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
888-582-4253
859-727-2222

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)

Tele-deportation

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.
Translation:
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."