Archive for March, 2008

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Take this, Saudi Arabia!

March 31, 2008

oil shaleThe U.S. Geological Survey is supposed to release a report by the end of April about the amount of shale oil available in the Bakken Formation, which spans parts of South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and Saskatchewan. Estimates range from 200 billion barrels to as many as 900 billion barrels. (Saudi Arabia, for comparison, has reserves of about 260 billion barrels.) Even if the conservative estimates are true, 200 to 300 billion barrels is still an incredible amount. Link

We already have extensive shale oil deposits in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming – perhaps  1.2 to 1.8 trillion barrels. It’s not as easy to get as just pumping it out of the ground, but with oil at $ 100 a barrel, shouldn’t there be some kind of incentive? Link

And much of that is under US Government-owned land. Why, again, are we tied to oil in the Middle East?

I believe President Bush is right that the US should promote democracy around the world. I agreed with the invasion of Iraq, and I agree with us staying there. I don’t think we will be “finishing the job” any time soon – probably at least a generation. There are too many Iraqis who were raised under the Saddam regime who will find it hard to work out of the old mindset, even if they could break out of the 7th-century notions of Islam. The problem will be staying the course through another US generation as well.

I further believe that if we could promote democracy in the Middle East it would make the entire area more stable, as well as improve the lives for millions of Arabs. It may be the most difficult job of transformation in history, but it is worth it.

I also believe that we should do all we can to help protect Israel. We have an obligation, not just as a moral nation, but as a nation that believes in freedom and democracy, to help maintain Israel’s security.

All that said, I don’t know why we should spend another dime messing about with oil in the Middle East. We are enabling Saudi Arabia – home to most of the 9/11 terrorists, and home to Wahabi terrorist-breeding madarassas. The Saudi royal family are Wahabis. We’ve been friends of their for years, and they have been “friends” of ours. Link

The Presidential candidates are all talking about promoting alternative energy sources. Instead of burning food with this nonsense about ethanol, just promote extracting our own oil. If the liberal candidates want to involve the  government more in our affairs, at least put it in the oil business and do us some good!

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XCOR Lynx – a real spaceship? Naw.

March 26, 2008

XCOR Lynx suborbitalNow, I like XCOR. They have been diligently working on reliable rocket engines for years. One of Jerry Pournelle’s sons works for them. They are on the same flightline at Mojave as Rutan’s Scaled Composites. This little two-man rocket plane, the Lynx, is being developed with a grant from the Air Force. Link

According to the article, it will take off horizontally and land the same way. It has a top speed of Mach 2 and a ceiling of 200,000 feet. I expect the rocket-powered ride up would be exciting, and there’s some free fall at the top of the parabola, but the fact that it is a two-man vehicle, only flies to 200,000 feet – not the magic 50-mile “bottom limit of space” – and only Mach 2 makes it a very expensive little trip. I can’t see it as a serious competitor to Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two. I wonder why they are spending so much time and money on such a low-performance rocket plane. I would expect market analysis would show this to be a difficult market to make a profit in. They must know something I don’t.

Not that there is any surprise there!

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Happy Easter!

March 24, 2008

Grandbabies at EasterEaster was yesterday, but it was too busy to post – children, grandchildren, other family members here, lots of busyness! Lots of fun with the grandbabies here overnight on Saturday night, though. Everybody enjoyed Easter toys and candy, and we had a lot of fun. Elyse is starting to say some real words now, and knows when to use them – she’s not just mimicking what she hears. And she’s just 13 months old! Emily has her own mind now and understands all the directions she can be given – but sometimes she doesn’t follow them! She’s two, after all! She’s a sweet little tenderheart who really looks after her sister, too – “Leesie is cute!”I know, doting Grampa – but that’s what it’s all about! Much fun with everyone. Now today is the cleanup day! 

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RIP Arthur C. Clarke

March 18, 2008

Arthur C. ClarkeArthur C. Clarke, science fiction and science fact writer and generally acknowledged inventor of the communication satellite, died today at the age of 90. He had lived in Sri Lanka for over 50 years.

When I was young I read most of his stories and novels, along with those of Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov – the three writers most generally considered to be the deans of hard-science SF. Clarke stories didn’t have the huge ideas of Asimov or the humanity of Heinlein, it seemed to me, but they were great slices of life with a wry British twist.

He will be most remembered for co-writing “2001: A Space Odyssey” with Stanley Kubrick.  It was an incredible, groundbreaking, astonishing, inspiring and ultimately confusing film for most people. The “semi-sequel,” “2010,” helped explain some things, and had its own drama, if not the sense of wonder of the first film. In many ways he has been the most influential of science fiction writers, if only for his work on “2001.”

It’s not irony, it’s a tribute, that I Googled his name to get the information about his passing, and the web site I found first was that for Sky News…which would not have existed without Clarke’s explanation of, and promotion of, communication satellites. He first advanced the idea in 1945, almost 20 years before there was the capability to place them in geosynchronous orbit.

I remember reading one of his nonfiction books in grade school that first taught me a lot of the basics of rocketry and space flight. It must have been the 1951 “The Exploration of Space.” I read it almost 15 years later, and it still seemed cutting-edge to me.

He wrote almost 100 books, was a part of two television series, and still appeared periodically – via satellite! – for important meetings having to do with the promotion of space exploration. He even sent a video greeting to the Robert A. Heinlein Centennial last year on 7/7/07.

For a man afflicted with polio, he still was an active scuba diver off the coast of his beloved Sri Lanka for many years. He was made a knight of the British Realm in 2000.

Sleep well, Arthur, and may all your questions about the universe be answered…

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CD of the month

March 15, 2008

It’s a new Gray Cat feature…every month (or so santa fe image) I’ll try to review a new, or at least new to me, CD. This month it’s “Let The Healing Begin,” by a Las Vegas horn band called Santa Fe & The Fat City Horns.It was recommended by Andy Ebon on Soul Music Online. Andy is the former Tower of Power webmaster and runs a web radio station and portal devoted to funk and R&B horn bands. The band is based at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas, where it plays every Monday night. (That’s the night most of the other Vegas shows are dark, so they guys can work their regular shows. Musicianship is top-notch, and the horn section is notable excellent. It sounds a lot less like TOP and a lot more like Chicago should have for the last 30 years. The sound is very reminiscent of the Sons of Champlin, really; partly because guitarist and lead vocalist Jerry Lopez sounds so much like Bill Champlin – who is a friend of the band. (Bill Champlin became a member of Chicago after Terry Kath’s death.)This is a live recording at the Palms, and it has some of the problems some live albums have. The background vocals are mixed oddly to my ears. Perhaps it’s just because there are generally only three background parts, unlike bands like TOP where four or five band members can sing backup.On the upside, the tunes are well-written and the arrangements are great. It’s a different take on the horn band sound, and I can’t get enough of that. Does it sound like TOP? No. It also doesn’t sound like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, or Chicago, or Mingo Fishtrap, or anybody else…it sounds like Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns, and that’s good enough! Recommended. Buy the CD from the band’s web site.

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Windows 7 slated for 2010…

March 13, 2008

Link here.

Will Vista finally be running OK by then?

Oh, I forgot…an announced date of 2010 means 2012, maybe 2013. Sorry.

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My favorite site ever!

March 12, 2008

Let There Be Jazz!

icanhacheezburger.com. If you don’t like cats, and especially lolcats, don’t go there. Unless you like lolruses, which show up from time to time, as well. Just go there and check it out! I check it a couple of times a day because it just plain makes me smile!