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September 9, 2005

Bureaucracy vs. Emergency

I found an article in the NY Times today that seems to give a pretty good and impartial review of what the Federal Government was going through at the onset of the Katrina emergency, namely previous laws and state rights. In the case of Louisiana, Governor Blanco there is the one who had the authority and responsibility to dispatch National Guard troops. The president can only send in active troops by invoking the Insurrection Act and basically overriding the Governor's power. Since the governor wouldn't go for this, the feds tried to negotiate partial control between the state and feds over the troops, but the feds were denied again. While troops were ultimately sent in, Washington basically had its hands tied. So, the questions remain of why didn't the governor of La. respond sooner and send National Guard soldiers, and why isn't it easier in times of disaster to dispatch active military to help with the emergency?

Posted by charr at 3:56 PM | Comments (0)

September 3, 2005

The aftermath

I've refrained from posting much about Hurricane Katrina because, 1) I think everyone with an Internet connection already knows the details, and 2) I haven't had much more to add. However, I was sent an excellent article today from my friend Greg about how to handle the aftermath and specifically the triage. The article is here, via MSNBC.I sent in a letter-to-the-editor to the NY Times yesterday with some similar points, but judging by the fact that all the printed letters seem to side with the Times, mine won't be published. Basically, I question why they blame Bush, if anyone, and not the deplorable gangs and looters. If I've heard correctly, they have carried out multiple murders and rapes of little girls. That kind of behavior in mind deserves a zero-tolerance policy, as stated by Bush. Back to the blame game, however; again, I ask why the Federal Government is to blame? They didn't build New Orleans a few feet below a massive lake next door. Why doesn't the city have responsibility to take care of its own, or the state?Anyway, blame aside, I want to state heartfelt sympathy for the many innocents affected by the storm. I would encourage those of you who can to donate to a reputable charity.

Posted by charr at 11:19 AM | Comments (2)

August 16, 2005

More security sense

By now it should be no secret to anyone that I hate security checks at airports. I do not think they are anywhere close to meriting the inconvenience and cost of inspecting everything. John Tierney, a columnist at the NY Times seems to have a similar view, but makes some points I haven't really talked about. He speaks of the irony in the fact a terrorist would be much more effective blowing up a bomb at an airport by all the people in the security line, than by trying to smuggle a knife on to an airport. I find that a morbidly amusing point, but it is nonetheless a reality. As does Tierney, I bemoan the fact that the TSA has utterly failed to create rapid-check program for frequent travelers. True, they do have a program in place at certain airports for frequent travelers, but in my mind (and others that I've read about) it's basically meaningless. The only benefit that I know of is that those willing to submit to a background check are unlikely to get pulled aside for a random body screening. My idea of an effective program would consist of those who pass a check being able to pass through security rapidly without having to pull out their computers or removing their shoes and belts.It does appear that the TSA is considering loosening some rules, allowing some previously forbidden items like penknives and such, as well as permitting some travelers to pass through security easier (like congressmen and certain government-security-cleared people). Those changes would be very welcome in my mind and I can only hope for further expansion of those liberties.

Posted by charr at 8:06 PM | Comments (7)

August 7, 2005

Cowboy Connectivity

Why can't the rest of the nation be as high-tech as Hermiston. I remember passing through Hermiston whenever I'd drive the Utah-Seattle route, and we even had an inside family laugh-phrase about the girls being Hermiston Chicks (I think we saw the reference on the Hermiston High School sign).But they can and should be laughing at the rest of the country now. They have some 600 square miles under wireless connectivity. How cool is that? Granted, I would say it is more geographically simple there, due to flat territory, but you should still be able to accomplish that to some extent around the country. There's a corridor down Utah (Ogden-Provo and beyond) that's relatively flat and straight, but I can barely even get a cell phone signal at work or at home. It's rediculous. Let's get up to speed!

Posted by charr at 9:35 AM | Comments (0)

July 30, 2005

Mom and Dad

I pretty much never read Bob Herbert's columns in the NY Times. He generally takes views I don't agree with, but for some reason, one caught my eye. I've linked to it here, where it's reprinted at KRightsRadio!. It's called Dad's Empty Chair and stresses the need for a father in the home. The column is specifically in response to the tragic and fatal stabbing of Christopher Rose on Jul 02 over his iPod, and more generally adresses the flight of fathers, black ones, from the homes. Christopher's father had feared for the safety of his son in Brooklyn and had therefore moved him to Pa. with him. The boy was back in Brooklyn visiting for the weekend of the 4th and never returned. Of course, the problem goes beyond any racial distinction, but is very prevalent in urban areas, as I witnessed when living in Brooklyn.My beliefs are that both a mother and a father are necessary. Herbert agrees. And I won't presume that someone can't grow up sans a parent and be normal, but each home should contain both. Herbert makes the point that most of the kids getting in trouble do not have both active parents in the home. Sadly, this the same trend I saw as well and I fear the family is only being further torn apart through immorality, drugs, and other vices.

Posted by charr at 5:50 PM | Comments (2)

July 28, 2005

Politically correct suicide

Frankly, I'm surprised the NY Times published this Op-Ed on profiling bag searches in the subway. I agree with it and would extend it to airports. I've mumbled things before about the inefficiencies of being politically correct, but if all facts point to one demographic -- young arabs, typically male -- why search grandmas and girl scouts? Ensuring you don't check all the suspicious in the name of politics is poor pratice in my mind.

Posted by charr at 9:15 AM | Comments (10)

July 23, 2005

Is it worth it?

Nearly a month ago, President Bush spoke to the soldiers at Fort Bragg and his speech, found here at Fox News hits several current points of discussion. One of those is whether the sacrifice in Iraq is worth it? I personally think it is. As of this writing, there have been close to 1800 US military deaths. That's a lot of soldiers who've paid the ultimate price for their country. That's also why I'm extremely grateful for their sacrifice for freedom. Thankfully, the numbers are much smaller than in other major wars, but their sacrifice deserves recognition - along with the fact that freedom isn't free.Bush also defends the point that it's worth it. As he mentions, the progress has been uneven (I would say very), but fighting a guerilla enemy with no regard to innocent life (especially Muslims) is not an easy task. It's a tough and painstaking task - even Japan and Germany weren't rebuilt in a couple yearsSome points I think are mentionable from Bush's speech are:

  • The terrorists can kill the innocent — but they cannot stop the advance of freedom.
  • We must defeat the terrorists before they attack us at home (again).
  • We all want the troops home, but we can't set a timetable and let the terrorists wait us out.

Posted by charr at 5:46 PM | Comments (0)

July 5, 2005

...And I didn't even know it

I hope all of you (especially Americans) had a great July 4. It prompted me to be openly appreciative of the opportunities and freedoms enjoyed in this great nation. It came to me that these are freedoms all should enjoy, and I sincerely hope democracy can continue to make steady progress around the world.I happened to have a great holiday weekend, despite some minor injuries. I spent the days with a somewhat random group up in Jackson, Wyoming camping, hiking and rafting on the Snake. I'm the one in the front sans blue jacket, with the Yankees hat. I'm so thankful for God's great creations and the diversity in the world.I also happened to make direct eye contact with Dick Cheney, and I didn't even know it. Several of us were strolling through the many shops along the main street while a parade was going on. We happened to come out of a shop after the parade ended only to have some guy in a white shirt politely pushing people out of the way on the sidewalk. I saw an earpiece, but figured it was maybe a state senator or something. Then I saw a guy in a light brown cowboy hat and leather duster walk by, with people shaking his hand. I figured he was the mayor and I gave him a "wha'sup" head-nod. He looked me with an intense respectful gaze and walked on, a few feet away. It was only afterwards that I realized I recognized the face. So no pictures or endorsement for the 2036 presidential election ;), but a neat experience nonetheless. The impression I got from the gaze is a similar one I have of him - that he knows what he's doing and doesn't necessarily need to open his mouth to explain it. I realize a lot of people vehemently object to him and his ways, but I respect him.

Posted by charr at 9:39 PM | Comments (6)

June 4, 2005

Romney '08?

He doesn't have tons of experience, and I don't agree with his abortion views, but I could vote for the guy.Here's a fairly long, but good, article in the Deseret News, taken from The Weekly Standard.

Posted by charr at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2005

The Times Biased?

I know the New York Times has a clear left bias, but they often have well written articles that I enjoy, so I read them daily. However, occasionally they show how far left they really are biased and I can't help but be somewhat dumbfounded by their thoughts.Case in point? This little editorial on the recent agreement reached by 14 senators in regards to the judicial nominee problem. For those not familiar with it, the problem is basically that the Bush administration has put up five names of people it would like to appoint to federal judicial positions. This is done through a vote in the Senate, where the Republicans have a majority. However, the Democrats have insisted they will filibuster the nominees, making it so that no one even has a chance to vote for them. Since the Republicans have a majority, they threatened to kill the filibuster through a rules change. This is the "nuclear option." The agreement reached between the senators basically stated that they would let three of the nominees get a yes or no vote, and the other two would basically disappear. They also agreed to use the filibuster only in "extraordinary circumstances."The Times here states their opinion on it, saying the Democrats paid a high price in the negotiation:
"...the seven Democrats involved in the negotiations paid a high price - allowing the nominations of three of President Bush's most controversial nominees to the federal Courts of Appeals to go through to an up-or-down vote..."Excuse me? I don't understand how the Times can ethically say this. The Republicans are just asking them to let the Senate vote on the nominees and in exchange are dropping two of the candidates. It's the Republicans here who are being manipulated by the minority.

Posted by charr at 11:26 AM | Comments (2)

May 20, 2005

How not to act

In continuation to my post from yesterday on how we shouldn't blame those who aren't guilty, I'll make the point that sometimes those who should be a force for good aren't always innocent. This comes from a long (8 pages) investigative report in the NY Times on 2 Afghan detainees who were abused. I'll first make the point that without all the facts, it's impossible to know the real story, and that in a state of war, you must be careful who you trust. Many "innocents" have no qualms about killing US soldiers. That said, the tale was quite saddening, particularly regarding one Dilawar, who seemed to be innocent. There was confusion on how to treat the prisoners, but one coroner said Dilawar's legs looked as though a bus had run over them. That should not be acceptable behavior except perhaps in the most extreme conditions and with senior command's blessing. I also don't like holding someone for 15 months without charging them of a crime. Again though, everything gets mucked up in war. Nothing's clear. There will always be some bad apples in the bunch, but I have confidence those in command can and should handle their own problems.

Posted by charr at 2:04 PM | Comments (1)

May 19, 2005

The real enemy

I feel like I've been saying this sort of thing for years, but the real enemy in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., is the radical with no respect for life. Americans (and much of the Western world) loves to place blame on every incident, while ignoring the fact that maybe the people who directly inflicted death upon hundreds and thousands of innocents is, in fact, a bad and guilty person.

Posted by charr at 11:45 AM | Comments (4)

May 18, 2005

The university blues

Want to know how universities in the US lean politically? Here's an interesting article via Powerline with a linked-to chart. I was surprised at how stark some of the differences were.

Posted by charr at 4:00 PM | Comments (0)

May 3, 2005

Drawing lines indeed

I criticized Michael Moore a while back for a number of things, including his presentation of information and his attacks on America. I still think his actions merit the criticism.However, it's not just him that needs to improve their presentation in my mind. Ann Coulter has established herself as a right-wing pundit and she has recently had her profile upped by a big cover story in Time last week, as well as some press about a recent appearance at St. Thomas College (via Powerline's "Drawing Lines", and note there's some harsh words). After her speech, the leader of the religious college, Father Dease, denounced her speech as "hateful." From what I've read about her in Time and other places, I think that's likely. While Powerline takes a "well, the other people did it too" approach, I personally am against hateful and vitriolic attacks. I think they are basically useless and indeed, only inflame emotions. While I applaud her patriotism, and agree with some things she says, I cannot condone her manners and presentation.

Posted by charr at 4:24 PM | Comments (3)

March 30, 2005

Socialism security

I'm guessing most know about Bush's attempts to overhaul Social Security by creating "personal" or "private" investment accounts for individuals to supplement the future reduction in benefits as the SS fund starts to go down. There are critics and supporters on both sides. In general, I think it is a good idea, but not necessarily perfect. It will also be expensive to cover transitional costs, with estimates from billions up to trillions of dollars.However, this article about a possible "progressive indexation" makes me nervous. This idea starts to push an increasingly socialistic agenda in my mind. "Progressive indexation involves reducing the growth in benefits for people with middle and higher incomes, but letting the benefits keep rising for low-income retirees in future generations." This is another form of welfare I have a hard time with. Interestingly, Democrats usally slam Bush for giving the wealthy tax breaks, but now that Bush is on that side, they've taken the opposite view. I quote, "Many Democrats are skeptical. One problem, opponents say, is that middle-income and affluent people would feel increasingly short-changed as their benefits fell well behind their payroll taxes." And I would agree with them here.

Posted by charr at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2005

The Terri case

I've really been hesitant to post anything about the Terri Schiavo case down in Florida. It's been pretty public so I'm guessing most people know about the case -- basically, Terri Schiavo collapsed some 15 years ago and has been in what doctors call "a persistent vegetative state." For the past 8 years, her husband Michael has been fighting her parents to pull the life-support feeding tube. A potential conflict of interest is that Michael now lives with another woman and has 2 kids with her. The immediate urgency is that a circuit court judge (Judge George Greer) down in Florida ruled in favor of the husband and Terri's feeding tube was removed 5 days ago.I have been hesitant because I'm not completely sure what the best solution is, but also because the solution I think I would take doesn't seem to be very popular with fellow Republicans. Yes, inevitably, this as become a slightly (though not completely) politicized issue as some congressmen (mostly Republicans) raced to pass a bill to allow Terri's parents to petition a federal court about the matter. The parents basically lost in federal court early this week and took it to an appeals court where they were also not heard.There has been a lot of criticism of Congress getting involved in something that is not at all their business, passing a questionable bill that trumps state rights. I would have to agree with the critics. This should be a matter the husband (Terri's legal guardian) makes. My gut feeling is that I agree with the husband as well in removing the tube. If indeed she is in a completely vegetative state, then why artificially keep her alive. The argument to that is that she can breathe on her own and her parents claim that Terri can sometimes respond to them. My religion holds live sacred and says one should endure to the end, but I ask the question of what happens when you reached the end, you have no real control and your body is being forced to keep operating? The fact of a slow death-by-starvation also makes me cringe. Can't there be a better way? However, several have said that starvation is actually quite peaceful.What I will admit to is that I don't have all the facts and most others don't either. Given what seems to be the vastly dominant view, Terri "died" a long time ago and letting her finally die is a humane act. What do other think? I'm curious.

Posted by charr at 6:56 PM | Comments (4)

March 18, 2005

It ain't so bad

Maybe all the naysayers claiming Bush had killed the economy really were wrong. Maybe (as evidence was slowly but steadily showing) the economy has been coming back in the past few years. Maybe, as I've mentioned here and in other places, the president really doesn't have that much power over the economy and it goes in cycles that don't fit a 4-year election plan.But this article in the NY Times made me smile still. In one year in NY, the unemployment dropped from 6.8% to 5.1%, with NYC having a 2.4% drop! I'm anxious to see how the left covers this.

Posted by charr at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2005

Not Discrimination II

Dr. Summers, the president of Harvard, has been getting hammered by the media and other professors for the comments he made about why there aren't as many women in science and engineering. I covered my first take on it here.Under a lot of pressure, he has just released some notes on what he said. These are covered by the NY Times here. My take on it is both positive and negative. My understanding from before was that socialogical and perhaps innate biological traits caused women to be less interested in those topics. However it appears that Dr. Summers clearly said that perhaps it was a lack of aptitude in those areas rather than society or discrimination. While I believe the different genders may excel at different things, I have a pretty hard time agreeing with the statement that females lack the aptitude for these disciplines. In Summers' defense however, he also repeatedly told people to prove him wrong. He made the controversial statements intentionally to provoke and make people think, hoping they could prove him wrong. I don't think he is necessarily some chauvinist guy, but is just offering some possible explanations to a puzzle (albeit explanations that I don't agree with).

Posted by charr at 11:02 PM | Comments (2)

January 23, 2005

That's not discrimination

The press has recently given a lot of press to incident where the president of Harvard, Lawrence Summers, mentioned that perhaps biology has something to do with the fact that there are fewer female scientists in the Math/Science/Engineering fields. The discussion at Harvard where this all came out was meant to be a thought-provoking discussion offline, and for that reason was not recorded. Here's a reference to a column at Powerline that talks a bit more about the issue.Jason brought this up a while ago but I didn't comment because I felt the issue was more complex. As Renee mentioned in her comment, it was taken out of context. I've read numerous articles where he defends what he said. He says the object of the comment was to invoke discussion, and he never said that boys are better than girls at such topics -- just that maybe biology plays a factor in why there aren't as many women in those areas. I often say, half jokingly, that males and females are different. Duh, right? Well, more and more, society is trying to make them the same, rather than different-but-equal. I for one, think men and women were made to be different; they were made to compliment each other in a variety of ways. Humans aren't alone in having differences, as this article points out numerous differences between the sexes. Does the fact that they're different make one better than the other? Of course not. The link off the Powerline to Linda Chavez' column in the Washington Times mentions that

"On average, women perform better on verbal tests, while men demonstrate greater visual-spatial capabilities, and these differences are more striking at both the lower and upper extremes of intellectual ability."

The different sexes tend to excel in different areas, but that doesn't make one overall supreme. However, what really made me want to comment on this was the feminist reactions (or should I say overreactions) that are mentioned. For example an MIT professor who walked out claimed she was would have "either blacked out or thrown up" if she had stayed to hear more comments. The better one though was mentioned in Chavez' column:
"For years, feminists have tried to explain away these achievement differences by suggesting girls are not encouraged properly to pursue math and science. Lately, some have even started blaming how these subjects are taught: too much emphasis on competition and being "right," too little on collaborative learning and nurturing self-esteem."
I wanted to scream after reading too much emphasis on...being "right." Hello people! That what science and math and engineering is about. It's not humanities where you can argue any point of view. Would you want those responsible for maintaing the nation's nuclear arsenal to not care if their calculations are right? This was a real-world example that I was involved in and some numbers were very slightly off. Sorry feminists, but being left out for wanting to redefine science is not discrimination.

Posted by charr at 10:23 AM | Comments (4)

January 20, 2005

One nation under God

I know that the "under God" phrase was added to Pledge of Allegiance, but I consider it a change that seems right. Perhaps that is because I've been raised with the modification, but I'm a firm believer in the idea that there has been divine help and guidance in the development of the USA.In President Bush's inaugurational speech this morning, readable and viewable here, Bush made a number of God-oriented comments. The one that I found most interesting is as follows:
"From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth."I find it interesting because on one hand it seems taboo, given all the opposition to references to God in the media lately, but also because, like the modified Pledge, it feels right. The above phrase used by Bush is one that I truly believe. Yes, it is a religious phrase, but again, I believe there was divine intervention in the founding of this country and I believe God wants to be involved in the principles of freedom and truth and light. He wants to be involved in a nation he aided with. I find it refreshing that Bush references something that was widely believed by many in the past but has now become, as I mentioned, taboo.Many will say that's all fine for me; I can believe what I want, but that doesn't mean I can press my beliefs upon the rest of the country. My response is that I'm not (nor would be possible of) pressing my beliefs on others. Upon that I would add that I'm grateful that the leaders of this country recognize the dependence upon a greater being than themselves.

Posted by charr at 3:46 PM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2005

...Let's make lots of money

That tail-end phrase of a Pet Shop Boys song popped into my head after reading this column by Paul O'Neill in the NY Times.For those to whom the name sounds familiar, Paul O'Neill was our last Secretary of the Treasury, replaced in 2002 by John Snow. His idea is a bold one. Basically he wants every American to have a savings of "at least $1 million" by the time they hit retirement. That sounds pretty nice, but perhaps a little too bold. Given his credentials, it's worth looking at, but it's also important to note the enormous costs to start up such a system. He says, "We did some very rough calculations that showed for $1 trillion, we could transfer the population from age 18 to the mid-30's into this new arrangement.". $1 trillion is a lot of money, but if he can show that sudden debt can be covered (he's a bit vague here) without making everything else suffer, it may be worth it. On one hand, I'm against big government, but on the other, the country would so much better off if this became a reality. It would also allow for government to reduce its size and control in the long run by cutting social programs no longer in need due to common prosperity.

Posted by charr at 11:37 AM | Comments (2)

December 3, 2004

Convenient censorship

Ever since the Janet Jackson Superbowl episode nearly a year ago, the media has been up and screaming about free speech and censorship. It's been brought up again recently by a number of events: the winning of the conservative right in the elections, an ad for Desperate Housewives in which one of the actresses shows everything (we only see her back) to a football player in a locker room, and then the choice of many tv stations around the country to not show the movie Saving Private Ryan on prime-time broadcast television.In an Op-Ed piece today in the NY Times by FCC chairman Michael Powell, he finally comments about his side of things. I actually find it funny. Not that the article is humorous, but it shows the liberal media's twisting things for their own interests. A couple items of note:

"[There is a] desire of the American people for a minimum level of decency on the public airwaves - particularly where their children are concerned. The often unenviable task of striking a balance between these two competing values falls to the Federal Communications Commission." "The F.C.C.'s job of regulating indecent content on the airwaves is not optional; it has been required ever since Congress first made the broadcast of obscene, indecent and profane material illegal more than 70 years ago. The law continues to enjoy strong bipartisan support."

and my favorite:
"Some have also questioned why the commission is unwilling to issue rulings before a broadcast, as was the case with the recent network showing of "Saving Private Ryan," a film the commission had previously held was not indecent. While ABC and its affiliates understandably would have liked to know the program was in bounds before proceeding, the precedent of submitting programming or scripts for government review borders dangerously on censorship"
There was an editorial in the Times a while ago (that is not freely available anymore) that expressed the sadness of tv stations being intimidated or scared by the FCC because of possible fines. As I've mentioned, there've been others saying the FCC is exercising censhorship, with some of those wanting the FCC to say whether a program is appropriate or not. Yet that step of approval would be real censorship. Perhaps the liberal media should realize (especially given the election results) that not everyone is with them. Just maybe, not everyone wants their children to be constantly presented with implied sex and outright indecency. That's not censorship, in fact that is free speech.

Posted by charr at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

November 5, 2004

Medicare innovation

I thought government and innovation were oxymorons, but the director of Medicare has come up with a somewhat radical new way of caring for its dependents, and I applaud the effort.Explained in this article in the NY Times, it talks about how Medicare has started paying for some insanely expensive medical procedures, but only if the patient agrees to submit themselves to tests, paid for by someone else (i.e. drug companies), to see if the treatment is effective. With a few possible exceptions, this is a win^3 solution. Medicare wins because not only is it helping people, but it's not wasting funds on hopeless procedures. Drug companies win becuase they can get real data on how their drugs perform. Patients win because they have someone to pay for the expensive procedures that may save their lives.

Posted by charr at 3:57 PM | Comments (3)

November 3, 2004


I've been so interested in what's happened in the elections, that I forgot I have a blog that's supposed to deal with politics and such. Silly me. Well, as everyone knows, Bush won. Iowa and NM still aren't claimed (on CNN), but Bush has the lead in both states, especially NM (where I don't think it's all that close: 51%:48%). If he wins those, he should go down with 286 electoral votes, as opposed to Kerry's 252. Unlike 2000, this is a much clearer win. Also, thanks to Kerry's gentlemanliness, we won't have a nightmarish legal battle either. Edwards jumped up very early this morning in Boston screaming about how they'd fight for every last vote, etc. Kerry, on the other hand, talked with his advisors and realized it would be nearly impossible to win and then graciously conceded the race.Besides being the right thing to do, I think it also saves his career. Al Gore pretty much destroyed his career in his big fight in 2000, and Kerry will be remembered as a hard fighter but good loser. On the other side of the aisle, I hope Bush will seriously take this next four years as a mandate to do what needs to be done. The last year has been so political that the "right thing" has usually taken a lower priority. He needs to handle the Iraq war with more seriousness and send more troops if that would help. I think it would also be right for him to admit that he made some mistakes but is honestly doing everything possible. Next to Iraq and terrorism, I'd like to see him be influenced a bit less by big business. That's broad, I know, but is meant to be a gentle suggestion. I hope he truly tries to unite the country, but I fear the unity will only last until the next judge appointment. But we can hope!

Posted by charr at 5:49 PM | Comments (2)

October 17, 2004

What the country needs

The current state of politics in the nation is almost depressing. The campaigning has come to the point where many of the attacks are completely political means to evoke some type of emotion in the populace yet lack relevance to real life. The candidates have nearly come to live in a handful of "swing states" trying to say what the voters want them to say. Both sides are playing to what their constituencies want to hear. And as a result, very little progress is actually made.I like what Thomas Friedman of the NY Times had to say about this. As I do, he'd like a president that is willing to say what needs to be said, rather than what people want to hear. Bill Cosby did this a while back to much applause and much criticism. I applauded him for it. This whole idea is basically the antithesis of modern politics, but wouldn't it be nice?

Posted by charr at 10:18 AM | Comments (1)

September 30, 2004

The Debates

So there was sort of a debate tonight. I say "sort of" because the speakers weren't allowed to directly address each other. The document governing the debate was some 40 pages long. And the outcome?I thought Kerry was definitely the superior debater, which is no surprise, given his award-winning debate background. I felt Bush was constantly on the defensive though many of the questions were positioned to make him address his stance on Iraq and other policies. Kerry has the advantage of the spectator and attacker, but regardless, his performance was direct and convincing. I find it somewhat interesting that Kerry manages to come across decisive on perhaps the most important night. It can only help him and I'll be interested to see the polls in a few days. Preliminary CNN polls after the debate said some 79% thought Kerry had done better.To Bush's credit, he comes across as much more personable and approachable, as opposed to Kerry's eliteness, but again, we'll see how that comes out in the polls.Update: The above poll was 79% for Kerry when written, the number is constantly changing.

Posted by charr at 10:13 PM | Comments (1)

September 27, 2004


I'm not an environmentalist. I love the outdoors and hate dirty, polluted air, but to me, the title "environmentalist" connotes one who puts aside the need for business and progress and just wants to dress everyone in hemp and sandals. I like to think there's something in between the two sides. I like Micheal Leavitt's statement, when sworn in as head of the EPA, where he implies a "productive middle ground."So, when I started reading this article about turning a productive corn field into a swamp, I initially thought it was a case of environmentalists wasting perfectly good productivity. But I read the article and started thinking a bit about the idea and I've come to the conclusion it's actually not a bad idea. This was aided by the moderate comments of one of the initiators of the project, who said, "There was a time when the country was growing so fast and we were so dependent on our own farming that it may have made sense to use land like this to grow crops...[but] we don't need these flood plains for farming anymore." I couldn't help but agree with the guy. Currently, the government spends a lot of money on farming subsidies -- some $94 billion. While the subsidy was started to aid small farmers in the Great Depression, a lot of those subsidies are now paid to farmers to get them not to grow so much food, since there would be too much supply on the market to meet the demand. This is pretty inefficient, but is carried out by many large countries. Naturally limiting the supply would both reduce government payouts (albeit by a tiny percentage in this specific case), and here, would create thriving wetlands.

Posted by charr at 9:00 AM | Comments (0)

August 31, 2004

Overtime headache

There was a bit of a media frenzy last Monday (the 23rd) when the Bush administration's new overtime rules went into effect. The problem is, it was a frenzy. No one knew what would happen with the new rules, and it quickly became a partisan issue, with Kerry saying it would cause 6 million workers to lose overtime benefits. I find that rediculous. On the other side, the current administration claims it will open up overtime for some 1.3 million workers. That number is more reserved, but I find it still a bit suspicious. To be honest, I don't know what to think yet. From articles I've read, it seems many periodicals are likewise uncertain of the effects. For instance, here's an article from the NY Times that talks a little bit about it, and I gather that they don't quite know what to make of it.To be fair to the administration, they've raised the minimum level of exemption from making $8060 a year to a greatly increased $23,660. That's a pretty big jump and it can only help the poor. On the other hand, the bill has made it difficult for people earning over $100K/yr to make overtime. Big deal. I had no idea people making that much money could get overtime. Anyway, just given these rules, it seems like the bill is really an improvement over existing legislation. Where it gets gray is in between. The new law allows certain people to be titled as "professionals" or other exempt positions, freeing businesses from the burdern of paying them more. I remember when I was on an hourly wage, I loved overtime. Now, as a salaried employee, I work well over 40 hrs/wk but don't get any extra official compensation. In the first situation, if I were suddenly denied the overtime I had come to expect, I'd be pretty upset. Basically, I think it now becomes a function of time to see what happens.

Posted by charr at 8:30 AM | Comments (2)

August 22, 2004

Economic Pessimism

During the seemingly eternal campaign for president, there has been a lot of talk about the economy, and a lot of close investigation of numbers. I know I've heard repeat descriptions of these numbers as the worst recovery since the Great Depression, ans so on. To be honest, I haven't kept real close tabs on the whole thing, because frankly, I'm not really interested nor concerned. You can't just create a couple million jobs on a whim. Besides, I know there are a lot of politics at play in the stated opinions. That's why I thought this article by the chairman of Bush's economic advisor team was interesting; it lays out some contested numbers in a simple way.Now I know that the chairman of Bush's economic advisors would have cause to be a bit biased. However, I know that some of the numbers he states are actual facts, as opposed to many pessimistic articles that just basically say Bush has taken the economy to Hell in his personal handbasket. Anyone can see that the "bubble" burst before Bush took office and that 9/11 hit while he was in office. Those are two pretty big shocks out of the president's control to deal with.The fact is that, yeah, there remain more jobs to be created, but as I've said before, I wouldn't call it a crisis. I do know that at my work we're desperately looking for some additional help in some areas and there just can't find any qualified applicants.

Posted by charr at 8:44 AM | Comments (2)

August 16, 2004

Kerry funnies

There's been a lot of humor over the past several years dealing with Bush's intelligence. Some's probably merited, and other isn't. We all say dumb things -- something I do quite frequently, but here are some fun tidbits from Kerry, who is generally considered more of an intellect than Bush.

  • "The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country."
    - John F. Kerry
  • "If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."
    - John F. Kerry
  • "One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'."
    - John F. Kerry
  • "I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future."
    - John F. Kerry
  • "The future will be better tomorrow."
    - John F. Kerry
  • "We're going to have the best educated American people in the world."
    - John F. Kerry
  • "I stand by all the misstatements that I've made."
    - John F. Kerry
  • "We have a firm commitment to NATO, we are a part of NATO. We have a firm commitment to Europe. We are a part of Europe."
    - John F. Kerry
  • "Public speaking is very easy."
    - John F. Kerry
  • "A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls."
    - John F. Kerry
  • "We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur."
    - John F. Kerry
  • "For NASA, space is still a high priority."
    - John F. Kerry
  • "Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children."
    - John F. Kerry
  • "It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."
    - John F. Kerry
  • "It's time for the human race to enter the solar system."
    - John F. Kerry

Posted by charr at 8:33 AM | Comments (6)

August 6, 2004

Darn city folk

A while ago on my blog there were some comments about our dependence on oil which led to a discussion of drilling in the Arctic. I had mentioned a survey done by Nicholas Kristof who actually spent time up in the disputed drilling area and deemed that while pristine, it was basically a wasteland, with nothing but tundra. Today in the NY Times, there is an article on an Alaskan delegate whose biggest beef is the city folk that keep trying to decide the fate of Alaskan land. One fact that quite surprised me is that of Alaska's 365 million acres of land, 300 million are protected! That's 82% of the state. He says that just because New Yorkers may feel they have no space, they shouldn't try to force Alaskans to preserve all their space. I found it to be a good article.

Posted by charr at 10:03 AM | Comments (4)

August 4, 2004

Economic Politics

As anybody knows who has been able to read or hear in the past year, the Democrats generally claim Bush has destroyed the economy and caused the loss of some 3 million jobs. I've mentioned before that a President doesn't really have a huge impact on the economy. Their trite fact of 3 million lost jobs is also a bit of an exaggeration -- economists now put the real number at about 2.6m jobs lost. I've also questioned their claims since the latest downfall started during Clinton's reign. Here's a brief article with an accompanying chart (link on the left) that shows this.

Posted by charr at 1:10 PM | Comments (2)

July 14, 2004

Let the churches be

It doesn't take too deep an intellect to know from my columns that I support Bush over Kerry. At times, I've defended the morals that Bush emits. I think a president that has religious convictions has a stronger character and is more desirable to me.However, I think Bush has gone too far with his somewhat public appeal to churches to support his campaign. Among what the campaign has asked for is a copy of the churches' membership registries. On one hand, I can argue that this is merely a campaign and Bush has the right look for the most strategic advantages (as long as their legal), but on the other hand, I actually think it's a bit arrogant and stronghanded to try to take control of the religious congregations. Agreeing with a NY Times editorial (as opposed to an Op-Ed) is pretty rare for me, but I'd have to agree with this one.

Posted by charr at 10:04 AM | Comments (1)

July 13, 2004

CIA criticism

A lot of criticism has been raining down on the CIA lately, and I have to admit I feel bad for them. As I've always maintained, hindsight gives you a luxury view of things you couldn't see before. This column in the NY Times basically expresses what I feel. That said, a president needs to have a solid reason for going to war. I think Bush went off some reportedly flimsy evidence in his justifications, but there were other reasons I think he could have used that justify the war in Iraq.

Posted by charr at 2:38 PM | Comments (0)

July 6, 2004

More on Moore

Michael Moore had created quite a stir with his mockumentary, Fahrenheit 911. I commented on it not too long ago, and so have several others.The Economist happens to be one of the world's most renowned and credible periodicals we have today. They've made a comment on the movie, and especially considering the magazine is British, the review isn't kind, warning even mainstream Democrats to be wary of association with him.

Posted by charr at 1:47 PM | Comments (8)

July 1, 2004

Looking back

The Time magazine two weeks ago dealt with Clinton and his new book out, My Life. There was an extensive interview with him among other things, and I left feeling that he wasn't as bad as I remembered. I bring this up because of this Op-Ed piece in the NY Times. He basically says that conservatives will generally look back and see that Clinton really wasn't that bad, and like in the current administration, a lot of issues were out of his control. As I said, I've come to somewhat agree with this. Though I certainly still see some flaws in his character and behavior, one of the best things he did in my opinion was the welfare reform act.

Posted by charr at 9:40 AM | Comments (2)

June 26, 2004

Please leave

Hollywood just can't go low enough. A while back, the Dixie Chicks had their little liberal claim to fame when they claimed they were "embarrassed" to be from Texas, given that's where Bush is from. But there's a new moron out there basically trying to disgrace America wherever he goes. He's had quite a few controversial documentaries out, including his latest which is now in theatres, called Fahrenheit 911, which has been labled extremely biased by many. Even his own fact checkers have claimed it "is an Op-Ed piece, it's not a news report", effectively acknowledging that's it's very much an opinion-based film.But he's not satisfied with just making incendiary movies. This column in the NY Times points out a few of his vocalizations in other countries. He has his freedom of speech, but I'm embarrassed to be from the same country as he is, and I think he should be ashamed of what he says. He decries the economy, jobs, and the intelligence of America. The economy is generally looked on world wide as the model economy, and is easily the world's greatest. Millions cross our borders to find better jobs. The majority of innovation and technology come from America. He's followed his caustic bias to the point of complete incredulity and lack of fact. And that's on top of just being despicable. Again, because this is such a great country, he has freedom of speech, but so do I, and I think he should just leave this country and never return since he has nothing decent to say about it.

Posted by charr at 2:51 PM | Comments (6)

June 21, 2004

Reclaiming headlines

Surely in the past week or so you've seen the headlines crying out about how wrong Bush was in linking Iraq and al Queda. You saw headlines such as Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie or Bluntly contradicting the Bush Administration, the commission. . . ., and maybe you thought Bush messed up again by moving too quickly or grabbing unverified data.Well, according to William Safire, an NY Times columnist, these headlines are all wrong. In fact, the chairman of the presidential 9/11 panel even confirms that there were ties. He mentions "Were there contacts between Al Qaeda and Iraq? question." I have to chuckle. We have the liberal media tearing apart the Bush administration for not completely checking all their facts, yet when the data, albeit false, takes their side, they rush to use it. Qué hipocresía!

Posted by charr at 2:23 PM | Comments (8)

June 15, 2004

The Pledge Lives, for now

Long, long ago, but in the same galaxy, I wrote a little ditty in Dan's blog about how the current version of the Pledge of Allegiance was being challenged in court. An atheist wanted the phrase "under God" removed from the pledge, alleging it violated the separation of church and state.That phrase was added 50 years ago, yesterday, to separate the US from the "Godless" Communists. After a nearly 2-year fight, the Supreme Court has dismissed the case on a technicality -- that the challenger suing on behalf of his daughter didn't have custody of the daughter and therefore no right to sue on her behalf. However, I'm sure it'll be back in court before too long.Anyway, I have to say I'm glad. True, the phrase was added in an anti-communist setting, but nonetheless, I feel that it enhances the Pledge and should therefore be kept. Obviously those who feel it violates a separation of church and state don't feel the way I do. I don't think the Founding Fathers had in mind a complete dismissal of God when they wrote the Constitution, and I think the separation thing is being taken too far. But, as much as I hate to say it, the challengers have a case. The first amendment reads

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
and the interpretation of that is somewhat open to interpretation. Personally, I don't feel that saying "under God" endorses any particular establishment of religion. What do you think?

Posted by charr at 10:04 AM | Comments (14)

June 11, 2004

Meeting Brooks

One of my favorite columnists for the New York Times is David Brooks. He's now been at the Times for about 8 months, and that periodical has put out a nice series of clips with him answering various questions. It gives the reader a more personal understanding of his background and his views, and I found it quite interesting. I particularly liked and agreed with sections 4 (Web Logs) and 6 (Individuality).

Posted by charr at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)

May 8, 2004

Where presidents have no power

I've been trying to say this for a long time.People (expecially a certain person whose first name is John) keep hounding on the economy and how Bush has decimated it. It's just not true. In fact, I'd be somewhat amazed if he could actually do such a thing. The economy naturally rises and lowers, and it just so happened that the market hit its peak and then crashed at a time Bush was president. Was Clinton at fault? No, blame the "irrational exuberance" of the many investors, out to make a quick buch regardless what a stock's P/E was.And hounding on the economy as a campaign theme is rediculous.

Posted by charr at 5:18 PM | Comments (8)

May 3, 2004

Quick review

There's a lot happening in the world right now. A lot has happened in the three weeks or so that I was gone. Since this blog is Current Events and not Past Events, I'm not going to go over everything. So here's a quick review of what I view as the leading current events:

Also, in my browsing I came across some handy comparisons of the two leading presidential candidates:
And for all the grammar and punctuation nazis out there (I'm kinda one), here's an interesting editorial in the NY Times:

Posted by charr at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

April 7, 2004

Partisan Airways

I found this coumn on politically segregated airlines rather enjoyable. However, I must say that I wouldn't mind a Libertarian Airlines startup either.

Posted by charr at 8:00 AM | Comments (2)

March 14, 2004

Everybody's tragedy

I've been annoyed by the recent outcry by some over Bush's use of a few 9/11 images in his political ads. I think this is rediculous. The images are tasteful and sensitive in my opinion. For one thing, it's nearly impossible, and at minimum irresponsible, to talk about Bush's 1st presidential term without talking about the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. I was upset by all the greed of many of the victims's families/relatives, and now I think they're being purely unreasonable. A column by Charles Krauthammer in this past week's issue of Time on the subject pretty much says exactly what I think of the issue, only worded much better than I could say it.

Posted by charr at 11:06 PM | Comments (5)

March 9, 2004

Innovation security

There's another good article in the NY Times on why America need not fear the current outsourcing phase. I'm commented several times in the recent past on this, and on how we here in America are going through growing pains, and we need to continue to educate ourselves and plan well.This article though brings up the fact that the US is pretty much The Place for innovation. No where else will you find an infrastructure as solid and an evironment as conducive to innovation. I like the story one Indian lady brought up about the guy making money off his own unemployment. Nowhere else but the US.

Posted by charr at 8:03 AM | Comments (6)

March 3, 2004

Improve thyself

I liked this column on the key to leaving poverty in the NY Times. I'm sure it will get a lot of criticism for not being sensitive or politically correct, but it's what I've always thought. Instead of insulating yourself from reality and progress, and taking other peoples' money, plan your life's moves better, better yourself, and you'll generally do alright. If only we could get everyone to sing this song.

Posted by charr at 4:14 PM | Comments (11)

February 11, 2004

Free Trade

I wrote this article a while back defending free trade. I also just wrote another little piece on the state of jobs in the US.Nicholas Kristof over at the NY Times helped me bring these two topics together more articulately than I could. His column defends free trade in respect to the whole job situation. I quite liked the article, though that might be because I got his question at the beginning right. But he has a point. We can't become an isolationist country because we're too lazy to better ourselves. And it follows my first write-up listed above. It's part of growing -- the evolution of an economy. The answer isn't to decry Bush for not magically creating jobs or sending them overseas. It is to better educate ourselves and innovate our job security. This is a slow and sometimes painful process, but it's the road to progress. Complaining isn't.

Posted by charr at 11:16 PM | Comments (2)


I recently commented on Bush's seeming lack of fiscal conservativism. That is one major point of attack by his opponents, and while I think he could do better in controlling the deficit, not everything is his fault. The other big attack point is the national employment level. You can reference this article in the NY Times. So far, there has been a loss of 2.2 million jobs since Bush took office. That's a lot. Opponents conveniently round up to a loss of 3 million jobs. Some of those have been made up, but anyway, you can't really blame the president for a major downturn (or an upturn) in an economy. All numbers say the economy is improving, though people focus on jobs, since that's closer to home.And it's a legitimate point; to an extent. Bush went and claimed 2.6 million jobs will be created this year. That's a little scary to hear Bush say it. I don't think it'll happen. I hope I'm proved wrong, but he pledged 1.7 million jobs last year, and there was actually a small net loss. I worry that all the negative press has gotten to him and he's getting desperate. There really isn't a ton he can do as far as I'm concerned. He can't make firms go out and hire people. He can try to increase firms' desire to do so by sparking low interest rates and giving more money to consumers to spend, and he's tried to do that (at the expense of a huge deficit), but it's ultimately not his call. I also worry that if a Democrat gets in, he'll take credit for an economy that is already climbing -- kinda like Bush inherited an economy that was sinking.

Posted by charr at 9:10 AM | Comments (1)

February 5, 2004

Fiscal conservativism

Nicholas Kristof wrote a column on Bush's budget here in the NY Times. It starts out a bit inflammatory, but then calms down a bit. I was a bit turned off a bit at first, but I do believe he makes some good points. Traditional conservatives might lower taxes, but also lower spending. Liberals might raise spending, but they also raise taxes. In either event, the debits and credits work out. Dan wrote a piece identifying a good, informative article on the contents of Bush's budget. However, as I pointed out there, he seems to keep increasing spending in a lot of areas. And that's what Kristof points out. Bush keeps spending and lowering taxes. Kristof points out the the Democratic candidates' budgets aren't good for much either, but that they make more sense than Bush's. Now I mostly like Bush. I think he's had a lot of tough decisions that he's handled well. Wars cost an awful lot of money. However, I have to agree with his opponents that tax cuts and increased spending can't work well. If he really wants to cut taxes, he needs to cut spending, like a real fiscal conservative. That means not having $530 billion Medicare bills and such. I don't think we are in a crisis, but I think he needs to be a bit more responsible here.

Posted by charr at 10:01 AM | Comments (8)

February 4, 2004

Primary Update

Read about it here.Here are some stats:

  • Kerry won Missouri, Arizona, North Dakota, New Mexico and Delaware, with 65 nearly 200 pledged delegates.

  • Edwards won S. Carolina, and has nearly 200 43 pledged delegates.

  • Clark won Oklahoma, and has 5 pledged delegates.

  • Dean didn't win anything, but still has the second most delegates (around 120 I think).

  • Lieberman dropped out.

  • Sharpton didn't win any states, but does have one pledged delegate.

Posted by charr at 8:47 AM | Comments (5)

February 1, 2004

The evidence for war

A year ago, Colin Powell went to the U.N Security Council to present a seemingly "bulletproof" case that Saddam was well armed, had massive stockpiles of chemical weapons, and was an imminent threat.The NY Times has printed a long, 7-page article summarizing his statements along with those of Dr. Kay, until recently the head of the group searching for the WMD in Iraq. While interesting, it didn't really shed any surprising new info on the whole affair. It shows some faults in intelligence gathering, but it doesn't really blame anyone in particular.To me, it appears that there were lots of tidbits of information, tidbits that could be interpreted in a number of ways. According to some, "they took every piece of information that proved their point and listed it." However, one official says that "for us to have concluded that he didn't have weapons and he wasn't prepared to use them would have required us to have essentially concluded that all these other pieces of activities had to be explained by other kinds of phenomena." I agree with that analysis, and I'm sure I would have sided with the those that decided Saddam had the WMD. It would have seemed the most likely, albeit unproven, conclusion.They followed several assumptions, ones that I would admit seemed fair at the time. For instance, "nearly all evidence revolved around what Mr. Powell described as suspicious activities at sites Iraq had used before the Persian Gulf war of 1991 to manufacture chemical weapons. There was little question that huge amounts of Iraqi chemical weapons remained unaccounted for — the United Nations inspectors listed their whereabouts as a mystery in a final report after leaving Iraq in 1998 — and the prospect that those chemicals could be unleashed was a major concern as the Pentagon made final plans for war." Following that assumption, Powell concluded that "Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent," enough "to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets." Another assumption they followed was "an analysis of Saddam that if he didn't have something to hide, he wouldn't have been behaving the way he did."Other assumptions were made as well, in regards to analyzing information. For instance, in the case of some suspicious covered trucks and other "abnormal activities" found by satellite in a place that was formerly known to be a manufacturing plant of chemical weapons sites.In conclusion, it appears there were lots of maybes, and given the known fact that Saddam was ruthless, aggressive, and perhaps a bit crazed, these "maybes" were interpreted to fit the conclusion he was a threat. I don't think they can be blamed for heading down that road, rather just that the evidence they followed was guessed and assumed, rather than proven. Of course, if they truly believed Saddam was an imminent threat, then that would make these conclusions all the more biased but believed.

Posted by charr at 10:48 AM | Comments (2)

January 28, 2004

NH Primaries

Here's the results of the New Hampshire primaries:

  1. John Kerry came in 1st, again, with 39% of the vote
  2. Howard Dean came in 2rd with 26%
  3. John Edwards and General Clark tied for 3rd place with 12%, though some say Clark got 13%
  4. Lieberman came in 4th, with just 9%
It's looking like Kerry is turning into the main candidate.

Posted by charr at 9:37 AM | Comments (1)

January 21, 2004

State of the U.S.

Some may be wondering why I haven't commented on this yet. The fact is, I have no time. For that reason, I'm not going into a bunch of detail, but just list some notes. You can read a good summary by the AP Press here. I think I read the exact same article over at the Deseret News also. If you missed it, you missed out. That is, you missed out if you like Bush. I thought he a great speech giver and actually got excited in some parts. There were a few parts that made me wince, but in all I'd say it was a good speech. It was also a very political speech, taking several stabs at those who opposed his policies here in America, and implied those abroad also. A couple other things I found interesting were that he quite forcefully asked Congress to pass his bills and he mentioned God and/or a divine guiding power several times.

Posted by charr at 8:51 PM | Comments (4)

January 19, 2004

Status Update

I suppose I should recap the status, since it's slightly changed, given the outcome of the Iowa caucuses.

  1. John Kerry came in 1st with 38% of the vote
  2. John Edwards came in 2nd with 32%
  3. Howard Dean came in 3rd with 18%
  4. Dick Gephardt came in 4th and says he's dropping out
Clark and Lieberman didn't run. I'll be interested in New Hampshire's results next Tuesday.

Posted by charr at 9:57 PM | Comments (26)

January 18, 2004

A Brief Summary

I thought I'd kind of give a wrap up of where things appear to stand in the presidential race of '04.Judging from this article in the NY Times, things are close; real close. In fact, according to a poll by the Des Moines Register, Dean is even in third place. Most of the rest of the article seems to talk about Dean, but the race is definitely a lot closer than I and many others had anticipated. Dean, however, is maintaining his usual rhetoric about being the only one who can beat Bush, blah, blah, blah.Anyway, the Democratic race is close. This brought up an interesting point to me. Many in the White House are saying that Dean would be a great opponent to Bush, because it'd give Bush a greater chance of winning. I think Dean would be a disaster as president. Since he doesn't have much of a platform, who would he fight? Not Europe (except maybe Poland and Romania, who are now friendly to the US), not Bush, not the other candidates. But seriously, would it be good for Dean to win the nomination, so that it would be easier on Bush? Personally, I think the race is going to be close, so I'd like someone who I could feel comfortable with.So, that brings me to this article by David Brooks, also in the NY Times. This article surprised me because it appears that Brooks is Republican, something I thought was strictly against the Times' operating procedures. But the article did make me think about who I would like in the White House, if it came down to a Democrat. I agree with most of Brooks' opinions in the article, and my number one choice would be Lieberman, followed by Edwards. Lieberman seems to be the most moderate and realistic. I believe he really is a man of integrity, and thinks about what he does, even if he doesn't have a glitzy campaign. I think I like Edwards because he has a platform. He isn't there just to bash others, and seems to have thought about what he's doing. I don't know much else about him except that he has a rags-to-riches story that I have to respect. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm for lots of social programs, handing out freebies at my expense. But I think we'd be ok with either of them. Oh, and I'm now back on my own server, so let me know if you see any problems.

Posted by charr at 7:58 PM | Comments (5)

January 15, 2004

Growing Up

Since you're all so disappointed my last post wasn't political, I've posted one that is a bit more so :). I read this article on global economic policy at the NY Times, and thought it worthy of a post. I liked it, not because a NY Times columnist hounds on the Democratic candidates (though that's what first got my attention), but because it defends free trade, something I'm a big fan of. One of the most important principles of Adam Smith-ian economics is that things tend to work themselves out without intervention when people pursue what is in their greatest good. It's the principle of the invisible hand. There is another good link here on how minimum wages violate this principle. This can be a somewhat cold truth, but a truth nonetheless. Fortunately, people still feel the need to be charitable, but charity generally doesn't fuel prosperity or economic growth. The invisible hand principle lets cost rise or drop until its equal to the marginal utility (benefit) of the additional cost. Often, government will intervene to try to speed things up, or prevent a free market from taking its course. But in numerous cases, from pollution control (yes this is a market -- you can trade pollution rights) to the simple cost of a hamburger, free market trade has successfully found the balance. Sometimes people don't like to face the fact that something is worth more than they're getting it for, so they intervene. This often causes a mess (look at rent controls in NYC). Sometimes it works out. However, many opponents of global trade argue that it makes people work in awful situations. Nicholas Kristof talks about the conditions in those "sweatshops." I would suggest you also view his slideshow at his column. There's no denying that sometimes the conditions are very poor, but he points out that the conditions are often worse without these "sweatshops." Try scrounging through the dump. I put the word “sweatshops” in quotes because ironically, as he says, many look to the factories as places where they don't have to sweat all day. For many, the factory is a dream job.So come back to the US for a second. We're all rich. We wouldn't dream of working all day in a miserable factory for $2 a day. But that's one of the best jobs around in Phnom Penh. The candidates are saying (along with many anti-free trade advocates) that they should be treated better, even going so far as to say there should be a global minimum wage. Kristof tells them they're wrong, and I agree. Another economic principle I love is that everything has a cost; even human life. Having a global minimum wage would raise the cost in those factories. That would raise the cost of the products, but it would also limit the number of people able to work in the factories. Higher wages always means fewer workers because there is always a finite amount of money. So, with fewer working people making money, fewer are able to help build up the local economy. While I’m certainly not a fan of mistreating workers, I would also say that having a low cost work environment is a necessary evil of growing up. Every modern nation has gone through a similar stage. Sure they work a lot for a little, but that little is a lot more than nothing. As they prosper, they will demand more, which will raise costs. As factory owners resist rises in cost, the workers, who become increasingly educated as they make money, will move on to more upscale jobs, allowing others to take their places. When no one is willing to take those bad jobs, they move to an area where people are willing, or in the case of the US, people from other places will come to take those jobs. A balance is created between the price people are willing to pay and the wages the workers receive.

Posted by charr at 12:01 PM | Comments (9)

January 13, 2004

Bush correct?

In what comes as a nice surprise, it seems another NY Times Op-Ed columnist, William Safire, is defending Bush's moves in Iraq, showing the benefits to America.I've long held the view the the war in Iraq was right for several reasons, even though it was publicized for the wrong ones. Thomas Friedman, another columnist at the NY Times has similar views. Even given the wrong reason -- WMD, I don't think there was much doubt by anyone before the war that Iraq had them.

Posted by charr at 9:12 AM | Comments (8)

January 9, 2004


Bush's new immigration proposal has been in the news a lot lately. There's a good article covering the issue over at The Economist.I think Bush covers some legitimate concerns, and I know it will make life much better for a lot of people. However, I also have my own concerns. Probably the biggest is welfare and social programs. While many immigrants work very hard, many also expect to be cared for by government programs. The money for those programs largely comes from middle/upper class workers. With many of the workers paying taxes, that will help cover the cost, but I can't help but think that social expenditures will rise dramatically.It's a bit of dilemna for me because I'm quite close to several illegal immigrants, and I care for them and want them to succeed in life. However, I also see them angry at Bush and republicans in general for not giving them all sorts of freebies, and I hate that (expectations of freebies).

Posted by charr at 12:00 PM | Comments (11)

January 7, 2004

The god election, 2004

Guess what everyone, I am still alive, for better or worse. No, I haven't been sick, nor on vacation. I've been to work everyday (except Christmas and Sundays). And though I've been insanely busy the last couple days, the truth is, I just haven't felt like writing anything.But I finally read something here in the NY Times that interested me. It's a commentary on how religion has basically polarized the US and will be a major factor in the 2004 presidential election. The Republicans will cry out that they have morals (I'm one of these guys), while the Democrats will say that we live in a secular country where God has no place in politics.I did find interesting, and true, the link between religion and wars. You'd think (well, at least I would) that mainstream religions would promote peace throughout their societies, but it seems clear that many, many wars have been fought over religious conflict. How ironic. And while I doubt there will be any real bullets flying come November 2, I'm sure there's gonna be a lot of sharp words tossed around. I personally feel God has a place in the governing of this nation. Some of you disagree with me, and that's ok. I certainly don't mean to imply the country should become a theocracy, but that certain morals are upheld while being secular. And no, I'm not contradicting myself. It's against the law to kill (which I don't think is disputed by anyone), but that's really a moral. We all follow morals, just different levels, and God-fearing people tend to have a higher baseline. The fact is, I believe this nation was founded with divine intervention and the more we keep God out of things, the more trouble the country is going to be in (some would say "liberated"). Somehow this turned into a rant, which wasn't my intention, but oh well.

Posted by charr at 10:10 AM | Comments (53)

December 16, 2003

Wimp for president

I've come to realize that Howard Dean is secretly a European, likely French, who would like nothing better than to sip champaigne and eat caviar at somebody's palace each month. This article by David Brooks in the NY Times, shows I'm not alone. I was actually surprised how hard Brooks was on Dean, but I don't disagree with it. In Dean's fairytale dream, everyone would just love each other and there would be no violence. Why? Because they, the leaders of the world, would talk and agree not to do anything (forget about the fact that they can't even agree on a constitution) -- at least anything that might make another leader upset, even though that leader has been gassing hundreds of thousands of his citizens, and lying constantly for a decade.They'd be multilateral all right, multilateral wimps. Dean would like nothing better. In his naive mind, if we never bothered muslim extremists, they wouldn't bother us. He explicitly stated that America is not safer by getting rid of Saddam. How far would he go, were he president, to making terrorists happy? Does he remember Sept. 11, 2001? Would he rather that America become an Islamist dictatorship, so as not to offend or provoke extremists? That's obviously extreme, but to me it shows that Dean isn't thinking. He's a dangerous wimp in dreamland.

Posted by charr at 9:33 AM | Comments (11)

November 11, 2003

Just because...

...a story makes you popular, doesn't make it true. A great line from another surprisingly non-left-wing article found in the NY Times. It's by David Brooks, a relatively new columnist who tends to be refreshingly moderate. I myself have actually been guilty of assuming that administration-friendly companies like Halliburton get all the contracts, but I would be wrong. From my experience with government contracts, I should know better, although different departments may act differently.

Posted by charr at 3:50 PM | Comments (4)

November 5, 2003

A happy ending

You may recall from my fire entry a little story about a friend of mine who was about to lose her house in the San Bernardino mountains. She wrote me again last night with good news. I think it's a happy ending to a otherwise tragic story:

"...My family is amazing, they were evacuated early on Sunday before last and were living at my aunt's house in Yucaipa. My dad was forced to stay on the mountain and take care of other things, since he's general manager of Arrowbear fire and water districts he was called to be the acting fire chief this last week. Needless to say he didn't get much sleep all week from sleeping on cots and running all over the mountain shutting people's water off. But he's an amazing man that I'm very proud of. When he heard that the emergency vehicles didn't have enough fuel, he went to our house and got all our cars over to the our car wash and told the emergency guys to syphen them for gas so they could fight the fire. He also was going to watch our home burn to save my little town of Running Springs. And then the miracle came from excellent firefighting and the rain, as the fire closed in on our house and town my dad told my mom that the whole place would be leveled in about an hour. Well the blessings were given as the clouds rolled in and it started to rain and snow. Which it has been doing ever since. No structures have been lost in my little town including my house. Which is a huge blessing. Unfortunately many thousands have been since displaced. Which is a huge loss. I'm not going to recognize my home when I go home. Whole cities have been leveled. I can't tell you how weird it's been to watch the news and see my high school and small town all over the headlines. But the blessings have come because of incredible fire fighters and rain..."

Posted by charr at 9:39 AM | Comments (0)

November 3, 2003

It's freezing over

I can't help but wonder if Hell is freezing over. I mean, given all the Democrats' condemning of Bush's economic policies, only to have the best quarterly progress in nearly 20 years, and now this, from the NY Times. Apparently, even a usually left-wing columnist, William Safire, is supporting Bush in Iraq, calling on the dovish left-wingers to realize the importance of staying the fight in Iraq. While I'm surprised, I do applaud the call. As Mr. Safire mentioned, "We will help Iraqis win the final war against Baathist terror. Failure is not an option. "

Posted by charr at 1:32 PM | Comments (4)

October 28, 2003


Southern California is on fire. I drove through it on Sunday. They closed down the freeway (I15) and all the highways around it, so I got to take a 3-hour detour to get back on the freeway. It was an inconvenience, but it's nothing compared to what some of the people over there have lost. I remember there being very strong winds (60+mph) and lots and lots of smoke. There was smoke everywhere, and it even blotted out the sun in some areas. I saw a satellite photo and the smoke plumes went 20+ miles out over the Pacific. It was incredible and very unfortunate for the 14 or so people that have lost their lives, and the residents of the hundreds of houses lost. Check out the pictures below. On the left shows a neighborhood near San Diego after a fire there; click on it for a larger image. The trees are there, but several houses just simply vanished while others nearby weren't even touched. The photo on the right is a satellite picture showing smoke blowing out over the ocean for miles and miles. Unbelievable.
28fire.jpg fire-sat.jpg
Note: The picture on the left, along with its big brother, were taken from this article in the NY Times. The one the right was taken from this article in the Deseret Morning News.

Posted by charr at 8:14 AM | Comments (9)

October 27, 2003

Stickin' it out

I read this article today in the NY Times and enjoyed it. It is actually supportive of Bush, and compares him to Reagan, who went through some strikingly similar economic challenges early in his tenure. People seem to be so impatient these days that they won't give anything a chance. For example, the economy seems to picking up, but Bush still gets hounded about his tax cuts not providing instant relief. In Iraq, there are problems (worst attacks yet last night), but things are getting better. The reconstruction of Europe and Japan, while successful, did not happen in a matter of months. I say give the guy some time.

Posted by charr at 1:21 PM | Comments (3)

September 30, 2003

Pointless Politics

So I was reading some editorials in the New York Times and they had the usual anti-Bush, anti-large-American-Corporation spin. I was seriously considering writing my own letter to the editor saying (with probably little significance) that these columnists lose credibility when they just cover a single side and do nothing but criticize the other. Then I read the next editorial, by David Brooks. It's exactly how I feel.

"Have you noticed that the furious arguments we used to have about cultural and social issues have been displaced by furious arguments about the current occupant of the Oval Office?"
He has a point. Politics seems to have resorted to name calling and pointless arguments. Rather than face "facts that might complicate [their] hatred," lots of people let their irrational emotions control their mouths and thoughts. And, as he mentions, while this is prevalent among the Democrats now, it's not unique to them, nor just to partisan politics; remember "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" and "freedom fries?"

Posted by charr at 9:08 AM | Comments (7)

June 4, 2003

The real reason

Thomas Friedman has an Op-Ed article in the NY Times today about what he states are the real reasons for Gulf War II. I'd have to agree with him. He mentions four reasons that were involved:

  • The real reason
  • The right reason
  • The moral reason
  • The stated reason
I'm not at all surprised about all the attention that is buzzing around about the lack of finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. While I trusted Bush, I knew if he didn't find any, he'd have a lot to answer for. It's still quite possible things will be found. They've already found 2 trailers that were supposedly mobile bioweapons labs, but to appease the critics, they'll need more. There's a CIA investigation going on currently about the pre-war evidence and while I'll be quite disappointed if it turns out to be false evidence, I'll still agree with Friedman that there were just/moral reasons for the war.

Posted by charr at 8:25 AM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2003

A President with Morals

I read this editorial today in the NY Times about Bush's religious influences on his politics. I found it interesting, and, being a religious man myself, tend to agree with the way Bush handles politics and religion. While not taking a literal "this is how God says it must be done" stand, he nevertheless allows for a higher power -- God -- to steer him and find a solution that is both as moral and correct as he can find.

Posted by charr at 11:12 AM | Comments (16)

May 11, 2003

Betrayal at The Times

I read the NY Times pretty much 7 days a week. While I don't always agree with some of its liberal views, I respect the times for its accuracy and complete reporting, expecting to be well informed on the issue at hand.However, I was quite surprised when I read this article on Jayson Blair today. I was also surpirsed by how long it is. Most articles in the times are 1 to 2 pages, with occasionally a need for 3. This one is 10 pages long! Basically, they talk about Mr. Blair who resigned on May 1 and who has a long history of reporting outright lies and inaccuracies. The Times is furious as they should be, and are going through great lengths to apologize. They mention on page 10 that "Mr. Blair is no longer welcome in the newsroom" and "There has never been a systematic effort to lie and cheat as a reporter at The New York Times comparable to what Jayson Blair seems to have done."I'm sure this is an isolated event. Supposedly, nothing like this has happened at the newspaper before. I will continue reading The New York Times, but I must say that I'm a bit unpleasantly surprised.

Posted by charr at 10:37 AM | Comments (5)

May 7, 2003

Hot Wings

Ever feel like you've got news overload. Lately, I think I've been feeling it and though I still follow the news, nothing seems interesting or noteworthy lately. I kinda feel guilty for not writing anything lately though, so I'll post the most interesting thing I found today -- the probable cause of the tragic demise of the Columbia space shuttle.You can read about it here in the NY Times. It appears that a hole was created in the left wing from some sort of impact, perhaps as large as a sheet of paper. This allowed for super-heated plasma to enter the wing where it acted as a blowtorch and pretty much melted everything inside. As the wing supports melted, the misshaped wing would have caused the observed yawing and pulling that the shuttle was trying to compensate for. While they can't prove it, it is very possible that the impact of the foam during take-off caused or started such a hole.

Posted by charr at 9:53 PM | Comments (3)

April 21, 2003

Dittemore to resign

Back on Feb 7 of this year, I talked a little about the Columbia space shuttle tragedy and the Program Manager, Ron Dittemore, who I felt a lot of respect for. I also happen to be friends with his daughter.In a news article here, it mentions that Mr. Dittemore is going to resign. It's important to note however, that his resignation was planned before the accident and that he postponed it in order to see to the orderly investigation of the accident. I maintain my respect for him and wish him the best in his new pursuits.While doing a little research, I also found a nice biography of Ron Dittemore on the KTLA website, courtesy of the LA Times.

Posted by charr at 1:36 PM | Comments (2)

April 3, 2003

All for oil?

Many Europeans have voiced their opinions that Bush is going to war in Iraq for the oil there. I've always ignored that as a naive argument, but more and more, I hear coworkers and friends who voice the same opinion, much to my surprise. Yesterday, several of us from work were out to lunch, and one of those with us started talking about the oil motives and I finally stopped him, gave my rationale for why it's not about oil, and I must say that I was quite satisfied when I saw the others nodding in approval.Here's my rationale. Bush has asked for some $80 billion to fight the war. That may cover part of the reconstruction, but most likely, another $100 to $300 billion will be needed over the next several years until Iraq is relatively stable. William Nordhaus, a Yale economist, has estimated that the total cost of the war could range anyware from $100 billion to $1.9 trillion over the next decade. There's also the cost to America (and the rest of the world) from high oil prices while the war is being fought, as well as a myriad of other economic impacts on a macro scale. We may get a little money from Britain and possibly some others, but hands down, the U.S. is footing most of the bill. Yes, Iraq has a bunch of oil, but the wells are in such bad shape, that they're producing a small fraction of what's possible, with a need of many more billions of dollars to achieve max output over the next 10-20 years. That, my friends, is a whole lotta money this war is costing us. Sure, during the reconstruction, some of Iraq's oil (probably most of what can be produced), will go to offset these costs, but they won't come anywhere near to covering a majority of the cost. A friend of mine who has a background in economics told me (I don't know his source, so I don't know the credibility), that even if the U.S. took control of Iraq from now to infinity, there wouldn't be enough to cover the cost of the war (and reconstruction). I don't have figures to confirm or dispute that, but it doesn't matter because the U.S. won't have control of Iraqi oil forever. My guess is we'd be able to use it for a few years, possibly as many as ten, but it's just not reasonable to assume that the U.S. plans on taking the oil forever. Thus, there's no way oil is going to pay for the war, not to mention provide a profit large enough to justify going to war. The only advantage I can see that's related to oil is that it might loosen up OPEC and make oil cheaper for everyone.

Posted by charr at 8:49 AM | Comments (10)

March 25, 2003

Silly Peaceniks

My roommate has a friend named Jason Steorts who is a senior at Harvard, but happens to be apart from the many anti-war peaceniks there. He wrote an article for the National Review about the lack of logic of the anti-war movement, and it was apparently read on the air by Rush Limbaugh. I must say that I agree with his views. While I respect the opinions of others, I also insist they have some logical backing for their argument, something that shouldn't be too hard. It doesn't even have to be a completely failsafe reason, but at least a logical one. However, from my perusings of the anti-war movement, it is increasingly rare to find a decent argument, making the opinion that naivety is rampant in their movement more probable. In the anti-war movement I often see people holding anti-abortion signs, or such foolish banners as "Stop the war. End racism." I'm sure they can come up with a decent argument, so why aren't I hearing it?

Posted by charr at 8:36 AM | Comments (7)

March 6, 2003

Deadline almost up

Tonight, Pres. Bush held a formal press conference, mainly answering questions about Iraq. There were some pretty tough questions and I became quite interested in what Pres. Bush had to say.He mentioned over and over that Iraq is a threat to America, and that as President, he has taken an oath to protect this nation and the values it stands for. When asked about his mission, the president firmly and clearly explained that there absolutely must be a regime change, and that exile would be a viable solution for Saddam. President Bush said that war can be avoided if Iraq disarms, but I think he left that intentionally vague, and in my opinion, war is imminent.Another sticky issue that I found very interesting was on the passing of a new UN Security Council resolution, in order for international support and approval for a war in Iraq. Recent publications have stated that Bush very well may not get the 9 votes needed or that a country such as Russia or France might veto the resolution. They have said that there is a good chance Bush won't even call for a vote on the resolution if it doesn't seem likely to pass, in order to avoid humiliation. However, Bush gave a clever reply to a question on that exact issue -- of calling for a vote. First of all, he said that the resolution focused on whether or not Saddam has completely disarmed, as stated in resolution 1441 (which was passed unanimously in Nov. '02). No one can really argue that Saddam hasn't completely disarmed (even France admits this). As for whether or not he'd call for a vote, Bush said absolutely. He said it's time for the other members of the Council to "show their cards" and basically take responsibility for their approval of resolution 1441. I find this intelligent in that the pressure is placed on the other members, and in a way, taken off the U.S. It will be interesting to see what happens next, since war could happen within the next week (according to some).

Posted by charr at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)

Pope vs President

I'm not Catholic and don't pledge allegiance to the pope, but I respect him as a good person and an ecclesiastical leader for many millions of people. I was reading an article here in the NY Times about the conflict some Catholics have over following the pope who is asking for peace, and President Bush, who is asking for war. I couldn't help but laugh audibly when I read the following quote:

"I expect the Holy Father to pray for peace, and the U.S. Marines to bring it about."
It is an interesting conflict though as people must decide who to follow. Even some of the pastors disagree with their leader.

Posted by charr at 9:05 AM | Comments (0)

March 2, 2003


For those of you unfamiliar with Provo, Ut, it is a very small, large town. Oxymoron? Not really. Provo has a population of over 100,000 people (during the normal school year at least), but due to the fact that the large majority of those residents are LDS, Provo nevertheless has a small-town feel.I bring that up, because (for better or for worse) it is rare for anything to "disturb" the public. That is why yesterday, when I saw a small group of people at an intersection protesting the war in Iraq, I was quite surprised. Things like that just don't happen. Many of the signs said things like "Honk if you love peace" and other innocent things like that, though I wasn't looking too hard at what they were saying. On a humorous note, I had the latest copy of The Economist with me whose cover says in big letters "Why War Would Be Justified." I tried to get to the cover and hold it up for the protesters to see, but alas, I was too slow. It made me think though, about liking peace. While not too many people were honking, I couldn't help but think that everyone (normal that is) likes peace. I would venture to say that even the hardest war-hawks in the Administration like peace. And why not? It's cheap and safe and gives everyone warm-fuzzies. However (and you knew this was coming, right?), I knew what was behind these people standing on the corner -- it wasn't just simple peace; rather an anti-war sentiment. I almost felt bad for them as I pictured their overly simplistic view that if we don't go to war, we will obviously have peace. What about Sep. 11? What about the millions being starved, deprived, and tortured in Iraq? What about the fear of letting a madman stay in control of Iraq? What about...? I don't think telling ourselves to be peaceful is going to work here. At times, force is needed. Is it right to attack Iraq? Perhaps only God knows, as only He knows what Saddam is up to. As The Economist put it in one of their latest articles (if you have a paid subscription), "Saddamned, perhaps, if you do; but Saddamned, also, if you don't."

Posted by charr at 9:22 PM | Comments (6)

February 11, 2003

NATO, to be or not to be

These are politically stressful times in the world right now. I doubt that statement will surprise many. However, it pretty much appears that the more the U.S. emphasizes its intentions to disarm Iraq (which basically means a war), the more certain Europeans shun war. The latest rung in the ladder to global disunity is mentioned here in the NY Times. Note that to read this, you need to have a subscription, which is free and which I highly recommend. Basically, Turkey is scared that Iraq may attack them for their support of the U.S. They're also nervous that there will be huge masses of Kurdish refugees run into Turkey from northern Iraq (this happened in the last Gulf war), or that there could be a Kurdish uprising as they try to create an independent state upon the fall of Iraq. Turkey is also the only NATO country with a predominantly muslim population, and there could be a lot of internal public unrest over their support for the U.S. Turkey has tried activate a clause in the NATO treaty that would obligate allies to help the country defend itself, but France, Germany, and Belgium have denied an American request to send defence equipment to Turkey. Some in NATO are calling this a crisis and the future of NATO is in question as it's supposedly allied members squabble and reject each other's proposals. Recently France and Germany have teamed up to fight Britain and the U.S. which have teamed up. There's a quote in the article that I thought summed up the debate from an American point-of-view: Robert Kagan, the author of several books on current affairs, put it succinctly in the opening lines of a new book: "Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus." Europeans, he says, feel they have evolved into a postmodern, literally postwar world. Americans, Mr. Kagan argues, understand that sometimes there is no alternative to force.However, on the bright side, no one really wants NATO to disintegrate. There have been similar conflicts in the past (such as Vietnam), and both NATO and the UN (whose relevance has been questioned) have pulled through.

Posted by charr at 11:23 AM | Comments (3)

February 7, 2003

Columbia update

For those who haven't been following the Columbia incident, not a whole lot has happened since Saturday. A lot of attention has been focused on the piece of insulating foam that fell from the external fuel tank and struck the left wing of the shuttle 80 seconds after take off. When it happened, NASA said they studied it and determined no significant damage could have been caused (besides the fact that if there were damage, it would be unfixable anyway). After Saturday, a lot of attention has been placed on the foam incident to see if it could have caused the break up, but yesterday, Ron Dittemore came back and said that the foam theory has been all but thrown out -- that it couldn't have caused enough damage. As for what the real cause is, they have no idea. I'll be impressed if they ever do find an answer. For something that breaks up at Mach 18, 200,000 ft in the air, I can't imagine finding anything obvious.Ron Dittemore is the Program Manager for the Space Shuttle at NASA, a job that must be incredibly tough, considering the shuttle is the most complex system ever created by man. I was impressed with his calmness and responsibility on Saturday, and I later came to realize that he is the father of one of my friends here in Utah, he was at church with her (and me) the Sunday before the accident, though I didn't formally meet him. She told me that the media had been calling her and that she's fine, but she feels bad for her father. I think she has good reason to feel that way and I hope he's doing well.

Posted by charr at 1:40 AM | Comments (6)

February 1, 2003

Condolences to the Columbia crew's families

As most people have by now heard, the space shuttle Columbia broke up on its reentry into the earth's atmosphere this morning a little after 9:00 EST. On board were 7 astronauts, 6 Americans (including a naturalized Indian), and Israel's first astronaut. The shuttle broke apart at an elevation of roughly 203,000 ft and going a speed of around Mach 18 (about 12,500 mph). Survival was impossible and we can only hope they didn't suffer and pray for their families and friends.Perhaps like many people, I have erroneously thought of space shuttle missions as routine, at least since the explosion of the Challenger 17 years ago. This should be an awakening to those people who take space exploration for granted that it is not without risk. While I'm sure they didn't anticipate it, these fine 7 people gave their lives for the furthering of science and technology. I was listening to some callers expressing their thoughts on C-Span and heard one caller say that NASA is being irresponsible in sending people up and should not send up anyone else unless there is no chance something can go wrong. I wish I could have kicked that man. I have not heard a more dumb and naive comment in a long time. Besides the fact that the space shuttle is the most complex system ever created, I am somewhat of a scientist myself and I understand that everything has its own risks and costs. Those astronauts, and pioneers of any kind, are aware of them. Were it not for the sacrifice of these great men and women, science would not go forward. Nearly all great advances in the history of society have come with great risks and the shedding of blood, and while we certainly wish no one would need to lose their life, it is strangely intrinsic to great advancements. Perhaps it's the sacrifice given that makes an event great. May those that passed on rest in peace.

Posted by charr at 7:01 PM | Comments (1)

January 29, 2003

State of the U.S.

Well, as most politically minded folks know, last night was the annual "State of the Union" address by President Bush to Congress. Despite the fact that it is to Congress, tradition broadcasts it to the common folk, so we can get an idea of where the country is.Lamentably, I wasn't able to listen to the whole address, so I'll have to read it when it's available. I was anxious to hear it, since it was dubbed the most anticipated State-of-the-Union speech in decades. However, from what I did hear, I was marginally impressed. I didn't really hear any advancements in the economic plan or the case against Saddam. I'm a backer of Pres. Bush in most things, but these are probably my two biggest concerns. With the economy, what the country desperately needs is business investment and spending. That will both lower unemployment and increase the GDP. Bush's plan is for tax cuts, with the largest cuts going to the rich. Please note that I have no problem whatsoever that the rich are getting the tax cuts. They are reponsible for an overwhelming majority of all income taxes, and therefore affect the economy the most. I just don't see any immediate economic effects from a tax cut.In regards to the war against Iraq, I'm convinced it will happen. The biggest issue here is that no "smoking gun" has been found that would instantly incriminate Saddam. Europeans, who generally shy at war, are upset that Bush is so intent on war, and France and Germany have basically withdrawn their approval for a war at this point, instead opting to give the inspectors another chance to find the "smoking gun." Bush says if they don't want to help, then we'll go it alone. Alone with a few shaky Allies that is. Britain will jump in, but at a danger to Tony Blair's career, since many Britains oppose the war also. However, Bush is not without cause here. Take for example the terrorists of Sept. 11. Had we known the amount of terror and damage they were going to have caused, I believe no one would be against a hard preemptive strike to prevent it. Saddam is a known abuser of power, of economic and political sanctions, as well as a murderer of his own people. He has been known to seek weapons of mass destruction. He has already been caught with contraband by the inspectors in Iraq. What's to say he won't strike in the near future. Given his record, a call for a preemptive strike is not out of the question.

Posted by charr at 9:20 AM | Comments (5)

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