January 31, 2008

On the Current Direction of the GOP

In the comments to this post, webcomic master  RH Junior once again makes an impassioned and thoughtful case against voting for McCain, even if he is the nominee. Please check out his comment as I think it does bear reading.  I responded, but the comment went rather long so I went ahead and made a post of it.

Regards my pointing out that Bush failed to veto McCain-Feingold and has not been held accountable for this RH makes this argument....

No, there hasn't been an outcry to impeach Bush for signing McCain-Feingold. On the other hand, he didn't draft the thing, did he. He's not a legislator, or a Supreme Court justice. As Executive he only has the power to enforce the law, and his only interaction with the process of legislation is to offer suggestions, and delay or retard legislation being passed by way of a veto--- and that, not indefinitely. Refusing to sign would have only delayed the political freight train for a round or two and given the Democrats screaming about his presidential "illegitimacy" more ammo. That said, what did he have to lose by hoping the Supreme Court would do its proper job for once?


I disagree with this. The presidents job is to defend the constitution.. His primary weapons in this endeavor are the US military and the veto pen.

I do agree with many of your points aside from the characterization of McCain's actions as wicked. McCain, like Bush is what historically would have been considered a Truman Democrat. These are not evil creatures, merely wrong in the long term, for the unintended consequences of the actions of a  powerful central government ( in domestic matters) and socialistic spending tend to always lead to hell.

 In the short term they can be and often are extremely good to have, particularly on foreign policy matters....which is a great concern at this time.

Attempting to curtail corruption in politics is not an ignoble goal. Like the drug war though, its ramifications are often worse than the initial problem....especially if the people offering solutions are insulated from reality the day to day consequences by the 495 beltway (or the ivory tower of academia).

I have little doubt that McCain, as wrong as I feel he is on certain issues, is striving to be on the side of the angels. I have rather less doubt that Hillary will be far worse for the Republic.

I'm sorely tempted to write in Thompson too, but the result of enough people doing that would be President Hillary.

Some suggest that sitting that sitting this one out and inflicting Hillary upon the nation will finally wake up the Republican Party and get us back in touch with our core principals. The evidence for this is scant indeed given that the unexciting current crop of candidates is what was fielded AFTER they were "taught a lesson" in 2006. It is also akin to the wishes occasionally expressed on the DU site a few years back that a city would just please blow up in a mushroom cloud to teach the nation a lesson about having Republicans in control. Hillary is going to be far worse in all areas at a time we will be facing very real challenges, both fiscal, military and ethical.

RH junior is absolutely correct in pointing out that having a heroic war record does not in and of itself confer great leadership abilities upon one ( see Randy Cunningham). However, the particular actions (and inactions) that led to McCain's awards speak to a singular strength of character. Being an officer or even an NCO does involve  intangible leadership qualities that are not often appreciated. However, this skill set is of little consequence if not backed up by character and the equally intangible quality known as honor. McCain was tested rather more harshly than most and kept faith with his men, and his nation. THIS and not abstract medal's or wounds are what give me some confidence that McCain is worthy of the job and will execute his duties with diligence, competence and good faith.

I will likely tear  my remaining few strands of hair out over some of his decisions, though I've gone a long way towards that with our current president....who I nevertheless voted for twice....and I am still confident that he was the correct choice in both instances.

The much larger problem facing conservatives, namely the lack of appreciation (or often even comprehension) of basic federalist, individualist and limited government principles is not going to be solved by any one candidate.

Trying to fix this problem is a daunting task, as our views, however well borne out by history, are vehemently opposed by the vast majority of teachers, civil servants and the chattering classes. It is going to require mobilization of conservatives to arenas rather beyond the scope of the keyboard in order to make our case. Conservatives who care need to donate to and rally for those who we can enthusiastically support. It has been done before as the Goldwater/Reagan revolution demonstrated, but it will require work

Going home and pouting will only ensure our irrelevance. That was, you recall, the action of some of those closest to our views, the (big "L" Libertarians), who's full scale abandonment of the Republican party helped tip the GOP's internal argument regards the role and function of government towards the New Dealers who joined as many of the Libertarians bailed.

Like many of my fellows I'm tired of holding my nose and voting but we have before us (as President Bush did in 2001-2) a series of choices that are varying degrees of bad....however, voting for Fred Thompson, Ronald Reagan or Aragorn is only going to remove votes from the less bad of the alternatives.

UPDATE: Tangentially related thoughts here.

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January 28, 2008

Linky Luv

I added 3 new science and science policy blogs to the blogroll...

Depleted Cranium

Nuclear Green

Next Big Future (formerly Advanced Nanotechnology)

Go check them out!

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January 27, 2008

Brickmuppet Blob

My father goes in for hip replacement surgery in a few weeks, my mother is weak from her medication she's on for the next few months following her successful cancer surgery, my grandmother is in the final phases of recovery  from last years shoulder surgery...so I'm going to be staying at my parents house for at least the next few months to help out. Given both that their house is far more centrally located for my needs and that I'll likely be moving out of country next year I've occassionally considered selling the trailer...though that, as mentioned before, entailes the utter ignonimy of being 38 and living at home...OTOH  paying lot rent and minimum utilities in the trailer is a waste...but frankly I have enough ignonimy in my life....

..to wit...

I've been running around taking care of things during the first two weeks of school...running..studying but not excersizing. Before that I was on active duty with the USCG. However, except for the weekend, the boarding schedule was such that there was virtually no PT....At work I was put into a physically non-demanding slot I happened to have the training for to cover an injured emploee.

Lots of work, lots of exaustion....but very few calories burned. I just discovered this has produced a net result of about 10 pounds gained.

HOLY FRICKKING CRAP!!

Well, that is not going to stand...for one thing my weigh in with the USCG is at the end of April. I'm NOT going to risk getting put out for failing to meet standards.  Health and financial issues aside, there is a deep personal issue for me here. One of the most vile people I have ever known *got put out of the military for that very reason. I will not follow on his footsteps. I have some dignity.

'sides....summers coming up and I'm gonna be buff when I head back to Japan...

 

 

*No, not John McCain, you need to scrooll a few paragraphs further...though that post does remind me of another issue with the my tentative...um... er...endorsement...urp....

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Look up in the sky it's...AIEEE!!

  Ai Tanabe or anyone in Debris Section...where ARE you?

  Oh joy....

..... The satellite, which no longer can be controlled, could contain hazardous materials, and it is unknown where on the planet it might come down, they said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is classified as secret. "Appropriate government agencies are monitoring the situation,"

                                         
Great....we can't control it...its chock full of secrets and might contain hazmats...like the Pueblo and Luv Canal...but from space. depending on how it comes down, the Luddites could have a field day with this....yeesh.

"Oh CHINA!? Have you any of those nasty ASATs lying about that we could ...ummm....borrow...for just a few minutes?"

What next?

Oh...Mutant Super Cockroaches from Space...thanks for that clarification...
                                 
Actually, aside from these B-Movie aberations, there is still a lot of non- scary space news right now....

   Inspired by the recent pictures from the Messenger probe The Planetary Society does some back of the envelope calculations regards the need for sunglasses on Mercury and comes up with some surprising answers. As I am a geek, this inspired me to look up this silly article...which is nevertheless interesting in that it points out that humans might indeed oneday walk even in that inhospitable place. (the odds are better than for Venus anyway).

Out of the Cradle reviews a new book The Moon: Resources, Future Development, and Settlement and finds it quite worthy.

There should be no partisanship in a space post but as this is primary season and everything is hysterically political Rand Simberg dreams of what he wants to hear from a presidential candidate. Last Friday, Gulliani came closer to Rand's ideal than most (though he was even closer to Dr. Strangeglove...which, I suppose, is fitting). Over at The Nutroot Cafe' Ferris Valen  continues with his excellent space related dairy, despite the dispiriting Space Policy outlined by ObamaAlso, at the same Webnode, his fellow Kossak Bill White promises to explain what a "progressive" would do regards space...but instead makes some very good observations and suggestions...(I'm bad...I know...I'm sorry...)
Partisan snarking aside, both are good posts and Ferris's diary is generally a must read go there and scroll.

Of course the BIG news lately has been the unveiling of White Night 2 and Spaceship 2 designs.


More here, where one is directed to this Flight Global piece which points out that the system is fully capable of launching a one man capsule into orbit (and presumably satellites as well). While there is no indication that this is being pursued by Virgin galactic, Jon Goff recently had related (and detailed) thoughts along those lines here.

UPDATE:  There is much more space linkage at the 37th and 38th installments of the Carnival of Space.

UPDATE2: Via Instapundit, comes this list of just about all the curent "Alt-Space" companies.

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January 25, 2008

McCain is not the Sum of all Evil

 In the previous post I expressed dismay at the current Republican field. I linked to Rusty Shackleford's thoughtful endorsement of Romney. I also mentioned that, nevertheless, it is McCain whom I'm (very tentatively) leaning towards.

In the comments to that post, the fantastically talented RH Junior makes his case against McCain.

 I would think McCain's track record as a living threat to the Constitution would count more.

"You signed a bill that makes it a crime to pay for a political ad around election time."

"But I fought in the WAR! Look, here's my scar...!"

Sorry, I want to elect a President, not a war wound.

Fair enough, though, I disagree. However, it is instructive to examine the (not unfounded) aversion to McCain that many thoughtful righties have.

McCain was a solid republican Senator for several years until he was involved in the Keating Savings and Loan scandal in the late '80s. The Keating 5 were rebuked more for an appearance of impropriety rather than any actual impropriety and it has been suggested that McCain's being on the list was primarily to allow the Democrats to present the scandal as "a bipartisan problem".

McCain's behavior in the Hanoi Hilton indicates he places a high importance on personal honor... and this besmirched his honor. He was forthright...perhaps self deprecating...in his admission of poor judgment (in doing what was pretty standard senatorial behavior at the time)  and worked to regain his image.

He worked rather too hard.

McCain became the darling of the press by doing the one thing sure to endear a Republican to the press....namely bashing his fellow Republicans.

This did NOT endear him to many conservatives, but McCain reaped considerable benefits in favorable press coverage.  McCain, very concious of his good name, particularly after how much he had suffered for it, seemed to become obsessed with the Keating blot on his record and determined to sweep it away.

In addition to the "straight talk"...(which sounded  a LOT like backstabbing to certain other Republicans) he engaged in a quest for campaign finance reform.

Now the history of campaign finance reform is remarkably similar to the evolution of drug resistant diseases....every attempt  has caused the financing to mutate and rejigger itself through some loophole so that in a few election cycles the graft is at pre-reform levels...but rather harder to trace.

The result of this test is that to many conservatives....myself included...the best finance reform is strictly enforced transparency. (This is especially true now given the potential of the Internet...money is a big factor but not AS big as it once was and that trend is likely to accelerate...if not stymied by "reform")

McCain went with a rather more spectacular idea.

The reform legislation was the McCain-Feingold law which combined perceived solutions to several pet peeves of the Republicans and Democrats into a Byzantine overarching mess that allows the US government to get involved in local first amendment issues....see here, here and here . The upshot is that speech leading up to an election is restricted quite odiously. This is not at all in keeping with the principles of a Republic.

Note that it DOES get worse (but only if you are not a Democrat). You see, the "Press" is exempt so there can be coverage, but only by the "Press"....who is the "Press"? Well, it is whoever the Federal Election commission decides it is. The MSM are, of course, grandfathered (natch). Given their general hostility to Republicans this is not a good thing for those of us on the right.

This, however, is merely a tactical concern, the real problem with this odious legislation is the insane idea that the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT can determine if a car dealership can run ads or decide if a grass roots organization can run an ad during a certain part of the year.

This is what RH Junior means when he mentions a living threat to the constitution. It strikes at the heart of our republic and sets a precedent that is extremely unhealthy.

This is bad news.

That being said...

Bush (who many people unfriendly towards McCain like rather more) is the one who signed this legislative abortion into law...using the blinkered notion that he'd just rely on the Supreme Court to strike it down.

Option A: He is telling the truth and signed a law he felt was UNCONSTITUTIONAL into law...assuming the SCOTUS would do his job for him.

Option B: He really saw nothing wrong with it. (ew!)

Neither is good, but I don't hear calls for impeaching the POTUS from McCain's detractors on the right.  My own issues with the POTUS from before it was fashionable in my circles are here.

Of the remaining 3 viable candidates, McCain seems not terribly worse than the others on most issues, better on gun control, better on foreign policy by way of experience and he is absolutely committed to striving to win this long war. He is, of course worse on the particular issue of campaign finance and that should not be dismissed. However, if McCain Feingold is to be fixed, such fixing will come from the Congress, not the White House.

McCain is also a genuine war hero and it is on this that I take some umbrage to the last bit of the above quote.

McCain is not an obsequiously loyal Republican...but he held faith where it mattered. Wounded, tortured and offered early release, he did not betray those with whom he served. This shows a depth of character and a force of will that is important in a commander in chief.

I do not agree with a lot of McCain's positions...but I have no doubt whatsoever that his heart is in the right place, that he will strive to win the war, and that he is acting in good faith for the nation. In this he stands in stark contrast to his most likely opponent, Hillary. On most other issues, especially foreign policy, he is still better than his likable but long shot opponent (Obama) who is both inexperienced and, I firmly believe, wrong on the most vital  issues.

That is the rub...

...and it is why I feel that Shackleford's quote here is ill conceived....

 

McCain can beat Hillary. But McCain is, well, McCain.

Yes, but Hillary is Hillary and that is that.

Hillary's old guard top-down leftist policies are not going to be good for the economy, our personal freedoms or the war effort. Her disdain for our service members is well documented and her views on any number of issues are either alarmingly statist or have changed with the polls like a windsock in a tornado. A recovering economy needs stability and despite views many of us disagree on, no one can accuse him of being inconsistent. He is no leftie, as this voting assessment shows. (though it is rather weighted towards the social end)

Honor does count for something as does the character implied by taking the oath to serve ones country and die a bit if called upon.

I certainly don't believe this is the Alpha and Omega of political decisions (as my declaring for Fred should make clear), but it does count for a positive, especially given McCain's performance under extreme duress. It differentiates him in a positive way from the rest of a barren field that is entirely uninspiring to a conservative such as myself.

I can get behind Romney or, with trepidation, Gulianie...but for now, McCain is the one I consider the best and most electable of the lot.

UPDATE: While McCain may not be the sum of all evil, I am the Acme of poor typists....syntax and spelling typos corrected.

UPDATE2: Oh ..yeah...I'd forgotten about that.... urp....

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January 22, 2008

Bad Day

Megan McCardle points out that...

Well, the Dow is of by hundreds of points, the Fed is announcing surprise inter-meeting rate cuts, Bank of America reported a 95% fall in its profits, and the outfits in the new spring catalogs have the shape and coloring of badly-decorated Easter eggs. All in all, not a good morning

It got worse....Fred Thompson dropped out of the race, meaning we now have to choose between one of the RINOs running and whatever greater evil the Dems put forth.... Feh...

Due to a wreck in the tunnel, I missed a class...

On a lighter note...Stephen Den Beste topped it all off by linking to this unspeakable atrocity (ouch).



UPDATE: Rusty Shackleford...the omega Fred-Head of the MuNuvians is backing Romney and makes his case here...I'm furtively leaning towards McCain. Frankly, his war record counts for a lot.

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January 21, 2008

Jinzo Toriumi 1929-2008

The great ones pass....

Some of you may have inferred that among my less productive interests is Japanese Animation. Jinzo Toriumi is a person who helped make that hobby possible.

In the late 60's and early 70's Tatsunoko studios produced and released a string of animated TV productions that made anime a cultural force.

Inspired in part by the American comic books that the founders obtained from US Servicemen, shows like Mach GoGoGo(Speed Racer) and Gatchaman were far ahead of their contemporaries in art, animation quality and writing. The creative team that Mr. Toriumi was a part of caused a surge of interest in the then small Anime industry and other companies put more money in their animation departments. Toriumi was one of that original team He joined the company in 1965 and was a writer on some of the most important series of the early years of Anime.

The members of the Tatsunoko team were NOT the originators of Anime in Japan, but via their extremely popular shows, they had become a major catalyst for the industry. For a few years they were the gold standard and other companies strove mightily to catch up, by the early to mid 80s this had reached critical mass and the Anime explosion of that era was a result.

Like many of the original creative crew he left in the early 80s, in his case to work for Sunrise.

Although Tatsunoko is pretty much just a subsidiary of a toy company now, the members of Tatsunoko's initial creative team eventually  founded Studio Pierrot, Production IG and XEBEC, which are, even today, major creative and production forces in the world of anime.

Jinzo Toriumi helped to make a vast ammount of what we enjoy today possible. Few have made such a difference, fewer still have made one for the better.

 

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January 18, 2008

School/Military/Work

I apologize for the light posting of late.

With the first week of school flowing into the monthly drill (after 2 weeks of active duty) I've been remiss in my blogging duties.
Perhaps I should learn more multitasking skills.

Or not....

Certainly I should refrain from clicking on anything that utterly wastes a thread in the complex tapestry of my life...things like this. (damn you Will)...or this.

Annyyyway...a rumor (as well as some measure of foreshadowing from the '80s) hints that the next regeneration of everyones favorite time lord will be his last. Here, in a Brickmuppet blog exclusive, is a picture of the last Doctor

And with that bit of villainy it should be obvious that I'm tired and really have nothing meaningful to say right now. I'm going to bed. See you in a few days. Everyone enjoy the holiday!

In the meantime, courtesy of Ryu, here is a what some of you really want, a picture of a Dame 

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The Definition of Science Fiction

..according to John C Wright.

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No Luv for the Huckster...

I gave my reasons here on December 6th.
Now it appears I may have been too kind.

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January 17, 2008

Get Well Quick Steven

Steven Den Beste of  Chizumatic is rather under the weather. He's got some wretched thing called "uveitis", which seems to be an afliction of the eye that's damned scary and utterly sucks.

Go wish him the best.

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January 16, 2008

A Series of Tests of This Series of Tubes ピクシはとてみいいですね!

Just some tests of the new system here at school and Pixies recent tweaking.

 

大学のコンプタアはあたらしですね。そして私はODUのコンプタアでmee.nuをブログをします。

  ゴジラは日本にいます。でもバトボイイはアメリカにいます。                                                        

スカイさんはいかをたべますとバトボイをみます。

 Well then...everything seems to work except the kana in the title..

more...

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January 14, 2008

More Ethanol...But Now With Less Boondoggle!?!


One of the Brickmuppet's crack team of science babes points us to two stories regards breakthroughs in biofuel practicality.

First via Instapundit, General Motors has entered into a partnership with Coskata on a celulosic ethanol process ( more here ,here and here). Given the involvement of a major auto company, and the the particulars of the process, this seems like big news. The process in question uses "patented microorganisms" and reportedly produces ethanol at approximately a buck a gallon. Not only does this process NOT displace food crops, the company claims it can actually "eat" a fair amount of municipal waste in the process. This is a swell win-win if true.

Note that the one dollar a gallon is misleading, not just because of profit and overhead but also because ethanol has less energy density than gasoline so one would need to burn more to go the same distance** (assuming the valves in ones car are even ethanol rated).  However, the process it is still very promising as the price at the pump would still, theoretically, be comparable to current gas prices. 


In related news, scientists  have been looking at the highly promising cash crop switchgrass as a cellulosic ethanol feedstock. Interestingly, it is not an exotic crop, but one of the primary native plants of the North American tall-grass prairie! IT GROWS IN THE MIDWEST NATURALLY! Thus its environmental impact is likely to be rather limited.

According to this article (via The Energy Blog), the scientists are claiming a 540% energy return from switchgrass. Woah!

No that is not a typo. That is over 5 times as much energy (in ethanol) being produced than was used to grow, harvest and process the crop. The study seems to assume using switchgrass derived fuel to power the process so if one were to apply external electricity...oh say...nookuler..then yields would be rather higher. This is still problematic compared to the energy needed to get Saudi Oil, but that gap is closing.

Switchgrass is particularly interesting because it grows quite well on marginal land (it is a weed after all) thus it need not displace food crops. Being a native prairie plant it could actually be good for the environment in central North America, though this would depend on details of how it is harvested. It certainly should not have much of a negative impact.

I still think algael oil is the best biofuel bet for many things, but both of these ethanol breakthroughs are very promising. If we were using more of the ultimate flex fuel vehicles...we would not need to choose and could buy whatever was cheapest seasonally!

 **In this regard ethanol is actually far better than methanol.

"Science babe" is Myuki from Lucky Star and thus is an imaginary cartoon character...fan mail and marriage proposals will, therefore, not be forwarded.


 

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more...

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Teh Gideunz R in Ur Internets....

....tranzlaitin ur Biblz.

ZOMG1!!1
(Zliterally)

via

UPDATE: Cieling Cat loves the visually impaired too. There is an audio version.

UPDATE 2: ahem...
         

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