Friday, September 30, 2005

DeLay, spinning 24/7

It's almost as if he were a compulsive liar. Whenever he tries to make himself look innocent, facts come out that run against him.
The day after U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's grand jury indictment, his lawyer and the jury foreman on Thursday appeared to contradict the Texas politician's assertions that he was not given a chance to speak before the jury.

The foreman, William M. Gibson Jr., a retired state insurance investigator, said the Travis County grand jury waited until Wednesday, the final day of its term, to indict him because it was hoping he would accept jurors' invitation to testify.

DeLay said in interviews that the grand jury never asked him to testify.

Crime fighting at the dinner table

Some case studies show that the solution to behavoral problem may be a easy as a change in diet.
Stephen Schoenthaler, a criminal-justice professor at California State University in Stanislaus, has been researching the relationship between food and behaviour for more than 20 years He has proven that reducing the sugar and fat intake in our daily diets leads to higher IQs and better grades in school. When Schoenthaler supervised a change in meals served at 803 schools in low-income neighbourhoods in New York City, the number of students passing final exams rose from 11 percent below the national average to five percent above. He is best known for his work in youth detention centers. One of his studies showed that the number of violations of house rules fell by 37 percent when vending machines were removed and canned food in the cafeteria was replaced by fresh alternatives. He summarizes his findings this way: “Having a bad diet right now is a better predictor of future violence than past violent behaviour.”
But Schoenthaler’s work is under fire. A committee from his own university has recommended suspending him for his allegedly improper research methods: Schoenthaler didn’t always use a placebo as a control measure and his group of test subjects wasn’t always chosen at random. This criticism doesn’t refute Schoenthaler’s research that nutrition has an effect on behaviour. It means most of his studies simply lack the scientific soundness needed to earn the respect of his colleagues.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Ronnie Earle

Once again the media gets it wrong; particularly the right-wing variety. Contrary to what has been broadcast, Ronnie is an equal opportunity prosecutor.
"While Earle is an elected Democrat, as Media Matters for America has previously noted, a March 17* editorial in the Houston Chronicle commended his work: 'During his long tenure, Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has prosecuted many more Democratic officials than Republicans. The record does not support allegations that Earle is prone to partisan witch hunts.' This assertion supports Earle's own claim about his record; a March 6 article in the El Paso Times reported: 'Earle says local prosecution is fundamental and points out that 11 of the 15 politicians he has prosecuted over the years were Democrats.'"

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Cognitive Dissonance

In a recent conversation with a conservative friend of mine I brought up the point that Bush (hswib) has converted a surplus to debt as far as eyes can see. His response was that the surplus was actually never realized. Unfortunately at the moment I was sidetracked into a discussion of what the real economic situation was at the time. In retrospect I should have not worried about that and just let him hang with his own words. If the surplus was not real then the justification for the Bush (hswib) was bogus from the start. Furthermore, it would mean that instead of taking a good situation and making it bad he took a neutral situation and made it terrible. I'm so slow sometimes.

Friday, September 16, 2005

A Beginner's Campaign (post 9)

After weathering a meeting with the newspaper editors and most recently a candidates’ forum put on by the Republican Party, I’m feeling pretty good about this gig. I really don’t think I’m any lamer than most of the other folks who are running, including the incumbents. Furthermore, I’m finding it both comfortable and exciting to stand in the public eye. After the primary I need to get busy about sharpening my pitch and dropping talking points that fall flat. I also need to get busy about raising money and putting my microscopic number of volunteers to work on a useful task or two.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Patronage Dumping Ground

Without Katrina the public at large wouldn't know the real role of DHS.

Why is the Right on the wrong side of science?

Homosexual parenting is the favorite whipping boy of the ignorant bigots. But at some point the truth just shows how disconnected from reality they really are.
those who say the evidence shows that many same-sex parents do an excellent job of parenting are right. Those who say the evidence falls short of showing that same-sex parenting is equivalent to opposite-sex parenting (or better, or worse) are also right.

Fortunately, the research situation is improving, so we may soon have clearer answers.
And it would a real surprise to most everyone if the broader statistics were significantly different that the particular ones we have seen thus far.

Public Health and Conservation: the Real Engines of Growth

True wealth multipliers:
"Once invested, it said that every dollar spent on clean water and sanitation in the Third World, for instance, could bring $14 in benefits ranging from lower health care costs to higher work productivity and school attendance.

'Conservation of habitats and ecosystems are also cost effective when compared with the short-term profits from environmentally damaging activities' including dynamite fishing, mining or deforestation, it said.

Every dollar invested in fighting land degradation and desertification, like building terraces to stop hillside erosion, could generate at least $3 in benefits, the Poverty Environment Partnership report estimated."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

FEMA victim

George Bush's responsibility:
"And when George W. Bush says that he accepts full responsibility for what happened, don't forget this picture and that this is exactly what he and his clueless political hacks at FEMA are responsible for: The near lethal starvation over 16 agonizing days of a 74-year man in New Orleans.

God bless the California National Guard, and God bless Edgar Hollingsworth. We suspect the Almighty already has other plans for the people at FEMA."

New Stem Cell Lines Needed

Yet another reason for deposing the Western Taliban. We need to get going again on stem cell research because the current restrictions are bringing US scientists to a dead end.

Zinc powder...

could drive your hydrogen car. More ideas on the hydrogen fuel front.

I'm beginning to think that the dislocations that come with Peak Oil will not be that severe. Instead it will be a simple sea-change in economic direction.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

End of the Bush Era

It began with a bullhorn and ended in a floud.
"The Bush Era is over. The sooner politicians in both parties realize that, the better for them -- and the country."
He invoked our national anger over terrorism to win support for a war in Iraq. But he failed to pay heed to those who warned that the United States would need many more troops and careful planning to see the job through. The president assumed things would turn out fine, on the basis of wildly optimistic assumptions. Careful policymaking and thinking through potential flaws in your approach are not his administration's strong suits.

And so the Bush Era ended definitively on Sept. 2, the day Bush first toured the Gulf Coast States after Hurricane Katrina. There was no magic moment with a bullhorn. The utter failure of federal relief efforts had by then penetrated the country's consciousness. Yesterday's resignation of FEMA Director Michael Brown put an exclamation point on the failure.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

New Hydrogen Storage Technology

It can sometimes be simple things that get the job done.
"The hydrogen tablet is safe and inexpensive. In this respect it is different from most other hydrogen storage technologies. You can literally carry the material in your pocket without any kind of safety precaution. The reason is that the tablet consists solely of ammonia absorbed efficiently in sea-salt. Ammonia is produced by a combination of hydrogen with nitrogen from the surrounding air, and the DTU-tablet therefore contains large amounts of hydrogen. Within the tablet, hydrogen is stored as long as desired, and when hydrogen is needed, ammonia is released through a catalyst that decomposes it back to free hydrogen. When the tablet is empty, you merely give it a “shot” of ammonia and it is ready for use again."
That's right. Instead of a complicate bed of hydrides this process charges a ceramic with ammonia. Exposure to nitrogen in the air releases the hydrogen.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Shell Oil Shale Extraction Can Be Economically Viable

A new method that heats the shale in situ shows promise.

Who's Counting: Complexity and Intelligent Design

From ABC News:
So far, so good. What is more than a bit odd, however, is that some of the most ardent opponents of Darwinian evolution — for example, many fundamentalist Christians — are among the most ardent supporters of the free market. These people accept the natural complexity of the market without qualm, yet they insist that the natural complexity of biological phenomena requires a designer.

They would reject the idea that there is or should be central planning in the economy. They would rightly point out that simple economic exchanges that are beneficial to people become entrenched and then gradually modified as they become part of larger systems of exchange, while those that are not beneficial die out. They accept that Adam Smith's invisible hand brings about the spontaneous order of the modern economy. Yet, as noted, some of these same people refuse to believe that natural selection and "blind processes" can lead to similar biological order arising spontaneously.


What would you think of someone who studied economic entities and their interactions in a modern free market economy and insisted that they were, despite a perfectly reasonable and empirically supported account of their development, the consequence of some all-powerful, detail-obsessed economic law-giver? You might deem such a person a conspiracy theorist.

And what would you think of someone who studied biological processes and organisms and insisted that they were, despite a perfectly reasonable and empirically supported Darwinian account of their development, the consequence of some all-powerful, detail-obsessed biological law-giver?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Mayor to feds: 'Get off your asses'

Daa-aamn! This is one pissed-off mayor.

Department of Homeland Screw-Up

What is the Bush administration doing? More hindsight by Tim Naftali:
"How is it possible that with the fourth anniversary of 9/11 almost upon us, the federal government doesn't have in hand the capability to prepare for and then manage a large urban disaster, natural or man-made? In terms of the challenge to government, there is little difference between a terrorist attack that wounds many people and renders a significant portion of a city uninhabitable, and the fallout this week from the failure of one of New Orleans' major levees. Indeed, a terrorist could have chosen a levee for his target. Or a dirty-bomb attack in New Orleans could have caused the same sort of forced evacuation we are seeing and the widespread sickness that is likely to follow."
This sad thing is that the mismanagement wasn't on anyone's radar until Katrina. It makes one wonder what the next problem is going to be.

Why does John Roberts hate courts so much?

Dahlia Lithwick:
"one of the consistent themes is that he sees almost no role for courts as remedial institutions. Judges should limit themselves to interpreting the law, parsing statutes, and nothing more. Anything else, he feels, is overreaching.

So Roberts has made it his work to try to hobble the courts, be it by approving court-stripping legislation, cutting off access to courts for classes of plaintiffs, limiting the reach of federal statutes, or curbing the power of the courts to remedy injustices. The best courts, it seems, are bound, gagged, and left to huddle in a closet. One sort of wonders why the job of judge appeals to him in the first place."

This is the essential question. Does this country want a guy like this on the Supreme Court.

I'm not disturbed about the politicization of court nominees. After all, at the state level they are often selected by general election. Can you be more political than that?

The Last ISP in NOLA

Powered by a backup generator, located on upper floors of downtown office building, connected by fiber optics to the rest of the world. The Interdictor stays online in the middle of one of our nation's worst natural disaster.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

When Government Is 'Good'

E. J. Dionne expands that last thought into a wakeup call.

What to do next

From a comment at DailyKos,
Please, in the days, weeks and months to come, let's not let these people have died in vain. May their memories, loved ones and us remove the inept and heartless from office. Disgraces, one and all.
Perhaps the best thing we can do is honor the lives of those who have been sacrificed to denial. And honoring those lives means making some bedrock changes. It's time to take our environment and the power of Nature more seriously. And it's time to remove from leadership those who don't.

A Beginner's Campaign (post 8)

I had the endorsement interview with the editorial board of the local news paper the other day. It was my first time, of course, dealing directly with media. The senior members of the board seemed offended by the very idea that someone would run for office with the expressed desire to not be elected. "Why waste people's time?", they asked. But whose time am I wasting? Certainly not the voter's. They were complaining because I was wasting their time. I'm not wasting any more of their time than they themselves want to put into it. Would they rather I mount a lame campaign and pretend that I hope to win? At least they have the option to dismiss me if they choose, an option they wouldn't have if I was pretending.

The other members could see the humor in the situation. There was a reporter present as well who smiled a good deal. There will be an interview with him later one-on-one. It will be interesting to see what angle he takes on my story.

I almost got snookered in one area. They wanted to take a photo but they didn't have a photographer available. I was thinking that as print media I didn't have to worry too much about what I wore so I didn't wear the tuxedo I had intended to be an icon of my campaign. Note to self: every public appearance should be done in proper regalia. If you want to have visual branding you need to be aware of it at all times. I'll be wearing the tux to the interview.

Know Them by Their Fruits

You can really see what matters to the right-wing conservatives of this country. In the social deterioration that is New Orleans they actually think it makes sense to retask police who are trying to save lives to stopping looters. People, it's just stuff! People will die because some officer took time to stop a looter. It's surprising how some people fail to see that. But then maybe it isn't.