Friday, October 30, 2009

Nobody Asked Me, But....

1) I'm reminded of the fact that the September 11th attackers practiced on Windows Flight Simulator.

2) It only FEELS this old...

3) The question is, will Facebook turn around and pay its members? After all, we had to suffer through this.

4) Git 'em, Hillary!

5) Some people probably have too much time on their hands.

6) Mmmm, demon candy....guhhhhhhhuhuhuhhhhhhhh....

7) A tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.

8) Dumbass of the day. Money quote: "Asked if she's ever heard of birth control, Hasselbeck replied, "Yeah, I have. It takes a while to kick in once you start one. But in the meantime, I just find him incredibly attractive. So, it's not like I'm that disciplined, so right now, my strategy is dressing in a way that will not get me pregnant."

Cuz ugly women never get pregnant...

9) FOX News: Pirate Sympathisers...

10) Finally, the annual reminder to cut off the top three inches of your sheets, and sew them onto the bottom. Yes, it's the end of Daylight Savings Time again!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Obama Does The Right Thing

Here we have a President who paid attention these past eight years:
President Obama traveled to Dover Air Force Base early Thursday morning, where he met with family members and paid his respects as the bodies of 18 Americans killed this week in Afghanistan were returned to the United States.

It was the president’s first trip to the Delaware air base, the main point of entry for the nation’s war dead to return home. The trip was a symbolic one for Mr. Obama — intended to convey the gravity of his decision as he moves closer to announcing whether he will send more troops to Afghanistan.

The overnight trip was not announced in advance. The president, wearing a dark suit and long overcoat, left the White House at 11:44 p.m. A small contingent of reporters and photographers accompanied Mr. Obama to Dover, where he arrived at 12:34 a.m. aboard Marine One. He returned to the South Lawn of the White House at 4:45 a.m.
(emphasis added, for reasons shortly to be clear)
A simple, dignified, and low-key acknowledgement of one of the most terrible days to befall US combat troops since Vietnam.

You'd think the entire nation, as one, would stand beside Obama for this one moment and acknowledge he did the right thing.

Um, well, you'd be wrong.

Nevermind "support the troops". Nevermind the quiet dignity afforded a group of courageous men and women who lay their lives on the line in defense of this great nation. Nevermind that, in symbolism, we see the toll these wars are taking upon us all.

(Side note: I wonder how bad this economic downturn would have been had we not spent ourselves silly fighting, as Vizzini put it, "involved in a land war in Asia"? Just a thought to chew on.)

It's not enough. There's some dark mystery, a hidden meaning, a shade lingering, over each and every action of President Barack Hussein Obama.

A "black shadow" administration, as it were.

Now, it's true: every President has to be conscious of the impact and meaning of his gestures. Presidents are, like it or not, role models and trendsetters.

Imagine, if you will, George W Bush actually successfully riding the Segway. Undoubtedly, it would have been given a marketing boost (and no doubt, Segway had hopes for that).

Unfortunately he fell off, thus propagating the myth that the Segway is difficult to master and putting a crimp in its acceptance and certainly losing the chance to market is as "so simple a moron can use it".

Presidents acknowledging the loss of soldiers, however, is hardly a political novelty, and is often accompanied by frills and ceremony when he does it (as in laying the wreaths on Memorial Day in Arlington).

One has to question the...patriotism...of those who question this gesture.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Smart Power

The television show, The Six Million Dollar Man, used this as an opening monologue:
Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.

That program was about a test pilot crippled in a horrendous crash, rebuilt using the (then) latest technology.

So it goes with our electrical grid, if only in fits and starts and drips and drabs.
Winners in the Obama administration's $3.4 billion smart grid sweepstakes were exultant. Some losers sounded bitter. But there seemed to be no quarrel that yesterday's Energy Department grants will accelerate revolutionary changes in the ways electricity is generated and managed by utilities and their consumers.

"The grid has to evolve to support where policy is driving us," said Chris Baker, senior vice president and chief information officer of San Diego Gas & Electric Co., which won a $28.1 million federal smart grid grant yesterday. It will help to fund a $60 million futuristic information management system that ties key elements of its smart grid together.

As events of August 2003, as well as events early in the Bush administration demonstrated, we are running a 21st Century economy on bearskins and bone knives, in terms of electrical power.

The grid as it stands is basically a series of local nodes inadequately joined to create large regional swaths of interconnected power feeds. If one plant goes off line, another can shunt electricity to that region and draw on others down the line. This all happens incredibly fast with incredible amounts of power being rerouted chaotically, without function or form.

Not good, particularly as the ultimate oversight is a guy with a button or switch, in case things get hairy. As 2003 demonstrated, many times that guy ain't fast enough.

Current monitoring of power flow takes places in whole seconds, when milliseconds have proven to be critical in determining how to route power. That's going to change. This means that routing will not take place in chunks of power but in fine-tuned streaming.

That's going to save a lot in terms of efficiency, repairs, and load on the grid.

Ultimately, I would hope the goal for energy in America is tons of small, renewable energy plants sprinkled across the landscape, and a power grid that can fine tune the low-power generation that renewable sources will create into plentiful electricity for the nation.

It's just smarter that way.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Walk In The Park

Leave it to Republicans to shoot themselves in the foot:
Reporting from Washington - Silvan Johnson adores Sarah Palin, belongs to a conservative discussion group and fumes at President Obama's spending policies. But when it comes to picking a new congressional representative for her upstate New York district, she is in no mood to help the Republican Party.

In fact, Johnson and many other conservatives want to use a Nov. 3 special election to teach the GOP a lesson about sticking to conservative values -- even though that lesson could mean the party loses a House seat it has held for decades. The conservatives are backing a third-party candidate, splitting the Republican vote and giving the Democrat a lead in some recent opinion polls.

"Both parties seem to be more for big government," said Johnson, a probation clerk in Fulton, N.Y. "The Republicans need to learn that the people they are running [for office] do not represent the views of the people."

Clueless Silvan Johnson might want to consider these words of Newt Gingrich:
"We have to decide which business we are in," Gingrich said on his website after conservatives derided his endorsement of[Republican party candidate in NY's 23rd Dede] Scozzafava. "If we are in the business of feeling good about ourselves while our country gets crushed, then I probably made the wrong decision."

The independent candidate, Doug Hoffman, is a rock-ribbed conservative. Lest you think New York as a blue state, it is based on overall population (meaning we have a lot of urban areas here) but swaths of the state make Alabama look progressive and modern, in political outlook.

This election is to fill the seat vacated by Army Secretary John M. McHugh. The last Democrat to win and hold the seat, Peter Peyser, won in 1980. Obama captured 52% of the vote in 2008, with third party candidates drawing an anomalous 2% of the vote. Clearly, some anger at Republicans exists.

While the district is Republican, it tends to elect moderates like McHugh and Sherwood Boehlert. This is what makes Hoffman's entrance into the race, as well as the bizarre divide of the Republican zodiac, so intriguing.

Scozzafava is pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, which has angered an awful lot of the more strident factions in the Republican party, and has Sarah Palin, among others on the list of Fucking Republican Loons, hitching her horse up to pull this wagon.

Sarah Palin, who's about as risk averse as the man wearing a belt and suspenders, is risking a lot to back an insurgency. The party machine in the district hand-picked Scozzafava over Hoffman and others. This cannot be viewed with anything but concern back at RNC HQ.

Should Hoffman win, Palin can count coup and run as an outsider in 2012 despite having burrowed her way deeply into the pile of piglets sucking at National's teat.

Should she lose, it could conceivably mean the end of her fairly sturdy Presidential nomination hopes.

Hoffman has been drawing large sums of money from outside of New York state and is currently out-raising Scozzafava.

But not the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens.

The polling in the district is all over the map: conservative polls tend to push Hoffman, liberal polls tend to push Owens and Siena College polls indicate a whipsaw race, with both Owens and Scozzafava grabbing leads. The most recent and most unreliable poll, taken Oct. 25 and published by the archconservative, Randian Club For Growth, shows Hoffman with a small lead, but I have no doubt this is incorrect, if only for degree not result.


I'll say this much: this race is making the Republican nominating process suddenly relevant again. Not because Barack Obama can lose the 2012 election, but because we may be witnessing an historic event.

The complete collapse of a major political party under the weight of its own wrong-headed, heartless ideology. It has been said you can't be too vicious to be a Republican, but it's starting to look like you can!

Monday, October 26, 2009

At Loggerheads

There's an interesting dynamic at work in a nation where nearly 8 in 10 people agree on something: a public healthcare option.

It may not even come to a vote, despite the fact that it has more than enough votes for it to pass.

You know, that stupid "60 votes to avoid a filibuster" rule that has clogged up legislation for hundreds of years (OK, the vote total has come down in that time, but still...):
The Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid - and a majority of Members of the Senate - support the inclusion of public health insurance option in the Senate's health care reform bill. The debate over where the Senate of the United States stands on this question is now settled. The Senate - like the American people, the House of Representatives and the President - supports a public option.

What is not settled is whether the majority will be allowed to have an up or down vote on a health care bill that includes a public option.

The question is: will any of the Democratic Senators join with the Republicans to prevent an up or down vote on a bill containing a public option - one that is supported by the overwhelming majority of the American people?

Two words for ya, Bob: Joe Lieberman (I-Insurance Company Stooge)

It ain't happenin', Bob. Simple as that. Lieberman represents Connecticut and as insurers go, so goes Connecticut. He'd be cutting his nose to spite his face and rather than retire somewhat gracefully, Joe is hellbent-for-leather to show he still has stroke in this new Senate.

His ego is too big to write the check you want him to, Bob. I'm sorry.

This requires now that Olympia Snowe step up and vote her conscience, just like she (sort of) did in committee.

Even if every other Democratic Senator, plus Bernie Sanders (who will), voted for any form of public option in even this limited fashion, Lieberman wouldn't admit an up or down vote if you held a gun to his head.

Even his colleague from Connecticut, Chris Dodd, is sweating bullets over this issue, and while Dodd will likely have the cojones to vote this forward to burnish his populist credentials (his only announced opponent for his 2010 re-election, Linda McMahon, has been hammering him mercilessly for being yoked to big government), he has to be very careful and find whatever political cover he can.

The realpolitik of the situation is this: 80% of Americans want some form of public health insurance coverage. Nearly 60% of Senators want it.

Somehow, we on the ground here have to get thru to Senators we might be able to sway from the Republican party. That's precious few, to be certain. Perhaps Susan Collins of Maine, maybe George Voinovich in Ohio (based on job losses, Ohio has an unemployment rate inching up towards 11%) could be arm-twisted, but even then, every single Democrat besides Lieberman would have to be cracked into line.

That's going to be hard. Support for a public option in the Blue Dog Democrat states is only 54%.

So close, yet so far...

Free Speech Link(TV)ed

(post pinned to top of blog until 10/26)

First, I have to badger you: if you don't have DISH Network, you are overpaying a corporatist titan who is determined to keep you from finding out the truth.

I urge you to toss out your cable box, get rid of Rupert Murdoch's DirecTV with its hidden fees and open agenda, and get thee to DISH!

Why? Well, in addition to LinkTV, which I featured twice on my blog last week, you get Free Speech TV.

Even better, if you're too mind-numbingly zombified by the blinking lights on your cable box, you can now watch it streaming on-line.

For free.

Oh. But they are holding a fund raising drive, so please give a few bucks to keep them going.

But I digress...