Friday, July 31, 2009

Living Pictures

I was looking around for interesting news stories tonight when I wandered over to Neal Boortz's website. He usually has links to some interesting news stories. Today, he did not have much in the line of news, but he did have a link to these awesome photographs by Arthur S. Mole and John D. Thomas.

The photographs were taken in 1919. The pair went to various US military bases and had the soldiers form various patriotic icons. Each photograph contains thousands of soldiers. These are simply spectacular.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

John Conyers On Health Bill

You have to love Democrats. First we have Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying he has not read any of Sonja Sotomayor's legal opinions and hoped he would not have to before voting for her as a Supreme Court Justice. Then my Congressman, Steny Hoyer, laughs at the notion that members of the House would actually want to read a bill before voting on it. Now we have Congressman John Conyers of Michigan speaking at the National Press Club about the concept of reading a bill before voting for it.

To quote the Congressman, "I love these members who get up and say 'Read the bill.' What good is reading the bill if it's a thousand pages long and you don't have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?"

With all due respect, Congressman, isn't that the point you DUMBASS??!! Isn't this what the people of Michigan elected you to do? You are supposed to understand what it is you are voting for. Otherwise, how in good conscience can you vote for it? What a fucking moron!

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Michael Vick

Michael Vick (en), of the Atlanta Falcons (en)...Image via Wikipedia

I am not a Michael Vick fan. I am a dog fan, but Vick's conviction and two years in prison for operating a dog fighting ring is not the reason I am not a Vick fan. Arguably, when Vick was playing in the NFL, he was the most exciting player on the field. However, I just don't think he is a very good quarterback.

If you take a look at his career statistics, especially at the complicated quarterback rating, his career rating is 75.7. That is also the rating he had in his last season in 2006. That would have placed him 28th in the NFL last season. His career best single season rating in 2002 was 81.6 which would still have made him only the 21st ranked quarterback last season. So if you put any stock in the quarterback rating, Vick would be a below average quarterback.

The part of Vick's game that made him the most exciting player in the league was his running ability. Vick was faster than a lot of running backs in the league. He was always a threat to break off a long gain running with the ball. In fact, in 2006, he became the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for over 1000 yards in a single season. He has a cannon for an arm, but he was never very accurate. His best season of completion percentage would have made him the 29th most accurate quarterback last season.

Yesterday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell conditionally reinstated Vick to the NFL. If any team were to sign Vick, he would immediately be allowed to practice with the team. In the preseason, he would only be allowed to participate in the last two preseason games. As far as full reinstatement and regular season game play, Goodell said he would consider full reinstatement by week 6 of the regular season.

Any team that decides to take the plunge and sign Vick will immediately draw the protests of PETA and other animal rights groups. Vick will face taunting in every stadium in which he plays. I can hear the fans barking every time he steps on the field. One has to wonder if Vick would have the temperment to face that consistent barrage of taunting. In one home game, the fans booed Vick's performance and he countered by giving them a double flip off.

In my opinion, Vick probably deserves another chance to play. Personally, I would not want him on my favorite team. It has been two full season since he last played a down in the NFL. No doubt, he will have a lot of rust to shake off. Since he was never very accurate to begin with, I would expect him to be more so when he plays again. I would not expect him to have much of an impact this season, but maybe next year.
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Monday, July 27, 2009

An Email From My Congressman

Prior to the House of Representatives voting on the Waxman-Markey climate bill, I emailed my Congressman, Steny Hoyer, to express my views of the bill and to encourage him to vote against it. As I expected, my effort was in vain since Congressman Hoyer is the House majority leader. I knew there would be no chance in hell of him going against the party line.

I had emailed the Congressman a few days before the vote on the bill which took place on June 26th. It took his office (I am sure Congressman Hoyer did not write the email that I have included in this post) a month to reply. Needless to say, the response is nothing more than Democrat talking points on the benefits of the legislation. Since the bill still has to get through the Senate, I will be sending emails to Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin. I do not expect any different result as both are Democrats.

The email from Hoyer's office states that I should not reply to the email as it is from an outgoing only email address that can not accept replies. If I could reply, I would point out to Congressman Hoyer that inspite of Al Gore's insistence, the science is not settled on global warming. There are multiple studies to suggest otherwise. On top of that, Europe has had cap and trade since the passage of the Kyoto Protocol and have actually seen their CO2 emissions increase. Though I doubt that those arguments would do anything to bring Hoyer over from the dark side.

July 27, 2009

Dear Mr. ,

Thank you for contacting me to express your opinion regarding provisions aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions in H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. I appreciate your taking the time to share your views on this important matter.

H.R. 2454 is a comprehensive energy bill. It contains provisions to promote renewable sources of energy, carbon capture and sequestration technologies, clean electric vehicles, as well as smart grid and electricity transmission. Additionally, it would increase energy efficiency across all sectors of the economy, protect U.S. consumers and industry utilities, promote green jobs, and implement an emissions cap to address greenhouse gas pollution. H.R. 2454 was introduced by Representative Henry Waxman on May 15, 2009, and passed the full House of Representatives with my support on June 26, 2009 by a vote of 219 to 212. It now awaits action by the Senate.

H.R. 2454 would establish a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The program would limit greenhouse gas emissions nationwide beginning in 2012 to 97% of 2005 levels (3% reduction), and emissions would decline to 83% of 2005 levels (17% reduction) by 2020 and 17% of 2005 levels (83% reduction) by 2050. H.R. 2454 would give utilities and businesses that emit carbon dioxide three ways to comply: 1) hold an allowance, or right to emit, for each ton of carbon dioxide; 2) buy one of the 2 billion tons per year allowed under the program of carbon sequestered by U.S. forests or agricultural practices, or international forestry (known as an offset) in lieu of reducing their emissions; or 3) reduce their emissions. The trading system would allow utilities or businesses that innovate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to sell their excess right to emit to other businesses that need them to comply.

At the beginning, H.R. 2454 would distribute the majority of allowances to utilities and businesses at no cost to support various policy objectives, including lowering energy costs for consumers, and assisting trade-vulnerable and other industries to make the transition to a clean energy economy. In addition, an increasing percentage (approximately 18% in 2016, and 70% by 2035) of the allowances would be sold through auction. The auction revenues would be used to invest in clean energy and energy efficient technologies. This bill also creates a Clean Energy Bank to fund promising energy projects across America; and it invests in high-tech transmission lines to build the essential foundation for a more efficient grid. New transmission lines, comprised of superconducting cable and other efficient wires, will carry more power within existing rights-of-way, with less land use. The result will be a more secure, environmentally-friendly grid.

Global warming threatens every one of us; it will affect the kind of lives our children will lead and the kind of prosperity our country and our world will enjoy. In my view, the establishment of a cap-and-trade system would mark our nation's first serious effort to account for the cost of carbon emissions - and it would be our most important response to global warming to date. We can fight global warming with the same kind of market-based, cap-and-trade solution that was so effective at combating acid rain at minimal cost in the 1990s.

While I understand the concern that cap-and-trade will not be without cost, the reality is that we are already paying the cost of carbon emissions. The longer we wait to act, the more we will pay every year. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), if we take action now, we will see job creation, growth, clean energy and energy independence for less than 50 cents per day by 2020 for the average household.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with me. To stay informed, please visit my website at While there, you can sign up for the Hoyer Herald, access my voting record, and get information about important public issues. If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

With kindest regards, I am

Sincerely yours,

Steny H. Hoyer

About Steny Hoyer | Newsroom | Issues & Legislation | 5th District | Contact Us

NOTE: Please do not respond to this message, as it comes from an outgoing-only email address that cannot accept replies. If you would like to contact me via email, please do so through my website's contact page.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Music Monday-Ray Stevens "The Streak"

In the 1970's, Streaking was all the rage. Mind you, it was not an activity that I ever participated in. Ray Stevens was well known in country music for his novelty songs. With the popularity of streaking, he had a #1 hit with "The Streak." So here is a little levity for Music Monday.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Another Blow to Consensus

El Niño effects upon North American weather an...Image via Wikipedia

The Journal of Geophysical Research, after a six month peer review process, has published a new paper that argues that nearly all changes in global temperatures since 1958 can be attributed to natural causes. It is another study that calls into question Al Gore's so called consensus that the science of climate change is settled.

Chris de Frietas, a climate scientist from Aukland University in New Zealand, along with Australian scientists John McLean and Bob Carter are the publishes of the study. Their conclusions are that at least 80% of climate change can be attributed to internal climate systems, specifically El Nino and La Nina. The trio found that their was a direct corelation between those systems and temperature change. Changes in the El Nino and La Nina patterns were followed consistently by changes in temperatures. They also conclude that increases in volcanic activity will have a measured cooling effect on temperatures.

Their conclusions are that there is very little impact by humans on climate change. They do not dispute that there are increase in CO2, but question whether it has an impact or poses any danger. Studies like this should give rise to serious debate, but as de Frietas states the debate has been degraded by politics, ignorance, alarmism, and the claims that the science is settled. He adds that the idea of consensus is unscientific. One thing that probably isn't open for debate is that these three gentleman most likely won't be invited to dine any time soon with the ultimate political alarmist Al Gore.
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Friday, July 24, 2009

A Question For Parents

Throughout our lifetimes, we take on a variety of roles. There is no role that I take more seriously or is more important to me as my role as a father. Since my son has special needs, it may cause me to look at things differently than most parents. I hope not. I saw something while driving home the other night that kind of bothered me. Maybe the other parents out there can let me know if I am off base.

As I said, I was driving home from work the other night. Up ahead, I saw a car pulled off on the side of the road. A young boy, probably about 8-10 years old, was walking away from the car towards the woods. At first, I thought he just had to take a leak. Soon, I saw him start to vomit. Poor guy. I felt sorry for him. Especially since he was out there all by himself.

As I got closer and passed the car, I could see the mother casually waiting in the car and pouring the remains of a can of soda out the window. My initial reaction was one of dismay. For the life of me, I could not understand why she was not out there with her kid to lend support or comfort. Am I wrong to feel that way?

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pee Power

Calvin Pees on bin LadenImage by dannyman via Flickr

We all know that we should get off of our addiction to foreign oil. The question is what will be the form of energy to get us there, particularly when it comes to our transportation needs. There are a lot of alternative energy vehicles in development, but the infrastructure and cost structure just isn't there yet.

Ethanol made from plant sources has been touted as an alternative to gasoline. Most of the ethanol in the US is derived from corn. It is currently being blended with gasoline and the push is on to increase the amount of ethanol in the blend. However, ethanol is not as efficient a fuel as pure gasoline, and increased ethanol content could damage vehicles. Plus, taking so much food out of the food chain will lead to higher food prices.

T. Boone Pickens is a big proponent of "peak oil." He believes that the world as a whole will be entering a period of declining oil production. He is heavily invested in energy companies, traditional and alternative, and is a big proponent of natural gas to power vehicles. The technology is there, but widespread infrastructure is not. According to Pickens, natural gas vehicles are 25% cleaner than traditional gasoline and will be a good bridge until electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are viable.

Electric cars seem to be where the biggest push is currently. The problem with electric cars is that they just don't have the range yet. Plus you have to use traditional electrical power to charge them. Since most electricity is still derived from fossil fuels, you have the trade off of lower car emissions but increased emissions from electrical plants.

Hydrogen fuel cells were getting a lot of attention just a few years ago. Hydrogen powered vehicles would emit water vapor as it's only emission. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has cut off funding for the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology. One of the drawbacks to hydrogen is that it is usually attached to other molecules and is fairly expensive to isolate.

Now word has come out of the University of Ohio that a catalyst has been developed that will break hydrogen molecules out of urine rather easily and cheaply. Professor Geraldine Botte say that in theory, a pee powered car could get 90 mpg. Some speculate that this breakthrough could bring the potential of the hydrogen fuel cell back into the realm of possibility.

One thing for sure, urine is definitely a renewable resource. Since the average human produces about 1.5 liters of urine a day, that would be a little less than half a gallon. Since I have a 60 mile round trip commute each way, I would not be able to produce enough urine each day to make the round trip. We would obviously need to have refueling stations. Though, I imagine that if I was running a little short of fuel that I could add enough to the tank to get me where I needed. Which also begs the question, would guys have an unfair advantage over women in topping off the tank?

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Need a New Laptop?

Like me, my laptop is getting old. It is a little over five years old, so in computer years it is probably a dinosaur. It takes longer to boot up and it frequently gets bogged down and freezes on me. I am in serious need of an upgrade. However, even though the prices of laptops have come down a lot since I got this machine, I do not have the spare funds to purchase a new one. So, unless somebody gives me one as a gift or I can somehow win one, I will have to do without.

Fortunately, I may not have to, and you may not have to either. recently ran a promotion where they gave away a free HDTV everyday. They are following that promotion up with a Laptop-a-Day Sweepstakes. The sweepstakes has already begun, but will run through September 15th so there is still plenty of time to enter. Winners will receive a brand new HP 550 Notebook and a NeoTec Compu Backpack. Plus you can also earn gift cards ranging from $25-$100 from major retailers. Just in time for back to school. has some run some great contests from this one, to the HDTV giveaway. Last year one lucky person won a new Honda Civic Hybrid. Like a lot of smart companies, Charter is very active on the various social media sites. You can keep on the latest at Charter by becoming a fan of Charter on Facebook or following Charter on Twitter


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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

HOA From Hell #6

The cigarette is the most common method of smo...Image via Wikipedia

It has been a little over four months since I have had the opportunity to rant about a homeowners association. To me, they serve little valuable purpose and some of their covenant restrictions are a bit too onerous for me. About the only thing mine is good for is keeping the "common areas" mowed and arranging for snow removal on the few instances we get measurable snow. Oh, and I almost forgot, collecting the HOA dues.

So the latest HOA that has earned my not so famous "HOA From Hell Award" is the Fairfax Parkside Homeowners Association of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. These lovely folks have made it a violation of their covenant for you to smoke in your own home. Are you fucking kidding me??!! Residents are also not allowed to smoke outside in "shared" areas such as porches and garages, though they can smoke in yards and patios. Isn't this taking the anti-smoking crusade a little too far? What surprises me is that this was Wisconsin and not California that passed this rule.

Personally, I am not a smoker. OK, I used to like to have an occasional cigar, but I would never have one around my wife or son or in the house. Actually, Mrs. Dickster once had mercy on me on a cold winter day and said I could have a stogie in the basement. That experiment lasted less than 5 minutes when she could smell the smoke two stories above me. These days, I do not like cigarette smoke, nor do I like being around cigarette smoke. I once walked out of a restaurant because a group started smoking two tables away, and the restaurant did not have a no smoking area.

As a Libertarian, I believe in the philosophy of John Locke who said that "no one ought to harm another in their life, health, liberty or possessions." What they do to themselves is of no concern to me. In the privacy of one's home, I believe you should be allowed to do whatever you want so long as it is legal. Hell, there are a few illegal activities that I don't have a problem with people doing in their own home. I think it is a bit ridiculous that a homeowners association can tell somebody they can not partake of a legal activity in their own home.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

Music Monday-Rich Mullins

Rich MullinsImage via Wikipedia

When I was in my 20's, I was very involved in the Christian faith, in particular Baptist churches. I did all of the things that good baptists were supposed to do; Sunday school & service on Sunday morning, Sunday evening service, and Wednesday prayer service. With one group of friends, I attended a weekend event called "Creation" which I affectionately refer to as "Woodstock for Christians."

I first became aware of Rich Mullins as a songwriter, not as an artist. The first song that I ever heard that was written by Rich was "Sing Your Praise to the Lord" when it was released by Amy Grant. Next, Michael W. Smith released his version of "Awesome God." I was in California on business, and feeling sorry for myself and in need of some comfort, so I went to a Christian bookstore and bought my first two Rich Mullins albums, "Songs" a greatest hits compilation, and " The Jesus Record."

I so not want to cast aspersions on the motives or spirituality of other artists in the Contemporary Christian Music genre. However, Rich Mullins was a unique individual. In his field, Rich Mullins was very successful, both as an artist and a songwriter. He could have led a comfortable, if not wealthy lifestyle. Instead, all of his royalties went to his church, and he had them pay him a salary equal to the salary of the average worker, the rest to charity. At the time of his death, he was living on a Navajo reservation teaching music to children.

The reasons that I am no longer active in the church are many. Some of them due to my own frailty as a human being. Some due to some bad experiences that I had within the church. At the time I left the church, I often felt that Jesus himself might not be comfortable in today's church, especially not in the big mega churches. Don't get me wrong, there are a great many sincere and caring Christians within those churches and I greatly admire their faith. Sometimes I wonder if Rich Mullins felt the same way. In a concert that was recorded shortly before his death, Rich says the following:
Jesus said whatever you do to the least of these my brothers you’ve done it to me. And this is what I’ve come to think. That if I want to identify fully with Jesus Christ, who I claim to be my savior and Lord, the best way that I can do that is to identify with the poor. This I know will go against the teachings of all the popular evangelical preachers. But they’re just wrong. They’re not bad, they’re just wrong. Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in a beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken
My blogging buddy Mike Golch at Rambling Stuff features a lot of hammered dulcimer music on his blog. Rich Mullins incorporated the hammered dulcimer in a lot of his songs. The first song that I want to feature is "Calling Out Your Name." The hammered dulcimer is featured prominently in this song, especially in the intro, plus they lyrics are very poetic and beautiful.

The second song I want to add is "Hold Me Jesus." This is a song that I always seem to gravitate to when things in my life get hectic and crazy and I need to feel comfort. Rich Mullins described it as a prayer that he wrote when temptation nearly got the better of him.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted without prejudice.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Time Is Money

MoneyImage by TW Collins via Flickr

We have all heard that old saying before. In the business world, time is money. In my personal life, time is a precious commodity. During the week, like most Americans, I have a full time job. I am one of those "salaried" employees, so most days, I am in the office at least 9-10 hours a day. Add the hour or more commute each way, and that leaves very little free time during the week. I also have a part time job on the weekend. So I really hate when people waste my time.

For years, I was a big collector of sports memorabilia. Most of my collection has consisted of autographed photos and baseballs. There were a few other things in there as well, like some autographed NFL footballs & mini helmets and handful of game used baseball bats. I had hoped that when I had a son that he would share my love of collecting. Alas, while he loves watching sports, he does not comprehend the collecting aspect and he definitely would not understand how to care for the items.

So, I decided to start parting with my collection. I started a few months ago by putting an item or two on ebay or placing ads on Craigslist. For the most part, I have been a bit disappointed in the results thus far. The first item that I sold on ebay was a collection of 8 Brooks Robinson baseball cards, each one autographed. It sold for a whopping $0.99. I have done a little better on subsequent items, but still not at the level I expected certain items to go for.

A lot of the items that I collected were local in nature. Those items I decided to try to sell through Craigslist instead of ebay. Here is where the wasting of my time begins. The first group of items that I wanted to sell were specific to one local team. I listed each item I had accurately and included pictures. I wanted to sell it as a collection, but would have sold it in individual items if necessary. I had several email inquiries and finally had an individual who wanted to look at the items. We arranged to meet at their office at a set time. The guy kept me waiting nearly half an hour, then decided my asking price was too high and would not even make an offer. Disappointing, but I understand somebody not wanting to make the purchase. However, the next day I received an email from the guy with an offer that I accepted. I was a little irked to have to make another trip to handle the transaction when it could have been done the first time.

The next collection that I was attempting to sell was a collection of game used equipment. Again, I exchanged several emails with different individuals. I finally had one guy email me and offered to pick the bats up that night. I was unable to meet that evening, but we arranged a meeting one evening after work. I had to drive about a half hour out of my way, but got to the agreed location about 15 minutes early. I called the guy's cell phone and I left a message with my number. 15 minutes after our agreed upon time, I tried emailing him. No response. Finally, a little more than half an hour after our agreed upon time, I called again. Still no answer and with the drive home, two hours of my life I will never get back.

Now I understand if something could have come up at his office. I have had my share of those end of the day emergency meetings. I can even understand if he decided he didn't want the items after all. However, it is extremely rude to not show up for an agreed upon meeting without so much as a call or an email. It would have been nice, not to mention proper, for him to respond to either my call or email. I had received a couple emails from another dealer/collector interested in seeing the items, but thus far they have failed to respond to emails trying to set up a time to meet. What is it with these people that will initiate contact, but not show the common decency to respond one way or the other to your reply? I guess it is just a sign of the times we are living in.
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Nuclear Power

Aerial view of cooling towers and nuclear plant.Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday, I posted some of my feelings about the pending legislation for health care reform. It drew a rather spirited comment from the American Idiot, not on the health care debate, but rather on the climate change bill. (I will now refer to the American Idiot as Idiot, with an upper case I. This is not a derogatory salutation as idiot with a lower case i would be.)

Idiot makes the argument that the US should be the leader in developing green technologies. I could not agree more. American ingenuity and know-how should lead the way on these technologies much like they have led the way in other areas (like nuclear power but I am getting ahead of myself). Where we differ is in what to do until these new technologies are developed and on line. I prefer to take an "all of the above" approach. Let's drill for more domestic oil and natural gas, let's build new nuclear plants, and let's develop those green, renewable sources as well. Idiot on the other hand favors abandoning the old technologies in favor of the new. An admirable goal.

Idiot makes the case that in addition to developing these green technologies, we should be exporting those technologies to other countries as global demand for them increases. Excellent point and I concur.

One of the technologies that Idiot rejects that I fully support is building more nuclear power plants. Nuclear power is a green technology in that it gives off zero CO2 emissions. Idiot's argument is that it is an old technology, that can not be exported, and then there is the whole nuclear waste issue.

I came across an a Newsweek article by Andrew Bast that discusses some of the issues the US faces if they were to go back to nuclear power. While the US developed the first nuclear power reactors, we failed to keep our edge in that technology. Initially we exported the technology to other countries, now if we were to go back to building nuclear facilities, we would have to rely on the improvements in the technology developed in countries like France and Japan.

France now gets 80% of their electricity provided by nuclear power plants. They now export electricity and technology to other countries. I think Idiot would agree that if we hold the edge in a technology we should do everything to keep that edge to benefit from the exportation of that technology. On another note, how in the hell did we ever let France get better at us at anything other than producing fine wines, though the argument could be made that some of our better California vineyards produce as fine a wine as Bordeaux, but I digress.

In regards to nuclear waste, there is a lot that can be done on that front. First off, several countries engage in the recycling of nuclear waste to produce more energy. Japan in particular has made great advancements in recycling nuclear waste. Recycling, another thing that the greens of the world should be able to get behind.

There are always going to be detractors to any form of energy. Even wind turbines have their detractors, ie they could kill birds or they are an eyesore. The biggest argument against nuclear power is the "potential" for a nuclear accident. Yes that exists, but there have been very few major accidents. The potential exists that I could fall down in the shower and hurt myself, does that mean I should stop bathing? (OK that isn't on the same level as a nuclear accident, but just a cheap attempt at humor.)

Anyway, in conclusion, thank you Idiot for visiting my humble blog. I hope you will come back often. I also linked to your blog at the top of this posting.
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Friday, July 17, 2009


Barack ObamaImage by transplanted mountaineer via Flickr

Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership are trying to cram yet another big spending, get it done yesterday regardless of the consequences program down the throats of the American people. Once again, they are not being honest with the American people.

First we had the massive stimulus package that has stimulated nothing. We had to pass it now. We need this bill to save jobs and keep unemployment from rising above 8%. We passed it and unemployment has continued to rise to 9.5% and it is expected to get higher. I can give the administration a bit of the benefit of the doubt that they could have been wrong there. However, when Obama sits there with a straight face and tells the American people the stimulus package is working as planned, then me thinks he is not being completely honest.

Next we have the climate change bill. We have to act now. We have to get off our dependence on foreign oil, yet we won't drill for oil and we won't build nuclear power plants. Instead we must switched to technologies that are not efficient and are more expensive than existing technologies. Then we are going to implement a cap and trade bill that will not reduce CO2 emissions, and if it did, would have little to no impact on temperatures.

Now we must pass health care reform and we must do it now. How many times has Barack Obama told us that under his "government option" for health care that if you like your current doctor and insurance policy you can keep it? Do you believe him? I don't trust him or his cronies as far as I can throw them (and I have a better arm that Obama).

If you did not believe that Obama's plan was to implement total government health care, then maybe you should take a look at this article by Investors Business Daily. In April, the nonpartisan Lewin Group estimated that under the government option, then 120 million Americans could lose their current group policies forcing them into the government program. At that time, they estimated that only 50 million individual policies would exist for private insurance.

Well the first draft of the proposed bill has been released. In the new bill, there is a provision that will eventually drive all private insurance out of existence. Private insurance companies will not be allowed to issue any new policies once the bill is signed into law. If you have an existing policy, you can keep it. However, if you want to change the policy or find a new one, you can't. You must then go to the government plan. Same if you have a group policy with your employer. If you change jobs, you can't buy a new policy or be covered under a policy with your new employer.

I am not sure I want to go so far as to say that I think that Obama and his fellow Democratic leaders are liars. OK, maybe I do. At least I believe they are not being completely forthcoming in what they are really trying to accomplish. Thanks to the Mark Levin show for discussing this article on his show yesterday.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Go Veggie!

I am not usually a fan of PETA. To me they are just another left wing organization trying to impose their values on society. I had to chuckle a couple weeks ago when they got their panties all bunched in a wad when Barack Obama swatted and killed a fly. It was a germ carrying pest for crying out loud.

Don't get me wrong, there are a few things they believe in that I can support. For one, I can not tolerate anybody that would abuse an animal. There are some aspects of animal testing that I would disagree with, but there are a great many medical breakthroughs that have come about by testing on animals. Truth be told, if steak did not come shrink wrapped on a Styrofoam tray, and I had to kill and butcher it myself, I don't think I could (that is one reason I am not a hunter.)

Yesterday, PETA had their annual "Go Veggie" campaign on Capitol Hill with Playboy Playmates dressed in lettuce bikinis serving veggie hot dogs. Some of those veggie dogs aren't bad though, especially with a little mustard. I once read the book "Diet For A Small Planet" and for a while, the thought of eating meat made my stomach turn. I did try a vegetarian diet for several weeks, but could not stick with it.

To be honest, I should try to cut back on my meat consumption and eat more vegetarian meals. Hmmm. For some reason, I am really craving a salad right now.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Barack Obama's First Pitch

I missed the opening ceremonies of the All-Star game last night so I did not get to see Barack Obama's ceremonial first pitch live. So this morning, I was making my hour long drive into work listening to talk radio. They spent a little bit of time criticizing his throw, saying that "He threw like a girl." I was fully expecting to totally trash him tonight. It was not as bad as I thought it would be.

First, I have to give him credit for wearing blue jeans and tennis shoes to a baseball game. The White Sox jacket is also a nice touch. It always bugs me a little bit when people overdress for the occasion. After all, it is just a ball game, not a state dinner. Second, there seemed to be a smattering of boos in the crowd. As much as I disagree with Obama and despise the direction he is taking this country, I still believe you should respect the office. I hated it when people booed George W. and feel in that situation it is better to do nothing than to boo.

So back to the actual pitch. It was not as bad as I thought it would be after listening to the radio. It wasn't the worst pitch I had ever seen. I once saw NASCAR driver Kurt Busch throw one and it was far worse than Obama's. However, Barack can't hold a candle to his predecessor's first pitch.

But neither one of them can compare to this.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Music Monday-"Behind the Mask"

Eric Clapton at the Tsunami Relief concert in ...Image via Wikipedia

I first heard "Behind The Mask" on the Eric Clapton CD "August." It was one of the Clapton albums that Phil Collins produced and played drums on. Along with Clapton and Collins, the album also featured Nathan East on base and Greg Phillinganes on keyboards, and a bunch of horn. "Behind the Mask" stood out to me at the time because one of the writers of the song was one Michael Jackson. Yes, that Michael Jackson.

I don't know why, but for some reason it struck me as odd at the time that Clapton would do a song written by Michael Jackson, especially one that never appeared on any Jackson release. In doing a little research this weekend, I have found the connection and the trail is complete.

The original version of "Behind the Mask" was written by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Chris Mosdell and performed by the Yellow Magic Orchestra. Quincy Jones heard it and fell in love with the track. He worked with Michael Jackson on a version that Michael added additional lyrics, thus his writing credit.

Phillinganes had worked previously with Quincy Jones who brought Phillinganes in to play keyboards on all three of the Michael Jackson Epic albums. It was decided at the last minute to leave "Behind the Mask" off of either the "Thriller" or "Off the Wall" albums. I have seen different reports, so I am not completely sure which album it was originally intended to appear on.

Once the decision had been made not to release a Michael Jackson version of the song, Phillinganes asked for and received the okay to put the song on his 1984 solo work "Pulse." Then Phillinganes played keyboards on Clapton's 1986 version of the song. Perhaps there is a Michael Jackson version of the song in the collection of Jackson unreleased material, and hopefully we will get to hear his version.

First here is Clapton's version:

And as a bonus, Greg Phillinganes version:

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Walt Disney

Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse statue at the Mag...Image by JeffChristiansen via Flickr

It is always good to come back home after being away from the family for a business trip. So today, for my only full day off before having to go back into the office tomorrow, is going to be a lazy day thinking about fun stuff. I plan to spend the day on the couch while my son watches videos. His favorites have always been Disney videos, especially Winnie the Pooh.

Walt Disney was an amazingly multi-talented individual. Like a lot of success stories, Disney had to suffer through some rough times before finding success. He quit school at the age of 16 to join the army, but was rejected for being underage. Instead he joined the Red Cross and was sent to France to drive an ambulance for a year. After he left there, he had a difficult time finding work.

Eventually, he got a temporary job creating advertisements. He met a cartoonist there and that led to his decision to become an animator. He started to achieve some local success in Kansas City creating cartoons to show in local movie theaters. Unfortunately, this venture eventually went bankrupt, so Disney decided to move to Hollywood to open a new studio in the movie capital.

In Hollywood, Disney once again started to have some modest success with his Alice Comedies. The success of that series led Universal Studios to order a new series, so Disney created Oswald the Rabbit which became an instant success. With the success of Oswald, he went to New York to try to get an increase in his fee for the series. Instead he was offered less money and given a "take it or leave it" ultimatum. He left it.

Starting all over again, Disney felt he needed to create a new character to get back on his feet. That new character became Mickey Mouse, and the rest, as they say, is history. The success of Mickey Mouse launched Disney to new heights. More characters were created, and Disney would go on to create the first full length animated feature films. Disney won his first Academy Award for Mickey Mouse in 1932. It would definitely not be his last honor. All told, Disney was nominated for 59 Academy Awards and won 26, including 4 in one year. He would also win 7 Emmy Awards.

Disney was nothing if not a visionary. He set forth the plans to create the ultimate theme park in Disney World and EPCOT Center. Sadly, he would die from lung cancer before the park would open, but the plans went forward and had a tremendous impact on the economy of Orlando, Florida. Prior to the opening of Disney World, Orlando was primarily involved in the citrus trade and later became a military town. Disney World brought the business of tourism to Orlando with millions of visitors each year.

There is something magical about seeing the look on the face of a child when they come face to face with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, or in the case of my son, Winnie the Pooh. Disney World truly is the Magical Kingdom. Having just spent three nights in a small hotel room, a hotel room just doesn't do it for a family. Instead it is better to have a home away from home by renting a house like the ones available at Orlando Vacation Rentals.
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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ted Nugent: Ted, White, and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto

Cover of "Ted, White, and Blue: The Nugen...Cover via Amazon

As I mentioned a few days ago, I had to take a business trip to California. During the first leg of the trip, I finished reading "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming" which I reviewed a few days ago. After finishing that book, I began reading Ted Nugent's "Ted, White, and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto." Well today was the return trip home to Maryland so I polished off the Nuge's missive.

I have to say, that I have not been a big fan of Nugent's music. "Cat Scratch Fever" was OK, but it wasn't something I ever wanted to purchase. I did enjoy his time with Damn Yankees, but that was mainly because I was a fan of Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades.

The first time I became aware of Nugent's political views, was when I saw him on The Glenn Beck Show. I immediately thought, "I may not be a big fan of his music, but I like the way he thinks." Nugent is a staunch conservative and makes no bones about it. In "Ted, White, and Blue" he articulates his views in the way that only he can. That is to say, he isn't exactly politically correct and he offers no apologies. Instead his response is "deal with it."

It is Nugent's way of telling it the way he sees it that made this enjoyable for me to read. He tackles a wide range of subjects and I find myself in agreement on almost everything, though some of his views might sound a little extreme, but Nugent proudly wears the right wing extremist label.

Take Ted's view on war. Ted's view on war is that if we are going to send our troups into battle, then they should be allowed to commit to total war, complete and total destruction of the enemy, much like Harry Truman dropping the bomb on Japan. According to Ted, "Lasting peace can only be achieved through the application of relentless and superior fire power."

Ted takes the same view as another famous Ted, Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt insisted that an immigrant should assimilate himself to the US and in every facet become an American, including learning English. Nugent, like most conservatives, have no quarrel with folks who come to this country legally to become citizens. His issue is with the illegal immigrants, or as he calls them criminal aliens, because they have committed criminal acts. His answer is to "shoot to kill" any armed alien who attempts to enter this country illegally.

As a member of the Board of Directors for the National Rifle Association it should come as no surprise that Nugent is a strong advocate for 2nd Ammendment rights. Nugent believes that all law abiding citizens should have the right to carry a concealed weapon. As he puts it, the police can't be everywhere and in most cases arrive after the fact. So called "gun free zones" are only opportunities for evil to reign without fear of reprisal.

If you are looking for a politically correct disertation of conservative views, "Ted, White, and Blue" is probably not for you. If you want to get through all the PC bull shit and hear somebody tell it like it is, then pick up the Nuge. If nothing else, he makes things interesting. I may have to go back and take a second listen to some of his music. In the meantime, for your listenting enjoyment, how about a little "Cat Scratch Fever."

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Friday, July 10, 2009

My Congressman: Steny Hoyer

Steny Hoyer, official photo as House Minority ...Image via Wikipedia

I first encountered Congressman Steny Hoyer when I worked for a grocery chain and he attended the grand opening of one our stores. I wasn't very impressed. That was a good twenty years or so ago. He really hasn't done much in my mind to change my opinion of him, especially after two stories that I read over the last day or so.

During his weekly news conference on Tuesday, a reporter from asked if Hoyer supported a pledge stating that Representatives should read the entire bill before voting on it and having the bill available to the public for 72 hours before voting on it. Hoyer's response was to laugh. CNSNews quotes Hoyer, "If every member pledged not to vote for it if they hadn't read it in its entirety, I think we would have very few votes." I put that kind of attitude right up there with Harry Reid not wanting to ready any of Sonya Sotomayor's legal opinions before deciding if she is fit to be a Supreme Court Justice. Our leaders in action.

The second story involving Hoyer may be a bit more troublesome. ABC News reported that a Maryland firm, Smartronix, received an $18 million contract to re-design the website that is to track the stimulus spending. In addition, since 2000, Smartronix has won $260 million in other government contracts. So what does that have to do with Hoyer? The leaders of Smartronix have given $19000 towards Hoyer's election campaigns. There is no record of anybody from Smartronix donating to any other campaign. A spokesman for Hoyer has told the Washington Examiner had no involvement in awarding the contract to Smartronix.

It probably won't come as a surprise, but I have never voted for Congressman Hoyer. I can't see any conceivable possibility where I could bring myself to pull the lever for him.

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