the pocket before he is hit again on his broken ribs.

So, they run sideline outs over and over. If you thought Grossman and Berrian ran that a lot on Sunday, you havenít seen anything yet. Holt and Bruce will take that 10 yard cushion all night. So, does Wade Phillips have the CBs up tight and hope that the rush gets to Bulger before Holt gets behind Anthony Henry? We shall seeÖ

But, I must remind my Cowboys readers of one thing. Yes, they have no offensive line, and yes, Steven Jackson is gone. But, do you remember Kitna and the Lions putting up 39 points last season in Week 17? Well, the Rams have the same weapons and the same type of QB, so beware that you donít make mistakes and get into a shootout with these guys. They may be 0-3, but they still have tools to beat you on Sunday.

On Defense, they are pretty unremarkable. They bring a fair amount of secondary blitzes, but can be run upon with regularity. Watching SF and TB play them, I donít really know what sort of pass defense they have (They are ranked #1 against the pass so far, but is that because of who they have played?), but I can assure you they have not seen the likes of Romo, Owens, and Witten. Leonard Little is not Strahan in his prime, but he will give Mark Columbo another difficult challenge.

I guess overall, I am saying that all of this talk this week like the Cowboys are playing the worst team ever is silly. The Rams had playoff talent before the injuries to Pace, Jackson, etc, but they can still win on any given Sunday. The Cowbys better be ready to play at noon on Sunday.

Way to sell that pre-game show, Bob!

Posted by Observer at 10:41 AM | Comments (1)

September 25, 2007

Rewriting History

Tom Tomorrow doesn't approve of Alan Greenspan trying to rewrite history to make himself look better:

Posted by Observer at 09:28 PM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2007

I Might Like Hillary

Randi was talking about Hillary Clinton's appearance on Fox News Sunday. First question from Chris Wallace is something like, "Why do you take such a hyper-partisan approach to politics?"

She responded by laughing loudly at him for about 10 seconds.

What a perfect response to Fox News, just like it was a perfect response to Ahmadinejad. She should do that more often.

Posted by Observer at 09:52 PM | Comments (0)

Free Speech

This is exactly why you let idiots like the Iranian president have free speech when they are on American soil. So they can go ahead and remove all doubt about how idiotic they are. When they spout their nonsensical rhetoric like denying the holocaust or homosexuality, you can give them the proper reply they richly deserve: derisive laughter.

Why is this so hard to understand? Why are wingnuts so afraid of letting people like this speak? Why are they so eager to punish those who allow free speech on U. S. soil?

Man up, wingnuts! Sticks and stones, y'know? Jesus!

Posted by Observer at 06:54 PM | Comments (1)

September 23, 2007

Yes, My Master

Bob Sturm has been saying this since the end of the last season, even though many experts doubted him, saying the league has figured out Tony Romo, and blah blah blah. And I will admit that I, too, was doubtful. Hopeful, definitely, but I had to wait and see.

I've seen enough.

The simple truth is: Tony Romo is a Jedi.

And man, I love having him on our team.

I mean, if Patrick Crayton doesn't drop a touchdown pass right between the numbers wide open in the first half, the Cowboys score over 40 AGAIN. On the BEARS, for cryin' out loud. And the refs screwed them over on 3-4 calls in the first half, which partially accounted for their dozen penalties.

One of my favorite things of this season, and there are so many, is that I've spent the last several years as a fan fearing the blitz. Every time we would play a tough defense, they would blitz and whatever QB we had back there would either get sacked or hurried and would never ever take advantage by finding whatever receiver HAD to be open.

Now? Bring it on. Come on, Eagles. Bring that blitz. Not only is our line somewhat better now and our extra blockers doing a bit better, but Romo can duck and dodge and get out of some really incredible situations. Now I WANT them to blitz us.

Is there a team in the NFC, even playing at home, that would now be favored over the Cowboys?

Posted by Observer at 09:53 PM | Comments (4)

September 22, 2007

Spending

At some point, people will start to get mad enough to call their stupid Republican Senators to end this war. Maybe it will happen when Bush requests another $200 billion for the Iraq War next fiscal year. What's the population of the US now, about 300 million? So that's around $650 for every man, woman and child in the U. S. to pay for one more year of his stupid, pointless war of aggression. One more year so he can keep the war going until he leaves office.

I mean, if all the dead troops don't mean anything, all the kids who have lost their mothers and fathers (sometimes without ever seeing them), all the broken familes, all of the physically and mentally wounded soldiers, all the dead civilians. If all that isn't enough, maybe the price will finally get through to people.

It wouldn't surprise me.

Posted by Observer at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2007

PC Wingnuts

Michael Kinsley puts his finger on why it is so silly for wingnuts to get the vapors over the "General Betray Us" Moveon.org ad. These are the same guys who have spent the last 20+ years on talk radio loudly denouncing the idea of political correctness, and now all of a sudden they're the language police? Wanting to protect their delicate sensibilities from harsh words?

If they're so proud of the war the Boy King has dragged us into, why are they so eager to change the subject away from it?

Posted by Observer at 09:38 AM | Comments (0)

Aaaaa hahahahaha...

Ted Stevens is a Republican senator from Alaska. He's your typical crackpot wingnut who has been in office probably about 10 years longer than he's qualified for. Kind of like Strom Thurmond, a doddering old fool who does what his staff tells him and keeps getting reelected based on name recognition and mindless straight-ticket voting. Lately, his biggest achievement of note was getting passed a few hundred million bucks for the famous bridge to nowhere, which he still to this day stridently defends, and of course, he's 100% behind our glorious war president.

It will be interesting to see just how big of a supporter of warrantless wiretapping good old Alaska senator Ted Stevens will be now that the FBI is wiretapping his sorry ass for bribery and corruption. Randi Rhodes speculates that a big reason so many in Congress are so quick to support a lot of bad legislation, like continuing to support the war or stripping away constitutional protections like habeas corpus or retroactively making warrantless wiretapping of American citizens legal, is that the Bush administration has used its warrantless wiretapping abilities to get dirt on a lot of people.

Who tipped off Roll Call about Larry Craig? Is it a coincidence that this scandal blossomed mere weeks after Craig went against the war and the president referred to him as a godddamned traitor?

Just asking.

Posted by Observer at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2007

New Blog

Paul Krugman is one of my favorite columnists, and now not only is he out from behind the subscription wall of the NY Times, he has a blog:

To a remarkable extent, punditry has taken a pass on whether Gen. Petraeusís picture of the situation in Iraq is accurate. Instead, it was all about the theatrics Ė about how impressive he looked, how well or poorly his Congressional inquisitors performed. And the judgment you got if you were watching most of the talking heads was that it was a big win for the administration Ė especially because the famous MoveOn ad was supposed to have created a scandal, and a problem for the Democrats.

Even if all this had been true, it wouldnít have mattered much: if the truth is that Iraq is a mess, the public would find out soon enough, and the backlash would be all the greater because of the sense that we had been deceived yet again.

But hereís the thing: new polls by CBS and Gallup show that the Petraeus testimony had basically no effect on public opinion: Americans continue to hate the war, and want out. The whole story about how the hearing had changed everything was a pure figment of the inside-the-Beltway imagination.

What I found striking about the whole thing was the contempt the pundit consensus showed for the public Ė it was, more or less, ďOh, people just canít resist a man in uniform.Ē But it turns out that they can; itís the punditocracy that canít.

First rule of media election coverage: once the narrative is established, it cannot be stopped. See, for example, the "Gore is an exaggerator" narrative or "Kerry is a flip-flopper" or "McCain is a straight-talker" or "Bush is a guy you want to have a beer with". That's why it is important to squash bad narratives before they are established and why people like me (who have a lot more influence than me) try their damnedest to keep the press honest. It's why we get mad when the press acts stupid.

The press had a good time with Al Gore and "Earth tones". What a fun party. And now we've had an incompetent ass of a president for seven years at enormous cost to our country's greatness, not to mention countless lives and huge deficits.

Posted by Observer at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2007

General Criticism

In wingnut world, criticizing General Petraeus is tantamount to treason. We shouldn't criticize our military leaders, our generals, especially during a time of war.

Well, unless they disagree with the Boy King.

And more here.

Posted by Observer at 10:26 PM | Comments (0)

Just What They Need

Looks like another tropical depression is forming in the Gulf and the NOAA says it is on track for landfall in New Orleans, perhaps at hurricane strength.

Posted by Observer at 10:08 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2007

Scorpius

Recently, Astronomy Picture of the Day featured a stunning image of the constellation Scorpius (with a swath of the Milky Way across the background), and for no, uh, particular reason I can think of (see recent posts...) I thought I would follow up on that with more information about Scorpius which can be found low in the Southern sky this evening. According to Sky and Telescope, the waxing crescent moon can be found in Scorpius tonight near the bright star Antares.

The name Antares literally means Ant-Ares (Like Mars or Rival of Mars) because it resembles Mars in the night sky. The only difference is that it twinkles while Mars usually doesn't. I'll talk about why stars twinkle and planets don't another time if you are nice to me. Antares is a cool, red supergiant. If you put it in the middle of our solar system, it would engulf all four of the inner planets and a decent fraction of the asteroid belt! It is one of the few stars that is large enough and close enough for us to physically estimate its diameter based on its angular size.

Because it is in an obviously late stage in life, it is one of the few candidates (Betelgeuse in Orion is the other that springs to mind) in the sky that could go supernova at any time, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps in a few million years (that's "soon" to Astronomers). Due to its large size, it pulsates a little bit and so the brightness varies on a timescale of a few years by maybe 10-20%. Antares was known to the Romans as Cor Scorpionis ("heart of the scorpion"). Because it reaches its most prominent position in our skies around this time of year, the Persians made it one of their four Royal Stars. Antares is ascendant during the time of the autumnal equinox, so as it is seen in the Southern sky, we know Fall is near.

Antares is a member of the Scorpio-Centaurus Association, established by Kapteyn in 1914 (reference here is the wonderful "Burnham's Celestial Handbook"). This is a sprawling collection of young stars that spans across nearly a quarter of the southern sky. What links them is that they are all moving together toward a common point, meaning this is likely the remnants of some huge, nearby (few hundred light years away) molecular cloud that formed lots of bright stars millions of years ago. The huge angular size is due to the cloud being so close to us.

From Star Tales, we learn about some of the other bright stars in Scorpius: The 2nd brightest (Beta Scorpii) is often called Arcab, which is Arabic for Scorpion. Arcab is not to be confused with the nearby Arkab ("achilles tendon"), a bright star in Sagittarius. The same star (Arcab) is known to many as Graffias (Latin for "claws"). Other bright stars are Dschubba (Arabic for "forehead") and Shaula ("the sting"). Chris Dolan's incredibly useful constellations web page has more information and a handy star chart for this constellation. The Texas Astronomical Society of Dallas has a guide to some of the interesting Deep Sky Objects in Scorpius, of which the reflection nebula Rho Ophiuchi is perhaps the most spectacular.

The mythology of Scorpius is closely linked to Orion. In a couple of variants of the story, Orion is killed for some transgression (against the goddess of hunting Artemis perhaps) by Scorpius, and so the constellations are on roughly opposite sides of the sky. As Orion the Hunter sets, his conqueror Scorpius is rising. Scorpius was once a much larger constellations, but it was divided in the distant past into Libra and Scorpius. The two brightest stars in Libra are Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali, which literally translate to the "northern claw" and the "southern claw".

Being a zodiacal constellation, Scorpius is near the ecliptic plane, which means it is often subject to occultations by the Moon or the planets. When Antares is occulted, observers have reported seeing a faint green companion (the color presumably arising from intervening material as there are no truly green stars, a tale for another time) star nearby when seeing conditions are excellent.

One last thing, if you haven't tried the Wikisky tool, check out the Scorpius entry and have fun.

Posted by Observer at 10:53 AM | Comments (2)

Wrong Telephone

I remember when Al Gore used the wrong telephone to make a fundraising call and it was THE END OF THE WORLD for wingnuts. Those damned Clintons were making everything political, whoring out the White House to promote the Democrat party and raising money. Nowadays, when executive power is routinely used for explicitly promoting the Republican party, no one really pays attention.

This is probably how it should be. No one should act like their hair is on fire over political fundraising. There are far bigger fish to fry these days. I just wonder how the ultra-liberal media will handle it the first time President Obama or President Clinton or President Edwards makes an election law faux pas or has a donor spend the night at the White House.

Haven't heard much about that in the past several years, have you? And you think it doesn't happen with Bush in the White House?

Posted by Observer at 08:25 AM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2007

Geothermal

Every year I give my series of lectures on climate change and energy policy, I dig a little deeper and learn a little more. This time, I'm trying to make some sense of all the info out there on geothermal energy. I get some sources saying, yes it is great in those few places geological conditions are good, but it is (very) finite because the heat isn't replenished as fast as we use it up. Other sources say with newer technologies, it could be potentially huge and a realistic long-term energy solution, better than any other Carbon-free alternative.

Aside from the Wikipedia page, where's a good primer on this? You know, the kind that a nuts-and-bolts no-bullshit scientist (Feff comes to mind) would write.

Posted by Observer at 11:36 PM | Comments (1)

September 16, 2007

2-0

We're 2-0 and scoring an average of 41 points per game so far. The defense scored five turnovers today. Granted, it was against a bad quarterback, but we made a lot of bad quarterbacks look like pro-bowlers last year, so it is nice to see.

Life is good.

Dare we hope to win a second consecutive road game at Chicago next week? I imagine we will be favored. After all, the Bears offense has scored an average of 8 points in the first two weeks (7 of their 23 total points in two weeks were from an INT returned for a TD). Thing is, I still think of Romo as a bit of a rookie, and so I expect a brain-dead game from him once in a while.

Maybe next week will be his 13 for 28 with 1 TD and 4 INT game. The Bear defense is solid, after all (giving up 24 points total in 2 weeks). Then we follow up welcoming the bad Rams and travelling to the bad Bills, so 5-0 is entirely possible, but I would be shocked if we didn't trip up at least once. Too much weird stuff happens in the NFL. I would be very, very happy with 4-1. But since we open with 3 road games out of the first 5, even 3-2 seems like it ought to be acceptable.

I'm just trying to wait as long as possible before I fall victim to the "Super Bowl" chant that is already starting to stir faintly in the heads of most Cowboys fans. We haven't won a playoff game in at least 10 years, I think, and the Mavs have taught us how little the regular season means if you choke in the playoffs.

Update: Guess I was wrong about us being favored. The early line for next Sunday is Bears by 3.5.

Posted by Observer at 06:32 PM | Comments (0)

60 Votes

Atrios makes a good point following up on Kagro X's diary about news coverage of the Senate. Back when Dems were in the minority, any time they filibustered something, it seems like a big deal was made out of it. Like the Dems were throwing a monkey wrench into the way our natural majority-rule system is supposed to work, and how dare they have the gall to oppose something when they are in the minority. And so it always seemed like there was immense pressure to desist anytime Dems brought up the possibility of a filibuster.

Now that Republicans Democrats control the Senate, it basically is reported as conventional wisdom that in order to get anything passed, they need 60 votes. Not 51 out of 100. 60. Because in order to get anything passed, they have to overcome the filibuster that Republicans will mount as a matter of course.

The difference in framing is rather obvious and very puzzling. We've gone from "Oh my God, those crazy angry Democrats are filibustering something the War President has said is vital to our country's interests!" to "Well, this would pass, but they don't have the 60 votes they need, and that's just the way things work in the World's Greatest Deliberative Body."

Posted by Observer at 04:30 PM | Comments (2)

September 15, 2007

Pro-War Media

People who think the media is purposely broadcasting images of chaos in Iraq to undermine the war (what other kinds of images can be broadcast, really?) are likely beyond hope at this point. Still, I'd like to think you could read this and think that maybe the media is actually too timid to be anti-war, too willing to fall into line behind all the jingoistic war crap being spewed by the administration.

For me, there's a pretty simple litmus test. Back when O'Hanlon and Pollack got their "dog and pony" show and came back to report that the surge is working wonderfully, did your favorite media outlet report them as "long-time war critics"? Did your media give equal attention to the more recent article by seven soldiers (two of whom died this past week in Iraq) about how horrible the situation is over there?

I doubt it, and if you don't know the answers to those questions, then what the heck are your qualifications to be a media critic, anyway?

Posted by Observer at 09:30 PM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2007

Parallel Universe

On the way home, the usual sports station that I listen to was in the middle of hockey talk (blech), so for amusement, I switched over to whatever ConservaBorg blowhard was on. Turns out it was Sean Hannity taking calls. I only lasted through two, which I will paraphrase as best I can from memory:

Caller: I'm an Iraq veteran, and I'm sick and tired of the Democrats comparing me to a Nazi.

Hannity: It's time we put the shoe on the other foot and started criticizing Democrats for failing to supply our troops with the equipment they need and for criticizing the troops and their commander in chief during a time of war. Thanks for your service to your country. Next caller.

Caller #2: Sean, I'm a big fan, but I have a problem with you.

Hannity: Uh oh, what's the problem? What did I do?

Caller #2: Well, I watched your show last night, and I'm sick and tired of you letting that Colmes guy have all the airtime, bullying you with his opinions and not letting you talk...

I had to stop listening here because I was laughing too hard. Our little four-year-old wondering what I was laughing at, and I just told him it was crazy people on the radio.

How do people get by in this world with minds open to believing this kind of crap? My God, man.

Posted by Observer at 02:56 PM | Comments (0)

Why to Get Out

Glenn Greenwald has a good post today on how the media chases its tail perpetually about whether to leave Iraq. Basically, the argument works like this: If "X" doesn't happen, then we can't possibly justify sacrificing more troops for this hopeless cause (where "X" is political reconciliation or a decrease in violence or increased cooperation by Sunnis and Shias or support increases for our chosen political leader, etc).

Then "X" doesn't happen.

And the media argues we must stay anyway.

I've said it before, and it bears repeating. To those of you who want to stay in Iraq, the burden of proof is ON YOU to justify why that would be better than whatever your preferred variant of getting everyone the hell out of there is.

A colleague told me yesterday that a relative of his died in Iraq last week, having never seen his six-month-old daughter. God only knows what kind of hardships the civilians over there are enduring.

War is hell, and therefore if you are going to say we have to do it, then you damn well ought to justify why. Somewhere along the line, I've missed that. All I keep hearing is empty bullshit like "fight them over there or they'll follow us home" or "Iraq and Al Qaeda are linked". Why are people willing to swallow this crap?

Posted by Observer at 01:36 PM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2007

Anonymity

Avedon Carol points to this blogger's story as an example of why it is important to remain anonymous when you do a lot of liberal political commentary.

Surely this happens to right wingers, right? I mean, I don't remember anything like it, but...

Posted by Observer at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

Correspondence

Today, I sent an email to both of my Senators and my Representative in Congress asking them to reconsider their support for the President's Iraq strategy. What we need now is a fully funded withdrawal of our troops with only an "over the horizon" force held in reserve.

I recommend you do the same.

Posted by Observer at 03:42 PM | Comments (4)

September 12, 2007

The Miracle of the Free Market

According to Tom Tomorrow:

Posted by Observer at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2007

Assumptions

A Swampland commenter puts the matter in the proper frame. In recent days, a major Democratic fundraiser named Norman Hsu has been accused of illegal campaign contributions, and Hillary Clinton (among others) has had to return in total over a million in contributions or donate them to charity. Now, it is entirely likely that the candidates knew nothing about this guy, but they are still being linked with him prominently, as I mentioned a while back.

Wingnuts are complaining that the story about Hsu isn't getting enough attention (it was front page of our local paper on two separate occasions over the past two weeks and prominently featured in the first 6-8 pages 3-4 times total). The speculate that if Hsu were a Republican, the coverage would be a lot more extensive, etc. Commenter david responds:

Fortunately, you need not speculate. Mitt Romney's national finance committee co-chair was indicted 4 weeks ago on 23 counts of fraud, money-laundering, etc. in the theft of $32 million. His name is Alan Fabian. Perhaps the fact you have never heard of him might cause you to reexamine some of your assumptions regarding the media's bias?

Self-examination? By wingnuts? BAAA HA HA ha ha ha ha.

Posted by Observer at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)

Scoreboard

Due to privacy laws and such, I imagine I cannot publicly report the lowest score on the first exam of the semester for one of my classes, but it rhymes with "hero".

Posted by Observer at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)

Sargent

Ben Sargent reacts to the news that countries are taking advantage of the melting Arctic ice cap to explore and lay claim to previously icebound oil reserves:

In other news, I will start writing for this other place. Going to try it out for a couple of weeks and see if I like it and can do a good job. I'll link to it after while if I'm not too embarrassed at the poor quality.

Posted by Observer at 01:16 PM | Comments (1)

Negotiations

After all this time, I might end up getting paid to blog. The deal is in the works, but it won't be here that I get paid to blog.

Of course, the drawback is that I don't get to blog about politics, computer gaming, Rangers or Cowboys. No, I have to blog about science stuff that I have some expertise in, so it might be like actual work instead of fun. I'd definitely keep blogging here, too.

So I think I will try it, at least, and see if I can give these people the content they are looking for. It wouldn't be that hard to just distill a lot of the knowledge from my classes into some pretty blog posts. I can see a time 10-20 years from now when the kids are less maintenance, and I might want to write a book. I definitely need to improve my writing, and this would be a way to do it.

Posted by Observer at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2007

Romo Owns This Town

If you want a truly thorough rundown of the Cowboys game, you won't do better than Bob's blog, but for now, here are my stupid fan thoughts on the Cowboys.

The good news, in priority order:

Tony Romo does appear to be For Real.

We are 1-0.

We beat a division rival.

We humiliated the Giants' defense, a bunch of classless clowns.

The bad news:

Our defense appears to suck like at the end of last season.

We are missing two major pieces, Terry Glenn and Terence Newman, and they likely won't be back any time soon, perhaps out for most or all of the season.

For now, the good news overcomes the bad news, especially since Miami's offense next week appears to suck (but then I thought the Giants offense sucked last season). If we make Miami's offense look like Indianapolis, then uh oh. If we can figure out how to play defense, we've got a good team.

Man, it is fun watching Romo. I wish they played every down like 3rd and 10. I've never experienced watching a team and getting excited (in a positive way) about 3rd and long, because I know Romo will be forced to throw the ball.

And that's when fun stuff happens.

Posted by Observer at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2007

Stomped

Well, the Frogs looked good in the first half, but I guess a halftime in the locker room to actually think about beating Texas in Austin was too much, and they got a serious case of the fumbles in the 2nd half. They probably would've lost anyway because the offense couldn't move the ball at all, but it least it would've been closer.

Can't wait for Sunday night's game. If the Cowboys get humiliated again at home by the Giants like last season, I'm going to very bitter.

VERY bitter.

Posted by Observer at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

September 07, 2007

Basic Truths

The Sun rises every day (for low latitudes).

Death is inevitable.

Every student can't be "above average".

General Petraeus, no matter when you ask him, will say that he thinks we need to spend at least six more months in Iraq.

Posted by Observer at 01:19 PM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2007

Eh, Not So Much...

So the, uh, Saints are supposed to be the NFC representative to the Super Bowl this year? And they get beat 41-10 opening week?

I know it is total homerism, but I'm praying that Romo is the real deal, Wade Phillips knows what he's doing, and the Cowboys can have a good season. It would be so cool to get at least to the NFC championship game this season.

We open against the Giants Sunday night, the same Giants who humiliated us in a classless display of taunting early last season, but that was before we had Romo in the starting QB role. Once Romo was in, we went up to New York and beat their asses.

Ok, yes, we got humiliated the following week by New Orleans, but it's the first week of the season, and I've got seriously filtered memory and a lot of hope.

Posted by Observer at 11:06 PM | Comments (0)

Republican House Rules

If you are a Democrat and any of your contributors has any kind of shady background, the "liberal media" is going to connect it to you. Prominently, repeatedly. You'll be graphically "linked to a fugitive" by, no-not Fox News but thanks for trying, frickin' CNN. If you are a Republican and your national finance co-chair is arrested and charged with 23 counts of bank fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, etc., nobody fucking cares.

It's sure nice to have such a wonderfully ultra-liberal socialist left-wing media on our side.

Come on, you corporate shitheads, give us a network of our own! Keith has already shown it can get good ratings among the right demographic.

Posted by Observer at 04:00 PM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2007

Fringe Left

After I gave my typical global warming lecture today (embodied in large part in my answer to Stupid Conservative Myth #5), a student asked me what I thought should be done. I said something like this:

We're going to run out of fossil fuels in the next 50 or 100 years anyway, so we need to invest massively in research to find alternative energy sources that don't have the same problems. Why not start that now so that we can avoid having to deal with the potential disaster of doubling or tripling Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere? In the meantime, stop actively subsidizing fossil fuel usage or at least let other carbon-free energy sources compete on a level playing field by subsidizing them equally.

There. That's my super-duper ultra-left-wing fringe view on global warming, so fuck off, wingnut trolls, because you haven't got any better ideas even if you did have the balls to engage in a real debate on anything.

Posted by Observer at 11:18 PM | Comments (4)

September 04, 2007

Simple Answers

"Dr. Observer, will you put off Monday's exam because so many students will be travelling on the road over the weekend to support the team during the big football game and we really need time to study and I know it's a lot to ask but I thought it was worth a shot?"

NO.

This has been another edition of simple answers to stupid questions.

Posted by Observer at 08:19 PM | Comments (3)

September 03, 2007

Worth It

Ok, after listening to a few of Randi Rhodes' podcasts, I've concluded they are cool and well worth the price. It is so nice to listen without commercial interruptions (especially since our now defunct Air America affiliate used to just rotate about 5-6 spots over and over), and Randi has been hilarious talking about Larry Craig. Randi's show is definitely at the top of my podcast list, though I am not sure I like it well enough to go back through all of her archives. Her show is almost always focused exclusively on the day's news, so I'm not sure it ages well.

I also like the SETI podcast, which features Astronomers talking about a lot of stuff, not always related to SETI (weekly, about an hour long). And the Scientific American Science Talk podcast (weekly, about 20-30 minutes) has been interesting. That may be because right now for both of those, I have the luxury of going through the archives and picking topics I am interested in. Once I run out of that, I may not want to listen every week.

If there were a good speculative fiction book review podcast, I'd be interested in trying it out. I'll have to try some TV show related podcasts once we catch up with Heroes and/or start a new season of something like "Survivor". You pretty much have to be current on those to appreciate the podcast.

I've also introduced Ashl*y to podcasts, and she's downloaded a bunch of Radio Disn*y podcasts and other stuff related to the music she likes. It looks like there's a lot of stuff out there for kids and teens.

Posted by Observer at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2007

Personal Demons

Leaving Town Alive is a memoir by John Frohnmeyer, who was for a while the chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts under George H. W. Bush during most of his administration. From his perspective, Bush I was a very decent guy whose administration was a little out of control because too much power was concentrated into the hands of right wing zealots to whom he owed favors for getting elected.

Anyway, it's a very good book about how he battled for Arts funding in the environment of hate and loathing that permeated the Republican party in the early 90's and ultimately led to all of the Clinton stuff. Any Democratic candidate reading this could've known what was coming during the next administration.

What made me think of it was a very memorable passage that is relevant in light of all of the recent "outed" Republicans, so many of whom are in positions of power over lots of young boys (Senators or campaign chairs especially):

In my first two months on the job [in 1999], I was attempting to communicate with all factions, so at the end of October, Congressman Denny Smith procured for me an invitation to a meeting of conservative congressmen called the Acorns. Phil Crane, a congressman from Illinois, hosted the meeting in his high-ceilinged, dark-paneled office in the Longworth Building. [...]

He sat behind his desk dressed in a light gray, polyester, three-piece suit. His posture suggested that he claimed some authority over the rest of those present, although they did not visibly acknowledge it. It was the usual suspects: Dannemeyer and Dornan, Attila-the-Hun Republicans from southern California; Larry Craig, from Idaho; and twenty-five others. Dannemeyer was holding forth about the moral degradation of our country, and in particular the scourge of international faggotry.

He was reading from some publication that graphically chronicled the "unnatural acts" of homosexuals. He was in favor of quarantining people with AIDS and chortled about the latest homosexual outrages as the assembled conservatives plucked beers or soft drinks from the ice bucket on a side table.

They pulled their chairs into a rough circle, and Denny Smith introduced me as a fellow Oregonian. They wanted to know how I felt about obscenity, and I said I opposed it absolutely -- it was the antithesis of art, and anything that was obscene would not be funded while I was chairman. I was successful, momentarily, in persuading them that I was a responsible person, but as I spoke, I knew that my definition of obscenity (what the Supreme Court said it was) was very different from their definition (anything dealing with homosexuality, frank sexual imagery, or genitalia).

Indeed, Congressman Dornan several years later accused me of lying to him by saying that I was opposed to obscenity. But as I left Phil Crane told me just to ask if there was ever anything he could do for me. (What he did do, annually, was propose a bill to abolish the Arts Endowment.)

When I bid the group farewell, Rose DiNapoli and I walked back down the now deserted corridor of the Longworth Building. I felt the need for a shower. Rose said, "It's scary," an understatement of gothic proportion. The enthusiasm with which this group pursued homosexuals and espoused moral purity hinted at an exorcism of personal demons.

After hearing so much lately about the backstory of Craig, all of these clear warning bells that he was just crazy repressed, I looked at some of the others mentioned as a part of the Acorns. I couldn't find a listing anywhere on the web of members of this group of Congressmen, unfortunately.

Check out the Wikipedia page for William Dannemeyer. Wow, this guy was profoundly interested in graphic descriptions of homosexuality, also big in Boy Scouts. Uh huh, nothing there, I'm sure.

Bob Dornan was apparently mentally unstable during his time in Congress, getting into a couple of physical scuffles. His favorite derogatory name for people always involved some form of "fag", and he loved loved loved to talk about how many children and grandchildren he had thanks to his long, happy marriage. That's pretty common among repressed people, to emphasize that they had kids, as though proof of having sex with a female is the garlic that wards off the gay vampires.

I couldn't find out much about Denny Smith, other than he was a vociferous wingnut and still is. I imagine an old friend Andrew V. would have some stories to tell, as he always used to love telling people about the goofball characters in Oregon politics.

Phil Crane is another wingnut foot soldier who had pedophilia issues in his family (his brother was involved in a Congressional page scandal in the 80's) and also lost some glamour in the party when he publicly admitted he was an alcoholic. I don't see any direct signs from him of an obsession with "teh gay".

I'd like to find out how many of the other Acorns eventually got involved in scandals like Craig.

Posted by Observer at 12:24 AM | Comments (1)

September 01, 2007

Iran?

Catching up on blogs this week, I see a whole lot of people over on Daily Kos seem convinced that we are going to attack Iran real soon. Maybe not with ground troops but instead just a bunch of tomahawk missiles.

What am I missing here? Other than a few isolated neo-cons, where is the big outcry for war? What's the reason for this one? Are they even going to bother making up a bunch of "Weapons of Mass Destruction Related Program Activities" bullshit this time, or are we just going to blow up more brown people because Bush wants everyone to talk about his flight suit codpiece again?

Is there anything at all that Bush can do that would cause the Dems in Congress to find their spine and get Bush and Cheney out of office? They've sure got ample cause for impeachment and conviction on both.

Posted by Observer at 09:21 PM | Comments (0)

Home

Finally, an electrician delivered on a promise, although he was an hour late this morning. We are officially back in business, with a new meter base (including a main breaker) and everything running at full capacity. He finished just in time to allow us to check out of the extended stay hotel without paying an extra day.

Now we have a couple of days' worth of work to do (at least) to get the house back to normalcy, then we'll all have a good, happy cry.

Posted by Observer at 01:14 PM | Comments (0)