The Trouble With Sensors IX

No really. The saga continues:
NASA has postponed today's scheduled launch of space shuttle Atlantis after discovering a problem with a sensor in the shuttle's fuel tank.

Atlantis was set to launch this afternoon in Florida, carrying a crew of seven and Columbus -- a European science lab.

The cancellation came after two of the four sensors in the shuttle's liquid hydrogen tank showed the tank was empty, even though there was fuel inside.

NASA spokesman Paul Foerman said at least three sensors must be functioning properly before a launch could go ahead, reports The Associated Press.

Yes you guessed it, it was those damn ECO sensors once again.

For those that haven't read my ECO sensors posts, this has been a never ending saga for NASA since at least 1986.

The ECO sensors are 4 identical sensors at the bottom of the external fuel tank of the shuttle that are used to read whether there is still liquid fuel in the main tank or not. Independent software creates an estimate of the fuel left, but the 4 sensors create redundancy that they still have fuel in the tank. A burn out could be let say not-so-good in the death category.

For some strange reason ECO sensors 3 and 4 have shown a propensity to fail intermittently. Evidence of the problem goes back to the 80's when NASA first amended the flight rule that required all 4 ECO sensors to be functioning properly.

My perpetual beef about this issue is that instead of trying to find the solution to this problem NASA has perpetually taken the "ignore and bury head in sand" approach.

No one knows why the ECO sensors fail. There were some theories by NASA engineers lobed about that it had to do with the sensor wiring, or possibly the interference from newly installed heaters on the shuttle. Both theories didn't pan out, and each time the issue came up they launched anyway.

My thinking is that whatever it is, it has a high chance of being location specific. ECO sensors 3 and 4 are both located on the same side of the shuttle ET. ECO sensors 1 and 2 have always peformed well, and I'm aware of no design differences between any of the sensors at the bottom of the tank.

With the amount of lost time that NASA has had to spend holding back launches because of this issue over the years you'd figure they would try to spend some up front time to figure out the cause... You know before someone dies?

The Trouble With Sensors VIII
The Trouble With Sensors VII
The Trouble With Sensors VI
The Trouble With Sensors V
The Trouble With Sensors IV
The Trouble With Sensors III
The Trouble With Sensors II
The Trouble With Sensors I

John Not-So-Tory Troubles

John Tory's leadership is now open game.

Maybe perchance a real Conservative might step up the plate this time and save the party? Or is that just wishful thinking?

I can only hope...

It would be great if this turned out to be true. Somehow I doubt it:
OTTAWA -- The federal government is keeping quiet about any plans it may have to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Lester B. Pearson's Nobel Peace Prize win, which has critics worried the Tories will ignore the event altogether.
"Pearson is a giant," said Francine Lalonde. "I am Quebecois and sovereigntist, but that doesn't prevent me from considering him to be one of the greatest figures of the century."

To say we live in a Liberal country is an understatement. Pearson was no "Giant."

He is responsible for pushing Canada into the untraditional role of being the "peacekeeper" of the world. In reality peacekeeping is just another word for "occupation." That's what "peacekeepers" do. They move into an area and impose stability or "peace" by force.

If you don't like that concept tough. It's the truth. That's what Canadian soldiers do when they are "peacekeeping." Sometimes it's not always a bad thing when it's justified (like Afghanistan).

In contrast most Canadians figure "peacekeeping" just means to go have some soldiers plant trees and sing with village folk.

The idealistic almost fantastical perceptions we have about modern day "peacekeeping" are mainly due to politicians like Pearson.

He was no giant. He was just another Liberal.

Infuriating Gomery

Justice Gomery is doing a good job of stating the obvious today:
Retired Quebec judge John Gomery says the Harper government's plan to create mandatory minimum jail terms for drug crimes is a "slap in the face" to judges and suggests the Conservatives don't trust them to craft appropriate sentences for individual cases.

"This legislation basically shows a mistrust of the judiciary to impose proper sentences when people come before them," says Gomery, who came to national prominence in 2004 when he chaired an inquiry into the federal sponsorship scandal.

"Judges view this kind of legislation as a slap in the face."
"Judges find that it's an implied criticism when Parliament imposes mandatory sentences," Gomery says. "It leaves the impression that judges aren't using their discretion wisely or in accordance with the wishes of the legislature. And judges are resentful about that."

The arrogance in that statement is astounding. It suggests that under no conditions could the judiciary in Canada possibly be wrong when it comes to sentencing.

The Canadian justice system has had a bad reputation of being an in-and-out way point for some of the worst scum in society for years. The parole system in particular in drastic need of reform.

What Justice Gomery is suggesting, although naive and out of touch in its delivery, clearly identifies what this issue is about: mistrust of the judiciary.

Canadians have started to seriously doubt the neutrality of judges in the last couple decades. The high proportion of divorce cases that end up favoring women, the constant stream of violent offenders that seem to get minimum sentences, and the rewriting of law under the guise of the Charter has seriously undermined the credibility of judges. What's worse, we now know that a majority of donations made by judicial appointments end up going to left wing parties. That's judicial neutrality apparently.

It's about time that judge's like Gomery figure that out.

Harper Should Take Note

Taking advice from certain successful conservative Australian Prime Ministers may have been a good idea in the past, but apparently even Aussie's aren't perfect.
AUSTRALIA’S new prime minister Kevin Rudd will mark his arrival on the international stage by announcing the withdrawal of his country’s combat troops from Iraq and signing the Kyoto treaty on climate change.
Clearly shaken by the scale of the defeat Howard, 68, told demoralised supporters that he may soon retire. “This is a great democracy and I want to wish Mr Rudd well,” Howard said. “We bequeath to him a nation that is stronger and prouder and more prosperous than it was 11½ years ago.”

Among other things on the new liberal Aussie PM's agenda: signing the Kyoto accord, pulling troops out of Iraq, and pulling troops out of Afghanistan.

Good look with implementing Kyoto. My guess it's nice PR for his new government. Implementing an unrealistic protocol that even Canadian Liberals admitted was unworkable in the last few years of the implementation period seems far fetched to say the least.

Pulling out of Iraq? Well who can blame them. The morality of entering into that war was questionable to say the least. Yet Australia was on the bandwagon of that war, and pulling out at this point begs the question just who do you expect to pay for your mistake? Iraqis? Australia was partially responsible for the mess in Iraq, and I would argue that they have a responsibility to stick it through and do right where they made bad judgment calls in the past.

And Afghanistan? You have to be kidding. Does the Aussie PM even remember 9/11? That's why were all collectively in Afghanistan. It's not another Iraq despite whatever the hell any self-obsessed lefty will try to pronounce. If you're looking for a justification for invading Afghanistan look no further than the 3000 people from around the world that died 6 years ago by a terrorist organization supported by the state of what country?... Afghanistan.

That's why we're there. That's why we have to stay. It's either that or future 9/11's are bound to reoccur.

Tasers and excessive force...

With the recent violent taser shock that lead to the death of polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski out of Vancouver some calls for the banning of tasers have been heard.

I decided to watch the video for myself to form my own opinions before I watched any more media dribble.

Yes Mr Dziekanski is clearly agitated, probably drunk, and in a certain manner threatening. But it is also clear that he was not a clear and present threat to the police, the people around him, or anyone's property. He was a nuisance, yet was willing to clearly follow police orders to stand up against a window as they circled him.

What happened next is confusing to say the least. Without provocation he was tasered twice. And while he writhing on the ground in agony, for whatever reason, RCMP officers felt he was still enough of a threat that they moved down on top of him to restrain him.

This was at the very minimum poor judgement. At worst it was malicious, and a huge abuse of power that should be prosecuted as such.

Khan's Reconing

Well it finally happened. Khan's been turfed:
OTTAWA -- Amid reports that he may be charged under the Elections Act for matters dating back to the 2004 election, MP Wajid Khan is "stepping aside" from the Conservative Party caucus.

These charges are no doubt at least partially politically motivated. That being said I've always secretly doubted Khan's loyalty to the Conservative Party, and his ethical standards.

When the world gets turned upside down...

Well Harper wanted to turn the Conservative Party into a "natural governing party."

It seems like Canadians are reacting already in opinion polls as if it was one:
OTTAWA – Fallout from the Brian Mulroney-Karlheinz Schreiber affair does not appear to have hurt Stephen Harper's Conservative government, a new poll suggests.

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey indicates the Conservatives actually increased their lead over the Liberals, despite days of highly charged politicking over the dealings between the former prime minister and the German-Canadian businessman.

A government in crisis, and it's poll numbers go up?

Reminds me of the Fiberal Party of Canada during some of the worst corruption scandals in Canadian history.

Is this a joke?

On the heals of the "anonymous" anti-John-Not-So-Tory letter being circulated around Ontario Conservative circles this quote is a knee slapper:
One Conservative said the letter is evidence of renewed enthusiasm in the party, and does not necessarily mean the end of Tory's leadership.

"It's healthy for the party; it's healthy for John," the source said. "There are some spelling mistakes in here, which makes me worry."

Well it's good that Conservatives are worried about spelling.

Dollar Blues

I'm getting so sick and tired of those smart alec know it alls in Canuckland that are demanding that retail and car prices drop now that the Loonie is riding high.

There's one point everyone is forgetting in all this. If prices lower because of the exchange rate, just where is all that lost money going to come from?

Salaries. Jobs.

In fact the argument can be used that if prices in the Canadian economy are going to be as uber exchange rate sensitive as Canadians want them to be then so should wages.

Anyone lining up for the first pay cut?

Garneau The Opportunist

Like all good government astronauts, Garneau proves his only motivation in politics is self gain:
Liberal Leader Stephane Dion has formally announced former astronaut Marc Garneau's appointment as the party's candidate in the Montreal riding of Westmount-Ville-Marie.

"We have as a Liberal candidate a great Canadian hero," Dion said Friday at a news conference in Montreal. "(Garneau) is a hero of our history, he will be an architect of his future."

Garneau, the first Canadian in space and a former head of the Canadian Space Agency, pledged all of his energy to fight for the riding and "Liberal values."

Only two weeks ago, Garneau had announced he was quitting politics, saying he didn't seem to be part of Dion's vision.

Apparently Garneau's problem with Dion was never personal - it was just that he didn't want to have to fight to win a nomination for a major federal party like everyone else. He deserves to be appointed as a candidate apparently.

For Shame.

Damned Lies, and Jean Chretien

Jean Chretien appears to be a master of revisionist History with his latest memoirs. Now I haven't read the book, but based on the excerpts I've read so far, why would I want to read the mindless ramblings of a bitter old man?

Is that comment unfair? Unfortunately I don't think so.

I'm struggling to find something endearing in these remarks, but with all honesty, Jean Chretien is flat out lying with some of these statements he's made in his book.

Now I'm not one to defend former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, but the truth needs to be told to lies less we loose all sense of reality in a drunken anger fest.

This first accusation at former Prime Minister Paul Martin is damning:
Chretien says when he left office, Canada was on track to meet its commitments under the Kyoto accord.

That statement is bold faced straight in the neck lie. Eddie Goldenberg, Jean Chretien's right hand man confessed in February of this year that "...the Liberals went ahead with the Kyoto Protocol on climate change even though they knew there was a good chance Canada wouldn't meet its goals for pollution reduction."

The facts are clear. Jean Chretien either intentionally, or unintentionally is lying.

Further Jean Chretien goes on to state that:
Chretien also recounts that after the Taliban government of Afghanistan was overthrown, he carefully engineered things so Canada's soldiers were stationed around the safer area of Kabul, helping to rebuild the Afghan capital.

"Later, unfortunately, when my successor took too long to make up his mind about whether Canada should extend our term with the International Security Assistance Force, our soldiers were moved out of Kabul and sent south again to battle the Taliban in the killing fields around Kandahar," Chretien writes.

It does not take an elephant to remember that Canada's original commitment around Kabul involved a military role, and not just a reconstructive one. Their role was to "maintain order" in Kabul - Not to play it safe. This is a lie of omission.

Now they may not have been in the heaviest combat area of Afghanistan, but to suggest that Kabul was some sort of safe haven is a lie of convenience. Jean Chretien should remember the funerals of soldiers that he himself attended that were on that original combat mission to "safe" Kabul. Furthermore, it was under Jean Chretien's tenure that Canadian soldiers participated in one of the harshest battles in the war outside of Kabul in Operation Anaconda. That's why I'm assuming the honorable former Prime Minister uses the word "again" to describe the movement south of Canadian forces.

To suggest that the former Prime Minister cleverly made sure Canadian soldiers were kept out of harms way is a bold faced lie.

Then comes this whopper about the sponsorship scandal:
"Of course, I expected to have to take some hits in the press for a couple of weeks, but that hadn't frightened me in the past and it didn't frighten me now. By the time Martin was to take over, the whole issue would have been history and he could have begun his mandate without that albatross around his neck."

But Pimblett challenged Chretien's memory. "Undoubtedly there are clear differences in recollection between the two men - not the least of which would appear to be Mr. Chretien's decision to prorogue Parliament, and not accept the auditor generals report on sponsorship personally," he said.

That statement by Chretien is rightly challenged by Paul Martin's spokesman. Again, I'm no elephant, but I remember when the sponsorship scandal broke, and If I'm not mistaken the former Prime Minister Jean Chretien made an appearance: to testify.

That wouldn't have taken a couple of weeks. And for Chretien to suggest things would have just blown over like his couple million dollar golfing scandal in 2000, he's either lying or in denial. $100 million dollars was sent to Liberal friendly ad agencies without proper documentation. Public money was traded between people in brown paper bags at restaurants. That isn't something that will just blow over.

So in the end why would I waste my money and time to read such a useless piece of lies and propaganda?

The Goracle Wins Nobel

The Nobel Peace Prize just lost all pretense of being non-biased with this move:
Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore and a United Nations climate change panel have won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their work to combat climate change.
"I am deeply honoured to receive the Nobel Peace Prize," Gore said in a statement. "We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity."

Abolishing the internal combustion engine has apparently turned into a religious crusade for Al Gore.

I have to admit to being shocked at this. I never figured that the Nobel Committee would steep this low in Leftish bias, but obviously I underestimated them.

Surely there were environmental lefties out there that were far less political than Al Gore that the Nobel committee could have awarded the prize to...

Tory Baloney

This from John Not-So-Tory:
"I want to do what's in the party's best interest; it's not about me. In the end I'll find work if they really don't think it's in the best interest of the party to have me lead it," he said, adding he was never "presumptuous enough" to think he would win power the first time out.

Whatever happened to the chant John Tory supporters screamed at the last leadership convention "Four not Eight!"? Furthermore what about previous press reports that stated he intended to stay on?

Maybe John Tory wasn't "presumptuous enough" but obviously many of his supporters were. Furthermore, if he's not retracting his commitment to stay, his communications machine is obviously faltering.

If Tory plans on continuing as Leader of the Flagship Conservative in Ontario he's going to have to do more than just pay lip service to the idea that he made mistakes in the last election.

He tried to make the election about John Tory vs Dalton McGuinty. It failed spectacularly as it did when Ernie Eves tried it and when Paul Martin tried it federally.

Either John Tory, or his right hand people need to get it through there thick skulls that Canadians and for that matter Ontarians vote for a team and policy more than they do a leader.

Tory also has to REALLY accept blame for this electoral loss if he wants to move forward which means recognizing the following:
Tascona said the low turnout in his riding showed Conservatives sat on their hands at a time when the Green Party was pushing hard.

If all you want to do is appeal to the "urban" "moderate" and City-Centric vote while ignoring your base which is primarily in rural Canada you are likely not to get very many of your base energized and many will "sit on their hands."

Listen to your caucus. Listen to your base. Those are key lessons John Tory needs to learn if he has hope of winning in the next election. These displays of false humility just throw gasoline to the fire.

Tory Thud

Voting day.

Lo' and behold I have a polling station in the very same building I live in. I wonder how many knuckleheads in this place still managed to make up excuses not to vote...

"I was too busy..." "I have to stay late at work..." "I don't have 5 minutes to spare..."

If it's important to you, you would have found the time. It's just a matter of priorities.

Stop your whining. Stop complaining. Suck it up and do your duty. At the very least do it to honor the millions of people lying dead on unknown battlefields so you could sip your diet-coke and lay back and make up excuses about why you refuse to use your hard fought privilege to vote.

So I went downstairs just a couple hours before the polls closed and stood in a line of precisely zero people to make my mark and vote - or as Robert Heinlein would describe it using "violence" in the form of a vote... Though somehow I doubt my puny vote will violently overthrow anything or anybody this time around.

I wasn't surprised by the lack of people at zero hour. It gave me plenty of time to wonder just what the hell happened this past election.

John Not-So-Tory's campaign literally imploded on itself. McGuilty managed not to loose despite lying to a group of 12 million people over and over.

Dipper leader Howard Hampton, for some odd unconceivable parallel universish reason is doing worse in an electoral field with a Liberal Tory leader, and a Liberal government not looking to be loosing anytime too soon.

NDP voters are afraid of a Tory win NOW? With McGuilty having an 18 point lead?

No really?

That's why Dipper voters are flocking to the Liberals?...

I don't blame Howard Hampton one bit for spazzing out in front of reporters.

As for John Tory's loss I have only one thing to say:

Conservatives elected an "urbanite" "moderate" "tolerant" leader, and his performance may end up being worse than anything federal Conservative firebrand Prime Minister Stephen Harper managed to pull off in Ontario.

I think that maybe, just maybe, that might prescribe some small teeny-weeny tweakings of the reasons why some Conservatives elect leaders...

John Not-So-Tory's Disaster

“If I have the privilege of serving as Premier, I will strike a commission, consult with the public, create pilot projects, and place a bill before the [Ontario] Legislature. But that bill will only proceed with the support of the people, through their elected representatives. MPPs will be allowed a free vote, so they are at liberty to vote their conscience and represent the wishes of their constituents. In this significant way, the public can be more involved in the decision making.”

Official Tory speak Translation:

"Blah...Blah...Blah... I'm changing policy because things aint going so good... Blah... Blah... Blah..."

John Not-So-Tory's political career has just ended tonight. Not only has he confirmed the suspicion many had of him that he would govern by opinion poll, but he showed a complete lack of "leadership" - you know the thing he was supposed to be better at than Dalton McGuilty.

In John Not-So-Tory's own words: "As Premier, I will be guided by the same values that have served me so well throughout my life – to keep my word, to work hard for what matters and to be accountable for my actions."

"I will strive to talk straight and talk sense because citizens deserve no less from their political leaders. It comes down to a matter of trust – political leaders need to trust their citizens to understand that some problems take time to solve. "

He hasn't kept his word, he's changing policy on the fly, both of which lead to absolutely zero trust earned.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think Tory's number will sink even lower as a cause of this major strategic blunder.

The Moon: The 51st State?

Suggestions that the Moon be made the 51st state are about as scary as a Clinton being the next UN Secretary General.

I'd imagine that if that ever happened, no one would settle there - legally at least. Getting a Green Card aint as easy as some people down south seem to believe. My guess is no one would emigrate, or the same thing would happen on the moon that's happening in the good ol' USofA now: massive illegal immigration.

Papal Exagerations...

Spin. It's a lovely business. The media can't get enough of it. It helps sell newspapers from the stands. It puts cashey money into people pockets - and it sure does help put food on the table.

For the unscrupulous, which is pretty much every darned mogul in the media business today, integrity and honesty are things of the past.

Apparently especially so when it comes to the environment and the pope.

"Benedict has been on an eco-friendly campaign of late, presiding most recently over a pro-environment youth rally in the central Italian shrine town of Loreto. In addition, the Vatican has installed photovoltaic cells on the roof of its main auditorium to convert sunlight into electricity and has joined a reforestation project aimed at offsetting its CO2 emissions."

Oh really?

Seems to me there's a might bit of contradiction going on at the Vatican of late.

Now I'm not trying to suggest the Pope is contradicting himself... Just that the media is.

First the claim that the Pope was addressing a "pro-evironment youth rally" is ridiculous. This notice posted before the event paints a different view of that rally:

"The Pope will be meeting the Italian young people in Loreto, Italy next Summer from the 28th of August till the 2nd of September. Being a unique occassion, the Italians are extending the invitation to other young Europeans and Mediterraneans to enrich the Catholic Italian young people with new experiences and aquaitances. Translation in English will be available. This event is sponsored by the Italian Episcopal Conference including flights, food, lodging and pilgrim's bag. You are only required to pay Lm 35 contribution payable to KDZ."

That's right Batman, no mention of enviro-nothing.

If that wasn't enough check out the Vatican Information Services take on the rally:

VATICAN CITY, SEP 1, 2007 (VIS) - Shortly after 4 p.m. today, the Pope departed by helicopter from the pontifical residence at Castelgandolfo bound for the Italian shrine of Loreto where he presided at a national meeting of young people concluding the first year of the "Agora" of Italian youth. The event is being promoted by the Italian Episcopal Conference.

Further the VIS claims 300,000 young people attended. Not the nearly half of million claimed by the media. This is the first time I have ever heard of a Catholic rally where the numbers of people were inflated by media sources over that of what rally organizers said there was. Usually it's the other way around.

LifeSiteNews's Phil Lawler completely debunks this Pope enviro-thon better than I can - and in particular the claim that the Vatican made itself "carbon-neutral". In Actually it was a private firm that did exactly that as a donation to the Catholic Church.

Has the Pope been talking about the environment more than usual of late? Of course he has - who isn't? But to suggest the Pope has turned "Green" is a shameless way to generate controversy by a global media machine that has no real news to report.

Monsignor Petrio's latest speech to the UN sums up the official Catholic Church's position on climate change very well:

The monsignor identified two attitudes that are particularly harmful to creation and humanity: The first is the “fundamentally reckless” approach in which people say, “we should actually exploit our world to the full, with little or no heed to the consequences, using a world view supposedly based on faith." The second approach is to treat the earth as the only good, and characterize[s] humanity as an irredeemable threat to the earth, whose population and activity need to be controlled by various drastic means."

With the latest round of Papal exagerations perpetrated by the mainstream media I'm thinking globally the world tends to the second attitude rather than the first.

The Revolution is Coming...

The revolution is coming if you'd believe the spin from the globe on the latest tax figures.

If we stopped looking at "who has what share of the pie" we would probably realize that everyone's net income in every class level has increased because overall the "pie" has increased.

Those that are more entrepreneurial get rewarded more - and that tends to be the ones already pretty smart entrepreneurial and at the top of the income scale. So what's new about that? How is that unfair?

R.I.P. General Motors

UAW has effectively signed it's own death certificate.

Robots can go to Hell

Pardon my French. But Robots can go to hell. Especially the ones that go on probes trying to win the new Google Lunar X-Prize. This prize would give $30mil to the first team that can get a robotic probe on the moon.

What use is it to the rest of us on this blue rock if a private company can land an unmanned drone on good ol' Luna? Private companies have financed probes to the great beyond before, just what is new or revolutionary about this effort?

Also, where are the friggin' passengers in this bit? None to be found. So the focus is on sending Johnny-Nine up there instead of us warm blooded people. My thinking is we should be focusing on sending eventual paying customers not robotic drones.

The original X-prize was about spurring the aerospace nerds to get going finding an affordable and safe ride to sub-orbital space and get a sub-orbital tourism market going.

Where is the market here? To take fancy pictures of the moon? NASA sells them for free.

If we were really hell bent on dealing with the technical and financial challenges of eventually going Selene's backside we would be focusing on getting cheap reliable travel to low earth orbit first. All this prize will do is encourage the nerds to make the tech we need to do short term stunts on the moon. We're putting the cart before the horse, before the driver, and it's 5 miles back on the other side of cliff where we can't see it.

This won't do a darned thing for TRUE human spaceflight. It sure won't increase anyones chances of one day affording a ticket to the moon that's for sure.

Naked Kyoto

Yet more evidence that the Liberalismos weren't 100% on the level saying that Canada could meet Kyoto.

With Goldenberg's confession earlier this year you'd figure that the enviro-nutsos out there would finally admit it: Kyoto was unrealistic.

The emperor is naked that's for sure. And he's big, fat, and ugly. The Suzukiites will have to come to grips with it eventually.

Let's Declare War on Knives

Hell it might work. I'm pretty sure that 100% of all knives used in felonies are taken from law abiding citizens.

And all knives have one purpose: to cut things. We just can't allow that. People could get cut. Just get everyone to use plastic knives to eat.

In liberal fantasy land that must make sense.

The latest youth violence crime in Toronto was not using a hand gun this time around, it was using a plain old knife.

That didn't stop Dalton McGuilty from standing up and repeating his oft stated battle cry "Let's declare war on handguns."

How in the heck that has anything to do with a teen getting stabbed is beyond me. He's also on a rant against the "Americanization of public education." You can tell right off the bat McGuilty is running low on arguments when he attacks an idea as being "American."

Honestly it's like I'm French in the 19th century trying to explain to my fellow countrymen that Brits are NOT all ruthless pigs out to get us. We have to separate propaganda in politics from reality. The brits weren't terrible bastards out to get the French. And the French weren't stinkin' pigs either.

What is McGuilty railling against? It's having metal detectors and armed guards in schools. How that is "American" is outside my intellectual capacity. What's worse is that John Not-So-Tory agrees with McGuilty.

Stop listening to the amalgamated Dalton McTory political machine. The only way to prevent these school killings from happening is to install metal detectors in schools and maybe just maybe have a couple constables around to keep a presence.

It's harsh. It's unfortunate. But it's the reality on the ground.

We either suck it up and do the right thing, or we can keep on going on blaming the "British Pigs" for all our ills.

R.I.P. Kistler

With Kistler now given the boot out of the COTS program all I can say is "that took a while," or more appropriately "finally."

It was a mystery to me as to why RPK was one of two dainty winners of the program that was going to bring the infamous alt-space community into the NASA fold. The company was in chapter 11 before as far as I knew, and with the little I do know the financial situation was never hunky doory.

Those that are saying that it's "NASA's fault" aren't being fair. Those that are implying that "NASA's blameless" sure aren't on level ground either.

Kistler was always on shaky financial ground to begin with and would have had a hard time funding anything let alone a vehicle that could ferry cargo to the ISS.

That being said NASA isn't blameless when it comes to the difficulties inherent in raising good old cashy money for this private space experiment NASA is embarking on. It has put as far as I know, as is typical, limits on foreign investment into the development of COTS vehicles. The more knowledgeable out there will be able to correct this assertion if it's wrong, but if I'm not mistaken that's how this shindig is working.

Now when I look at the only public figures I know of funding these commercial space adventures I see some foreign faces like Richard Branson. Hell even the X-Prize was funded by a foreign born family in the Ansari's. The number of non-Yankee, and non-Yankee borns involved in this drive to the stars are pretty significant.

Look, I understand the need to prevent American tech getting into the hands of terrorists and the like, but a certain amount of risk by NASA may just payoff when it comes to who can fund these COTS competitions.

Changing those rules might have changed the situation for RPK, but I doubt it. It was just a bad choice to begin with to have them as one of the two finalists for COTS funding.

Socialist Tax Cutters

When the NDP talks about tax cuts you know their has to be one huge honkin' pile of a catch. Howard Hampton's latest foray into tax cutting territory is no surprise.

If you make less than 48k you don't have to pay no stinkin' health tax no more. Hurrah for the recent grads, low skilled workers, and most generally underpaid sector of the economy. Even truck drivers can make up to 60k a year nowadays.

Fear not if you make up to 80k the NDP deems you acceptable to receive a little tax moneys back - although you pay more into the system already.

Above that? Go screw yourself you miserable bourgeoisie capitalist scum -errr- we mean law abiding successful hard working close to retirement professional...

But if you make over 150k you are a horribly greedy evil dude that needs to pay more. And major corporations deserve to pay more taxes, because their so horrible employing people and giving them jobs and such.

I used to love Robin Hood growing up. There was something romantic about someone stealing from the rich, elite, and blue blooded to give to the poor, oppressed and unfairly treated.

In the mind of a dipper that's exactly what their doing. Unfortunately when we talk about people who earn more than 80k a year we aren't talking about self serving morally decripit elites who have got to their positions through nepotism or collusion - we are talking about guys and gals who have succeeded through risk, strife, trial and merit...

If a society tells a more successful person they should pay more they send him the signal that he's a work horse to be used and abused... Kind of reminds me of the Little Red Hen.

Sponsorship Ressurection!

The Tories have to have eaten one too many acid laced beaver tails, because Josee is resurrecting the ill fated sponsorship program... You know the one that caused the former Liberal government oh-so-many problems?...

Ok. So the feds need to be involved in certain areas - I'm willing to accept that fact. But do they really need to "support local arts and heritage activities, including cultural festivals and live performances"?

If we don't fund local artsy left wingers, and drunken Rollin' Stones concerts I'm pretty sure the social fabric of Canada won't implode. I remain convinced, that no matter how much governments meddle, the culture and heritage of Canada has is and will forever be determined by Canucks themselves and not some bureaucrat in Ottawa.

Tories in Ottawa should collectively kick themselves in their own arse. This isn't a Conservative policy, and it sure wasn't something clammered for by opposition parties. It negates individual initiative and responsibility when it comes culture and heritage - and for that reason alone it's a bad move in my books.

Appeasement Doesn't Work

The insanity of this decision astounds me:
The Taliban has agreed to release the remaining 19 South Korean hostages, the South Korean government and the Taliban confirmed Tuesday.

South Korean presidential spokesman Cheon Ho-sun said the release was "on the condition that South Korea withdraws troops by the end of year and South Korea suspends missionary work in Afghanistan," he said.

Great. Now the Taliban is bolstered. Now it knows that it can kidnap innocents and use them as bargaining chips. I expect further kidnappings to continue at an accelerated pace.

I have to ask though, if South Korea has any real compassion for the 28 South Koreans that died on 9/11? Do they even give a damn?

No one wants to see those 19 civilians killed. Yet pulling out, cutting and running from the battle zone and giving into a bullies demands I believe just leads to more harm not less.

MP Maria Minna Should Apologize

On tonight's edition of the Michael Coren Show, Liberal MP for Beaches-East York Maria Minna made the comment to the effect that "What I find most insulting as a parliamentarian is when the Prime Minister stood up before the house voted to extend the deadline of the mission in Afghanistan to 2009 and said that if the house voted not to extend the deadline, he'd extend it anyways..."

Of course that is not an official quote - I'm running by my memory solely. Those out there with better memories can correct the exact wording, but nevertheless the accusation was plain and clear: Harper said he would extend the deadline anyways.

That was a lie.

What Harper actually said was this:
However, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday he would have continued Canada's military mission in Afghanistan for one year if opposition MPs voted down the extension.

"What we would do is proceed cautiously for a year," Harper told the House. "If we have to go further beyond that, we would seek a mandate from the Canadian people."

One can readily understand why Harper would "proceed cautiously for a year" on account of the fact that troops can't be pulled out of commitment next Tuesday. Anyone that says otherwise is living in a dream world. His comments, if really meant as a flaunting of the will of parliament, would have otherwise been pounced upon by the media as such.

Mrs Minna should apologize and retract such a ridiculous statement. Harper's comments were not meant and were never interpreted as meaning he would extend the mission without the approval of parliament. If he had meant that why would he be making the threat to go to the people over this issue? If he didn't feel he needed the approval of parliament then making a threat to fight an election so as to get a parliamentary majority that would approve his extension seems like wheehacky-woohoo.

If you feel so compelled to contact Mrs Minna please do:

Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows...

On the eve of Duceppe making his ultimatum on an Afghan pull-out by 2009, Ontario Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty and Quebec Premier Jean Charest show signs of support for the mission.

Alright McGuinty didn't actually support the mission, but his expression of support for the troops is nonetheless timely. It's presented a strange situation where both and left seem to have mashed together over this issue when most opinion polls show the Afghan mission to be the Canadian version of the War in Iraq - except for the whole pesky WMD thing.

And that's the kicker here: where the heck was this oppo to the War in Afghanistan when Jean Chretien was in power?

It was nowhere to be found, because it was Liberals behind the war. Now that it's Harper Conservatives the whole concept of the justification of the war is now being brought into question.

No matter what the polls say, and no matter what Duceppe or Layton meanders two things make the war in Afghanistan a war worthy of fighting:

1) 28 Canadians died in 911. That attack had to have a response. That response had to involve seeking justice - which means working to prevent a similar attack from happening in the future. That's why were there fighting Alqeda and the Taleban.

2) If we don't do the fighting who will? That's the one question no one wants to answer. More over by what kind of logic do we figure that by passing the buck on Afghanistan to other nations that have been less than committed to the mission, that somehow this going to solve the situation?

Aerosols did not cause global cooling...

An interesting point to bring up on the climate change debate.

Those members of the Church of Climatology (TM) have one response to climate skeptics who point out that despite CO2 emissions increasing in the period of 1940 to 1970 globe temperatures cooled:
CO2 doesn't match the temperature record over the 20th C. True but not relevant, because it isn't supposed to. The programme spent a long time agonising over what they presented as a sharp temperature fall for 4 decades from 1940 to 1980 (incidentally their graph looks rather odd and may have been carefully selected; on a more usual (and sourced!) plot the "4 decades of cooling" is rather less evident). They presented this as a major flaw in the theory, which is deeply deceptive, because as they and their interviewees must know, the 40-70 cooling type period is readily explained, in that the GCMs are quite happy to reproduce it, as largely caused by sulphate aerosols.

The only problem is that if you look at the wikipedia entry linked by said poster, it shows the graph below.

If you notice on this graph, the effect of man made sulphate emissions has had cooling effect on the atmosphere increasing at a relatively constant rate since the year 1900. (See purple line)

There are no dramatic long term drops starting in the year 1978 when the EPA implemented a ban on CFC aerosols, or dramatic long term increases in the 1930's when CFC aerosols were first produced.

So, by simple logic, we are left again with the fact that CO2 emissions don't match the temperature record over the 20th century. By the very models referenced by this member of the Church of Climatology (TM) sulphate emissions have had an increasing cooling effect on global climate with no appreciable shifts related to CFC aerosol use.

Further evidence of constant increases in man made sulphate emissions is given here:
Much of the sulfate aerosol in the atmosphere derives from the oxidation of sulfur dioxide produced in the combustion of fossil fuels. Industrial activities are not the only source: Natural aerosols--mostly dust, sea salt, and other compounds of marine origin--do exist, but they have remained in nearly constant concentrations in the atmosphere for a long time. However, the man-made version has increased dramatically since about 1950.

Two points I need to make at this point:

1) if the global climate change poster above really believes that it is "not relevant" that the CO2 emissions record does not directly correlate with the temperature record over the 20th century, why does he feel the need to reaffirm that the discrepancy in the record can be readily explained?

2) By his own reference man made sulphate aerosols do not affect appreciably the global climate over the 1940 to 1970 period more than they do today. So the excuse of CFC aerosols is very much a lame one.

In the end it still means that from 1940 to 1970 the earth cooled yet CO2 emissions rose. This is still a valid point that members of The Church of Climatology (TM) cannot explain.

Proud Beggars

I don't think I've ever quoted a single Bible verse on this blog, but the recent murder by Toronto panhandlers just makes it to much not to:
"My soul hates three kinds of men,/and I am greatly offended at their life:/ a beggar who is proud, a rich man who is a liar,/ and an adulterous man who lacks good sense."-Sirach 25:2

For those that would say that these panhandlers were poor repressed individuals, I'd suggest they consult their conscience for what the truth is.

"...eminently qualified..."

On the eve of a Canadian astronaut breaking a Canadian record for space walking, this ball of horse manure gets spewed:
Prof. Chris Herd of the University of Alberta's earth and atmospheric sciences department said the fact that astronauts like Hadfield and Williams are carrying out construction and repair work in space shows how incredibly flexible and eminently qualified they must be. And with a major contribution of Canadian technology and manpower, he believes today's mission launch is something all Canadians can be proud of.

What a crock.

Just a while ago we found out Astronauts have gone up drunk in the past. Astronauts, we now know, can have serious mental issues and yet still make good astronauts.

Could it be that the reason why the criteria for entry into NASA's Astronaut Corps. is set high only because 1000 people apply every year? Does the emperor really have no clothes?

Let me tell you, I figure the emperor is not only naked, but fat, and hairless too.

Oh wait it gets better. The Astronaut in question had this to say:
"This is a tremendous opportunity for Canada, and it's a tremendous opportunity to participate as a Canadian," he said in a recent interview at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

What he really means is that this is a tremendous opportunity for himself, and it's a tremendous opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream.

Let's not be ridiculous about this. That's the real reason why people become astronauts: self interest. Some justify it by claiming it's in the best interests of all mankind because of the great science their doing.

Unfortunately the last real evidence that anything that came out of NASA has spurred innovation and development in the real world has been lacking in NASA since the Apollo days. Most of the great work that is done in space science comes from JPL nowadays anyway.

A really good reason to become an astronaut though is to be one to try to spur development of space systems to the point where everyone can go - Not some elitist group of NASA designated blow dried suck ups.

Enter Dennis Tito, and Ansari, exit Hadfield and Bondar. Space tourism, or some variant of it, is the only way to get humanity into space in my opinion.

Obama's Canadian President

Oh you bet this is a gaffe:
We missed it earlier, but it has been brought to our attention that Obama referred to the "president" of Canada when talking about NAFTA -- when that country actually has a prime minister.

If they got him on tape doing it I expect Canadian comedians to be playing this up for months.

Chadler Goes Ape on Guliany...

Charles Adler basically dropped a hammer on Guiliani's head with this comment:
His message is simple. If the homeland is attacked again nobody will be rougher and tougher and meaner when it comes to retalliation. In the War On Terror, we must stay on offence, he says over and over and over again.

To the surface observer, Guiliani looks like the in-charge, strong-as-steel father figure. But the surface observer may miss two facts of life which tend to soil the strong father figure image: (1) His son who will not speak with Guiliani because of the way the former mayor disposed of his former wife, who happens to be the son's mother; and (2) his daughter is now on record as a supporter of Democratic Party presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

So outside of the facts that his son won't talk to him and his daughter won't vote for him, Daddy is doing pretty well.

Firstly attacking someone based on their personal life is completely uncalled for. Chadler may or may not be attacking Guiliani in this instance. That is a point of debate.

What isn't a point of debate, is the limited value of bringing up a politician's personal life has to the question of whether he is to be supported or opposed.

We all have problems in our lives. We all make mistakes. It's like my Zia used to say "Don't act like your shit don't stink" - apologies to the language conscious out there but she did have a point.

Most politicians have a horrible personal life by nature of the job. Just how many politicians stay married in politics after 10 years? What about after 20?

I accept whole heartily that our personal lives affect every part of lives. When it comes to politicians I'm sure it is no different. I haven no doubt that links can be readily made between the penchant some politicians have towards making bad policy decisions, and the deteriorating nature of their relationships with family and friends.

That being said making a judgment call on someone based solely or primarily on their personal life is fool hearty.

Far better to judge a politician on what he believes in. In the case of Guiliani, he believes that torturing enemy combatants is ok, sees no problem with abortion on demand, and believes in law and order. He has made no appreciable commitment to cut rampant spending in the US or to do anything but maintain the status quo in Iraq.

That's my gist of Rudy Guiliani. And quite frankly I would say it's way more than enough fore people to oppose rather than to support.

Policies I could go for...

John Williamson offers some good advice on new policy for a Conservative minority government in the envious position of having largely met all of it's goals:
Agenda item one for the Conservatives should be to cut spending. Item two should be to dedicate savings to debt reduction. Canada's debt currently stands at $472-billion. Since 1961, debt interest and service charges have cost taxpayers almost $1-trillion. Canadians would welcome a plan to pay off the debt. It can be achieved if Parliament passes a debt repayment law with annual payments of 5 per cent of total revenues. Each year, Ottawa squanders $34-billion paying interest. As the debt is reduced, significant savings will be realized through lower interest payments.

The third policy item is to cut income taxes, since Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is not taxing to collect money to fund programs, but rather finding ways to spend money government collects. Two years ago the federal surplus totaled $13.2-billion. Last year it was $9.2-billion. The spending of surplus dollars is responsible for Ottawa's 14% expansion.

The only real problem with legislated debt repayment is the same one experienced by the likes of Ontario and the "Taxpayer Protection and Balanced Budget Act."

Let's all remember Ontario did not post a balanced budget with that legislation in place .

It is far better for the government to make debt reduction and spending reduction goals like "Reduce Canada's debt by XX billion over the next 5 years." That's measurable. "Reduce spending by 10 %" that would be another.

However my guess is that for the current Conservative government none of those schemes seem like electoral beating sticks.

Media White Lies

Beware the Media-Industrial Complex:
News coming out of the first day of the caucus meeting was overshadowed by Conservative attempts to keep reporters at bay. RCMP officers were dispatched to eject journalists from the hotel where the MPs had gathered.

While the government cannot bar reporters from doing their job in public spaces like streets, parks and airports, University of Windsor law professor Richard Moon said the Charter of Rights would probably not prevent government officials or the RCMP from asking a hotel to bar journalists. That's because a hotel is private property, and therefore not bound by the Charter's guarantees of freedom of association and freedom of expression.

The RCMP says it would not allow the government to dictate its measures when providing security for an event involving government figures.

However, in this case, the RCMP says officers were responding to a request from hotel management to remove journalists from the premises, just as they would respond to requests for help in removing anyone ejected from a business.

I wonder if I can expect a retraction and apology from Taber at the Globe for one, or the numerous other reporters that have been suggesting lately that the Conservative government was trying to keep reporters out of the loop during that caucus retreat.

Canuck Reporters Boo-Hoo

Taber on Harper kicking out reporters from the hotel lobby where the caucus retreat was being held:
"We were kicked out, then when I came back in to use the washroom, I was followed out by a little Delta hotel employee just to make sure that I got out," Taber said.

"It was unbelievable -- at a caucus meeting retreat such as this -- that we would not be allowed to stand in a hotel lobby and talk to MPs and cabinet ministers. The Tories are very suspicious of us."

No really? Harper, a Conservative in Canada, suspicious of the media? Why, because it couldn't be that the media is horribly biased against Conservatives in this country....

...could it?

Let me remind everyone that this is the same Canadian media that managed to inject the abortion issue into more than one Conservative campaign - and it has been admitted as much by people in the Canadian media establishment.

Drunk Astronauts

Apparently getting loaded is an occasional remedy to space sickness by some:
A panel reviewing astronaut health issues in the wake of the Lisa Nowak arrest has found that on at least two occasions astronauts were allowed to fly after flight surgeons and other astronauts warned they were so intoxicated that they posed a flight-safety risk.

Of course what this story does is it blasts a big gaping hole into the crowd that has been saying for years that "regular people can't go into space... People aren't fit enough! NASA wouldn't have the screening process it has for nothing."

I've always suspected that line of argument is bogus. NASA's astronaut selection process has always seemed to me to based on somewhat arbitrary requirements that seem to serve more the cause of filtering people out than in finding the most qualified candidates. A full 1,000 people apply to be astronauts every year. They're lucky if one of them joins the Astronaut Corps.

If NASA is willing to put drunks on the shuttle it makes you wonder whether there are a lot more of that 1,000 that could really have been strapped to the side of rocket just as well as anyone else.

A Horrible Day In Mojave

This is disastrous:
(AP) MOJAVE, Calif. An explosion on Thursday killed two workers and critically injured four others at a Mojave Desert airport site used by the pioneering aerospace company that sent the first private manned rocket into space, authorities said.

The blast at a Mojave Air and Space Port facility belonging to Scaled Composites LLC released nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, into the air. Haz-Mat teams were on the scene as a precaution and fire authorities said the scene was safe. All the victims worked for Scaled, the Mojave-based builder of SpaceShipOne, the first private manned rocket to reach space.

I'm sure the folks at Scaled are going through shell shock right now. And by the sounds of it most of all company owner Burt Rutan.

No one at Scaled needed this. Anyone that would dare suggest that the company as a whole or Rutan himself was somehow intentionally negligent in terms of safety isn't being fair. This blast will no doubt halt the development of Space Ship Two for Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic and lead to countless losses by Scaled in increased costs.

That's the shear economics of this type of tragedy - so no one better think that somehow it was intentionally willed by anyone at Mojave.
"We were doing a test we believe was safe. We don't know why it exploded. We just don't know..."

And that's the kicker here: no one knows anything. There are no technical details to hash out as far as I can see. All we can do is sit and wait until Scaled investigates just went wrong.

My sincerest condolences go out to the families of the victims - probably people that were ultimately committed to Burt Rutan's vision of space travel for everyone. Today they just gave their lives for that vision - Let's hope they are the last for a long while.

The Highway to Slavery

Is paved in government meddling:
President Mugabe said the government had been forced to intervene with price controls last month after an "astronomical" rise in the price of basic goods, and would remain committed to them to try and stabilise the economy.

Inflation is approaching 5,000% and shops in Zimbabwe are running out of the most basic commodities.

"Our economy continues to face challenges arising from the illegal sanctions imposed by our enemies," he told MPs.

All this had led to shortages of foreign currency, as well as erratic energy supplies, he said.

Mugabe's political cannonballs are well shot. Because of western dependence on sanctions as a means of diplomacy Mugabe has been given a political beating stick to which he can mightily hammer against the rest of the world.

In reality the bad situation in Zimbabwe is partly Mugabe's fault, and partly the west's.

The west's embargo has no doubt led to shortages of supply of basic goods inside the country rising prices and inflation. Mugabe's land reforms on the other hand have done much worse. It has destroyed the right to property in the country shaking confidence in people's basic right to own and live on their own property. The wealthiest land owners have fled the country taking their knowledge, experience, and strength with them.

And now Mugabe comes along with price controls. If there weren't already shortages in Zimbabwe they'll be ones now that's for sure. Instead of dealing with the fact that their isn't just enough "stuff" for everyone, they want to set fixed prices. Bully for them. Now instead of prices controlling demand nothing will.
The proposed empowerment bill stipulates that no company restructuring, merger or acquisition can be approved unless 51% of the firm goes to indigenous Zimbabweans.

It says "indigenous Zimbabwean" is anyone disadvantaged by unfair discrimination on race grounds before independence in 1980.

Tendai Biti, secretary general of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), says that Zimbabweans have become wary about nationalisation.

"Zanu-PF took 11m hectares of land from members of the white community, but what did they do with it?

"They distributed it among themselves, so the land reform programme became a vehicle for personal aggrandisement. So everyone in Zimbabwe is sceptical," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

And as with all state interventions into the economy promising large benefits to all - it really means large benefits to the ruling powers friends and relatives.

It's time for the rest of the world to admit it: sanctions don't work. They didn't work in Iraq, they won't work in Iran and surely not the Zimbabwe.

Space Inflation and Billionaire Jaunts

Space tourism company Space Adventures Inc is having some inflation problems of late:
Each person spent roughly $20 million to $25 million for their multi-day stay at the ISS, flown to the orbital outpost and returned to Earth by a three-seat Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

But the days of prices that low are over, Anderson said in a July 15 telephone interview with Space News.

"Actually, it's $30 million now. For the next couple of seats, that's the price," Anderson said. That cost hike, among several factors, is due to the falling dollar - the ruble has appreciated some 50 percent against the dollar, he said. Another factor is simply the overall cost of inflation, he said.

"It is still the most economical and reliable, safest way to get to orbit," Anderson said of the venerable Soyuz.

The question is for how long? Just how long will it take before there are competitors in the space tourism marketplace?

It's obvious despite the doom and gloom of some that there is a real and true market for space tourism. Space Adventures even sees future 100 million dollar lunar jaunts for billionaires.

But before those scrupulous willy nillies out there go nuts at the suggestion that Billionaires actually spend their hard earned money on ridiculous adventures that are nothing but gluttonous indulgences I would ask them to consider that those billionaires may have ulterior motives:
"Coupled with the physical thrill is the sense that you are in some way pioneering ... you are committing yourself to a frontier, a commercial one, where your journey can make a difference and make more ambitious trips possible for future passengers. Out of such an industry should come more economical ways of getting cargo and astronauts to orbit for serious exploring, out beyond low Earth orbit. Even with the risks, it is win-win," Jones told Space News via e-mail.

And that's my guess about why many of those millionaires and billionaires are really forking off so much money: space pioneering.

Think about it, why would they be willing to give up so much of their money? This isn't an investment, it's an expense. There's no way to recoup these costs. And many of these yokels are probably committing a good chunk of their total worth to this industry.

Most of these guys that have gone up so far were space nerds as kids, and I bet most of them see this not just as a chance to fulfill a long held dream, but as a chance to help progress humanity to the point where everyone can afford one of these trips.

And as to why is it important that humanity get to the point where we're a space faring species? Two reasons: we can't have all our egss in one basket, and without challenges humanity has a way of turning inwards and destroying itself.

The miracle of testing before the problem...

I wonder if the Air Force apologized to Lockheed Martin for initially blaming this failure on them:
A hydrogen propellant valve in the Pratt & Whitney RL10 Centaur upper-stage engine caused the placement of two classified National Reconnaissance Office ocean surveillance spacecraft into the wrong orbit after launch from Cape Canaveral June 15, the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., now says.

Testing of the valve is ongoing as I write this.

My immediate question is why wasn't this testing done ahead of time?

Calling all Statist Religious Conservatives...

The next time you want to give Christian Libertarians such as myself a hard time for actually daring to believe in the Free Market Economy I suggest you watch the "Call of the Entrepreneur":
The movie's message is that entrepreneurs are creators of wealth, Wall Street financiers are enablers of economic progress, and the villains of the world are people like the Communist leaders in China and American religious leaders who rail against capitalism.

I've already pre-ordered a copy.

Death and Taxes...

Giving the state the power to kill someone seems to be a no-brainer to the Pope:
ATLANTA (AP) - Citing a parade of witnesses who have since recanted, the Vatican joined supporters of a condemned and urged Georgia's governor to commute his sentence.

Troy Anthony Davis had been scheduled to be executed Tuesday for the shooting death of an off-duty police officer, but he received a 90-day stay from the state Board of Pardons and Paroles.

The letter to Gov. Sonny Purdue from the Vatican Embassy in Washington arrived Monday, the same day the stay was granted.

``In the name of Pope Benedict XVI, I am respectfully asking you to commute Troy's sentence to life in prison without parole,'' wrote Monsignor Martin Krebs, the office's charge d'affaires.

The Pope's intervention in this case is fairly significant. When it comes to the death penalty the Catholic Church teaches not that there isn't a moral justification for the death penalty that is valid, rather that one doesn't exist at the present time.

For the Church the use of force is justified in self defense. And in history the use of the death penalty may have been the only way to prevent a violent person from continuing to be violent.

In today's day and age throwing someone away in prison and locking away the key is a reasonable proposition. So the justification of self-defense becomes pretty lame. The last time I checked there wasn't an epidemic of prisoners escaping prisons, so the argument in favor of capital punishment effectively becomes mute.

Besides the church's position there is one more reason to oppose the death penalty: giving the state the right to decide who will live and who will die should be terrifying to everyone.

I don't trust the Dalton McGuinty's of the world to make those decisions one ayota.

Ron Paul Dreams...

I'll admit it: I'm a Ron Paul fan. I don't agree with him on every point - NAFTA for one - but he's quite the consistent principled Congressman from Texas.

Regardless of what you think of him, this you tube video has to be the best I've seen for a while...

The rest of the Republican candidates for President that are probably more likely to win this Presidential contest from hell would do best to take note of just how successful Ron Paul is on the internet and why.

Drumpdrops in the vacuum...

Harper's decided to exert Canadian sovereignty over the Arctic. It's aboot stinkin' time.
"Canada has a choice when it comes to defending our sovereignty in the Arctic; either we use it or we lose it...And make no mistake this government intends to use it. Because Canada's Arctic is central to our identity as a northern nation. It is part of our history and it represents the tremendous potential of our future."

It's also a basic function of the state to defend Canadian terrority against would be aggressors. The former Liberal government's obsession with ignoring foreign ships laying claim to Canadian territory was puzzling to say the least.

It was an embarrassment for the this great country to say the least. One that former Liberal MP Bill Graham tried to rectify in all honesty.

BC's "Liberal" government has posted a record surplus. Just goes to show what happens when you cut taxes, reduce the size of government and get the government out of our lives. At least that was what marked his first term in office that laid the groundwork down for this record surplus.

That is noteworthy since his second term in office has been more characterized by government expansion and meddling:
"In 2006, the budget planned for debt to grow by $1.7 billion to help finance public building projects..."

BC went into debt to fund public projects? Somehow I doubt that money was well spent - it hardly ever is. And with the push to spend government pork on the 2010 Olympics somehow I think it'll only get worse.

Do Republicans even want to win in 2008?

Insanity seems to have gripped the US Republican Party:

The US Senate has blocked a vote on a landmark immigration bill, dealing a major blow to one of President George W Bush's key policy planks.

Senators rejected a motion to take the bill to a final vote - meaning action on the planned law is now unlikely until the presidential poll in 2008.

President Bush had argued the bill would give the immigration system a much-needed overhaul.

But its conservative opponents said it gave an amnesty to illegal immigrants.

The planned law would have enabled some of the millions of illegal immigrants already living within the US to eventually seek citizenship.

It would have also offered some would-be migrants the chance to apply for a guest-worker programme.

The bill also proposed tougher border controls to prevent more illegal immigrants from entering the country.

No doubt it's high time Republicans made it clear that they do have a back bone, but they choose to do it over a bill that would have opened up immigration at the same time improving efforts to enforce US borders?

The most important principle that needs to be upheld here is that nations benefit from immigration - they don't loose.

I sympathise with those that decry the modern day western immigration system. The huge entitlement schemes western nations have created has led to a situation where people immigrate for all the wrong reasons: namely for government endorsed graft.

The reason why many immigrants come to western countries is for the great nanny-state that will allow them not to work.

People shouldn't be coming here so that they can live off the state. But surely the solution isn't to limit the free movement of goods and people. It makes more sense to attack the system of entitlements and attack the root of the problem of the modern day immigration crisis.

Further it makes even less sense to attack illegal mexicans living in the US. They aren't living on graft, they are scrapping a living off of the breadcrumbs of legal citizens tables.

So I have to ask the question just what is wrong with amnesty? Wasn't the US founded on immigrants?

This was a bad move by Republicans in the US, and I fear it will lead to even worse as the months drown by.

Ron Paul Blues...

Republican Congressman Ron Paul is an odd character in the strange brew of Republican Presidential candidates. Being the only Republican in the bunch that was against the war in Iraq, has consistently voted against spending increases, is Pro-life, and anti-tax, one wonders why despite his low polling numbers he wasn't allowed into the debates in Iowa:
The Texas congressman, who has struggled to top 1 percent in national polls, wasn’t invited to a forum of presidential candidates Saturday in Des Moines. The gathering is sponsored by the Iowa Christian Alliance and the watchdog group Iowans for Tax Relief.

Instead of grumbling, Paul’s campaign decided to hold its own party _ in the same hall as the forum. They’re calling it a celebration of life and liberty.

Campaign spokesman Jesse Benton said it has been frustrating to be excluded, especially since Paul has consistently opposed abortion and is known nationally for his advocacy of lowering taxes.

"It’s just a little head-scratching," Benton said.

"Head-scratching" To say the least. Precious little has been said from the other candidates on the old GOP principle of getting the state out of our lives. In the last decade of the Bush presidency that principle was pushed aside to make way for "Big Government Conservatism."

So the question has to be asked: just what is left of the old republican party of the 1990's? The one that advocated so clearly principles of individual responsibilty and individual rights? Where are the tax cutters? Where are the department slashers? Where are the rebels of the "GOP revolution"?

They're all gone. Ron Paul, a noted Christian libertarian, is all that's left from that era.

All that's left in the Republican party is law and order, and a toleration of social conservative causes.

For two organizations that would find the most to agree with Ron Paul on to lock him out their debate is not only troubling... it seems suicidal.

The Road to Hell...

Bush II is elated over the recent positive ruling from the US Supreme Court on his faith based initiatives:
..."Today's Supreme Court decision marks a substantial victory for efforts by Americans to more effectively aid our neighbors in need of help. The Faith-Based and Community Initiative can remain focused on strengthening America's armies of compassion and expanding their good works. Similar efforts by governors and mayors in states and cities all across the country can also continue to advance."

"This ruling is a win for the thousands of community and faith-based nonprofits all across the country that have partnered with government at all levels to serve their neighbors. Most importantly, it is a win for the many whose lives have been lifted by the caring touch and compassionate hearts of these organizations."

What's that old saying? "The road to hell is paved in good intentions?"

That's pretty much how I view Bush's faith based initiative. The intention, although good, has an unfortunate end that social conservatives are not paying attention to.

Non-profit charities derive strength from being independent from the state. It's a strength that isn't easily returned once lost.

The funding of private institutions is sometimes used by those in power as a way of gaining control over that institution. It has happened before in history and it will happen again. The alliance of the church with the state always acts to the benefit of the state and the detriment of the church.

I would cite the supposedly "seperate" and "Catholic" education system in the province of Ontario as a case in point. Once the Catholic education system wasn't funded by the government. Catholics in Ontario had to struggle and help one another out to educate their children. With the onset of the public funding of the Catholic education system it did two things: it made the Catholic system less Catholic, and it made Catholics addicted to government money.

At first they claimed that the state would never interfere with the unique Catholic and faith based curriculum. Slowly the creeping influence of the state had the end result of creating a "Catholic" education system openly supporting causes in direct contradiction with Church teaching.

Faith based organizations would be best to stay away from this initiative. Stay private, stay individual donations based, and stay away from the corruption of government dollars - because let's not kid ourselves that's exactly what government money does.

My War against the "War against the War"...

Oppose the Afghan war? What better way to express it than to harrass soldier's families, protest their actions before they leave the country, and better yet refuse to stand in a sign of respect to the life of service they've chosen.

The concept of "chosing your battles" is pretty much lost on these people:

"When we found out there was a military parade, we decided it would be a good opportunity to show the population, the military and politicians the opposition to this mission," Maxim Fortin, a spokesman for the War on War Coalition, told The Canadian Press.

On Thursday, more than 2,000 soldiers from Quebec's CFB Valcartier gathered in Montreal to hold a tailgate party and watch the Alouettes play against the Toronto Argonauts.
And when members of the Royal 22nd Regiment attended the national assembly on Wednesday, a shouting match erupted when some Parti Quebecois members refused to stand and applaud them.

Opposing the Afghan War should be your right, yet showing respect for those that fight to represent you should be the norm in society.

Those opposed to this war would be well to consider how these actions appear to others: petty.

Showing resistance means resisting acts of agression - not willfully disrepecting members of the armed forces. These people are putting their lives on the line for the state who is supposed to represent the people.

Standing in honour of such a sacrifice is such a small thing to do. Not harrassing soldiers near to deployment is another act of courtesy.

Although I support the Afghan War, I never supported the War in Iraq. I oppossed it because I don't believe in spreading liberty by the point of a bayonet, and I didn't believe Iraq was a real threat to Canada or the US. Yet I could never bring myself to an Anti-War rally.

Why? Because the Anti-War movement was obsessed with similar tactics such as these that I could never bring myself to do. That's why the Anti-War movement failed, and that's why the "War against the War" will also fail.

Even the big guys make mistakes...

I have to tell you this makes me feel a little better about my own screw ups doing engineering calculations myself:
"NASA said on Wednesday it "made a mistake" in its calculations about a tear in space shuttle Atlantis' heat protection, but that it should not prevent the ship's safe return to earth.

Now when I say that I don't mean to belittle the importance of doing engineering calculations right the first time.

Yet it's unrealistic to expect a human being to be perfect. The only way to approach doing these types of calculations is with caution and a dispassionate disinterested manner that isn't rushed or affected by external forces. And then your work must be reviewed thoroughly over and over with a humble attitude until most of the bugs get worked out. The idea is to have a process in place to catch whatever human errors happen and to learn from the mistakes that are made.

Hopefully then the only errors left in a set of calculations are as small as the ones done by NASA above.

Gun Control And The No-Fly List

What does gun control have to do with a no fly-list? The same type of violation of our liberties for one:
"I don't think it's going to help one bit," Prentice told CBC News on Sunday. "What terrorist is going to travel with their own name and passport?…

"These people are going to steal or create a forged passport and identification if they're going to do anything, anyway."

Whether it's guns or passports, I just wonder why people always seem to assume that somehow criminals will register their weapons and use their real passports when they decide to commit crimes?

And as with gun-control it's the slippery slope that concerns most people. Sure this may be a small measure now, with fewer than a 1,000 people on this list it won't affect most Canadians - yet will it always be that size? What if one day certain Christian groups are included as "terrorist" organizations?

I would argue that this is a cop-out for Transport Canada. Instead of doing what really needs to be done to beef up security in airports it's coming up with a no-fly list to make people feel safe.

You see we have nothing to fear anymore... Those terrorists aren't on my plane because they would be on the "no-fly" list...

What we really need to do is best described by Yves Duguay:
On other subjects Thursday, Duguay voiced support for the use of armed RCMP officers as sky marshals on selected flights in Canada, brushing aside claims by critics who fear the practice could lead to dangerous mid-air shootouts.

Duguay, who spent 25 years as a Mountie before joining Air Canada, said the officers are well-trained and act as a deterrent to would-be attackers.

Seeing armed soldiers at French airports is common as far as I've seen, and I'm sure it must be so in the rest of Europe. Getting trained armed professionals into airports is the best deterrent to terrorism. The Israeli airlines have known this for years.

Pan Am in the 80's started implementing a system called the "The Alert Program." The original administrator had the intention of turning Pan Am security more militarized and similar to Israeli Airline security.

Unfortunately I don't think the original plan was ever fully implemented. Part of that had to do with concerns of PanAm's union not liking the idea of not using existing unionized security personnel as part of the new program. The original administrator of PanAm's ALERT program intended to train people with prior military or policing backgrounds for the job. In the end the administrator was fired from his position because PanAm disagreed with his security philosophy.

We can't live in this fictional bubble we've created for ourselves to believe that "no-fly" lists will somehow keep us safe. If anything they will just lead to more bureaucracy, less freedom, and more government meddling.

As insecure as it makes us feel, I'd rather see the soldiers with guns in airports and know that I'm safe, than file some some paperwork and assume it.

People Are Happy To Pay Taxes

That according to some Yankee "experts":
"Paying taxes can make citizens happy," Ulrich Mayr, a professor of psychology, said in a release accompanying the study in the Friday issue of Science.

"People are, to varying degrees, pure altruists. On top of that, they like that warm glow they get from charitable giving. Until now, we couldn't trace that in the brain."

There is a whole helluva lot of difference between "charitable giving" - people voluntarily deciding to give up some of their hard earned money for a cause that needs it - and the involuntary and frequently excessive amount of tax that many in our "free world" have to pay.

I think it is rather premature for this researcher to conclude that "Paying taxes can make citizens happy." That type of talk only reinforces the views of some that somehow it's ok for the government to levy taxes for this cause or for that.

Now I'm no social scientist, but I am an engineer, and I know a thing or two about testing and statistics, and already I can tell you that this paragraph pretty much sums up why this study was so ridiculously flawed:
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology, the researchers observed the brain activity of 19 women who were given a balance of $100 each. The researchers created the effect of taxation by making mandatory withdrawals from their account. The withdrawn money was actually sent to a food bank's account.

First of all the sample size was 19 women. The margin of error on a study like this is so large one wonders why anyone would bother to publish results like this. Secondly the end recipient of this money was a charity. The government is no charity.

If I was told my tax moneys were going to the Missionaries of Charity I would relax a fair bit myself.

If the study had that money going to a bunch of greedy lawyers that use jets to go from Hamilton to Toronto, increase their wages at will, drive the economy into the ground, regulate everything, social engineer our moral values, and then turn around and retire to a gold plated pension plan I'm thinking it would activate a slightly different area of the brain: the rage center.

But there's one more thing these researchers failed to take into account: just how much money is the tax?

If I were taxed 1% of my wages I wouldn't feel it so much. But when I'm taxed so much that it almost becomes more advantageous for me not to get a raise...
The authors noted, however, that the results may have differed if people had been presented with a tax that seemed less fair or benevolent.

You can say that again.

Money Hungry McDonald

Apparently Conversative Atlantic Premiers are just as socialist as west coast NDP Premiers when it comes to equalization. Case in Point: Novia Scotian Conservative Premier McDonald's latest spaz.

Sure Harper didn't keep his promise on offshore oil revenues. And yes he turfed out an MP over reasons I can't agree with. Trust me I sympathize. I am greatly dissapointed by the actions of the government on this file.

But none of this changes the fact that this whole debate is centered around a bunch of greedy money grabbing politicians that can't get their hands enough on other peoples money.

They're so greedy that as soon as they're rolling in oil money and don't need support they scream at the slightest sign of them being cut off from the drug they can't enough of: equalization cash.

The new deal promises more money for Atlantic Canada, it allows for the exclusion of non-renewable resources from the equalization formula, and it even gives provinces the option to continue under the current formula if they so choose.

In other words, it's more cash for a bunch of provinces that probably don't need it anymore than Quebec ever did.

The real people raising their voices at this point shouldn't be Premier Danny Williams or McDonald: it should be Atlantic Canadians. Their politicians have scuttled their wealth, destroyed their sense of independence, refused to face the problems they themselves have created in Eastern Canada, and then they turn around and demand more money as if it's a right from the rest of the country to fix it.

Will Atlantis Make It Home?

What a morbid thought. But with recent findings of a peeled back thermal blanket on the OMS pods I'm sure that's what many are fretting today.

A basic diagram of the location of the OMS pods is provided below:

You have to hand it to NASA though on this one - at least they caught this problem. I think it shows that new inspection routines are critical to the future operation of the shuttle:
The astronauts noticed the protruding blanket on the left-side Orbital Maneuvering System rocket pod during a routine post-launch inspection late Friday. John Shannon, chairman of NASA's Mission Management Team, said late today "there's not a great deal of concern over it right now, but there's a lot of work to be done and we'll do that in the coming days."

That comment by John Shannon is more Manager speak than anything else.

Keep everyone calm. Don't say anything you don't need to.

It's not an issue. We're just seeing if it's an issue. No need in causing panic over something that may be nothing.

My reading of this situation is that this type of failure does not have a whole breadth of analysis done behind yet. The only real thing that NASA knows is that similar failures have happened in the past without disastrous results. That's why NASA is doing it's homework at this point. They don't know. They're doing CFD's and computer analysis like nuts right now most probably to figure out exactly if it is a problem.

Though again - kudos do whomever developed that inspection procedure. It's obvious that it was needed.