Thursday, December 30, 2004

Buses Stopped Outside Naval Base After Phone Warning

Buses Stopped Outside Naval Base After Phone Warning and bomb scare. Where is Keanu Reeves when you need him?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Decreasing Penaltys for small Amounts of Pot

Kuff reports of a proposal of no jail time for a little pot this sounds like an common sense proposal that is way over due!


State Rep. Harold Dutton (D, Houston) has what I think is a smart proposal: Make possession of an ounce or less of marijuana a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine but not prison.


Texas law currently calls for six months in jail for possession of less than two ounces of marijuana, a class B misdemeanor. Dutton's measure would maintain that designation for possession of between one and two ounces of pot, but would cut that to a class C misdemeanor, the equivalent of a traffic ticket, for possession of one ounce or less.


"We've been tough on crime for the last decade or so, and now it's time to be a little bit smart on crime," Dutton told 1200 WOAI news.


Dutton's law would not reduce punishments for possession of largest amounts of marijuana.


"People who have a joint of marijuana should not be facing a class B misdemeanor, which ties up our justice system," Dutton said.


Currently, Texas police can handcuff, book, and jail suspects for as much as a couple of seeds of marijuana on the floorboard of their car or in an ash tray in their home. This bill would enable officers simply to write the suspects a ticket and send them on their way. It would also eliminate the drivers license suspension which currently accompanies a drug possession conviction in Texas.


"the data that we have indicates that sixty to seventy percent of people arrested under current Texas drug laws have one joint or less," Dutton said. "Putting these people in jail doesn't make Texans any safer, and doesn't make any sense.


"We're not going to tie up our courts with this any longer. We'll turn it over to municipal courts and you can pay the fine and go on."


Dutton said his measure does not call for tougher penalties for people with repeated tickets for possession of one ounce of less of marijuana.


He says he wants to 'take the sting out of the law.'


"We need to be smart on Texans pocketbooks, and leave the criminal justice system to more heinous crimes. To give people 180 days in jail for having two seeds of marijuana on their floorboards seems to be a waste of the state's time and money, and a waste of the lives of the people who have to suffer that punishment," he said.


Dutton said his bill is not 'decriminalization' of marijuana, simply a more common sense approach to dealing with the problem.


I couldn't agree more. Grits notes that a similar bill by Dutton in 2003 had bipartisan support, so maybe this bill will, too.

I hope this one gets through, I suspect that there will be little opposition to this, but I wonder just how severe the fines on this one will be. Then again, there is the stamp issue. Texas has a pretty severe fine for possesing marijauna without the proper stamp.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Possibility of an Earth Impact in 2029 Ruled Out for Asteroid 2004 MN4

Possibility of an Earth Impact in 2029 Ruled Out for Asteroid 2004 MN4 Apparently the folks who watch such things went back and found some old photographs and refined the orbit, The asteroid will come pretty close, but unlike horseshoes and handgrenades close is still a miss.
Over the past week, several independent efforts were made to search for pre-discovery observations of 2004 MN4. These efforts proved successful today when Jeff Larsen and Anne Descour of the Spacewatch Observatory near Tucson, Arizona, were able to detect and measure very faint images of asteroid 2004 MN4 on archival images dating to 15 March 2004. These observations extended the observed time interval for this asteroid by three months allowing an improvement in its orbit so that an Earth impact on 13 April 2029 can now be ruled out.

As is often the case, the possibility of future Earth impacts for some near-Earth objects cannot be entirely ruled out until the uncertainties associated with their trajectories are reduced as a result of either future position observations, or in this case, heretofore unrecognized, pre-discovery observations. When these additional observations were used to update the orbit of 2004 MN4, the uncertainties associated with this object's future positions in space were reduced to such an extent that none of the object's possible trajectories can impact the Earth (or Moon) in 2029.


Planetary Defense Mission Becomes more Meaningful

Worrisome Asteroid Underscores Planetary Defense Mission as the asteroids chances of striking Earth have increased the last couple days. Its at 2.7% or 1 in 37 as of this morning. There are programs in the planning stage that could be designed to intercept MN4.

Since its creation in 2002, the non-profit B612 Foundation has campaigned for the perfection of asteroid deflection skills.

Former NASA astronaut, Russell Schweickart, is Chairman of the B612 Foundation. The goal of the group of scientists, technologists, astronomers, astronauts, and other specialists is to significantly alter the orbit of an asteroid in a controlled manner by 2015.

A candidate for a Prometheus 1 mission, Schweickart told SPACE.com, is a demonstration trek to an asteroid. It would gather critical engineering design information for a planetary protection system. That "D1" flight would dovetail into a D2, dress rehearsal deflection mission, to further refine and ready full-up, Earth-protecting techniques and technologies.

Schweickart notes from the start that, while the probability of a highly destructive asteroid impact on Earth in the immediate future is slight, the consequence of such an occurrence is extreme, and mitigation efforts should begin now.

In regards to the new observations of asteroid 2004 MN4, Schweickart added, the most likely scenario is that this object will disappear from concern in the next few days and/or weeks.

If it becomes likely that this thing will impact Earth, and we have certainty on where it will strike, should we attempt to change the direction of it? For instance if it is headed to Japan do we as Americans owe it to them to protect them for free? How about Communist Red China? They poccess nuclear weapons and are still threatening Taiwan. Would it not be in our best interest to let our enemy's get destroyed. How about France? I believe they have shown displeasure with us interfering in the fate of other nations. If the French would hire our nations service then surely we could do bussiness with them. We could help those who profess to be our friends. I think the Canadiens, Britts and Australians qualify. Life might be better for the rest of the world if large chunks of certain nations were to go away.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

More Gmail Invites

I have some more invites available, If you would like one please email me

The Odds Keep Moving.

The astroid with the unimaginative name of 2004 MN4 has been observed, measured and reploted again, and the news is once again a little more negative. The impact probabality is now estimated at 2.2 Percent While Glenn Renolds warns us that its time for concern not Hysteria:

This asteroid, 2004 MN, is still unlikely to strike -- and it's not big enough to produce a Lucifer's Hammer kind of situation. It's more of a Krakatoa-level threat, which is bad enough, but not a civilization-ender. The big lesson, though, is that this sort of threat isn't just theoretical. Though the probability of a big hit is low, even a hit of this level -- which at 1/42 can't be called very low-probability at this point -- is serious. We're fortunate that nothing like this happened during the Cold War, when it might have triggered a nuclear exchange. But as nuclear weapons proliferate, there's more reason to try to ensure that we're not caught by surprise even by these smaller impacts.

Jay Manifold explains the carnage expected if it hits:

In any case, the projected energy of impact is 2,200 megatons. Now we turn to one of the earliest posts on Arcturus, Thinking About the Unthinkable, where I used some handy equations from Arsenal to find that the 5-psi overpressure radius (which may be regarded for the purposes of this discussion as the Bad Day radius) for a 10-kiloton explosion is just over 900 meters. These things scale inversely as the cube of yield, so ³√(2,200/0.01) × 0.9 km = 54 kilometers or thereabouts. The area thus affected, A = πr², is over 9,000 km², which at the average population density in the US of about 31 per km² (derived from this source) would contain about 280,000 people.

At the average population density of India -- which as I explained in my earlier post, is quite a bit nearer the probable impact site -- however, this works out to nearly 2.5 million people. Yikes.
A.E Brain explains the impact:

Note: this is not a "Dinosaur Killer", and anyone on a different continent from the impact will likely only be aware of it from news broadcasts, spacetacular sunsets, and a few slightly colder than normal seasons - much the same as if a number of major volcanos let rip simultaneously.

On the other hand, anyone within a hundred miles of the impact would likely have a tough time. The crater will be nearly 4 miles across. Anyone within 50 miles will get 200 mph winds, a bombardment of rocks ranging from golfball size to football size, and the equivalent effects of a magnitude 6.8 earthquake. (Data from the Impact Effects Calculator, with parameters of Velocity 12.59 km/sec, 0.44 km diameter size, Dense Rock, 45 degree impact angle).


The fact that it won't totally destroy the world or that it's almost 98% likely not to hit us is hardly comforting.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Santa Delivers

Merry Christmas! Looks like Santa has snow enough to grease the runners on his sleigh this year! This is my front yard at midnight.
My front yard
Liberty

Dreaming of a White Christmas


Unbelivable! at Midnight Santa Delivered this little surprise to my home here in Galveston
Liberty

Friday, December 24, 2004

Something to worry about

The Instapundit reports: <

MORE to worry about: "So, in summary, there's a 1-in-233 chance of the worst disaster in recorded history happening on April 13, 2029, and a 232-in-233 chance of nothing happening. Have a nice day!"


But it gets worse. The odds have been updated and now the odds are 1 in 62.5.  A little math is needed to calculate it. The chances of a collision is given in the chart at 1.6-e2 or .016 the inverse of this (1/.016) = 1 in 62.5 chances.  25 years doesn't seem so far away as it used to.

TSA: Homeland Terrorist

John Barlow goes public with his experiance with the war on the Bill of Rights terror.
At about 7:00 am on September 15, 2003, I boarded Delta Flight 310, scheduled to depart San Francisco International Airport for JFK at 7:20 that morning. I was still feeling slightly singed from Burning Man and the hour was one I prefer to see from the other side. I was almost back to sleep when, roughly two minutes before pull-back, I was approached by a Delta employee who informed me that there was "a problem" of some sort and that it would be necessary to get off the aircraft and bring my carry-on belongings with me. I didn't like the sound of this, but I complied, once more vividly awake.

He led me to an office in the baggage claim area that was thicker with cops than some banana republics. They greeted me with same distaste they'd likely have shown an actual terrorist and treated me accordingly for the remainder of that very long day. On the counter lay small quantities of marijuana (for which I have a physician's recommendation), mushrooms, and ketamine that had allegedly been encountered in my suitcase. That the total volume of this prize was significantly more compact than the amount of high explosive necessary to endanger an aircraft, and indeed, insufficient to merit a felony charge on any count, didn't matter to them. They clearly regarded me as a threat to public safety. When I pointed out to the officials that they only had authority to search for threats to the aircraft, one of them, a bug-eyed, crew-cutted troglodyte, declared that, if I had taken any of these substances, then I would have endangered Flight 310. That such an obviously ungifted person was capable of so imaginative a conceptual leap remains a marvel to me.

What is at issue here is whether the airport security searches can result in prosecution of contraband. What I find interesting is that they are prosecuting locally and that the DEA is keeping out of this. Barlow is fighting this with the aid of John Gilmore one of the co-founders of EFF. We wish him luck, his success will guarentee us all more security when we travel.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

CBS Investigation and Rather Replacement to be Timed

Rathers replacement will annouced on the same day as the Rather report is to be released according to one report.. Many of us have been wondering what has been holding up the report, Its not that complicated, and the stalling suggest coverup. Announcing Rathers replacement at this time suggests that CBS is attempting to soften the news with hubbub about the new face.

A little birdie familiar with discussions at CBS News tells me that the network suits will announce Dan Rather's replacement the day they release the report into the fake memos.

I guess the aim is to distract from the bad news by creating two headlines instead of just the bad one. "REPORT FINDS CBS DIDN'T CARE WHETHER BURKETT WAS RELIABLE; BUT HEY, NEVER MIND THAT, THEY NAMED A NEW ANCHOR" or something like that.

Yeah, that will work. (Eye roll.)

If there is any meat to this report the pajama clad digital brown shirts are sure to have fun with it while the MSM (Main Stream Media) will focus on the Rathers replacement.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Celebrex Scare

Pfizer stocks are taking a beating, and folks are calling their doctors asking whether they should stop taking these pills. Pfizer has been running commercials telling us how this drug will make our lives more wonderful, although they aren't real clear about why one would need this medicine. With all this hype, some things haven't been made clear. All medications have some danger, Most have the potential to kill, even asprin isn't all that safe. Hopefully the risk outweighs the risk. I wonder why Pfizer finds it neccessary to spend $72 million on advertising. I can understand mailings to Medical doctors and such, but Television advertising for perscription drugs seems like its inviting patients for abuse. The customer ultimatly pays for this marketing and we, the customer, end up wondering why its cheaper to buy these same drugs in Mexico or Canada.
Apparently Celebrex is dangerous only when taken in high doses.

The first point that jumps out is that the typical dose of Celebrex is less than 400mg per day - and there is no data suggesting an increased risk of heart problems in these lower doses. Here is the recommended dosing schedule:
Osteoarthritis: Oral: 200 mg/day as a single dose or in divided dose twice daily

Rheumatoid arthritis: Oral: 100-200 mg twice daily

Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP): Oral: 400 mg twice daily

Acute pain or primary dysmenorrhea: Oral: Initial dose: 400 mg, followed by an additional 200 mg if needed on day 1; maintenance dose: 200 mg twice daily as needed
Thus, only in uncommon cases (i.e. FAP) should more than 400mg per day be used. Again, the studies did not show an increased risk of heart problems in the common, usual doses.
I don't take these drugs, but I still find this disturbing, not because there are risks to the drugs, but because some medication that might benefit me someday won't be available., because of liabilty concerns. Its a scary world we live in.

Crystal Connects the Dots

Somethings wrong with our schools, and to one blogger it becomes Crystal Clear when one connects the dots.

There are times when a blogger can save her fraying synapses some extra work and her fingers some extra typing. There are times to involve an intelligent audience and rely on readers to connect the seemingly apparent Crystal Clear dots for themselves. I believe my offerings today afford such an opportunity.

Its not just a matter of telling our children, about alternate lifestyles, that we as parents don't approve of, but its matter of the how time it takes when our childrens education seems to be falling behind.

Tolorance needs to be a part of every education, this includes tolorance of fat kids, racial/ethnic differences, or religous diferences. This should is a part of the regular curiculem, history, civics, and and other social sciences are ridden with examples to teach this. Teaching children tolorance isn't equivilant to massive exposure of these alternate lifestyles.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Killing Bambi

Deer season is pretty dangerous, not only for the deer, but for us drivers. My guess is that there are more deer killed by cars in the Houston/Galveston bay area than by hunters. They are rutting, and they seem to know they are being hunted and on the move. This is all timed with dusk and darkness happening at the same time as the rush hour.

At any rate, there are a lot of deer between here and my workplace, and one of them ran into my car. This wasn't some narrow curvey country row , but texas Highway 146. 2 lanes in each direction with shoulder. Wham! It happened so fast, I barely saw its head near my right fender, simultaneously with load thud. I didn't stand a chance of avoiding it. I pulled over and looked at my front bumper, and then walked backed looking for Bambi. I couldn't find her, apparently I didn't kill her instantly. I didn't notice any damage to my car, yet. I left the scene eventually, still sure I must have killed her, and pulled over to get gas. The Gas station was out of gas, but I noticed something wrong. my passanger mirror was gone! I checked out the car and noticed thea the whole side of my little Sidekick was dented in, deer fur was in the door seams. It became clear the deer ran into me. Maybe she survived after all, although I am sure it isn't in real great shape this morning. My question is, "How bad will my insurance company punnish me for this?"

Friday, December 10, 2004

CBS at War with Bloggers.

The Instapundit tells of CBSNEWS.com's newsest attack on Bloggers.

COVERT ETHICAL CLEANSING AT CBS: Henry Copeland looks at a sleazy attack on bloggers -- including Atrios/Duncan Black -- by CBS. It doesn't appear that the "Tiffany network" has done anything to elevate its standards in the wake of RatherGate. Read this, too.



Whats wierd is that they attack Atrios for being a liberal. Well, Duh, he isn't exactly in the closet about that. CBS seems to be calling for regulating the blogosphere. It looks to me as though the brownshirted pajama clad bloggers are starting to get them. I think they are a little green about our bosses.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Rumsfeld Takes on the troops.

Rumsfeld takes on the troops in an open question and answer session.
In a rare public airing of grievances, disgruntled soldiers complained to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Wednesday about long deployments and a lack of armored vehicles and other equipment.

"You go to war with the Army you have," Rumsfeld replied, "not the Army you might want or wish to have."

Spc. Thomas Wilson had asked the defense secretary, "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?" Shouts of approval and applause arose from the estimated 2,300 soldiers who had assembled to see Rumsfeld.


I think its pretty gutsy of Rumsfeld to be a part of such open communications, and take on such questions. Perhaps Rumsfeld should be given a little slack because of the spontaneity of such a question, but his answer is awful! We've been in Iraq for 2 years, If the existing companies can't build armor perhaps we should using companies other company's. We are at war dammit and we need a government and industry willing to do what needs to be done. We have a workforce and the entrepreneurs willing to do the job. Therefore we must assume the government isn't willing to parse out the contracts.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Bamboo Floors the Finale

Well I finnished laying down the floors Friday. I'm still not done with them, There is the quarter round and caulking that still needs to be finished, and Equality is still scrapping glue off off the floor. It loooks good! I really like the way it came out. I probably finnish the trim, and caulking over the weekend. Right now I'm just recovering, and cleaning up the mess. Redoing the floors created lots of trash, carpets and sawdust.

Some tools I used:
  1. Flush pull saw, used to undercut trim neer doorways.
  2. Dremel tool, used to cut nails holding down tack boards to the slab.
  3. Table saw I suppose one could do it with just a skill saw, but I wouldn't want to try it.
  4. Glue trowels, 2 of them is essential.
  5. Jig saw, any old cheap one will do.

Some things I might have done differently if I were to do it again. I would have started at a point farthest away from the ending point I started in the center of the house. Maybe laying some kraft paper could have kept the spread of the glue down.

After cleaning up and moving some furnature around I will post a picture.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Houston joins Company with Kemah and Galveston

Kevin Whited complains of the Houston Chronicle's gentle handling of all Fertitta, all the time

With the utterly unconvincing "criticism" of Tilman Fertitta appearing as a house editorial a few days ago, the Chronicle can get right back to unabashedly promoting the playpen of one of the darlings of the downtown establishment.


All I have to say is "Welcome to the club". Houston should be able to resist much easier than Galveston or Kemah which he practically owns.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Al-Jazeera is a Zionist Propaganda Machine

The Tehran Times Reports that Al-Jazeera is an American and Isreali propaganda operation.
Many media experts believed that the new network would create a revolution in the field of information dissemination, particularly in the Arab states on the Persian Gulf.

However, at the same time, rumors arose suggesting that the network was established by U.S. and Israeli agents in order to present a bad image of Islam to the world.

Some regional experts expressed doubts about the allegations though, because the establishment of a media outlet with the aim of promptly informing Arab nations about the latest world news seemed to be a good idea.

But the actions of the network gradually revealed the fact that Al-Jazeera officials, on the orders of Zionist agents, are trying to divide Islamic countries and tarnish the image of Islam.


I never realized that the Irananian humor could be so ironic.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

MSN Spaces makes its Debut

MSN came out with its version of blog. They have a few templates, but its not real customizable & I don't believe that one can publish to ones own space. I really like some of the templates I've seen, but because of the limited number of templates they won't be very unique, Spaces supports picture albums and even movies and audio collections. However, the blog builder doesn't allow one access to to the template code. To maintain a journal or blog it's hard to concieve of an easier way to start a blog than blogger.com. Blogger allows its users to get pretty sophisticated as one learns, the tutorials and help files are outstanding. best of all its also free. One thing that Spaces has that Blogger doesn't is the "Trackback" function. I found a few sites that are under construction here, here and here.

Update: Apparently there Microsoft is censoring the Spaces blogs

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Raich vs Ashcroft

The Supreme court case of Raich vs Ashcroft is not just about Marjuana, it an issue about whether the Federal Goverment overstepped its Constitutional bounds. Ashcroft has concidered his will more important than the constitution, is using power that is not given to him by our constitution. The National Review explains:
Fearing potential prosecution, Raich went to federal court seeking a declaratory judgment that, among other things, the federal government lacks the constitutional authority to prohibit simple marijuana possession for personal medical use. Represented by noted libertarian law professor (and sometime NRO contributor) Randy Barnett, Raich argued that, at least as applied to her situation, the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is unconstitutional. This week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in her case, Ashcroft v. Raich. At stake is more than California’s effort to legalize the medical use of marijuana. A decision for the federal government could send federalism and the constitutional doctrine of enumerated powers up in smoke.

On behalf of Raich, Professor Barnett argued that the cultivation and possession of marijuana “solely for the personal medical use of seriously ill individuals, as recommended by their physician and authorized by State law” is simply beyond the reach of federal power. Under our constitutional structure, states retain “broad powers to define criminal law, regulate medical practice, and protect the lives of their citizens.” Federal power, on the other hand, is limited to the specific grant of enumerated powers in the Constitution, and does not reach mundane questions of criminal law. No matter how worthy the purpose of a given federal statute, it remains invalid if it exceeds the constitutionally proscribed bounds.


The article presents how conservative constitutionalist are willing to take Ashcroft on, and why.

Dow, Freeport to use Fuel Cells to Produce Electricity

While Toshiba and Dell are trying to figure out how to make tiny fuel cells for battery replacement. Dow is making electricty on a large scale GM learns more about fuel cells for automobiles.
Fuel cell project by Dow, GM to expand

Engineers at a Texas Gulf coast chemical plant have produced electricity from a fuel cell using hydrogen that is less than 100 percent pure.


An expanded test is planned following results from the fuel cell being used since February at Dow Chemical Co.'s complex at Freeport.
Officials of the chemical company and partner General Motors said Monday the test will now involve a four-cell pilot plant that could grow in the next 18 months to 2 years to the point that 1 megawatt of power is generated.
"In the first phase of this project, we collectively learned a lot about generating power from byproduct hydrogen via fuel cell technology, and now we're ready to build on what we've learned," Gordon Slack, Dow's global business director for energy and climate change, told the Houston Chronicle in Tuesday's editions.

Dow's partner, the world's largest auto maker, is interested in developing fuel cells that could be used for GM vehicles.
Company officials said Monday the next stage would be large-scale commercialization, with up to 400 fuel cells installed at Dow plants generating 35 megawatts of electricity, an amount equal to the power used by 25,000 homes. The target date is 2007.
Dow's hydrogen, because it is a byproduct, is less pure than that produced by a laboratory, according to Timothy Vail, GM's director of business development for fuel cells.
"The biggest benefit for GM is learning to work with real-world hydrogen that has some impurities in it," Vail said in a prepared statement.
Slack said that although the impurities are low, there was concern that they could damage the cell or the catalysts within it.
Researchers are expected to learn more about long-term reliability from the four cells already up and running in the pilot plant. The companies will also be looking at the possibilities for making use of the waste heat they generate.

Dow, Freeport to use Fuel Cells to Produce Electricity

While Toshiba and Dell are trying to figure out how to make tiny fuel cells for battery replacement. Dow is making electricty on a large scale GM learns more about fuel cells for automobiles.
Fuel cell project by Dow, GM to expand

Engineers at a Texas Gulf coast chemical plant have produced electricity from a fuel cell using hydrogen that is less than 100 percent pure.


An expanded test is planned following results from the fuel cell being used since February at Dow Chemical Co.'s complex at Freeport.
Officials of the chemical company and partner General Motors said Monday the test will now involve a four-cell pilot plant that could grow in the next 18 months to 2 years to the point that 1 megawatt of power is generated.
"In the first phase of this project, we collectively learned a lot about generating power from byproduct hydrogen via fuel cell technology, and now we're ready to build on what we've learned," Gordon Slack, Dow's global business director for energy and climate change, told the Houston Chronicle in Tuesday's editions.

Dow's partner, the world's largest auto maker, is interested in developing fuel cells that could be used for GM vehicles.
Company officials said Monday the next stage would be large-scale commercialization, with up to 400 fuel cells installed at Dow plants generating 35 megawatts of electricity, an amount equal to the power used by 25,000 homes. The target date is 2007.
Dow's hydrogen, because it is a byproduct, is less pure than that produced by a laboratory, according to Timothy Vail, GM's director of business development for fuel cells.
"The biggest benefit for GM is learning to work with real-world hydrogen that has some impurities in it," Vail said in a prepared statement.
Slack said that although the impurities are low, there was concern that they could damage the cell or the catalysts within it.
Researchers are expected to learn more about long-term reliability from the four cells already up and running in the pilot plant. The companies will also be looking at the possibilities for making use of the waste heat they generate.