Hydrogen Blues

Gee, here's an article pointing out what most of us in the energy industry have known for some time. Hydrogen isn't the answer, unless the question is how to drive a car when there's no gasoline anymore. If that's not the question, there's better solutions out there already.

Hydrogen is appealing, although I can't for the life of me figure out why. Can somebody clue me in on this?



More Elected Asshats

Back when I wrote my representative, HR 1022 had no co-sponsors. In the meantime, it's picked up quite a few. 33 congresscritters have signed on to restrict your constitutional rights, to be precise. We all know now that the rules are apparently different for said congresscritters. To be fair, that was a senatorial-type critter, but the principle holds. I can't see why I should vote for a congresscritter that wants to remove my rights while granting themselves special privileges. Can you? Well, if one of the following people represents you, you might drop them a line informing them of your opinion.

Rep Ackerman, Gary L. [NY-5]
Rep Berman, Howard L. [CA-28]
Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23]
Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1]
Rep Crowley, Joseph [NY-7]
Rep DeGette, Diana [CO-1]
Rep Delahunt, William D. [MA-10]
Rep Eshoo, Anna G. [CA-14]
Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA-2]
Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51]
Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4]
Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7]
Rep Hirono, Mazie K. [HI-2]
Rep Jackson-Lee, Sheila [TX-18]
Rep Kennedy, Patrick J. [RI-1]
Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16]
Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18]
Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14]
Rep Markey, Edward J. [MA-7]
Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3]
Rep Meehan, Martin T. [MA-5]
Rep Miller, Brad [NC-13]
Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8]
Rep Pascrell, Bill, Jr. [NJ-8]
Rep Pastor, Ed [AZ-4]
Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9]
Rep Schiff, Adam B. [CA-29]
Rep Sherman, Brad [CA-27]
Rep Slaughter, Louise McIntosh [NY-28]
Rep Tauscher, Ellen O. [CA-10]
Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8]
Rep Wasserman Schultz, Debbie [FL-20]
Rep Wexler, Robert [FL-19]

I note my representative isn't on the list, but he's been a little preoccupied lately. We'll see what happens when he recovers.

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Thousands and Thousands

Today we received visit number 8,000 according to Sitemeter. A small milestone, and one randomly chosen, but there it is. 8,000 people and/or automated scripts have visited this little corner of the tubes.




Well, it's been a little over a month since J bought me a Squeezebox. I have to admit, I'm vastly impressed. There are more capabilities to the device that I have yet to finish exploring, but for now I'm very happy.

Nowadays, the box and the software emulator on my desktop run more often than not. It runs through the 6,179 songs, playing whatever it's random heart desires. The remote control works perfectly, and adds yet another layer of volume control into the system. At this point, I should be able to infinitely adjust the volume to a tiny portion of a decibel. Sound quality is excellent, but I'm using FLAC for everything I rip myself. I guessing a low-quality rip will still sound like crap, but I don't know. There's a few mp3 files that have snuck in somehow, but they're mainly humor and samples from obscure artists that we don't have discs from yet.

The only issues so far have been software related. The server software has some interesting glitches. I recently discovered that if, for any reason, you run two copies of the server software on the same box, you're hosed. Nothing works. Likewise, occasionally the tracks don't play. Forwarding to the next track seems to fix that most days. Every so often I have to reboot the wireless access point.

On the plus side, we are doing the “rediscovering” our music collection thing. There's a lot of moments when one or both of us will look at the other and say “We have this?” Much less frequent are the moments where neither of us can identify what's playing. Fortunately, the display works quite well for that.

I've read other whole-house solutions that involve radio broadcasts throughout the house. These, based on my carcasting experiences with the Belkin Tunecast, are not likely to be nearly as successful. Right now, the Squeezebox works for us. With a computer in the office running SoftSqueeze and the hard box in the living room, we can blanket the interior of the house with music. I have done something bizarre* with the inputs and outputs on the receiver, so I can't play the Squeezebox on the outside speakers yet. Once I get that nailed down, we should be good. I may have to revisit this when we move, but for now I'm okay. Although a way to get the tunes to the garage would be nice...

*Seriously, from looking at what I did before to make the CD changer player both inside and outside, I must be nuts. I have outputs cross-connected and cables connected in places that make no logical sense. Yet, I get sound of of everything when I use the CD player. I must have been really hammered when I hooked it all up. At least that's the excuse I'm using right now...

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Run Ron Run

Well, it’s official, even though it's yesterday's news. Ron Paul (R-ockstar) is running for President. Yay!

He’ll lose, of course. As much as I would like him to win, there’s really no possible way. My real hope is that Ron Paul will be a credible enough candidate to drag the debate in the correct direction. In any event, I’ll be voting for him in the primary.

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Cry Me A River

Somehow, I can’t even begin to care. The Iranians claim the movie is all propaganda spawned by “American cultural officials”. I don’t even know what an American cultural official is. Would the guy who hands out NEA grants qualify?

Anyhow, regardless of how Iranians feel slighted, let’s face facts. They’re complaining about a movie based on a comic book based on the Greek versions of history. The first half of that sentence alone should clue them in as to how ridiculous they sound. Secondly, how did they think they would come across? Positively? Yeah, that’s been a theme of works about Persia since the time of Herodotus, if you define ‘positively’ as ‘wrong side in a morality play’. You people are still bitching about how the losers in a 2500 year old war are portrayed? Get over it, you pathetic collection of wankers. Surely your government has other things to worry about, like whether or not the Israelis and/or Americans are going to blow up your reactors.

People need to grow thicker skins and quit fucking whining when somebody says something unpleasant about them.


What Now?

The DC Circuit Court has ruled on Parker v. District of Columbia. I think a short quote is in order here:

The court held that the Second Amendment (“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”) does not bestow any rights on individuals except, perhaps, when an individual serves in an organized militia such as today’s National Guard. We reverse.

I also note with some pleasure the decision references both Judge Kozinski’s dissent in Silviera v. Lockyer and Eugene Volokh’s writing on the 2nd Amendment.

I realize the District may yet appeal the case (your tax dollars at work!) and SCOTUS may pull something completely different out of the collective bunghole of the court system (see, for instance, Gonzales v. Raich or McConnell v. FEC). In the meantime, the Second Amendment secures an individual right. So, all you collective rights gun banning people over at the Brady Center and the Joyce Foundation: what now, bitches?

If you're interested, more commentary by people with actual law degrees can be found over at the Conspiracy.

Side note: The dissent appears to rely (from my cursory reading) on the curious notion that the District is not a State, so the Second Amendment does not apply. Uhh, what? That has to be one of the more interesting interpretations I've seen lately.



Technologically Challenged?

Apparently, anthropologists think using terms like “Stone Age”, “primitive”, and “savage” to describe indigenous peoples with a low level of technological achievement is a bad thing. Of course, the Beeb, doing an excellent job of reporting, doesn’t tell me what I should be calling them instead. I could invent a euphemism like “marginally technically advanced” or “technologically challenged” but that seems like such work. I think I’ll keep on with Stone Age. I don’t much care if I hurt someone’s feelings, but y’all knew that already.

Besides, if they’re so tech deprived, it ain’t like they’re gonna show up at my front door to complain about what they read on the web. Even if they do show up, I’m not opening the door to some dude in a grass skirt with a bone in his nose carrying three javelins, an atlatl, and a stone dagger. That’s a “Honey, get the rifles” moment if ever there was one. Chumley will quickly find out why stone-tipped arrows lost out to full metal jacket the world over.

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The New Blogger Sucks Hairy Ass

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Battle of Hypocrisy

PETA is apparently mad at Al Gore. Y’see, in PETAworld, eating meat causes global warming because cow farts contribute more to global warming than cars. Of course, PETA cites a UN report as the basis for the cow farts are bad factoid, so I’m taking this with a shaker or 12 of salt. I know when I think objective and disinterested science, I think United Nations and PETA. Two great tastes that go great together! Much like shit and piss, I s’pose.

Anyhow, I can’t bring myself to care what PETA thinks about anything. Let’s examine the name, shall we? The big word we should be keying on is Ethical. Hell, what does PETA say about animals?

PETA believes that animals have rights and deserve to have their best interests taken into consideration, regardless of whether they are useful to humans.

Except when animals aren’t useful to PETA, PETA euthanizes them and throws them in dumpsters. So much for deserving to have their best interests taken into consideration, huh, guys? PETA is like most, if not all, hardcore ideologues. They’re interested in the theoretical welfare and treatment of animals in general. The actual welfare of any particular animal? Not really a big concern. In this respect, PETA is much like the communism of old. Communism was (and is) the classic example of bad thinking in this regard. Commies were always aiming at the utopian future when everything will be shiny and bright and didn't care what they had to do to get there, and if they had to drive the bus over you to get there, too damned bad for you. Your sacrifice is justified for the glorious future. Since all any of us have is the here and now, it's a bullshit approach. If you’re not making a positive difference in the short-term, maybe it’s time to rethink what you’re doing.

If PETA wanted to actually make a difference in actual animal welfare, they'd be running no-kill rescue operations. But that's hard work and involves dealing with animals that aren't fluffy and cuddly and photogenic and cute. The animals tend to be sick, grumpy, and in pain and need lots of care and attention that involves contact with copious amounts of bodily fluids. Let's face it, we all know that ain't fun especially when you're getting minimum wage or volunteering for it. It's a hell of a lot easier to jack the critters full of barbiturates, throw them in a dumpster, and justify it by saying, "Someday, we won't have to do this because we'll all be enlightened animal companions." The 20,000 or so house pets that ended up dead didn't mind giving their all so PETA had enough cash to run another ad campaign, did they? Of course, we can’t exactly ask what they thought, seeing as how dead critters tell no tales. Me, I’m a wee tad bit suspicious.

Of course, PETA is battling ManBearPig the ardent environmentalist. ManBearPig firmly believes that if he pays someone else to use less carbon, he can keep burning those fossil fuels willy-nilly. Since this approach fails spectacularly if everybody tries doing it, it’s hard to reconcile your desire for the big house and extravagant lifestyle with claims of environmentalism. After the news of his energy consumption, I could point out that if you ask everybody to cut back on their lifestyle, you should probably step up and be first. I’m sure the legions of fawning sycophants will have some half-assed claim as to why his behavior is justified and I should listen to his inane prattling. Remember kids, always think globally and act hypocritically. If you have wealthy parents, you can go far in life by doing so, even if you don’t have any real job skills.

I’m going to lump both PETA and ManBearPig in the class of ardent hypocrites and let the best hypocrite win. In the meantime, I’ll continue to feel free to ignore whatever asshat proclamations either comes up with about how to live my life.

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Presidential Poll Schmuckery

There won't be a Presidential Primary for about a year, and I'm already sick of the campaign cycle. I'm even more fed up than usual with the polls and pollsters. As my undergraduate degree is in Political Science, I tend to discount most polling, as the fundamental premise for the method is faulty. I don't think 1,000 phone calls made to people in the Northeasten part of the country are in any way an indicative sample of how America votes. How often does the media's early annointed actually get the nomination anyway? And why does Howard Dean and John McCain keep entering my mind?

But back to samples and questions. Most of the time when you see these polls, they just poll 1,000 "random" people, not even "likely voters". I think just under 40% of eligible voters voted in the 2006 election. If you're throwing out a pool of people who may run for President to get a general sense of name recognition, which is all you can get at this point, this 40% is the only logical basis for a polling sample. The first poll question should be simple, "Did you vote in the 2006 election?" If the person answers no, then you thank them and move on to the next person. If they did, then ask who they'd choose for President...but don't make them choose from your list. Given that most folks can't name all 9 Supreme Court Justices, I'm sure you'd get some pretty interesting answers.

However, I think the real question at this point is who will get the party's nomination. The last number I read was from 2006, that of the 38 states that hold primaries, only something like 7-8% of folks eligible turned out for any given primary. Do you know who these people are? These are the activists, the far left and far right of Democrats and Republicans. These people pick the candidates that everyone else chooses from, so these people should be your only proper sample.

Want a more accurate poll? Question 1 should be, "In how many of the last 3 party primaries/caucuses/events did you vote or participate? If the person on the other end of the phone cannot come up with the answer "2" or possibly "3", then they are not qualified to be part of your sample and polling should stop. The next question should be something to the effect of, "if the Presidential primary was held tomorrow, for whom would you vote? Now, that's how you find out who your candidate will be, and that information is more credible.

All this aside, I personally wish they'd just stop already. It is too damned early. And since I'm coming at this as a political junkie, I can't even imagine what your average American Idol voter is thinking about all this. Ah, hell, he's probably paying about as much attention to it all as I am to American Idol.


Local Issue of the Week: Robert Eckels Justifies Leaving

I attended the Harris County Republican Party Executive Committee meeting last night. Now, let me say at the outset that I don't think these meetings are particularly well run, and I'm not into all the cheerleading and speechifying. I think the folks who donate the food and drinks to the meeting should be properly thanked, but not by allowing them to give 5 minute "inspirational" speeches. I typically give these meetings about 1.5-2 hours and if they're still going, well then, so am I. Needless to say, last night I skipped out early. I did, however, hear the exchange between Dan Patrick and Robert Eckels, as well as Judge Eckels' talk to the group.

I applaud Dan for not backing down from his opinion on the matter, and tend to agree with what he had to say, which most who read this already know, so I'm not going to repeat it. Dan has a way of throwing a dead fish on the table, reminding everyone in the room what it is, making you look at it and sometimes he makes you touch it. I really do admire that about him. Yeah, I know it makes some people uncomfortable, but it is also necessary to honest discourse. And I believe Dan coming out early on the matter and telling Eckels that he's wrong for what he's doing totally changed the tone of the debate. It made people not feel intimidated to speak their own minds, which can happen in a lot of groupthink situations.

I personally believe Eckels is doing us all a large disservice by stepping down early from the position to which he was elected to serve a full term for nothing more than personal gain, and appointing a relative unknown into his place. I also think he was his own most damning critic by stating something to the effect that if he held the position until the end of his term, he'd only be "coasting." I don't think that speaks particularly highly of his personal or professional character. True character is putting 100% into the position you're in for as long as you hold it, and in this particular case, finishing out your term and not seeking re-election. He admitted that this position with F&J would probably still be waiting for him in 6 months, so it isn't like he really has a compelling reason to go at this point.

So, like everyone who spoke last night I say to Robert Eckels, thank you for your past service to the party...you've been a great friend to Harris County Republicans...but....for this THPPPT you suck.


News For The Thinking Impaired

Apparently, Ann Coulter called John Edwards a faggot and I'm supposed to care. Generally speaking, faggot is nice compared to some of the things I call politicians when I'm in full on rant mode. I can't say some author calling a politician a faggot affects me too much one way or another.

Let us engage the brain for just a moment. Coulter's appeal comes in large part because of her rhetorical bomb-throwing, not despite it. Will her comment offend people who didn't like Ann Coulter or CPAC Republicans generally? Yes. Will anyone who was there and applauded give a rat's ass about the people who are offended? No. Will it move some people away from Mitt Romney? Maybe. Will this matter in November of '08? I'm betting not. All the people who whine about the coarsening of political discourse in this country need to gain some historical perspective, as calling someone a faggot is far from as bad as it's been in the past.

Bottom line? It doesn't matter. Ann Coulter is not running for office, so you can't vote for (or against) her. John Edwards isn't in a postion to complain too much about hate speech, given the people he associated and unassociated with in past weeks. Sound and fury, signifying nothing.

We have 18 months of partisan bickering to enjoy. I'm just enthralled at the prospect.


Gun Control Ahoy

Now the donks have control of the Congress, which legislative abortion immediately rears up? That’s right! A new, improved, more draconian and restrictive version of the departed and unlamented Assault Weapons Ban. I’m going to assume you all understand why the original AWB in 1994 was stupid, unconstitutional and useless. If not, go here. It’s a bit dated and refers mainly to the original but the underlying logic is still sound. We can also note that the AWB did nothing particularly useful. Of course, my links (strangely) are to gun rights groups and scholars. For a liberal perspective on the stupidity of it all, go here.

Anyhow, in a fit of pique, I fired up ye olde worde processore and cranked out a letter to my current representative in the House. I don’t figure I need to send this letter to my Senators. For your amusement, here it is:

28 Feb 2007

Rep. Nick Lampson
10701 Corporate Dr #118
Stafford TX 77477

Dear Rep. Lampson:

I would like to call your attention to a number of pernicious bills that have been proposed by your colleagues. Specifically, I am referring to the following items:

HR 256 Child Gun Safety and Gun Access Prevention Act of 2007
HR 297 NICS Improvement Act of 2007
HR 1022 Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2007

All three bills share some strikingly similar themes. Each is a deliberate attempt to strip Americans of their Constitutional rights, each will not result in any appreciable public benefit, and each will penalize responsible law-abiding citizens in a fruitless attempt to deter criminals, who follow none of these burdensome laws anyway.

I find it bizarre that HR 256 would prohibit American service members under the age of 21 from possessing legal civilian versions of weapons they carry on duty. It would seem that Rep. Jackson-Lee does not feel that adults, who may be trusted to vote for her and serve in the military to defend her, are to be trusted with the weapons they carry for our country.

I find equally bizarre the idea that HR 1022 would attempt to expand and broaden an act which, by all unbiased accounts, did absolutely nothing to reduce crime of any type. Since the law as passed in 1994 was completely ineffective, what rational basis exists for presuming it will be effective now? HR 1022 is nothing more than a bold-faced attempt by lobbying groups opposed to certain rights to enshrine their preferences into law in direct violation of the United States Constitution.

I realize none of these bills have yet been released from committee; however I hope you will use your influence to ensure they are not released. If they instead come to a floor vote, I am sure that you will do the right thing and vote against them. I would like to think I have a Congressman who, unlike many today, understands the Constitution and the protections that all of its provisions afford to all Americans.

If, instead, you feel the entire Constitution is not applicable to all Americans, I am sure someone else can be elected to serve our district with a better understanding. Given your tenuous hold on your current seat and the unusual electoral circumstances which led to your victory, I would think taking a position contrary to a significant number of voters in your district would be unwise. However, you may feel otherwise, in which case you will have the unenviable distinction of being replaced as Congressman twice in your career.


We'll see what I hear back, if anything.