All content on this blog from Tim McGhee has moved to the Tim McGhee Substack, and soon, Lord willing, will be found only on that Substack.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Virginia Values

Judges Appear Hesitant on Virginia 'Partial Birth' Abortion Ban
Virginia's attempt to revive its law restricting abortion received a skeptical reception from a panel of federal judges here Thursday in a key test of how the Supreme Court's decision to uphold federal abortion limits will affect restrictions imposed by the states.

Abstinence-Only Sex-Ed Funds Cut Off by Kaine
Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine has cut off state funding for abstinence-only sex education programs, citing recent studies finding that teenagers should also be taught about birth control and condoms to protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Forum Helps Arlington's Teens Have More Say
Teenagers don't think they have much control over their lives. Schools set their daytime schedules; parents dictate the rules at home. There are guidelines for when they can drive and what movies they're allowed to see. That doesn't leave a lot of opportunity for teens to make their views heard, but an Arlington group is trying to change that. The 24-member Teen Network Board meets monthly during the school year to discuss teen issues, explore community activities and provide a forum for young people to dialogue with adults and make themselves heard.

City of Alexandria’s Adolescent Pregnancy Rate in Decline
The City of Alexandria’s latest adolescent pregnancy rate data indicates a sharp decline over the past 10 years, showing a 28 percent drop in the overall rate since 1995. The City has addressed this issue by providing ongoing support to the Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy (ACAP), a coalition of interested citizens, agencies, and community groups engaged in an aggressive education and outreach program to promote the message that parents, families and adolescents themselves all play a critical role in preventing adolescent pregnancy.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Ron Paul: Freedom is Popular

He sounds Reaganesque in his ability to articulate what it means to be an American.

Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Design Targets

Nathan Bowers: design for the user
Donald Norman: ignore the user

And yet they both may be right!

I think the point is create an environment that encourages user activity.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Illegals for President

Two fun facts for today:
Tom Tancredo: I'm running for President to "Save America" from illegal immigrants.

Secret Service: We have to borrow more than 2,000 immigration officers to protect the presidential candidates.
Ironic, don't you think?!

Chicken or Egg in the Amazon Rainforest

Earth Observatory Feature: The Amazon's Seasonal Secret
In the Amazon, it seems, it’s not just the rain that makes a rainforest; the rainforest makes it rain.

... one of the most interesting features of the trend is that it does not appear to be the sunlight itself that cues the trees to make new leaves. “They actually flush [grow new] leaves a little before the arrival of the dry season. It seems to be something in their genetic programming that allows them to anticipate the coming of the light-rich dry season, to prepare for enhanced photosynthesis.”

... From the ground, what someone would see is a forest filled with millions of trees, each shedding and making new leaves on their own schedule. Sometimes, even trees of the same species are completely asynchronous, putting out new leaves or flowers at different times of the year. ...

With millions of trees over a seven-million-square kilometer area changing subtly from day to day, it’s easy to understand how the pattern could be been missed from the ground. Only with years of forest-wide satellite data did the Amazon’s seasonal secret become clear.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Flood of Irony

In his recent podcast (MP3), Ken Ham points out:
  • The majority of scientists believe a flood of biblical proportions occurred on Mars.
  • Those same scientists don't believe in a flood of biblical proportions on Earth.
And yet:
  • Earth is mostly covered by water
  • Mars has no liquid water

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Homeless and Not Dropping Out

The Kid Who Wouldn't Quit
Daniel Lazzatti Didn't Let Homelessness Or A Learning Disability Keep Him From A High School Diploma

Of course, it would have been better had his parents not divorced and instead supported him in getting his education.

Drinking Gas

CBS News: Indy 500 Goes From Gas to Green
Race Car Drivers Switch To Ethanol, Full Speed Ahead
The Indianapolis 500 is hardly the place you'd expect to find anything "green," outside of the starting flag. The cars in the annual race average 220 mph and get 2 to 3 miles per gallon. But this year, they'll be burning rubber on ethanol...

This is a big change for the Indy 500 — the last time the race switched fuels (to unleaded) was back in 1965. ...

Indy driver Jeff Simmons says the fuel switch is anything but a gimmick, citing the environmental and economic benefits of ethanol. "If our engineers had said, 'hey, this isn't a high performance fuel,' we wouldn't be running it." ..

The high-performance race cars will not be running on 100 percent pure ethanol. The reason? Two percent gas had to be added to the mix, otherwise it would have been considered pure grain alcohol and subject to liquor tax.

Perhaps we need to update our liquor laws!

'Roe' Endorses Brownback

ABC News Political Radar: 'Roe' Endorses Abortion Opponent

ABC News' Julia Bain Reports: Republican presidential candidate Sam Brownback, R-Kan., announced Thursday he has received the endorsement of Norma McCorvey aka "Jane Roe" in the landmark 1973 abortion case Roe v. Wade.

Since the case, McCorvey has reversed her stance on abortion and, in a statement released by the campaign, the former abortion rights plaintiff cites Brownback's long record on the controversial issue as the basis for her support.
Mr. Brownback is not the only one who benefits from this announcement.

This will also raise awareness of Roe No More, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, the Justice Foundation, and others seeking to reverse Roe v. Wade.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Creation Museum Opens Monday

My friend Kurt Wise has been hard at work in Kentucky on the Creation Museum and it is now finally opening!

The Creation Museum
2800 Bullittsburg Church Road
Petersburg, KY 41080

Opens Monday, May 28, 2007
Produced by Answers in Genesis

Ken Ham Blog: Creation Museum in The New York Times

Concerned Women for America:
Pray for the Museum!

From the NY Times article by Edward Rothstein:
For the believer, it seems, this museum provides a kind of relief: Finally the world is being shown as it really is, without the distortions of secularism and natural selection.

The Creation Museum actually stands the natural history museum on its head.

Natural history museums developed out of the Enlightenment: encyclopedic collections of natural objects were made subject to ever more searching forms of inquiry and organization. The natural history museum gave order to the natural world, taming its seeming chaos with the principles of human reason. ...

But given the museum’s unwavering insistence on belief in the literal truth of biblical accounts, it is strange that so much energy is put into demonstrating their scientific coherence with discussions of erosion or interstellar space. Are such justifications required to convince the skeptical or reassure the believer?

In the museum’s portrayal, creationists and secularists view the same facts, but come up with differing interpretations, perhaps the way Ptolemaic astronomers in the 16th century saw the Earth at the center of the universe, where Copernicans began to place the sun.

But one problem is that scientific activity presumes that the material world is organized according to unchanging laws, while biblical fundamentalism presumes that those laws are themselves subject to disruption and miracle. Is not that a slippery slope as well, even affecting these analyses?

To answer Mr. Rothstein's two questions:

On justification by scientific coherence: With the same facts leading to different interpretations, it's not a question of scientific coherence as much as it's a question of simply giving voice to a presentation of the data as interpreted by God's Word, the Bible.

On unchanging laws: the museum intends to shift our understanding of what is unchanging. While God may have created natural law, who would stop him if he decides to alter them? Science, man's understanding and interpretation of data, is anything but unchanging. Theories barely last a century.

The LORD said to Moses, "Is the LORD's power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not" (Numbers 11:23).

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)


Being Here, Working There
With Today's Technology, Videoconferencing Has Reached The Next Level
... videoconferencing as never seen before ...

She works for Cisco, maker of an $80,000 single-screen system. It's so real that people seem to forget Hooshmand is 1,800 miles away.

Hooshmand became an early user of the technology when she moved from California to Texas and her boss, Martin De Beer, didn't want to lose her.

"I can see her through the window when I sit at my desk," said De Beer, vice president of Cisco's emerging markets technology group.

Hooshmand manages De Beer's workload as if she's right next door, with him hardly noticing she's half a continent away.

For businesspeople who have long wished they could be in two places at once, technology is making that almost a reality. The cost may be high — but for big companies, the savings in airline tickets from here to there can make the system almost pay for itself.
The first comment on this story is hilarious:
You think we can get this to work in Mexico? Then we'll just have the Illegals on our laptops.
Hence the headline!

Democratic Work Strategy

2 Speeches Show Contrasting Campaign Styles
Obama Offers Inspiration; Clinton Details Action Plan

MANCHESTER, N.H., May 19 -- Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois used a commencement speech here Saturday to challenge graduates to rise above cynicism and selfishness, while in New Orleans, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York used a similar occasion to pledge a renewed federal commitment to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The speeches by the two leading candidates for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination underscored the basic differences in their campaigns:

  • Obama offering words of inspiration and hope for a new politics of citizen engagement that can transform the country, and
  • Clinton providing a blueprint for putting government to work to deal with the problems afflicting ordinary Americans.
Clinton: the government should work for the people
Obama: the people should work for the people
I have to agree with Obama on this one.

I know he's very liberal (more so than Hillary), and this isn't an endorsement. In terms of broad themes, I like his direction.

How closely his governing would match his rhetoric is the big question.

I'd rather not find out, but it's worth affirming something positive when I see it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

ISS Reboost

Ever wonder how the International Space Station stays in orbit so long?

Answer: the ISS gives itself a reboost every now and then.

ISS reboosts orbit ahead of STS-117 - Russian spacewalk preps

Visit the ISS Height Profile to see how the altitude of the ship varies over time.

The space shuttle also gives the ISS a boost when it comes up for a visit, but that doesn't happen as often as Progress vehicle visits.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Wonder of NASA

NASA makes me wonder sometimes. I'm just now reading Bill Harwood's (CBS News) excellent space update email (highly recommended), and there are a couple things in there that just make me laugh out loud.

I have the utmost of respect for NASA, and I love following it's doings and workings, but sometimes the way they do things or put things just puts a huge smile on my face.

Some examples:
The shuttle Atlantis' hail-damaged external fuel tank has been repaired, NASA officials said today, clearing the shuttle for rollout to launch pad 39A next week. ... Rollout to the launch pad is scheduled to begin at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, May 16.
Why so early? What's the matter with 8 a.m.? Maybe NASA just has a lot of morning people. That just made me laugh.
NASA managers had hoped to launch Atlantis on mission STS-117, the first of five planned 2007 shuttle flights, March 15. But during a freak storm that thundered over the launch pad on Feb. 26, the shuttle's external tank was blasted by hail, suffering thousands of pits and gouges in its foam insulation. Wind gusts reached 62 knots and hail up to 1.5 inches in diameter was found at the pad.

... Of that total, between 1,400 and 1,500 were tightly clustered at the very tip of the tank near its carbon composite nose cap. Rather than make individual repairs in that area, a broad area of foam was sanded down to eliminate the pits and then filled in with sprayed-on insulation. That fresh insulation was then milled to the proper slope and to an acceptable thickness by a cleverly engineered "pencil sharpener" device that rotated about the top of the tank.
Can you imagine a pencil sharpener the size of the shuttle's external tank?! I can just see the headline now: NASA Fixes Shuttle with World's Largest Pencil Sharpener!

Again, really quite impressive. And I understand how scientists come up with these analogies. It's just striking me as quite humorous this morning. :)
To make sure the required repairs could stand up to the aerodynamic and thermal rigors of launch, engineers re-assessed the flight performance of past PDL repairs, simulated damage sites using steel balls to impart hail-like crush forces and then subjected repairs to a hot-gas wind tunnel at Marshall.
In other words, the job of the guys at Huntsville is to re-create (a) the hailstorm, and then (b) liftoff conditions.
During the first 110 seconds of ascent, atmospheric friction raises the tank's temperature to some 650 degrees in some places and heating continues throughout the climb to space. Along with thermal concerns, foam debris falling off the tank could threaten a Columbia-type impact to Atlantis' heat shield.

"As you accelerate this vehicle supersonically in the lower atmosphere, you build up quite a bit of heat, several hundred degrees," Hale said. "But you increase in temperature all the way up and even in second stage, when you are almost at orbital altitudes, you continue to put heat in.
I knew there was a lot of heat on re-entry, but I didn't realize there was also heat (though not nearly as much) on exiting the lower atmosphere.
The hail storm, Chapman said, "left the external tank team with a tremendous amount of work to do. This team has been essentially working 24/7 since the storm, doing engineering analysis, testing and repair of the tank. In my estimation, they have done a fantastic job. This has truly been unique. We've had hail damage before, but never to this magnitude."
Bravo to the hard workers at NASA. That's 75 days these hundreds of folks have been working on the external tank!
But Chapman cautioned that shuttle watchers should be prepared for a somewhat strange-looking tank when Atlantis heads for the pad next week. The foam used for the large-area sprays and the PDL-type repairs is a much lighter color than the insulation sprayed on at the factory.
That would be me. I'm guessing it will be reminiscent of the VAB building and the patchwork done there after the 2004 hurricanes.
Launch is targeted for 7:37:56 p.m. on June 8.

NASA plans to hold a two-day flight readiness review May 30 and 31 to assess the status of launch preparations and to set an official launch date.

Assuming a rollout to the pad on May 16, engineers will only have three contingency days between then and June 8 to deal with unexpected problems.
Countdown to launch: T-minus 27 days!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Is Biden Backing Down?

ABC News: Biden Endorses Edwards' Iraq Bill Strategy

Does this mean Biden is backing down from his 3-state solution strategy?

When Al Sharpton Smiles

I literally prayed recently that Al Sharpton would smile more. I mean he always seems upset, and if he's going to proclaim the name of Jesus, he should be able to smile once in a while.

Last night, Chris Matthews on Hardball actually asked him to smile at the end of his interview!

Here's the video.

Amazing. Praise the Lord that God used Chris Matthews to answer my prayer for Al Sharpton.

All Things New

My friend Troy posted this picture of an unsual cloud formation he saw recently.

We of course have no explanation for what happened here. Maybe someone does, but they're not around to ask right now.

This reminds me a lot of heaven and how God works. He makes all things new. He will be doing so continually in heaven, too.

That means there will always be things like this to make us go, "Huh. Wow, look at that. I wonder what that is." And then we get to learn, chase, and try to keep up with God (as if) forever.

Learning at the feet of the Master for eternity is going to be so cool. Do you know how to get to heaven?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

China Rising in the West

China's Hot New Export: Its Language
American Students Are Learning Mandarin In Droves, With Not Enough Teachers

Iraq Financial Benchmarks Needed

While all of Washington is embroiled in whether or not to fund the troops and for how long, the entire discussion misses the point.

As Defense Secretary Gates admitted, the Department of Defense can't keep track of the money at all.

Secretary Gates:
A two-month appropriation assumes that the Department of Defense, first of all, has a precise idea, in real time, of the balances in thousands of accounts that we have to manage.

In truth, I essentially have 10,000 faucets all running money. And some of them run at one rate; some of them run at another. And they all draw on one big pool of money behind them.

Turning them on and off with precision and on a day-to-day basis or even a month-to-month basis, gets very difficult. I think the bill – the proposal – also assumes financial and cash flow controls, a precision in those controls, day-to-day would require a degree of agility that is not normally associated with the Department of Defense.

While I realize Mr. Gates did not create this problem, and that it has a long history before him, for the DOD to be this incompetent when it comes to money, this is unacceptable.

Imagine a business leader not being able to assess cash flow! What would the SEC say to a company that can't file its quarterly reports? How would Wall Street handle that?

When NYC crime was out of control, Giuliani demanded daily reporting on crime stats and locations. He was told it could not be done. So, he found someone they said he could do it, put him in charge, and he did it.

And then every single day, they evaluated every single one of those reports and allocated resources accordingly. And it worked. Crime came down.

As unlike most political appointments Mr. Gates has been for this Administration, and as entrenched as these problems are, this is a job he simply must do: get the money under control.

I met someone who recently came back from several years of doing humanitarian work in Iraq at church on Sunday. He told me that one of the key areas of frustrations for Iraqis is that they know there are all these millions of dollars around them, and nothing to show for it.

The cash burn rate over there is extremely high, and it's not being tied to results. He spoke of projects that were 1% complete with more than 75% of the money spent!

The "benchmarks" Congress needs to be talking about aren't military but financial.
How about some financial accountability with how this money is spent, no matter how much is appropriated and how long it's intended to last.

Makeover for Rosslyn, overlooking DC

High-Rises Approved That Would Dwarf D.C.
Rosslyn Towers Could Be Hazard, FAA Says

During yesterday's meeting, Arlington officials pressured JBG executives to provide free admittance to the observation deck to county residents two days a week. Initially, no one would be charged admission, but following that initial period, non-county residents would be.

How much isn't clear. A planning department document suggested $3 a person, but officials were told that other sights offering spectacular vistas, such as the Empire State Building in New York and the Sears Tower in Chicago, also privately owned, charge as much as $15.

When I went up the Sears Tower last year, the charge there was $12. There, the building is almost 1,000 feet taller than the 338 feet they're talking about here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Virginia Tech Shootings: Wickedness

As Randy Frazee quoted the Chinese proverb recently, the beginning of wisdom is to call something by its right name.

Tragedy? Or Wickedness?
What happened at Virginia Tech, however, was not a "tragedy." It was a manifestation of what theologians once called the mysterium iniquitatis, the "mystery of evil." The murders in Blacksburg were acts of wickedness, not the "tragic" unfolding of an unavoidable fate.

Nameless Identity

Wired Commentary: Online Advertising: So Good, Yet So Bad for Us
While many websites do not collect names, addresses, Social Security numbers or other "personally identifiable information," or PII, the information they do collect is extremely revealing. "They don't need to know your name to know who you are," Chester said.


Carnegie Mellon Professor Latanya Sweeney has demonstrated that one can identify 87 percent of the U.S. population from zip code, birth date and gender alone.


Other than the privacy issues, some obvious risks are price discrimination, segmented markets and creating an ability for advertisers to exercise improper influence over consumers.

Economists tend to like price discrimination, because it allows wealthier purchasers to subsidize sales to poor customers, while maximizing profits.

Consumers hate knowing that the person sitting next to them on the airplane paid hundreds of dollars less because they booked a day earlier.

Purchasers might actually rebel if the reason they paid more for the same service was because the seller thought they had more disposable income than their seatmate. Perhaps for this reason alone, I think widespread price discrimination is unlikely.


Personalization, including targeted ads, is a mixed blessing: on one hand, personalized information is more useful and relevant to our lives.

On the other, it reduces the opportunities for unanticipated encounters with ideas, people or products that may disturb or enlighten us.

Personalization also interferes with the development of common experiences that people can use to understand each other and make common decisions.

Sen. Baucus, a reasonable Democrat

For my friends on Montana...

CQ Today: Baucus’ Pitch to Center

That article is basically a profile of a D senator in an R state up for re-election next year.
“I don’t want to get Max Baucus in trouble, but he’s been one of the reasonable Democrats,” said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “He understands it takes bipartisan agreement to move forward. I wish more of his conference would follow his example.”

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

House Majority Turning Bipartisan

As if pushing the majority caucus to the center were not enough, Democratic leadership in the House is finally reaching out to left-leaning Republicans.

House Majority Caucus Operations

CQ Today recently ran an interesting article about Nancy Pelosi's leadership style:

Liberal House Democrats Worried About Speaker Pelosis Nods to Centrists

"Progressives are Pelosi’s liberal base, accounting for about a third of the Democratic caucus and chairing 10 House committees.

"Two moderate factions — the New Democrat Coalition and the Blue Dog Coalition — together outnumber the 70-member Progressive Caucus, with about 75 combined members.

"More than 80 Democrats are unaligned."

President Bush more popular in France than U.S.

Has anyone else caught the irony of these two stories together?

Bush Approval Measured at All-Time Low
Newsweek Poll Measures Bush Approval at 28 Percent

Pro-U.S. Candidate Wins French Presidency
Conservative Nicolas Sarkozy Triumphs Over Socialist Challenger

At least this part of Europe isn't currently following South America's lead in the lurch to the Left electing more socialist leaders.

Why Sarkozy Matters
That France elected Nicolas Sarkozy as president yesterday should matter to Americans, at least the political junkies among us. With 53% of the vote --and 85% of the country turned out -- Sarkozy’s sweeping victory violates four key conventional wisdoms that scholars and journalists have long ascribed not just to French voters, but to Yanks as well.

Conventional wisdoms:
  1. People support the candidate they like.
  2. The French hate America.
  3. The French will never change.
  4. Candidates should possess a “presidential” background and temperament.

Sex Detection or Selection?

ABC News: Could Gender Detection Lead to Gender Selection?
Early Sex Test Could Lead to Gender-Based Abortions, Experts Fear

State-Required Homelessness

Sex Offenders Forced Under Miami Bridge
Ordinances Intended to Keep Them Away From Children Make It Next to Impossible for Them to Find Other Housing

"Morales and the other men are required to be there every night from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. The state lists their official address as the Julia Tuttle Causeway, and parole officers come by regularly to make sure the predators show up each night."

"Miami Dade County has one of the strictest sexual predator laws in the country. Once predators are released from prison, they are required to live more than 2,500 feet from anywhere children congregate. But they are barred from leaving the county while they are on parole.

"In a county as dense and as expensive as Miami-Dade, there is no place the men can legally live that they can also afford."

"Along with some of the offenders, he is required to wear a GPS tracking device that runs on electricity. However, there are no outlets under the bridge to charge it.

"Corrections officials admit the ordinance could actually make the community less safe because it may they drive the offenders so far underground that parole officers can't supervise them."

Friday, March 2, 2007

Geek Out: Mashing Yahoo! Pipes and the Congressional Record

I just added a post to my legislative tracking blog: Managing the volume of content from Congress. It's all about mashing up the feeds from with Yahoo! Pipes to make for some really useful feeds for tracking the information coming out of Congress.

This post here is to elaborate on a little more technical detail of how I put it all together.

The Legislative Tracking Pipes

These were actually fairly simple. This was simply a matter of knowing the legislative process as I follow it, and then creating the feeds to match. The only complex thing here was using regex to strip out the then unnecessary feed item title prefixes. Rather than explain it, just have a look at the pipes and see how I did it.

Congressional Record Tracking Pipes

This was more complex. The key here was to find or generate a list of feeds that I would need. As much time as this project took, going through all 535 members looking for member feeds would have been way too time-consuming.

There were also two problems:
  1. The feed URLs could change
  2. The way I process those feeds could change
That is, GovTrack could change the way it does anything, and it would affect my final product.

So, to circumvent the first problem, instead of using the GovTrack feeds directly, I created a redirect on The Mountain (my government-related site) that would generate the feed URL with just the member code. So, if the URL structure changes, I just have to change the redirect and I'm good to go.

(April 2 Update: Since I found a way to keep all the feed URLs in just 2 files and not 100, I'm dropping the redirect URL from the feeds and am going with direct URLs.)

As to the second problem, that's a Yahoo! Pipes thing. They currently do not support a pipe input module for creating a "processing pipe," though there is a suggestion open on this for which users can vote. (hint hint!)

As of now, if the item title prefixes of the speeches or "Debate" items would change, I'd have to change 105 feeds manually every time. Once Yahoo! supports processing pipes, then I should only have to go back through all 105 pipes once more to convert them to that pipe.

With that, the only pieces missing were the actual feeds for the content of members themselves.

Listing Member RSS Feeds

This was a little tricky (and is probably the major reason for this post). Nowhere does GovTrack list them all members with its codes for them. Even the raw data source for the people is unwieldy because it includes all members of Congress ever.

I was hoping for a spreadsheet or CSV of all 535 members with codes, and states, maybe even districts, but that proved to be unnecessary. I also tried using wget to download the states page and one link deep, but that is blocked.

Then I realized it's not that much work to just download the source for the 55 pages for each state and territory, and those at least include the number code for each member in some form. From there it was simply a matter of grepping out the lines that didn't have the member URL in them, and then using search and replace to convert the anchor tags for each member into RSS feed items instead.

I now had an RSS feed of RSS feeds for all 440 members of House (Representatives and Delegates) and 100 members of the Senate.

Why RSS of RSS, though?

That's because when I made the suggestion about an input module for pipes, Yahoo! referred me to a TechBrew post about using Google Spreadsheets to input a list of feeds into Yahoo! pipes. (Or, as they put it, "Pseudo-OPML.")

Yahoo! Pipes does not support OPML as a source, but it does support RSS, so convert your OPML or source list to an RSS "feed" instead. The source RSS feed isn't being used for syndication so much as it's being used simply as XML to structure the syndication RSS feed data.

With Google Spreadsheets, all they were really using was the RSS export capabilities there. I don't need to tie up my data nor a Google Spreadsheet with something I can do in a text file. So, I just made my own RSS feed of RSS feed redirects.

While I didn't use a Spreadsheet, but I did use the TechBrew technique for pulling a list of members from the RSS feed. This is where it got really cool, too. I was thinking I was going to need an XML file for each state. Then I realized I could actually do it all in one file (per chamber) and use a Pipes filtering module to narrow it down by state. That was fun.

This was really nice because then when it came time to duplicating my desired pipe for each state, it was simply a matter of copying the text from a link on GovTrack (why type them all and possibly have typos?), save a copy in Pipes, change the state name in two places, save, and that's it. Done. Then repeat for each state.

Final Output

Thus from each of the ~50 pages each chamber generates in the Congressional Record each day it's in session, this pipe will feature one paragraph from any member's appearances on each of those pages. At the end of the day this means less than 50 items per day in the Senate, and less than 100 items per day in the House. I can handle reading about 20 items at time, and if I stay on top of it, this setup can really help me do that.

The end result of these feeds can be seen in my Google Reader folders for the Congressional Record of the House and Senate (minus speeches about new bills). I also have a Reader folder for the Legislation feeds, but I tend to read each pipe in that one individually, not as a folder.

(Update: Actually, strike that last paragraph. I've gone to a single feed for all member speeches feeds, and the legislation feeds I don't keep in a folder now so I pay more attention to them.)

Another trick in all this was timing. Since Congress was gone last week, and items expire in GovTrack by date, I had to wait on setting things just right and debugging for when there would actually be content in the feeds. The last thing I wanted to do was duplicate a bunch of state feeds that had not been tested. And I did need to make some changes, too!

Yahoo! Pipes is great fun, and now will be even more useful.

Here are some other Yahoo! Pipes I have built, too.

10,862 days

Friday, February 23, 2007

Brian Williams, less cut

For someone who "doesn't do opinions," Brian Williams certainly can be forceful when he wants to about things. He's not completely "uncut" as it were, but he's closer.

It's interesting to watch him talk when he's not constrained by 15-second story introductions. Check out this 10-minute interview (Video/Audio) of Williams by Chris Matthews.

In some ways, this is even more about Brian Williams and his non-opinions on things than when he and Tim Russert do their all-day, all-night coverage on elections (which are then about other people).

Journalists feel less constrained about offering opinions on political figures who cannot be a part of the current political dialogue. In this case, that would be Lyndon Johnson.

Brian Williams explained to Chris about Walter Cronkite's commentary that "You get one of those" with his finger distinctly raised, twice. Even though he deferred to Tom Brokaw and the Greatest Generation as an example, one has to wonder, for what one particular instance is Brian saving up his credibility that he can then lob at a particular issue on which he does officially have an opinion.

When Brian mentioned the "strange bedfellows" and John McCain hiring the guy who coordinated the attacks on him in South Carolina during the 2000 collection, I wonder if he's talking about the racially tinted phone call attacks. (This might have been before the days of push polling that we have today.)

10,855 days

Hat Tip: Today's Early Nightly

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Email Intersection

Mark Batterson posted about the WSJ article recently on email addiction. I couldn't resist these quotes:
A bill introduced last Thursday in the New York legislature would make it illegal to use a BlackBerry or any other electronic device while crossing the street.

Last month, Global Ideas Bank held its fourth annual "International Internet-Free Day." Nick Temple, the director of the online London think tank, estimates that at least 8,000 people logged off this year, compared with a few hundred four years ago. This year's event was also referred to as "Web 0.0."
And finally:
Eventually, he says, he realized his job could wait. "I'm a graphic designer, not a doctor," he says. He read books, and picked up a newspaper for the first time in memory. He gained a sense, he says, of what life felt like a decade ago when he was only 14 years old and had neither a computer nor email. "I have no idea how people did it 10 years ago," he says.
I don't know, I can still read books just fine. I'm not as regular about those, but they still happen. There are things you find in books that you don't fine online (not even in Google Book Search).

And then there are the people that go online to find ideas for books to read!

I'm actually catching up from about three days of not touching Google Reader because I had to get some billable work done for a change. When Google Reader comes out with a mobile version, then I'll be in trouble. Until then, MSNBC pointed me to LiteFeeds recently. We'll see how that works.

10,850 days

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Birthday

YouTube: Flipsyde - Happy Birthday

Thanks, Jill.

How to Invest

AP Breaking News today:
Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 5:31 AM PST

WASHINGTON (AP) The Commerce Department reports that retail sales, hurt by a big drop in auto purchases, were flat in January, the poorest showing in three months.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 5:40 AM PST

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) The Chrysler Group says it will cut more than 13,000 jobs as part of its restructuring plan.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 7:01 AM PST

WASHINGTON (AP) The Commerce Department reports that business inventories were flat in December, the poorest showing in 17 months.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 7:00 AM PST

WASHINGTON (AP) Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says economy should grow modestly this year and that inflation, while ebbing, is still a concern.
Therefore, this Yahoo! Finance Market Summary:
Stocks rallied Wednesday as a lack of overly hawkish commentary from Fed Chairman Bernanke eased the worst of fears about a possible rate hike. Speaking before the Senate Banking Committee, Bernanke stated that "inflation pressures are beginning to diminish." He also said the Fed remains comfortable with rates at their current levels, easing recent concerns about the prospect of another rate hike and painting the goldilocks scenario the bulls were hoping for.

Something about all that just seems a little odd to me. There can be signs all over that the economy is tanking, but if the Fed says it's looking good, by golly, invest!

Want to invest? Apparently just listen to one person: Ben Bernanke.

10,846 days

Monday, February 12, 2007

Rep. Moran: Cats Are Not Clothes

House Jim has introduced legislation:

H.R. 891 - Rep. James Moran [D-VA]
To ensure that domestic dog and cat fur is prohibited from being imported, exported, manufactured, sold, or advertised in the United States and to require the labeling of all fur products under the Fur Products Labeling Act.

A recent constituent letter declared:
Americans don't agree with dogs and cats being used to make garments sold in the U.S. So why then are coats from major designers being found to include the fur of our companion animals?
It further explained:
It is illegal to import, export, sell or advertise any domestic dog or cat fur in the United States. But unfortunately for consumers and the animals involved, garment labels only have to identify a product's fur if the value of the fur used exceeds $150.
While not a passion of mine, I don't oppose this legislation. I do, however, oppose putting animals before people when it comes to our legislative priorities.

Baby Rowan Flagged

YouTube: Baby Rowan (Flagged)

If you try to watch it anonymously on YouTube itself, you'll get this: This video may contain content that is inappropriate for some users, as flagged by YouTube's user community.

This video explains why it is important to revisit the Born Alive Infants Protection Act (P.L. 107-207) and give it some teeth.

Hat Tip: Jill Stanek

Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Form of Man

YouTube: Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us

By Michael Wesch
Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology
Kansas State University


Form and content can be separated.
XML facilitates automated data exchange.
We Are the Web
The machine is us.
The Web is linking people.

We'll need to rethink a few things ... copyright, authorship, identity, ethics, aesthetics, rhetorics, governance, privacy, commerce, love, family, ourselves.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

LIHEAP and Global Warming

How much does the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program do to cause Global Warming?

This is a government institution with the sole purpose of using energy.

One has to wonder.

When the former vice president and others begin to march before Congress and testify, it will be interesting to see if anyone raises this question.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

GQ Feature: Senator Tom Coburn

But I do want you to know that the new Democratic leadership is just as corrupt and irresponsible as the Republicans, and together they’re trying to destroy our country

STS-117 Communicator in Jail

Of course Lisa Nowak is the big news of the day, especially in Houston and Cape Canaveral.

ABC News' Ned Potter points us to an ABC News story with more detail. He highlights this quote:
Friends and colleagues are baffled over the allegations. One astronaut told ABC News that the astronaut corps at the Johnson Space Center was "totally, totally stunned. Everyone is just stunned."
Right after that, on the same Page 2 is this:
Nowak is scheduled to be a capcom — capsule communicator — on the next space shuttle mission, STS 117, which is targeted for a March 15 launch date.

Given that this is a ground position, NASA should be able to replace her in the next 37 days.

Monday, February 5, 2007

C-SPAN Q&A: Senator Tom Coburn

Senator Tom CoburnBRIAN LAMB, HOST: Senator Tom Coburn, are you glad you came to the Senate?

U.S. SEN. TOM COBURN, (R-OK): Sometimes.

Update: Highlights

"The answer to the ethical problems in the United States Congress, is full disclosure; timely and full disclosure.

"If you can say that a lobbyist can’t buy me a meal to discuss an issue that is a legitimate issue, out in the open and me put on a Web site that I had a dinner with ABC lobbying interest group on this subject ... but they can turn around and give $2,000 to my campaign or $5,000 for a PAC to my campaign and I could have the meal with them any time I want, as long as, I’m doing it in campaign mode, you haven’t done anything.

"You’ve washed the outside of the cup but the inside of the cup is still dirty.

"When I can earmark, even though it’s out in the open but I might identify it a little different, a $100 million project for a $2,000 campaign contribution but I can’t have a meal with the same individual, something’s very wrong."

On S. 1: "I was one of two people who voted against that ethics bill because it’s going to tear up the Senate. It’s going to tear up the ability for the American people to have great people come and represent them."

"Because you will be at such risk to have made an innocent mistake that you will spend $300,000 to $500,000 defending yourself, in terms of an allegation against you, in a court of law.

"Not as a rule, this is a statute that we passed. This is federal law. This isn’t a senate rule. This is federal law.

"If this becomes law, I will guarantee you I won’t run again. I’m not about to put what I’ve worked for, for 35 years as a physician and a businessman, at risk, so I can represent the people. I will say I’m cashing it in. We’ve just imploded ourselves."

"I’ll guarantee you citizen legislators are much more likely to solve that problem than career politicians and people who have never been in the public eye and people say, well they’re not qualified. They’re more qualified because they have a perspective outside of Washington and outside of a re-election cycle."

"This isn’t a fun job. I mean I don’t know anybody who really thinks this is that great of a job. It’s not a fun job. It is a tremendously burdensome job, knowing that you can’t change things to fix the future and you have to work every day to try to do that."

"People have stomach acid over me. I don’t deny that. I’m probably really good for the drug companies in terms of senators."

"There’s no reason for everybody else to get mad at the people that are helping me, when they can be mad at me and so, I don’t mind taking that heat. The fact is, is the American public agrees that we shouldn’t be spending money we don’t have."

"We’ve made a great deal of change. I mean this transparency and accountability act is a big deal."

"I think things have shifted since the early 60’s, in our government, when John Kennedy was President. I think it used to be that the thought of the federal government was, is we’re going to assume people are going to do things right and we’re going to catch them if they’re doing them wrong. The assumption is now, as you interact with the federal government, you have to prove you’re not a crook. You have to prove you’re not doing things wrong."

"He taught me the work ethic that I have, which is horrendous, in terms of work ethic but he was still somewhat balanced in how--what was he working to achieve. He was working to achieve something for other people."

f I’m on the floor and I lose a debate with a vote, I have advanced my position to, at least, people get to see what that position is."

e have not seen the strength, at the administrative level, on trade issues where we are unfairly treated, like the pharmaceutical industry is; it is tremendously and so we have, as a consequence, Americans are paying much more for their drugs than what they should."

I’m getting ready to introduce a global healthcare bill."

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Amazing Grace

The best movie of 2007:

Trailer on YouTube

Official Movie Site

Jim on both sides

Maybe I'm a little slow, but last month, a couple weeks after Jim Webb was sworn into the Senate, I realized that I'm represented by a Jim on both sides of Congress:
And they're both Democrats from Virginia!

Despite often having more differences than agreement, I'm sure there are some areas where I agree with each. I just haven't noticed that many yet. :)

10,835 days

Faith on Both Sides

One of the great things about this year's SuperBowl is that both teams are led by men of faith.

I've long thought we'd have a more interesting political dialogue in this country if we could say the same thing about both major political parties in this country.

This isn't about having two Republican parties. It's about having both sides argue over how to best and most honor God in our public policy, how to uphold both righteousness and justice.

10,835 days

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Duncan Hunter for President!

Rep. Duncan HunterOf all the candidates that have declared their intentions for 2008 thus far, one is making uniquely clear statements in both domestic and foreign policy: Duncan Hunter.

Foreign Policy: When he first announced his candidacy at the end of October, he declared a very simple, clear and understandable Iraq strategy: "One, two, three,
  1. stand up to free government. We've done that.
  2. Stand up to military that can protect it. We're doing that in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  3. And number three, the Americans leave.
"Now, which is it, the one or the two or the three that the liberals don't understand?"

When the Republicans controlled Congress, he chaired the House Armed Services Committee.

Inside the WombDomestic Policy: On Monday, at the Blogs for Life conference at FRC, the ABC News Political Unit reported Duncan Hunter said,
"If a judicial nominee can look at a sonogram, the picture of an unborn child, and not see, looking at that sonogram, not see a valuable human life, I'm not going to give him an appointment to the court. I am going to give him an appointment to an optometrist to get a set of eyeglasses so that he can see that."
Friends, that's the kind of clarity we need from our leaders.

Inside the Womb

If a member of the House can win the White House in 2006, we need a real one who can win the White House in 2008!

Lord willing, he will make his candidacy official tomorrow, when he also plans to relaunch his official presidential campaign Web site.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

SOTU: Half and Half

Tony Snow: the first half of President Bush’s State of the Union speech would focus on domestic policy and the second half would address foreign issues.

Jonathan Alter: usually a president goes to foreign affairs issues to unite a country because domestic affairs can be so divisive. Tonight, President Bush is going to try the opposite.

Lots of Junk

From NBC Nightly News:

It’s not your imagination — spam is on the rise
Spammers fill inboxes by finding new ways to get around filters
According to one study, last year the amount of spam soared from about 30 billion messages sent per day to 60 billion.
60 billion per day is a lot!

Monday, January 22, 2007

California Prison Sentencing

WASHINGTON (AP) the Supreme Court has struck down California's prison sentencing law.

CUNNINGHAM, JOHN v. CALIFORNIA. Decided 01/22/2007

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Barack Obama Conflicts of Interest

Jill Stanek broke a story today about Barack Obama and why three times he defeated a bill in the Illinois legislature that made it illegal to kill a baby after it was born alive if her mother had intended to abort it.
By the third time Obama tried to snuff Born Alive, he was running for the U.S. Senate. The federal version had passed the year before unanimously in the Senate and almost unanimously in the House. Even NARAL went neutral. Pro-aborts agreed to let it pass without a fight lest they appear extreme.
Not content with the explanations for Obama's self-isolation literally out at the left-most end of the extreme end, with distance to spare between him and everyone else, Stanek went digging.

She found out that the pastor of Obama's Church, a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, served on the Board of Directors of Evangelical Health Systems which owns Christ Hospital where she exposed the practice of live birth abortion.
TUCC is the United States' largest UCC church. Ebony listed Wright as one of the 15 greatest black preachers. Advocate is the largest nonprofit healthcare provider in Chicago. Talk about crossroads of power and money. Speaking of crossroads, TUCC is located five miles from Christ Hospital.
She concludes:

So, which explanation makes more sense, that the fire rose in Obama's belly to fight for what he nobly but foolishly thought was the sacred right to infanticide, that he decided, by golly, this was why he was elected, and even if he stood alone, looking like a left-wing extremist, he was going to protect that right?

Or that Advocate got to Obama through its UCC contacts?

Buses for March for Life


There are buses available to transport pro-life marchers down to Washington, D.C. on January 22 for the annual March for Life. Here are the details with contact information:

Red Eye Buses:

Springfield, Susan Lopes, (413) 583-5034 or (413) 592-6015

Berkshire County, Jack and Linda Kinsey (413) 663-7005

Blessed Sacrament Church, Greenfield, Larry and Maureen Filiault (413) 863-4777


Weymouth, Donna O'Reilly (781) 337-5307

St. Margaret Church, Burlington, Janet Callahan (781) 324-3564

Dedham & Andover, Theresa Gorey, Jane Flynn (978) 475-6673, (978) 658-6115

NBC News Launches WorldBlog

NBC News launched a new blog today. At the end of their Welcome post they say, "So, please bookmark this link and continue to give us your feedback through your comments."

Uh, guys, good job on keeping up with the times on the new blog. How about keeping up with the Web technology, too? Let's also ask people to "add this site to your reader"! Maybe even give them a link to do that, too. Hark!

Women Alone?

Responding to news reporting, FRC thinks the methods of the study are a little flawed:
To inflate the percentage and advance a transparent political agenda, the Times defined "woman" as anyone over the age of 15, those who are legally separated, and anyone whose husband is not living at home (such as soldiers on deployment to Iraq).

State of the Union Response

Virginia is what happens when you mix Democrats and their response to the State of the Union.

Or at least, that's the pattern for two years running now.

Last year they tapped newly minted Governor Tim Kaine, and this year it will be newly minted Senator Jim Webb.

Hopefully Jim will ... be a little bit ... smoother in his ... delivery. :)

(If you don't get that joke, you need to go back and watch last year's response!)

10,818 days

Update, 1/22/2007: NBC's First Read noted (cue ABC News Political Unit cringe) The Washington Post picked up on this pattern today.

Oil Prices

From yesterday's CBS Evening News daily email:
Plus, oil prices dropped by $2 a barrel to new 19-month lows today. The lower oil prices come as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it expects warmer-than-normal weather in the Northern United States to continue through March. The government also said supplies of gasoline, heating oil and diesel fuel remained abundant.
Weren't gas prices just dropping last year because the Republicans were up for re-election, and then they were going to go back up again?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Moved Back to Blogger!

OK, so following up about launching new blogs, but being stuck with FTP, I decided to take the plunge and move this blog over to blogger's new hosting service to see how it works.

I did it because I remembered I could test the change myself without actually showing the rest of the world first. I did that by simulating the change with my hosts file to see how it works.

I tested it on one post, and when that still worked, and the posts from 2003 still work (with the different file extension!), and the improved archives ... done! So, I'm going to hit post here, and then have my DNS entry for this blog moved post haste!

Oh, and I thought of at least one other idea for a blog to launch. So, I may set up a couple more now that it's so easy and quick. Stay tuned.

And yes, the improvements to posting times on this blog are alone enough to make the switch--no more waiting for FTP ... every ... single ... time ... I post.

10,817 days

Monday, January 15, 2007

Multiplying Blogs

For a long time, I resisted the idea of having a blog focus exclusively on one topic--particularly this blog, my first.

It reminded me of those people who have six resumes, one for each kind of company for which they want to work. I've only ever had one resume. My thinking is, I don't want to distort myself to fit into a particular kind of company. I'd rather find a company that fits me.

That didn't (hasn't) happen(ed), so I've gone into business for myself. Yet, the pattern doesn't stop with resumes. A similar observation can be made about my business name, and how I have all of my services (Web development, political writing, photography) wrapped under one label.

Given that few if any read this blog, this strategy is faulty, especially for blogging. The assumption there is people will want to read a blog that is uniquely me. The thing is, people who have a personal interest in me will use email, the telephone, or myspace--not my blog--maybe my Xanga, but that seems unlikely, too.

The other problem is, this blog's address,, should be the blog for my business and its services--not current events, videos and whatever else pops up. (This blog was also started before the delicious and Yahoo! Bookmarks days.)

Therefore, I have launched two new blogs. This means two things:
  1. Some of the content that I used to post here will now be exclusively posted on those two blogs instead.
  2. These new blogs are an outlet for a lot of other content that previously went unpublished, or went crammed into other venues.
The two new blogs are:
  1. Deeper Inside the Mountain
  2. Blog Your Days
The first is a supplement to my newly christened Inside the Mountain legislative updates. It won't always have 30 to 40 posts on a weekend! I just launched it Saturday and had a back log of content to publish. Hopefully posting will be more spread out between updates. That means this will probably be my last announcement of a new legislative update on this blog.

The second is a Web service and topical blog specifically for content opportunities to highlight the Number Your Days service. This one won't be as active, but it will be just as focused on its topic, unlike my past blogging.

Mad props to Google, too. I've read several other bloggers leaving Blogger recently. However, they recently went completely live with the new Google-integrated version of Blogger, and it's nice!

The best part would be their new Custom Domains feature. Some people, perhaps rightfully, thought that a address was a huge design mistake. This new Blogger feature corrects that problem.

It's supremely easy to set up a blog now. Not wanting to use a domain, but rather a subdomain of one of my existing domains, I just had my hosting company add the prescribed CNAME record for the blog's new address on Google, told Blogger the address and I was off. (Note: It's a good idea to wait until the address is in the DNS before you tell your browser to look it up. Otherwise you'll have to live with 24 hours of the wildcard DNS entry instead, first.)

It's probably easier to set up a new blog on the system than it is to convert an old Blogger blog to the new system. The new templates that are hosted on Blogger's servers are impressive. And everything can be edited directly from the blog pages--another level of impressiveness you don't even notice until you start using it. The master template has its flaws, but hopefully that can be corrected in time.

This subdomain blog was set up before the CNAME days, so it's using FTP publishing. The new features of Blogger's new advanced templates do not support FTP publishing as they are database driven off of Blogger's servers. This is great for quick publishing times and those customizing features you notice once you start to use it.

It's not great for migrating a blog. Actually, the biggest problem would be the filename extension and the linkrot it would create. Blogger doesn't explain what happens to filename extensions on their servers (likely .html) and so all my .shtml posts would be dead. (This already happened once.) So, in order to prevent linkrot, as I should do, I'll probably end up handicapping how much I use this blog.

One other blog idea I've had is to create a blog just for ideas and commentary on the innovation coming from Web sites like Google, Yahoo!, Ask, Live, MSN, etc. Frequently I have ideas, comments, frustrations, etc. that go unresolved. Just like politicians pay more attention to letters to the editor in a public newspaper than they do to private communications, so Internet companies take special notice of blogger's public comments. Yes, they read private communications, but private communications do nothing to build external momentum for getting things done.

If I launch a blog like that, I'll announce it here, too. Maybe this blog will be my new blog announcement blog!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Congress Accommodated NCAA Football Championship

From a floor discussion on the Legislative Program:

Rep. Roy Blunt [R-MO]:

On the Tuesday schedule, I have had one Member come up to me during our discussion and wanted me to ask if there is any possibility that 3 to 4 votes could slip closer to 5 just because of a number of travel concerns that Members have, particularly west coast members.

Rep. Steny Hoyer [D-MD]: We could try. But let me say in all fairness, our original intent was to meet and have votes at 6:30 on Monday. There is a very important event happening Monday night, particularly for those who live in Ohio and Florida.

In the spirit of comity, and I know if Maryland were playing, I would want to be accommodated and I want to accommodate my friend, Mr. Boehner. So we have done that; but it has put us in a position where we thought we would have come back Monday. That is not the case. We will have votes as late as possible, but we cannot guarantee. That leaves us a shorter period of time to do the work we have scheduled. So I cannot guarantee, but we are going to try to keep it for your Members' sake, for our Members' sake, and we understand the west coast travel issue, as late as we can in the day, but cannot guarantee later than 3:30 or 4 o'clock.

New Congressmen Denied Classified Information Before Voting

During the debate on the Implementing The 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act Of 2007 (H.R. 1):

Rep. John Mica [R-FL]: I thank the gentlelady for yielding me this time.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to come to the floor during what I consider to be probably one of the most important issues that we will consider, not only in this 100 hours, but in this entire session of Congress, because this issue determines and will determine the very security, not just the security as far as a terrorist attack on this Nation, but even our economic security; and the actions that are taken here have great implications.

While I believe that my good friends on the other side of the aisle are very well intended in what they propose today, unfortunately I believe they are misguided in what they are doing.

I have a copy of the 9/11 Commission report. I chaired for some 6 years the Aviation Subcommittee. I inherited it by fate of the good Lord and circumstances here in Congress. I followed from the very beginning the creation of TSA and all of the actions that we have taken from day one in protecting this great Nation against a terrorist attack.

I have read the proposals that are brought forth here today. Unfortunately, these proposals can result in turning in the wrong direction at this time in our vulnerability against terrorist attack. Let me be very frank, and I offered before, and I am sorry that the other side did not accept it, unanimous consent requests that we resolve into a committee for 1 hour, 1 hour of a secret session to discuss the pending threats against this Nation and also the status of our security systems in place to deal with those threats, and I was denied it. As part of the record of this Congress, now, I was denied that opportunity.

There are 54 Members who were elected, new Members, Republican and Democrat, who have not had access to that classified information. They will vote in a few hours on turning the direction of the system that we have put in place and a system we are trying to make work to protect us against a terrorist attack, and we have been denied the opportunity for 1 hour in closed session, with no cameras, no public, but the classified reports.

Congress to Reduce Gravity

During the debate on Minimum Wage (H.R. 2):

Rep. Bill Sali [R-ID]: Mr. Speaker, a number of my colleagues have pointed out the problems with raising the minimum wage; that it is an unfunded mandate on small business, will likely result in the loss of over 1 million jobs for low wage earners, that it will eliminate entry level jobs and actually hurt the poor more than it helps them.

The negative impacts will result naturally from the rules and principles of the free market. In my college courses, I learned that the rules and principles of free markets are the rules and principles that every business and worker are subject to in every transaction, every negotiation and every new idea. That is, those negative effects of this bill are unavoidable with its passage. In spite of the negative effects, this bill does seem destined to pass.

As a freshman Congressman, the likely passage of this measure has taught me a new principle: The force of Congress can be brought to bear and justified to suspend those natural laws which would otherwise control important matters. The well-intentioned desire of Congress to help the poor apparently will not be restrained by the rules and principles of the free market that otherwise do restrain American businesses and workers. Apparently, Congress can change the rules that would otherwise affect the affairs of mankind.

So, Mr. Speaker, I have asked my staff to draft a measure I call the Obesity Reduction and Health Promotion Act. Since Congress will apparently not be restrained by the laws and principles that naturally exist, I propose that the force of gravity by the force of Congress be reduced by 10 percent. Mr. Speaker, that will result in immediate weight loss for every American. It will immediately help reduce obesity problems in America. Weight loss will also help to promote the overall health of Americans as we have been vigilantly advised by our health care.

Mr. Speaker, I thank this body for the education I have received from the passage of this bill. Since the basis for the use of Congress's power is the same with both measures, I would also ask that everyone who is supporting the measure before us consider becoming an original cosponsor of the Obesity Reduction and Health Promotion Act, and I have a copy.

Mr. Speaker, I close by noting that, with the new principles I have learned, it appears to me that with Congress the sky is the limit.

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