It's been a shitty day. As I sit down to write this, I don't know for sure what I'll write. For all I know, I may delete this post just like the dozens of others I've started and left unfinished.
First, I haven't posted much lately. I know that. It's not that I feel obligated, but it's frustrating to me because it's not that I haven't been working on it. I've got a whole stack of unfinished posts.
What I keep finding lately is that the more I dig, the more obscure the truth becomes. Funny thing Truth is. One thing I don't want to do is add to the bullshit out there clogging up the inter-tubes of the net. And I'm not just talking about political shit either. I mean basic things like science that should be fairly easy and unambiguous. As an example, the most popular post on this website - by orders of magnitude - is something I dashed off one day about "ionic foot baths" of all damn things. I'm amazed at the lack of critical thinking shown by the American public when it comes to shit like this. Here you have a pseudo-scientific "treatment" that at best has a placebo effect. There is not one single peer-reviewed clinical study on this, yet people line up to throw money at it.
Further, if someone merely points out the lack of evidence, they are accused of being in the pockets of the "medical establishment". (They don't know me, do they?)
Anyhow, just about any subject you want to look up - if somebody stands to gain something from spreading disinformation - you'll find loads of unsubstantiated crap.
For instance, I started to write last week about a weird problem I'm having with my electric blanket. As I do research to find what other people think, I discover that there is a bit of controversy about electric fields that these things generate. Good grief. You've got folks who think that power lines and electric blankets cause electromagnetic fields that uh - "do bad things" to the human body. Then you have other folks who say that's all a hoax. Then you have people who say the hoax is a hoax and cite unspecified studies that prove the assertion that they're dangerous. WTF?
So earlier tonight we had CNN on, and the Republican presidential candidates pandering in Michigan were spewing such utter nonsense to the poor folks over there who have suffered so badly under Republican policies. I'm not talking about subjective things that are even arguable. Nope - I mean shit that doesn't even make sense. Tell me something: If you don't have a fucking job, how is "tax relief" for other people going to help you? And suddenly this talk about change? Give me a damn break. They were all tripping all over themselves kissing George W. Bush's ass the past few years.
I'm tired, dammit. I wonder sometimes why I should even give a crap. Why do I care so much about where my country is going when most of the American public is making a head-long dash into a new self-imposed serfdom that worships the rich and feeds itself on the crack and heroin of xenophobia and celebrity voyeurism.
Yep, I guess you could say that I'm discouraged. There are better ways I could be spending my time if I didn't care so much. Sometimes I do just feel like saying to hell with it all. I could focus my time on making money, or I could find a hobby where I don't get attacked by ignorant assholes who can't possibly fathom why someone might have an opinion that differs with theirs.
The following is a press release from the Texas Progressive Alliance - of which WhosPlayin.com is a member: Texas Progressive Alliance Announces First Slate Of TexRoots 2008 Endorsed Candidates
AUSTIN — The Texas Progressive Alliance today announced it first slate of endorsed candidates for the 2008 election cycle. The six candidates endorsed today will become the first TexRoots candidates to benefit from the Alliance’s endorsement and online fund-raising efforts for 2008.
“This is a slate of true progressive candidates,” said Texas Progressive Alliance Chairman Vince Leibowitz. The list of six candidates includes both incumbents and challengers in Democratic Primary races ranging from Texas House of Representatives to United States Senate.
“We believe that these men and women will best represent the interest of Texans and will take the lead on progressive issues,” Leibowitz continued.
The TPA’s first slate of 2008 TexRoots Candidates is as follows:
Rick Noriega, United States Senate. On March 4, Texas Democrats have a clear choice for their nominee for U.S. Senate: Rick Noriega. Noriega has the experience necessary to serve as a United States Senator and to take on Bush lap-dog U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in the fall. Faced with three token primary opponents, only one of whom is even running what could be called a “legitimate campaign,” Noriega is the clear choice not only because he is right on important issues such as the war and CHIP, but because he is a true progressive who has a proven record of accomplishment for the people of Texas.
Joe Jaworski, State Senate, District 11. Joe Jaworski (D-Galveston), a former Galveston City Councilman, has taken a very strong stance on environmental issues which are especially important in Senate District 11 and statewide. Jaworski faces token primary opposition and will likely face State Sen. Mike Jackson (R-LaPorte) in the 2008 General Election. Jackson has one of the worst environmental records of any legislator in the entire Texas Legislature and has failed for several sessions to make any meaningful legislative headway on issues important to his constituents.
State Rep. Garnet Coleman, State House, District 147. Coleman (D-Houston), is one of the leading progressives in the Texas House of Representatives, and has been at the forefront of important progressive issues including the Children’s Health Insurance Program, reproductive freedom, and gay rights. A member of the House Democratic Leadership, re-electing Coleman is key to ensuring that the 81st Session of the Texas Legislature has a strong, progressive voice. Coleman faces a primary opponent.
State Rep. Jessica Farrar, State House, District 148. Farrar (D-Houston), is another strong progressive voice in the Texas House. Farrar was a leading voice in the 80th Texas Legislature on issues including the HPV vaccine, stem cell research, and against Governor Rick Perry’s arrogant Homeland Security power-grab. Farrar is one of a handful of Democrats who voted against Craddick in 2005 and, as a result, was relegated to the Agriculture Committee for taking her stand. Farrar faces a former staffer from her office who is believed to be supported by anti-progressive forces in Austin. Farrar is a progressive leader and Texans across the state need her back in the Texas House in 2009.
State Rep. Paul Moreno, State House, District 77. Moreno (D-El Paso), is the Dean of the Texas House of Representatives and one of the House’s strongest voices on civil rights issues. Moreno, a seasoned veteran of many progressive struggles, faces an unknown opponent with no experience in government. Moreno deserves re-election, and Texas needs Moreno’s leadership on civil rights and progressive issues in the 81st Session of the Texas Legislature. Armando Walle, State House, District 140. Walle (D-Houston), is seeking to unseat Rep. Kevin Bailey (D-Houston), who has been ineffective for his district on progressive issues. Unseating Bailey is a necessary step toward a new Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Walle has worked for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Congressman Gene Green, and has strong ties to his district and, we believe, will be a better voice for District 140 than its existing representation.
Brian Thompson, State House, District 46. Thompson (D-Houston), faces State Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin) who has cast a number of votes which are against the interest of her district. A win in this district is yet another step toward electing a new Speaker of the Texas House in 2009. Thompson, an attorney, has strong ties to his district and will be a much needed progressive voice in a district which, for too long, has been governed by a member who consistently votes against the interests of her constituents.
“We strongly believe these candidates are the best men and women to shape the future of Texas,” said Charles Kuffner, Vice Chair of the Texas Progressive Alliance. “These men and women are ready to fight for the interests of ordinary Texans in Washington, D.C., and in Austin,” Kuffner said.
“As progressive activists, we believe it is important to support those who will, when elected, work to further the progressive cause and fight the Republican machine tooth and nail to do what is best for the people of Texas and not the special interests,” Leibowitz noted. “We must continue to elect not only more, but better Democrats to office in Texas,” he concluded.
Here is a video of Ken Leach's announcement speech for the Denton County Democratic Party's Coordinated Campaign kickoff on January 2nd, 2008:
In the past couple of weeks, I've had the opportunity to sit with Ken Leach and get a sense of who he is. I've got to say that one-on-one, he's a very engaging and intelligent fellow. He's not slick and polished, but he's done an incredible amount of work and research. He actually got on the ballot by collecting signatures from about 700 voters, rather than just paying the filing fee like most folks.
In the coming months, I hope to be able to bring you more information about Ken and what his priorities will be if he is elected.
My kids are already sold on Ken Leach - not because they know politics, but because they are good judges of character, and Ken is good with children. Ken does magic tricks for a hobby, and the kids love that stuff.
I just threw up a little, in my mouth... And no, it wasn't because of that damned nasty video that McBlogger mentioned. (Don't ask...)
I'm in Ohio again this week, and after work today, I drove around looking for a place to get pizza. I was about to give up and go back to the hotel when I saw the familiar "Pizza Hut" logo. Ugh. Pizza Hut restaurants are not so great, but I was in the mood for pizza.
But wait! This was no Pizza Hut. This was "Pizza Hut Italian Bistro". I shit you not. I had to check this out.
Basically what it was - is a standard Pizza Hut with hardwood trim, fine art prints, and track lighting. The menu was about as sparse as a standard Pizza Hut, but with a few additional "Italian" things like buffalo wings and cheese sticks, and some sandwiches.
I got a "Bistro" 10" pizza. It was okay going in, but I think it wants out.
It was a pretty standard Pizza Hut, with the noisy open front counter and familiar layout. But I suppose calling it a "Bistro" means they sell "cuisine" and not "chow". Right. Pizza Hut is to Italian food as Taco Bell is to Mexican food.
Rating: ** (2 out of 5 stars because the salad was ok)
Let me first say for the logically impaired, that the purpose of this post is not to defend Iran or to say that they don't have designs on making nuclear weapons. (GWB: Note the spelling of "nuclear" - it's pronounced NOO-clee-urr) Rather, what I'm saying is that the rush to convict Iran in the court of public opinion simply lacks evidence. It's rather transparent, actually.
Kissinger attempts to say that Iran only gave up one third of its nuclear weapons program. He points to a footnote in the N.I.E. saying that Iran gave up its warhead development in 2003. After all, according to his tortured logic, warheads are only one small part of the equation, whereas missile development and Uranium enrichment are the other parts. There are three things, thus if only one is missing, then Iran must be 66% committed to obtaining nuclear weapons.
I believe that Kissinger is at best misinformed, for several reasons:
1. Although the basics of warhead design can be found in any public library, the practical aspects of it require a lot of specific knowledge from a huge team of scientists and engineers. Iran would be highly unlikely to reconstitute warhead development and keep it secret long enough to get the job done.
2. The lack of a warhead program speaks to motive. Iran claims that it wants nuclear material for power generation. Missile technology can be used for conventional weapons for defense, or purposes we'd rather not think about.
3. Uranium enrichment for weapons is orders of magnitude more difficult, complex, and time consuming than low-enrichment for power reactors. If Bush could pull his head out of his ass long enough to get to a table with Iran, we could get inspectors into these facilities. Not only could the inspectors verify the design and operation of the equipment and processes to ensure that it was not capable of high-enrichment, but they could assay the products and/or waste uranium to confirm on an ongoing basis that there was no weapons activity.
4. Transporation and security of uranium and fission byproducts could be effectively monitored by international inspectors. If as Iran claims, they are seeking peaceful uses, then they should have no problems with this.
5. Iran has had a nuclear program for over 20 years, with fuel supplied by Russia. Ostensibly, nothing changes here but the control over the fuel cycle. It's understandable, even if not preferable for countries like the U.S. The thing is that all of the inputs to nuclear fuel, and outputs from the waste can be assayed upon fueling. Inspectable safeguards can be installed to allow monitors to determine whether the reactor has been modified or if fuel has been removed between cycles.
Again, let me stress that I'm not defending Iran. I'm saying that if you think they're lying, call them on it. Don't turn it into a pissing contest, making unfounded assertions and demands. Get them to the table and say this: "You want peaceful reactor fuel? Fine. You can make it, and international monitors are going to watch. Because you don't have any plans on making weapons, we know you won't have a problem with that. And by the way: any mis-steps with any fissile material, and you can kiss your centrifuges goodbye."
Don't take my word on it though. Go read about nuclear reactor science. Talk to the IAEA and ask them whether this monitoring is feasible.
I just wanted to let our readers know that the Denton County Democratic Party had a press conference tonight before a standing-room-only crowd to announce our Democratic candidates for state, county, and federal office in 2008.
I'm really excited about this year's slate. Every one of them is qualified and is running to win. There are no "placeholders".
It's time for a change!
Candidacies announced: - County Democratic Chairman - Neil Durrance, Denton - District Judge, 16th district - Karen Guerra, Carrollton - Constable, Pct. 5 - Mike Ballard, Denton - State Board of Education, 14th district - Edra Bogle - County Commissioner, Pct. 1 - Phyllis Wolper, Denton - State Rep., Dist 63 - Jesus Garcia, Ponder - State Rep., Dist 64 - John McClelland, Little Elm - U.S. Rep., Dist 24 - Tom Love, Arlington - U.S. Rep., Dist 26 - Kenneth Leach, Gainesville
We'll see if we can get some video posted soon... ;)
An illustration of using the Scientific Method to answer a question:
1. Make Observations
My wife and I sleep on a king-sized bed covered with an electric blanket. The blanket is covered with a fitted sheet. This blanket has two independent zones with thermostats, left and right. We noticed the other night that as my wife was laying on the left, and me on the right, if she touched my arm with her finger, it resonated much like a finger on the rim of a crystal wine glass. It made a hum that was audible at close range.
Periodically this property of a resonating touch would go away. After awhile, it would come back. The resonance would happen whenever you touch and move your finger. It didn't matter how much pressure was applied.
Eventually, it was observed that the stopping or starting of this property coincided with a "click" sound. This click was determined to be coming from the temperature control switches for the electric blanket on either side of our bed. We also noticed that the property was only present when one and only one side of the electric blanket was on. If both were on, or both were off, the property did not exist.
The resonance, I would judge to be consistent with the 60hz frequency of household electric current. The resonance can be felt on the skin, but is not painful. No sparks are visible. Neither the skin, nor the blanket was wet or damp in any way. This can be repeated reliably by adjusting one of the thermostats to stay on and turning the dial on the other so that it turns off or on.
2. Research and Make a Hypothesis
Based on my amateur knowledge of electricity, I would say that the blanket is either leaking or inducing a current into our bodies. When one body touches the other, which is not energized, current will pass through the other body, and leak or induce back into the other side of the blanket.
More literature research is needed.
At this point, I am concerned that there may be negative health effects from this. Though an experiment of this scope will not make a finding as to health effects, it may be possible to quantify the current and use the literature to see whether it's thought of as unhealthy. There is a reason to continue the use of the blanket if there are no health effects, because it saves energy that would normally be used for heating the house at night.
3. Design an Experiment
(Incomplete) Obtain a multimeter capable of measuring voltage in AC and DC. Have each person hold a probe and figure out whether there is a current.
Possibly try different insulators to see whether the current from the blanket can be blocked.
Possibly see if a fluorescent tube would light when held between the two people.