Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/12/19 21:46:39 (1474 reads)
Twas the night before Christmas here in the White House.
Laura was sleeping and the twins had passed out.
Their stockings and spike heels were strewn everywhere,
while I sat there thinking, 'It just isn't fair'.
Here it was Christmas and everything sucked.
Life really stinks when you're just a Lame Duck.
Nobody called, so I sat there alone
My polls are so low even Cheney won't phone.
No Angela Merkel, no Ehud Olmert
no Vladimir Putin, they all think I'm a jerk.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter
the Secret Service rushed in to see what was the matter.
But I sent them away. "It was nothing.", I lied.
I didn't want them to see me, their President, cry.
Then I went to the window to see what was there
and what I saw outside just made me so scared.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow
gave the luster of midday to objects below.
When what to my bloodshot red eyes should appear
but a massive Blue sleigh, and it filled me with fear.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick
I knew in a moment it wasn't St. Nick.
It was Nancy Pelosi, and with her there came
so many Dems, and she called out their names.
"Now Daschle! Now Clinton! Now Kerry and Gore!
Obama and Edwards! Get us out of this war!
To the top of the Ticket! Make the GOP fall!
Now dash John McCain! Now dash away all!"
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
I watched my Legacy wither and die.
So up to the White House these candidates flew
with a sleigh full of programs, and entitlements too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The dancing and cawing of this Liberal group.
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
Down the chimney they all came with a bound.
Then they stood before me, each tapping their foot
and their clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot
from the coal fired plants I said, "Build everywhere!"
I cried, "Leave me alone!" but they just stood there.
Then Obama stepped forward and looked down at me
He said, "I'm taking your job, or at least the VP's."
Hillary said, "You know, this once was my place,
and it'll be mine again when I win the next Race."
I think it was Kerry who called out from the rear,
"Take your Swift Boat and sail off with your Culture of Fear!"
Then Howard Dean screamed from the back of the crowd,
"You wouldn't listen before, but you're listening now!"
Dennis Kucinich, with his face filled with grief
held up in his hand a large funeral wreath.
And on it the names of the thousands of dead
and there was real pain in the words that he said,
"You've started a War, but you'll stay alive.
The same can't be said for all the children who've died.
All of their deaths now rest on your head
and you'll see their faces when you're on your deathbed."
For a moment I wondered if that could ever be true.
Am I really to blame for the all things that I do?
I thought about calling to Karl for help,
then I shook my head no, and I laughed at myself.
You see, I can't be blamed for the things that I've done
since you can never have Peace without bombers and guns.
So I called to my guards, "Send them into the night!
Merry Christmas to all, now get out of my sight."
Posted by mamask8z on 2006/12/18 16:23:24 (1646 reads)
I received this from a good friend of mine. I chuckled, I hope you will too.
This Year's First Christmas Joke
Three men died on Christmas Eve and were met by Saint Peter at the pearly gates. "In honor of this season" Saint Peter said "You must each possess something that symbolizes Christmas to get into heaven."
The first man fumbled through his pockets and pulled out a lighter. He
flicked it on. "It represents a candle", he said.
"You may pass through the pearly gates" Saint Peter said.
The second man reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys. He shook them and said, "They're bells."
Saint Peter said "You may pass through the pearly gates".
The third man started searching desperately through his pockets and
finally pulled out a pair of women's panties.
St. Peter looked at the man with a raised eyebrow and asked, "And just what do those symbolize?"
The man replied, "These are Carols."
|The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/12/17 23:29:04 (1390 reads)
Though I'm not a full-time journalist, I do attempt to publish only substantiated stories here, and not rumors. However, the cat is out of the bag that I'm following a lead about major safety issues recently found at Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant.
Since I covered the Michael Burgess Town Hall meeting this summer, and he mentioned Nuclear power as being in his preferred list of options, I've wanted to do a few blogs to thoroughly explore the issue, explaining as best I can in layman's terms how nuclear energy works. I put out the first in my 3 part series about Nuclear Energy this summer, and have been sitting on part II waiting on some time after the elections to get more news resources and examples of the various types of safety failures I was trying to explain.
That's why it piqued my interest when I heard on KERA 90.1 FM (our local NPR affiliate) on Friday, Dec. 8th that inspectors had found 2 major problems in the nuclear power plant in Glen Rose: Firstly, that a water tank designed to flood and cool the reactor in the case of an emergency situation had been left dry, and apparently may have been dry for a period of years. Secondly that some of the chemical mixtures for the reactor had been improperly formulated.
Today, when I went googling for that story, I was unable to turn it up anywhere, so I sent an email inquiry to one of the local bloggers down in that area at the Somervell County Salon to see whether they had heard anything of this story.
I've been unable to find a report of it on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's websites for Comanche Peak:
Comanche Peak Reactor #1
Comanche Peak Reactor #2
This of course assumes that it was the NRC that found the problem. I suppose it could have possibly been the NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration).
At any rate, I'll keep looking for information on the problem, and will publish an update when I find it. In the mean time, if anyone reading this knows where I might find a copy of the report or the citation, either confirming or discrediting this story, please contact me, or post a comment.
If I understand the problem correctly, this was a failure of the safety system that would have been used in the case that the reactor needed emergency cooling water to quench the heat and/or slow the reaction by using a chemical mixture that reduces neutron flux. I'm speculating to some extent because I'm not a nuclear chemist, nor am I familiar with the plant's design, nor have I seen the report - only heard it on the radio.
To put this in an analogy I think is fair, imagine going in to get a tire changed on your car, and you discover that lo and behold, your brake is totally missing on that wheel. Further, your car shows evidence that it's been missing the brake for years. All this time, even after taking your car to the shop for professional maintenance, you've been driving with only 75% of your braking power. Now imagine that instead of a 2 ton car capable of thousands of dollars in damage, and killing several people, you're driving a rig that has an output rated in gigawatts and kilotons, and is capable of killing thousands and costing billions in damage. If the story is true, it's quite disturbing.
In the event of a meltdown or containment breech at Comanche Peak, residents of Glen Rose would be the first to buy the farm, but depending on weather conditions, the DFW Metroplex could see mass casualties as well
|The Nimrods Never Cease to Amaze Me
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/12/12 20:28:20 (1622 reads)
Pardon my "French", but can we please not build one more f&*$!^@ nuclear weapon? Could someone have picked a worse time to devote $150 billion to NEW NUCLEAR WEAPONS development?
The below is from the Ploughshares Fund:
At a time when the United States is trying to convince Iran and North Korea to abandon their nuclear weapons program, we should not be expanding our own.
But building more nuclear bombs is exactly what the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) plans to do!
The NNSA has proposed an expensive, dangerous, and unnecessary overhaul of the current nuclear complex, called Complex 2030. This overhaul would give the U.S. the ability to produce up to 125 nuclear weapons per year - a level comparable to Cold War levels - and would cost an exorbitant $150 billion. Contrary to its stated aim of downsizing the nuclear weapons infrastructure, the plan is a Trojan horse that would give the U.S. the ability to produce nuclear bombs indefinitely.
The Federal Government is taking comments on this, but only for a short time. Please help me by signing the petition against this colossal waste of taxpayer dollars. If you could add some comments of your own, that would help greatly.
In my opinion, if the NNSA (a branch of the DOE) has $150 billion they need to blow, they could be working on making existing nuclear facilities safer, and come up with power plant designs that produce less waste and more power. But, I could think of a few more things to do with the money...
|The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/12/10 3:39:34 (1471 reads)
In the 109th Congress (2005 - 2006), our 26th Congressional District Congressman Michael Burgess served on the prestigious 57 member Energy and Commerce Committee.
Since the Democrats have taken control of the House, I'm going to take a guess at what's going to happen here. First, according to this house website, Burgess is ranked 30th of 31 Republicans in seniority in this committee. There are currently 26 Democrats on the Committee. Since the committee will likely balance out to 30 Democrats and 29 Republicans (or possibly 31 to 26) Democrats will gain 5 to 6 seats.
First, lets see which Republicans are leaving the committee by virtue of not being re-elected:
- Vice Chairman Michael Bilirakis is out. His son Gus was elected to take his place, but this doesn't give him a place on the committee.
- #19, Rep. Charles Bass was defeated by Democrat Paul Hodes.
- #26, Rep. Butch Otter, left office to become Governor of Idaho, and was replaced by Republican Freshman Bill Sali.
So, the three Republicans above have lost their seats. If the Republicans have lost at least 4 seats, then strictly by seniority ranking, then #31, Rep. Marsha Blackburn of TN should lose her seat. If the Republicans have lost at least 5 seats, then by seniority, #30, Rep. Michael Burgess will have to go too.
As of now, Democrats have 231 of 435 seats, meaning a 53.1% majority.
29 of 57 seats equals only 50.8%, whereas 30 of 57 is 52.7% - most closely mirroring the new majority makeup. Since 5 congressional seats still hang in the balance, if those seats went to Democrats, it would take the majority to 54.3%. If Democrats had a 31/26 ratio on this committee, it would roughly equal 54.4%.
Update 12/12/06 - 10:09pm: With Ciro Rodriguez winning the CD 23 race, defeating Republican Incumbent Henry Bonilla, Democrats now control 232 of 435 seats, meaning a 53.33% majority. As of now, that would still mean 30 to 27.
Though Republican Leadership doesn't HAVE to enforce seniority, it seems possible they will:
- North Texas Liberal reports that Michael Burgess will serve as Vice Chair of the GOP Policy Committee. Sounds to me like a nice consolation prize.
- In a recent newsletter, Burgess highlighted his "4th Annual 26th Congressional District Transportation Summit on Tuesday, November 28th" which was held at the Texas Motor Speedway. (In his first term, Burgess served on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where he submitted a bill for a whopping $5 mil. to expand I-35. The bill died in committee, if I remember correctly.)
On the other hand, Burgess was ranked by Congress.org as #36 in effectiveness compared to other members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, outranking 6 other Republicans.
We won't know committee assignments for sure until they are approved by the Committee of the Whole, but I would say that it's quite possible Burgess would lose his seat on E & C. Only the Republican leadership, and perhaps Burgess himself knows for sure.
What does this mean for North Texas?
It's hard to say for sure. Having Burgess move down to the Minority party, makes him even less effective in having our local interests heard. However, he hasn't done a stellar job of that so far, so we don't lose much. Given that Texas is facing over a dozen new fast-tracked coal-burning power plants, we could use a E & C bill that imposes tough federal regulations to prevent this "race to the bottom" that Rick Perry has placed our state into.
That being said, based on my personal conversation with Burgess, I think he actually understands the problems we face with energy. With less Republican pressure on him, he may come to his senses and vote his conscience on some of these things.
He still opposes fixing Medicare Part D to allow federally negotiated prices, and this is something that falls under the 33 member E&C Subcommittee on Health. If he stays in the E&C Committee, his profession as a medical doctor will most assuredly guarantee him a seat. In my opinion, this is a bad thing. Being a doctor qualifies one to fix the human body, but it doesn't necessarily allow one to fix an ailing system. Since he's been down in the trenches in healthcare, he knows a thing or two about the system, but he's not demonstrated much understanding of the concept of universal coverage. He has, on the other hand, worked to cap malpractice claims against incompetent doctors. He does seem to be against the practice of lowering payments each year to Medicare providers, and that's a smart thing - one of the few that I agree with him on.
So, I guess I'm ambivilent. If I were totally partisan, I'd want him off the committee, so he would lose seniority and be easier to beat next election. But it probably benefits North Texans to have a member on that committee with seniority. I'd rather throw Joe Barton under the bus on this one.
I think we'll see John Dingell as Chairman, and Henry Waxman and Ed Markey as Vice Chairs. (I don't know much about Dingell, but I'm impressed by Markey and Waxman)
I'd be interested to hear the thoughts of others on this. (Mike - chime in here, if you want to...)
|The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/12/10 1:52:17 (2419 reads)
The work schedule for the 2007 Congress has been posted.
The 2007 congressional calendar, by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer goes through the end of October and has Members working 4 1/2 days per week instead of the 3 days maintained under the Republican leadership.
January: 16 voting days, 2 days "Republican Retreat", off for MLK day, Swearing in, and voting begins Jan 4th.
February: 12 voting days, 5 days "District Work Period", 2 days "Democratic Retreat"
March: 19 voting days
April: 10 voting days, 10 days "District Work Period" (including Passover, Good Friday, and Easter)
May: 17 voting days, 4 days "District Work Period"
June: 19 voting days, 1 day "District Work Period"
July: 15 voting days, 5 days "District Work Period" including July 4th.
August: 3 voting days, 20 days "District Work Period"
September: 15 voting days (4 days off for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur)
October: 19 voting days with scheduled adjournment on the 26th
Members will be required to be in DC for 145 days, and will have ALL weekends off. Congressmen will generally be required to be present by 6:30pm on Monday nights when Congress is in session.
There are 45 days marked as "District Work Period".
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/12/6 0:54:37 (832 reads)
Just got back from the Dixie Chicks concert at American Airlines center tonight. It was great to see them play to a full house. I've got some pictures - I hope they turn out... It was great, but I'm too tired to write tonight. More later.
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/12/2 11:45:18 (1387 reads)
My oldest son, Seth (age 7) wrote his first letter to Congress on Thursday. Well, actually, it was his second letter. The first one, I didn't mail, because it was before the elections, and I was hoping to give it to Tim Barnwell if he won. I felt sorry for Seth because he checked the mailbox every day for a response. I thought he would have given up, and I must admit, the subject matter of his letter (Save the Sharks) is a bit extreme, so I kind of hoped he would forget about it.
But he didn't forget about it. The other day, while I was working, he came into my office and asked for some paper and tape. Awhile later, he came back with a hand-made envelope all taped up, addressed to "Congris" and weighed down with the familiar jingle of a pocketful of coins.
I was at somewhat of a loss as to how to explain the concept of illegal bribery of a Congressman to my 7 year old son.
So I opened the envelope and removed a cellophane-wrapped and bow-tied sack of "loot" - a bunch of nickels and pennies and dimes. I tried to explain that it's illegal to send money to influence a Congressman, and that it's called bribery. Then I looked at his letter (upper right) and decided that he was really serious and I needed to clock out from work and help him do it correctly.
So, I fired up Microsoft Word, and set up the letter with the correct format and let Seth dictate for me what to type, and here's what he wrote:
November 29, 2006
Rep. Michael Burgess
1660 South Stemmons Freeway
Lewisville, TX 75067
Dear Congressman Burgess,
Please make the United States and Japan quit killing sharks.
I love them. Please write me back.
He asked me why I typed "Age 7" under his name. I told him it was because that way Congressman Burgess would know that it was a kid, and not a crazy adult, since adults write differently from children. He quickly reckoned that must have been why he never heard back from his first letter. (sigh...)
So, I grabbed him a real envelope and instructed him where to write the Congressman's address. This turned out to be a challenge. It took several tries before I could get him to understand that postal regulations require the address to be listed just as in the letter. He kept trying to cram everything onto one line, or split lines, or fill the entire face of the envelope. It tried my patience, but he finally got it close enough. Then he decorated it with a drawing of a shark. (See the picture in the upper left - click for bigger image).
Since it was already after 4, we mailed it on Friday, and it should reach Rep Burgess next week. I sort of wonder what Burgess will think if he should personally read the letter. I know that he knows me, and reads this website, so he might think I'm up to something, but I'm not. I really don't care much about sharks. I think there are a lot more important issues that our Congress should be dealing with. Anyhow, I'll be interested to see what sort of letter that Seth gets back from Burgess. I hope he does get a letter back.
Seth at a Veterans Day Peace Rally, 2006
|Links, Thoughts, and Open Thread
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/11/30 14:19:04 (1211 reads)
North Texas got coated with a little dust today, and it wasn't pollen. Yes, after several hours of sleet we now are getting a little SNOW!!!
You know what this means: It's time to get STUPID on the roads! That's right, drive 85 MPH until you reach the edge of the frozen bridge, then slam your brakes and simulate the Tilt-a-whirl in your Ford Excursion.
... In other news, Dallas police reported they have arrested several suspects for cocaine possession with intent to distribute after discovering the white powder on the roofs of various cars downtown. All of the arrests were corroborated by a paid informant.
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/11/28 22:00:00 (209222 reads)
Short answer: The ionic footbath is unproven, and most likely bunk.
In my wife's role as a Massage Therapist, she's been pitched a number of controversial products and modalities of treatments that reek of quackery. In my opinion, these things detract from the legitimacy of the valuable benefits of things like massage and chiropractic. Yet an increasing number of otherwise professional practitioners are falling for the pseudo-science and monetary allure of these things.
You may have heard of the "ionic foot bath" in one form or another. The basic concept is that you immerse your bare feet in a basin of tepid saline water. Electrodes are then placed in the water with (but not touching) your feet. The process is supposed to "magnetically" and "ionically" draw "toxins" from the pores of your feet. These "toxins" and "heavy metals" then color the water, and you can visibly see these things leaving your body.
The first time that my wife saw this was with several members of her massage class, at the office of a fellow Massage Therapist. This other therapist performed the foot bath on a heavy-smoking friend of hers. The water was stained brown, and smelled of cigarette smoke. They were intrigued.
I was skeptical. I'm always skeptical. I have to see proof. I told my wife that I didn't see any scientific basis for how this could affect any release of toxins. After all, the electrodes are in the water, and not hooked up to the subject. All of the energy and ionization takes place in the water at the electrodes and the water between them. As for the color change, I had witnessed it before as a young amateur chemist, trying to do electroplating. I know that the metals of the electrodes will lose or gain mass, and react with the salt (or other electrolyte) in the water to form colored salts which may or may not be soluble.
Now my wife and I are seeing a chiropractor to correct some back and neck problems. Having never seen a chiropractor prior to this, I'm a bit skeptical of that science, but since my insurance pays for it, I thought I would try it. The chiropractic has helped me tremendously. My wife started after I started to see results. I only found out AFTER she had paid for 10 treatments at a cost of $385 that they had put her on a course of these "ionic foot baths".
Needless to say, not only does the insurance not cover it, but for good reason. It should have been a clue. I was present one day when she finished her foot bath and she showed me the dirty water with little bits of black flakes and white flocculent material. I explained my theory that the water would have changed color most likely whether or not her feet were in the bath at the time. I told her I would show her, so today I did a little experiment:
As you can see in the picture in the upper left, I have a 12 volt battery charger, with two electrodes, one of copper, and the other of steel (a piece of copper pipe, and a nail). In the beaker is room-temperature filtered water with added sea salt (what most peddlers of these products recommend). After only a couple of minutes at most, the water in the beaker appeared as shown in the picture at the upper right: Yellow, with black flakes, and "floaties".
All of this was conducted Without Feet in the water. But I'd seen enough. Another experiment would have been to soak my feet in warm water, and then use some of the water for the experiment. The water would then have contained some of the oil and sweat from my skin, which would have reacted with the Sodium Hydroxide (Lye, or NaOH) produced by the electrolytic reaction to form soap, which in combination with the chlorine and/or Hydrogen bubbles, would have made a nice froth, adding to the nastiness.
I'm not naming the Chiropractor's office that is selling this treatment, because I think they're nice guys who know their chiropractic, but are a little rusty on the chemistry. I'm going to show them some of the other materials I found and see if they'll refund our money and stop trying to sell this quackish treatment.
Want to see some of the products I'm talking about? Use the google search box on the top right of this page to look for "ionic foot bath" and you'll see all sorts of ads and websites for these scam artists. Many of them sell them by MLM as well. For shame.
Want to read about the science of this?
http://www.raygirvan.co.uk/apoth/2004 ... c.html#108575608886281343
Here's a company that ran some experiments to try to prove that ionic foot baths work:
As it turned out, chemical analysis showed no significant difference.
Here's a good article about evidence-based medicine and what it means to have a double-blind clinical study, which is what you would need to prove that a treatment like this worked.