Archive for August, 2008


More on Sarah Palin’s qualifications

August 31, 2008

Here’s a rundown on Sarah Palin’s qualifications vs. Barack Obama’s…link. I don’t know anything about the web sites that signed on to this site…but read it, anyway.

Now, y’all need to know I am NOT a big McCain fan, but lately he’s been saying smarter things – I think his people have figured out he needs to find his base again, and pretty darn soon. While I really was hoping McCain would pick Mitt Romney, Palin’s a pretty darn good pick, and she has a great story. Light on the experience…yeah, but she’s made the most of what she’s had. And she must be a pollster’s dream! Think of all the demographics they can break out and sample now!


Sarah’s gun video…

August 30, 2008

I’m likin’ her better all the time…


McCain’s VP Pick

August 30, 2008


Alaska Governor Sarah Palin

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin

I have to say I’ve been fairly unhappy up to the last couple of weeks with John McCain. I have serious concerns about his conservatism, like many others. I’d vote for him because the alternative is too scary to think about.

Yesterday, though, I think McCain hit one out of the park. He chose Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential pick, and announced it the day after the coronation of Obama, on McCain’s 72nd birthday and Palin’s 20th anniversary. Good theater, that!

Others have written more eloquently about Mrs. Palin than I can here. I think for a political standpoint he’s made a brilliant move, finding someone the disaffected hardcore Hillary voters could seriously consider, while also picking someone with good conservative credentials. It also demonstrates he’s not locked in to the Washington insider crew…which Obama tried to promote, then failed with his selection of Biden.

The next few months could be really interesting after all. And the convention could actually be fun, now!


iTunes has worked just as I expected it to…

August 30, 2008

According to this article, some “artists” (Kid Rock, in this case) refuse to put their music on iTunes because it allows people to download single songs instead of buying the entire album. Poor baby. Apparently he doesn’t like the fact that consumers get a choice – and that he needs to create albums that are good all the way through, instead of having a couple of good songs and ten dogs.

I predicted this way back when iTunes started. There were lots of predictions about how it would “change the industry,” and it has – but to me, the most important point is that consumer choice would rule. Since the days of the LP record album buyers were forced to buy everything on the album, whether they liked the tracks or not. No longer. Some artists have stepped up and released consistently great music. Some have not. The record labels liked to release albums or CDs with a couple of great tunes on them, knowing consumers would buy them for the two or three songs they wanted, but would pay full price. There was no pressure to make all the music on the CD of a consistently strong quality.

iTunes has provided that pressure. It only makes it better for consumers. If musicians have to work harder, I say -as a musician myself – that’s a very good thing. Sometimes the commitment to quality comes from within. Sometimes it has to be imposed from outside!


Happy 40th, TOP!

August 24, 2008
Tower horns at Universal Studios Florida

Tower horns at Universal Studios Florida

On August 13, Tower of Power officially celebrated 40 years of great music-making! “Tower of Power is a SOUL band playing SOUL music 40 years this year!” – as Mimi would say at the open to “Diggin’ On James Brown.”

Congratulations, guys. You’re still the best. We love ya!


Pournelle gets it right – again!

August 18, 2008
It's sad...

It's sad...

Jerry Pournelle gets it right again, as usual: “…a new generation seems to have grown up : one that doesn’t understand high technology even though it uses it.” Link

Dr. Pournelle was referring to those in government (including NASA), and even to high school teachers, who do not understand what it takes to develop new technologies – in this case, primarily space access. If you’ve not read his Strategy of Technology, you should, it was written years ago for a Cold War audience but things haven’t changed as much as I wish they had.

I said some years ago that the “older folks”  – in this case teachers like me – who still thought that high school kids were more computer-savvy than we were wrong. They have better eye-hand coordination, for certain. They spend hours and hours honing those skills. However, computers don’t take a lot of time to learn any more, and most kids don’t want to spend that kind of time anyway – not when the games are a-callin’. They may spend a lot of time with computers and other computer-like devices, but they do not spend that time working with traditional computer applications.

Some of those kids have grown up. Many adults now just know that things “work,” and don’t know why. That’s OK if you’re a normal person with a microwave oven – you shouldn’t have to be able to repair it. That’s pretty dangerous stuff.  But those in positions of power and influence need to understand what an investment in R&D is all about, and why we need it, and we have many in Congress, in NASA, and in education who don’t seem to get it.


Obama and Clarence Thomas

August 17, 2008
Justice Thomas

Justice Thomas

Apparently Senator Obama said yesterday that the Supreme Court Justice he liked least was Clarence Thomas. I’ve met Justice Thomas, Senator, and you are no Clarence Thomas. He is a great man, a humble man, a friendly person who truly wants the Supreme Court to work for the people of this Nation. When I met him he was cordial and shook hands with me, but really wanted to talk to my son, who is in his 20s – he understands how our country needs to grow and develop, with young people with good hearts. I was kind of amazed at how he zeroed in on my son.

Senator Obama, you should talk to Justice Thomas. Get to know him. Get to know more people like him. Then, someday, you might be qualified to be President. Right now, you’re listening to the wrong people.

If we were to elect an African-American as President this year, Justice Thomas would be a far better President than Senator Obama.


Rise in sea levels are a lot more complex than I thought…

August 15, 2008
Sea temperatures changes from Jason-1

Sea temperatures changes from Jason-1

While it seems common sense to me that sea levels would be the same worldwide – the water level in your tub doesn’t change from one end to the other, does it? – apparently that’s not so. According to data from the Jason-1 satellite, sea levels have been rising, but not the same everywhere. Warmer water causes higher sea levels. (I resist the obligatory Al Gore joke that belongs here.)

I first found a reference to this article trying to link it to global warming. The actual NASA article hedges its bets a lot more. Seems to me the oceans are a very complex system, and not any easier to model than the atmosphere…


Upgrading my old PowerBook G4

August 14, 2008
Looks like mine, but shinier

Looks like mine, but shinier

I’ve been using a PowerBook G4 at work, along with the Toshiba tablet that is required for each teacher, for several years. I still like it and use it a lot. There are certain network PC-specific things I have to use the Toshiba for, like the way Outlook is set up, but for an awful lot of stuff I can still use the PB. Last year I upgraded it to 2 GB of memory. Today I replaced the 80 GB hard disk with a 120 GB version.

Why only 120 GB? Because that was what our tech guys had lying around unused. Since it’s an ATA drive there is not much use for them at school any more. I would have liked a 160 GB drive, but this one was free, so that’s what I used.

I had to go to Micro Center to get a Torx-6 screwdriver for two screws – just two – on the top of the keyboard. I used a repair manual from to open it up successfully. This was more involved than replacing the drive in my old G3 WallStreet back in the day. Watch out for the little clips behind the front of the DVD drive – they are very easily bent.

I used Carbon Copy Cloner and a firewire enclosure from New World Computing to copy my entire drive to the new drive first. (I had the enclosure from a few years ago, with an old 40 GB drive in it – I think it was from the WallStreet.) Then, once the ‘book was opened up, it was a simple thing to swap drives.

All in all, a successful swap. You’ll need that Torx-6, and a couple of small screwdrivers (the smallest one I needed I bought in a $ 1.99 set while at Micro Center; it’s a #1). Tweezers help a lot to grab those tiny screws to remove and replace them.

Now I’m considering installing Leopard on this machine. I’m a bit nervous about doing it, figuring a pretty big performance hit on a machine with a single 1.25 GHz G4. It works OK on my iMac, but that’s a 1.8 GHz G5. Comments on the web have been inconclusive at best.

Anybody know if this is a bad idea?


China, land of things not quite as they seem…

August 13, 2008
You can't get me to believe this stupid-looking stadium is really there, either

Is this really there?

Note: for this post, the sarcasm light is definitely lit.

So the Chinese, in an effort to produce a more perfect Olympic experience, faked some of the fireworks in the opening ceremony for broadcast using CGI. They also substituted a “better-looking” little girl singer who lip-synced for another ceremony. They made people leave over a million cars at home to reduce the smog level in Beijing. Aren’t they caring? We want you to have a good experience, and we’ll fake it until we make it.

Other things they could do:
• Change all those spellings back to what I remember growing up, like “Peking” instead of Beijing.
• Be nice to Tibet.
• Become a democratic nation.
• Quit picking on Taiwan – yo, it’s just a little island; give them a break!
• Give the British back Hong Kong. Poor guys, the Brits need a boost right now, what with all the nanny-state socialism running rampant, continuing poor dental care, a huge influx of Muslims, and Scotland talking independence. And they really miss Tony Blair, even though they will be too “stiff upper lip” to let on.

Chicago’s mayor-for-life, Richard “Elmer Fudd” Daley, wants the 2016 Olympics in Chicago so bad he can taste it. Here are some suggestions to help improve his chances:

• Bribe the Olympic officials way more than the other guys do.
• Build a “homeless village” at the Lincoln Park zoo and move ’em in there. It shouldn’t cost more than Millennium Park – maybe a half billion or so.
• Build flyin’ cars so we don’t have to use the Eisenhower Expressway, which always sucks.
• Bribe the Olympic officials way more than the other guys do.
• Promise the Olympic officials that they will get to meet David Hasselhoff, Jerry Lewis, and Jessica Simpson. (I just threw the last one in. I don’t know if she’s popular in Europe or not.) Maybe Will Smith. Maybe Michael Jordan – I mean, who doesn’t want to meet Michael Jordan?
• Bribe some more Olympic officials. Who’s it gonna hurt?
• If they still won’t give the Olympics to us, send in Mike Ditka. Nobody says no to Mike Ditka. You know this is true.

I’ll have to work on that some more. I mean, Chicago is a pretty neat town already, except for the cabs, the expressways, and that extra sales tax in Cook County. I’m not a big reality TV fan, but I’d watch a series where random Chicago cabbies are driving Olympic participants around town. The term “language barrier” was invented for that…