December 31, 2009

Al Gore's Estimates

I happened to be watching Rachael Ray today when Al Gore appeared as the Secret Taster on her show... Rachael was trying to guess who he was and asked his waist size.... he laid claim to a 36 (using a computer generated voice to mask his identity). I suspect that's likely output from a computer model he developed & the actual measurements driving the model are lost.

December 30, 2009

IU Loses Maurice Creek

IU's leading scorer, freshman Maurice Creek, fractured his kneecap in Monday's game against Bryant. IU is batting .500 this year with a 6-6 record. IU went on to defeat lowly Bryant 90-42 and maybe all you Colts fans who are complaining about Manning coming out in the 3rd quarter last week ought to think about the downside.

Just for the record, Purdue is 12-0.

Security Check

It seems that American travelers are ready to roll over and submit to body scans prior to getting on airplanes.  I thought, at some point after 9/11, we were headed toward some kind of security pass that would identity a traveler as a non-security risk.  What ever happened to that?  So many people travel for business, why can't they obtain a boarding pass to identify them as a non-threat.  This would reduce the number of people who have to be screened and speed the whole process.  The government clears people to work on Secret projects for the defense of the nation, why can't they clear people to fly?

December 29, 2009

Enjoy the New Year's Eve Blue Moon

The second full moon of December falls on New Year's Eve... there hasn't been a blue moon on New Year's Eve since 1990 and there won't be another until 12/31/2028.

Norwell 59, Heritage 20

The Norwell girls basketball team is currently ranked #9 overall and #1 in 3A and it showed in the final score as they defeated Heritage 59-20 on December 23rd.  For comparison, Fort Wayne Luers is ranked #52 overall and #3 in 2A.

You go, girls!

December 26, 2009

From Diapers to Dentures

From "Atlas Shrugged" -- about an auto plant where the workers voted that everyone would work according to his ability and be paid according to his need...

"The harder you worked the more is demanded of you, and you stand slinging buckets forty hours a week, then forty-eight, then fifty-six -- for your neighbor's supper -- for his wife's operation -- for his child's measles -- for his mother's wheel chair -- for his uncle's shirt -- for his nephew's schooling -- for the baby next door -- for the baby to be born -- for anyone around you -- it's theirs to receive, from diapers to dentures -- and yours to to work, from sunup to sundown, month after month, year after year, with nothing to show for it but your sweat, with nothing in sight for you but their pleasure, for the whole of your life, without rest, without hope, without end . . . From each according to his ability, to each according to his need..

"To be paid, we all had to claim miseries. It was miseries, not work, that became the coin of the realm -- so it turned into a contest, each claiming that his need was worse than his brother's. Do you care to guess what sort of man kept quiet, feeling shame, and what sort got away with the jackpot?"

Sent from my mobile device

December 22, 2009

Kim Peek has passed away at 58

I heard this first on the radio today. Kim Peek was the man who inspired Dustin's Hoffman's performance in Rain Man. He died of a heart attack at 58, an expert in so many fields but lost in so many ways

As the years went on, the younger Peek became a "mega-savant," having become a genius in an impressive 15 subjects ranging from literature to sports to geography. As MSNBC says: "NASA scientists had been studying Peek, hoping that technology used to study the effects of space travel on the brain would help explain his mental capabilities."

My son tells me Peek was born without a corpus callosum (agenesis of the corpus callosum), the part of the brain that connects the two hemispheres.

God's gift returns to God.

Avatar Review

First, the technical. I caught the movie, "The Fall" awhile back and I've considered it the most amazing cinematography in a movie I've every seen. I couldn't really tell what was real and what wasn't and ended up letting the movie just flow by. "Avatar" outdoes "The Fall" and it's hardly a contest. We've all seen 3D movies, the technology comes and goes (anyone remember the beginning credits to the old show "Happy Days" where all the people in the audience jump back at the same time, all wearing those 3D glasses?). The 3D in "Avatar," though, is the best I've every seen. It goes beyond camera tricks of poking things at the screen to make the audience jump (OK, maybe there were a couple of those times), the 3D puts you in the same room with the actors. Just looking at them sitting down, doing little or nothing, you feel as though you could walk around them... as if they are a solid presence before you. We saw the movie at an IMAX theater, so I don't know if that makes a difference in the quality of the 3D, but it was masterful.

This is all to say nothing about the Navi, the indigenous people of the planet Pandora. James Cameron brought together a team which has transferred living emotion and texture to animation. This has been a long time coming. Even as far back as "Wizards" in 1977 Ralph Bakshi was filming people and animating their forms... but the Navi wear their humanity on their sleeves in a way no animation ever has. I knew something of the movie going in, so I knew the Navi were large (ten feet tall or more), but size is relative, isn't it... what difference does it make if someone is ten feet tall if everyone is ten feet tall, yes? But in the scenes where the Navi are interacting with humans the dimensions are striking. In a very basic way, it reminded me of a scene from an old favorite book, "A Wrinkle in Time" -- if you've read it, do you remember when the kids escape from the dark planet with their father and Meg is nursed back to health by "Aunt Beast" -- the difference between the young girl, Meg, and the giant Aunt Beast comforting her has always stuck with me... think of a Wookie cuddling a broken, frozen child. But that's neither here, nor there. Cameron has brought ten-foot-tall blue aliens to life in this movie.

Second, the story. Special effects can get in the way, just watch the seven-part viral take-down of "The Phantom Menace" to see evidence of how bad a movie can be if all it has are multimillion dollar special effects going for it. I've already read some reviews of "Avatar" that call it "Dances with Wolves in Space" or take it to task for slamming the military (shame on you, Big Hollywood, for making everything about politics -- there are no American Troops in this movie, the military folk are all hired guns in the story), or complain that Avatar is an anthem for the Green movement. Come on... I've seen Hollywood on a rant ("Rendition" 'Ferngully") and just didn't get that vibe here at all. Yes, there was a corporation (not unlike the one in the movie Alien) mining Pandora and that corporation had few morals and followed no laws -- I imagine that might happen if Man ever actually does manage to spread into space). I feel perfectly able to imagine a villainous, greedy corporation involved in space mining and that corporation doesn't make me hate insurance providers, or Ford Motor Company, or IBM, or (dare I say it) Halliburton. We don't live in a stick-figure world and we don't have to think like stick-figures.

And speaking of stick-figures... the performances in Avatar were anything but flat -- as many seem to be in preachy, speachy, teachy movies. Stephen Lang's "Colonel Quaritch" is a villain to remember and Zoe Saldona's "Neytiri" might just deserve a special category of award for the purity of her emotional performance, captured in this new style of technology. Cameron, as always, seems to pull the best out of everyone on the screen. I've read a few reviews that say there was no story, no plot. I can only assume those reviewers choose, for purposes of their own, to ignore the story.

"History is written by the victors," the old saying goes. A suicide bomber who takes out an entire city of men, women and children, might be a hero if he's a human fighting off aliens, like Henry in John Christopher's Tripod Trilogy, or he might be a villain for killing far fewer if he's on the wrong side of history. If "Avatar" was only bashing America for past and perceived sins, James Cameron would have a loser on his hands. Instead, he's writing his own history. For what it's worth, about half the audience stayed in their seats, reading the credits and talking over the highlights of what they'd just seen, instead of standing up and heading for the doors at first light. I've always considered that a sign of a good movie. It's too violent for pre-teens (IMHO). Go see it without them, I don't think you'll be sorry.

Note: some have said they were nauseated by the technology... I didn't experience that, but the movie does have a dizzying effect at times when you pull yourself out of the action.

December 20, 2009

Really Sen. Whitehouse?

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. Democrat, Rhode Island, describing Republican opposition to the health care bill, today's debate on CSPAN2. First, the Senator points us to the essay "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" (which is a 1964 rant about haters on the Right). And then this;

"Tumbrils have rolled through taunting crowds. Broken glass has sparkled in darkened streets. Strange fruit has hung from southern trees."

That last, "strange fruits" is comparing Republicans to lynchers. The broken glass refers to Nazis... tumbrils (wheelbarrows) -- what is it, plague? Dead bodies in wheelbarrows? I'm not sure... Baudelaire wrote of a vision of seven old men pushing tumbrils down the street, but it's unclear what he was symbolizing. I think Whitehouse must either be citing a line of an unfamiliar poem, or referring to plague victims ("bring out your dead!")...

In effect, he says those against the bill are paranoid haters and then promptly tags those on the Right as Nazi lynchers who, by fighting against this big, government program, are causing people to die by the thousands in the streets.

Who's a paranoid hater again?

Update: Robert Stacy McCain has similar thoughts over at the American Spectator and HalifaxCB, in the comments, points me to the French Revolution for "tumbrils rolling through taunting crowds."

Another update: Reading some references to tumbrils and the French Revolution... those were the big carts with cages on top in which the blue-bloods were wheeled to the guillotine. And the French people lined the streets taunting them on the way to their deaths...

The only thing that makes sense in Whitehouse' speech is that he's trying to say Republicans are taunting the sick on their way to the grave. That's a horrible thing to say.

Of course it doesn't hold up, the French were taunting the rich ruling class and Whitehouse would have you believe the Tea Partiers are mocking the poor and sickly.

Still, despite the failed metaphors, a horrible thing to say about anyone.

One thing is clear... poetic language allows you to pack a great many powerful insults into just a few words.

Call Senator Bayh...

Call Senator Bayh staring today through this Thursday (Christmas Eve). See if his staff actually picks up. Then tell Senator Bayh to not be Harry Reid's 60th vote and start over on health care reform.

Washington – (202) 224-5623
Indianapolis – (317) 554-0750
Hammond – (219) 852-2763
South Bend – (574) 236-8302
Ft. Wayne – (260) 426-3151
Evansville – (812) 465-6500
Jeffersonville – (812) 218-2317

I just called Senator Bayh's Ft. Wayne number and his Washington number and got the same voice mail message, "The Senator's mailbox is full, you cannot leave a message."

Norwell 64, Dekalb 55

The Norwell girls moved to 8-0 on the season in rough game against 4A Dekalb

Norwell had three players foul out in 29 seconds of the fourth quarter when Jessica Rupright, Alyssa Smith and Taylor Wilson all picked up their fifth fouls from the 3:07 mark to 2:38.

Jenelle Wilson led the Knights with 22 points, hitting 14 of 27 from the free-throw line. Rupright, facing double and triple teams, finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Amanda McAfee had 11.

Way to go, girls!

Equal Protection?

Nebraska and Vermont get a basket of goodies for health care vote.
[Nebraska] secured full federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage to all Nebraskans below 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Other states must pay [their portion to cover] the additional cost... forever.... FOREVER.

Except, of course for Vermont, which received a similar deal in exchange for it's vote.  Louisiana just went for a $300 billion gift basket.

Evan Bayh is not only selling us down the river, he's so far in the Democrat tank he didn't even get us a bribe.

These backroom bums need to all be thrown out of office.  This is straight up bribery.  How can it be constitutional, how can it be equal protection under the law, to make Hoosiers pay the health care bills for poor people in Nebraska and Vermont.  It's not.

December 19, 2009

Jack Bauer interrogates Santa

OK, I'm looking forward to "24" in January... but it appears Jack is getting soft...

December 18, 2009

Nat Hentoff: Obama Dangerous

America Under Barack Obama:  An Interview with Nat Hentoff

Hoag's Object

This nearly perfect ring of hot, blue stars around a yellow nucleus is the very unusual galaxy known as Hoag's Object. The Hubble Space Telescope captured this face-on view of the galaxy's ring of stars, revealing more detail than any other existing photo of this object. The image may help astronomers unravel clues on how such strange objects form.

The entire galaxy is about 120,000 light-years wide, which is slightly larger than our Milky Way Galaxy.

December 17, 2009

A Hard Pill to Swallow

This would be a better cartoon if Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi were presenting the pill.  Even though it's called "ObamaCare" by its detractors, the President seems to be on the sidelines, wanting only to pass something, anything... it's Reid and Pelosi (and others in Congress) who are cobbling together these mammoth bills to which nobody has access, which nobody has read, which everyone seems to dislike and which seems on the verge of passing into law.

A bitter pill, indeed.

A Great Christmas Gift for we, the plumbing challenged

The PermaFLOW Never-Clog Drain looks like a wonderful piece of plumbing.... you see how you could turn the knob and clear a clogged drain... brilliant!

Of course I'd best hire a plumber to put it in... that kind of raises the $20 price tag a bit...

December 15, 2009

The new Indy 500 Schedule

Opening Day is May 15th
First weekend is rookie testing and open practice
First week is full practice
Pole Day is May 22
Bump Day is May 23
Race day is May 30

December 14, 2009

Some Free Science Fiction

If you like science fiction and don't mind reading it online, check out this Free Fiction link from SF Signal.  In addition, J.C. Hutchins has a nice Sci-Fi thriller online called "The Son:  Descent" over at his web site.  East of the Web also has a lot of speculative fiction online as does (of course) Free Speculative Fiction Online

As for local talent (send me your links), Jerry Battiste of the Bluffton News-Banner plans to post short stories at

December 12, 2009

Norwell 54, Columbia City 3

The Norwell girls keep rolling, now 7-0 on the season. Fort Wayne Luers, however, lost their 2nd in a row.

December 11, 2009

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Some vintage Christmas pictures... if you click on them, there are often interesting comments at the bottom.  In the one above, I like how they've screwed an electric socket into his wall light and it seems to be headed outside to feed the outdoor Christmas lights. :) -- and look at the wonderful toy soldiers on his top shelf. 

Charlie Brown Christmas Special Edited

Yes, the Charlie Brown Christmas Special had several minutes knocked off of it this year so that more commercials could be added to the half-hour.  I particularly liked this comment:

Cramming all of these ads into the 30-minute broadcast of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" required major edits to a cartoon that has spent 44 years now trying to remind us that Christmas is supposed to transcend crass commercialism.

Do you have no sense of irony?

What was cut? Go to the link for the list, but a couple were:  Sally's letter to Santa asking for "10's and 20's," and Schroeder's various renditions of "Jingle Bells."

The Norway Mystery Spiral explained

Russia:  One of our missiles misfired

Be sure to go to the link to see not only the pictures of the amazing light display, but the simulated solution to what likely happened.

December 10, 2009

Mystery spiral lights over Norway

I'm thinking the Large Hadron Collider has captured the attention of Sauron...

December 9, 2009

Are we warming, or cooling?

Al Gore talks to Slate.  Walter Williams, "We've been Had."  Also, competing historical temperature charts, one from the 1990 IPCC and one from Al Gore.

Geologist Dr. David Gee, chairman of the science committee of the 2008 International Geological Congress, currently at Uppsala University in Sweden asks, "For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming?"

The reason it's difficult to say whether we are warming or cooling is because there is no such thing as a "Global Temperature" -- it's like looking at temperatures in Fort Wayne and temperatures in Fort Worth and trying to decide which is correct.  The range of temperatures on Earth (-90 degrees C to +60 degrees C) has not changed... so are we warming? If we're warming, why aren't we recording Earth record highs?  We're still in our normal historical range.  Just think of your own body's temperature... how do you measure it, do you take an average of your fingers, toes and forehead? Would that average mean anything given the variability of temperatures on your extremities?  Why do we think it means anything for the Earth?

Google Real Estate

Are you shopping for a home?  Check out Google's real estate maps... just enter your city of interest, or zip code, and see all the homes for sale.... zoom in or out at your pleasure.  Very nice.

Knights outswim Braves

Even with armor on, the Knight girls outswam the Bellmont Braves 119 to 64.  The boys, however, were not so lucky, falling 65.5 to 117.5 at Bellmont.

December 8, 2009

Indonesian Sets Sky Lantern World Record


Klay Fiechter makes All-State

Norwell running back Klay Fiechter has made the All-State team

The all-time Norwell rusher was named to the Top 50, which is the highest honor a player can receive from the IFCA. Fiechter is the second Norwell gridder to receive the award, joining Ryan Gerbers who earned the honor in 1999.

They must not have had this award back in 1976/77, otherwise I'm sure someone from our two-win squad would have made the grade.

Congratulations, Klay Fiechter... well done!

December 7, 2009

Luers boys #1, Bluffton #2 in 2A, Dwenger #4 in 3A

December 7 AP Boys basketball poll
Class 2A W-L Pts Prv
1. Ft. Wayne Luers (12) 1-0 240 1
2T. Bluffton 2-0 190 3
2T. Tipton 2-0 190 2
4. Brownstown 2-0 160 4
5. Forest Park 2-0 126 6
6. Ev. Mater Dei 2-0 89 9
7. Wheeler 2-0 77
8. Winchester 3-1 60 5
9. Westview 3-0 58
10. Lapel 2-1 41
Others receiving votes: Lawrenceburg 39. N. Miami 38. Oak Hill 30. Eastern (Greene) 20. Taylor 17. Bishop Noll 15. Tri-West 10. Wapahani 9. Indpls Washington 9. Eastern (Howard) 9. Alexandria 7. Knightstown 6.
Another great year for Luers.... #1 in Football, ranked #1 in boys and girls basketball.

Norwell girls #2 in 3A, Luers girls #1 in 2A

December 7 AP Girls Basketball Poll

Class 3A    W-L    Pts    Prv    
1. Rushville (11)    6-0    144        1    
2. Norwell(4)    6-0    128        2    
3. Ft. Wayne Elmhurst     5-2    103        3    
4. Gibson Southern    6-0    92        4    
5. Benton Central    6-1    60        7    
6. Plymouth    5-1    59        5    
7. Ev. Memorial    2-2    45        6    
8. Northwood    6-1    42        8    
9. Crawfordsville    6-1    38        9    
10. Franklin Co.    7-0    32    
Others receiving votes: Western Boone 17, Hamilton Heights 15, Fort Wayne Concordia 13, Mt. Vernon (Fortville) 9, Owen Valley 8, Greensburg 6, Griffith 4, Jasper 3, Charlestown 3, Wawasee 2, Indpls Roncalli 2.
Class 2A    W-L    Pts    Prv    
1. Ft. Wayne Luers (10)     6-0    140        1    
2. Austin (5)    5-0    135        2    
3. Oak Hill    5-1    109        3    
4. Winchester    6-0    108        4    
5. Wabash    6-0    86        6    
6. Taylor    5-1    76        5    
7. Boone Grove    6-0    65        7
8. Jimtown    6-1    38        9    
9. Eastern (Howard)    6-0    24    
10. Hagerstown    4-1    13    
Others receiving votes: Heritage Christian 12, Indian Creek 9, Brownstown 5, Covenant Christian 2, Culver Community 2, Fairfield 1.

Go girls!

Why doesn't the EPA regulate viruses in the air we breathe?

Although it's something that's been coming since earlier in the year, it's still a bit shocking to see the EPA declare carbon dioxide is a poison the United States government can regulate. Once you realize that carbon dioxide makes up only 0.037 percent of of the Earth's atmosphere... I mean, come on... 1% of a dollar is a penny.... 0.037th of a percent of a dollar is a tiny sliver of a penny.

1. CO2 makes up a tiny, tiny, tiny sliver of the atmosphere... 0.037%

2. CO2 is a naturally occurring gas (see the chart below which expands that "CO2 - 0.037%" category in the chart above)

As you can see below, the oceans and animals breathing make up 95 percent of the CO2 in the atmosphere... Mankind (aside from our breath) adds about 5% of CO2 in the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels, etc. So 5% of 0.037% is Man's industrial contribution to the atmosphere -- or 0.00185% -- and the EPA wants to regulate it. They want to regulate a gas that all mammals exhale, a gas that water and earth exhales, a gas that makes plants thrive. This is extremely silly. The numbers are far too small to measure any impact our pointless reductions would have.

The EPA might as well regulate sunlight as carbon dioxide. They could control the diameter of umbrellas over our heads and the number of shade trees we plant. In the end, regulating the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere is just as silly as trying to regulate the temperature of the Earth. Wouldn't our founders be shocked to see their government try to control nature herself.

Ask yourself.... the EPA says that CO2 is harmful to humans, so why doesn't the EPA regulate viruses in the air we breathe? Not only would it improve our health, but we could measure our success in ways impossible with CO2. So why don't they? The next time you get a cold or the flu, ask yourself why the EPA doesn't protect you from real poisons in the air. Regulating viruses in the air makes much more sense than regulating carbon dioxide.

Review: Brothers

I wasn't going to see the film "Brothers" because it looked like just another Hollywood film dissing our troops... but this review by Carl Kozlowski over at Big Hollywood, has changed my mind. Isn't it nice that some conservative voices can be heard coming out of Big Hollywood?

Update: Meghan McCain has the opposite view of Brothers, that it is just another horrible portrayal of the American Soldier.

December 6, 2009

Norwell Girls defeat Homestead

Norwell 55, Homestead 52

The host Knights held a comfortable lead for most of the game when the Spartans started to inch themselves back into the game down the stretch cutting the lead to as little as three points, but Norwell, the 2nd-ranked team in class 3A, held on for the win, 55-52.

For what it's worth, Homestead beat powerhouse Elmhurst earlier this year.  Rushville is the other powerhouse in 3A this year.

December 4, 2009

Beyond the Canon

If you're a film buff, take a look at Beyond the Canon.  The Canon is a list of 300 generally agreed upon classic films.  Beyond the Canon is a list of 100 films, I guess you could say, almost made the list.  All the information on the 300 classics and the 100 close-to-classics, as well as lots of other lists, are at the link.

Tiger's unintentional promotion

I have no comment on Tiger Woods' personal life, but find it interesting that the release of Florida Highway Patrol pics from Tiger's ruined back seat have shot the sales up on John Gribbin's "Get a Grip on Physics."  Now that Oprah's going off the air, the field is free for Tiger to promote more books!

This incidental role in Woods's domestic drama has been enough to create a rush to get hold of the book, with the title's sales rank on jumping from 396,224 earlier in the week to a high spotted yesterday by the Wall Street Journal of 2,268.

It's good that Tiger's a reader.

Low Cost Starter Telescopes

Thinking of giving a low-cost starter telescope to some young, budding scientist this Christmas?  Good advice here.

An appalling murder

An appalling murder, a lame excuse in Rising Sun, down on the Ohio River near Kentucky, southwest of Cincinnati.

December 3, 2009

Norwell boys start off season well

I rather lost track of the Norwell boys basketball team, but am pleased to see they have started the season off well, defeating Fremont (61-45) and Adams Central (63-34). 

Jeopardy! March 16 2007

December 2, 2009

Goodbye Global Warming, Hello Cosmic Rays

We're in the deepest solar minimum in a century.  Goodbye Global Warming...


And this, from

The sun is in the pits of a very deep solar minimum. Many researchers thought the sunspot cycle had hit bottom in 2008 when the sun was blank 73% of the time. Not so. 2009 is on the verge of going even lower. So far this year, the sun has been blank 75% of the time, and only a serious outbreak of sunspots over the next few weeks will prevent 2009 from becoming the quietest year in a century. Solar minimum continues.

I would have thought that being in such a deep solar minimum would be good for communications, but it turns out (see the chart at the top) that sunspots increase solar winds that brush galactic cosmic rays away from Earth.  Without sunspots, the solar winds are very low and more cosmic rays enter the Earth's atmosphere to interfere with communications.  Read the article on page 28 of World Radio Online for a nice description.

In short, even though the Al Gores and James Hansons of the world have been shouting for years about the sky falling, we've actually had it very good.  What's coming, hard winters, lower food production and poor communications, could be quite an eye opener.

Norwell 72, Wayne 46

The girls march on to 5-0 over Wayne

December 1, 2009

Climate Tribalism

Groupthink and the global warming industry

How big a scandal this is for the scientific community is being hotly debated on the Internet. But in big newspapers and TV news, the story has gotten less attention. And that's a scandal, too. The New York Times' leading climate reporter, Andrew Revkin (whose name appears in some of the e-mails), won't publish the contents of the e-mail on the grounds it would violate the scientists' privacy. Can anyone imagine the Times being so prissy if such damning e-mails were from ExxonMobil, never mind Dick Cheney?

Luckily, the networks and the major newspapers are no longer needed... information (for awhile anyway) is freely available on the Internet.