Thursday, June 30, 2005

Thought for the day

I don't care if the glass is half full or half empty, I wanna know who has been drinking out of my glass!

The Terrorists are EVERYWHERE!

There are news reports circulating that Iran's recently elected president-elect is none other than one of the terrorists that took the US embassy hostage during the Carter administration. Rueters is of course poo-pooing the thought. Let us not forget that there were quite a lot of shinanigans with this election, almost as much as the Washington State Governor's election last year....

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Terraforming Planets: A Primer

For most SF readers, when the subject of terraforming a solar planet comes up, most people think Mars as the likely choice. I'd like to suggest an alternative; Venus. Venus you say? Are you mad? Bear with me and I'll explain.

Mar's problems are of not having enough. Not enough atmospheric pressure. Not enough mass to hold a decent atmosphere. Not enough solar radiation to keep it warm. All efforts to terraform Mars are about supplying something it doesn't have and to maintain it indefinitely.

Now the alternative:
Venus's problems are all about having too much. Too much atmosphere, too much solar radiation. It is easier to take something away than to add something and make it stay there. Here are my ideas: One of the best ways of thinning an atmosphere I am led to believe is by having a moon, especially a large one. This is not an easy thing to accomplish. All the asteroids combined would not be as big as our moon, so moving one or more large asteroids into an orbit similar to our moon's would do little good, BUT if one or more large asteroids, say Ceres for instance which masses a third of the entire mass of all asteroids combined and is three times the mass of the next largest, were put in a close orbit, similar to say Diemos or Phobos, the tidal effects would roil the atmosphere enough to throw a large percentage of the atmosphere into a high enough orbit that the solar wind will blow it away. After stripping away the excess atmosphere, we need to supply Venus with some water. Cometary impacts are the preferred method to deliver water. After we have water, we need to seed the planet with cyanobacteria to convert that CO2 to O2. Meanwhile we need to do something about all that sunlight. The answer? Solar shades of course! put enough large solar sails into high orbit that a decent percentage of the sunlight falling on the planet is reflected away instead. In a few thousand years, we should have a planet that an unaided human could walk around on....

I'm having a hard time deciding what part of this article makes me madder.

This article in today's Chronicle really chapps my buns and I'm having a hard time deciding which part is the worst insult. Is it the two lefty blog links to the one righty blog link ratio? Or is it that the Chronicle uses Pew polling data to justify Internet regulation. Let us not forget that it was Pew, donating, maybe not anonymously, but certainly with a quiet wink and nod, through intermediaries that got McCain-Feingold passed to begin with. (See this link, warning, registration required, or this link to see video of Sean Treglia admit he bought and paid for BRCA with $39 million PEW dollars). Or is it the subtle gut feel that the Chronicle would LIKE to see more regulation for us, but not for them.

Which do you think is the most egregious insult?

This pretty much says it all...

Matt over at Lone Star Times apparently finds someone who has done what I'd like to do...

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A Call To Insurrection

In the present political climate of increasing governmental interference in the lives of American Citizens, and the total disregard all levels of government have continuously shown for the rights of the citizenry, it is a good idea to review why this country was founded to begin with.

THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE In Congress Assembled, July 4, 1776 The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America

WHEN in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining, in the mean time, exposed to all the dangers of invasions from without and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to, the civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us;

For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states;

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world;

For imposing taxes on us without our consent;

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury;

For transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for pretended offenses;

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies;

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments;

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow-citizens, taken captive on the high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrection among us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in our attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them, from time to time, of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity; and we have conjured them, by the ties of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too, have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

JOHN HANCOCK [President]

New Hampshire
Josiah Bartlett Caesar Rodney
William Whipple George Read
Matthew Thornton Thomas McKean

Massachusetts Maryland
John Hancock Samuel Chase
Samual Adams William Paca
John Adams Thomas Stone
Robert Treat Paine Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island George Wythe
Stephen Hopkins Richard Henry Lee
William Ellery Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Connecticut Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Roger Sherman Francis Lightfoot Lee
Samuel Huntington Carter Braxton
William Williams
North Carolina
New York William Hooper
William Floyd Joseph Hewes
Philip Livingston John Penn
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris South Carolina
Edward Rutledge
New Jersey Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Richard Stockton Thomas Lynch, Jr.
John Witherspoon Arthur Middleton
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart Georgia
Abraham Clark Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
Pennsylvania George Walton
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross

Friday, June 24, 2005

Fillet O'Feet: Or, How to shut down the blog...

My wife gave herself a kind of unconventional birthday present Wednesday. She had surgery on both feet. She had Plantar Facitis, which means that the sheet of connective tissue that goes across the bottom of her foot and is what makes the arch of her foot arch had shrunk due to adhesions/scar tissue. This caused her arches to be much higher than they should be. She developed this when she was pregnant with our second child. She has been wearing orthotic inserts in her shoes for four years and they have not helped. So Wednesday she had a Tarsal Release performed on both feet. Life at home has been stressful to say the least for the last couple days. Between having to work extra hours to make up for the time lost taking her to/from the hospital, and having a project at work that MUST be done by Monday, and the lost sleep to help her take her pain pills every 4 hours (she has to take them with food, guess who gets to make her a bowl of cereal...) and an 11 year old that does not want to help around the house, especially when it comes to helping with her sister, and a 4 year old that refuses to cooperate with anyone about, eating, dressing, taking a bath, going to bed, or even getting out of bed when told to. As a result, I really don't have the time and/or energy to blog much this week, as much as I'd really like to. Stay tuned, maybe this weekend will be better.....

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Let ME be the judge of that!

The local Republican precinct chair for my precinct happens to be the mother of my daughter's best friend. As a result, we talk politics a LOT. Her family is moving because the property tax increases are driving them from thier home. (Thank you very much Fred Hill!) As a result she has asked me to be the precinct election judge for the upcoming election in November since she probably won't be here then. I stewed on it for a week before I told her I'd do it. As a time commitment, it does not seem that onerous, except for the day of the election. THAT could be a long day. What's worse, I'll have to take off work and since I won't have any vacation time until the end of the year, it will have to be unpaid. Hopefully my employer will be understanding.....

An Open Letter to State Attorney General Greg Abbott

Mr. Abbott,

I am writing to you in regards to a problem that has become all too common and since your Legal opinions have the force of law in Texas, you may be able to help resolve some of these issues. I'm not a Lawyer, I am merely a citizen of the Great State of Texas. In the last year or two, I have experienced several instances of both public officials and private corporations playing rather fast and loose with public notification and open records access issues. For instance, Harris County Commissioners Court has posted on it's website yesterday that they will be having a hearing (apparently the ONLY hearing) and will be voting on a regional toll road plan today at 10:00am. How can the public or interested parties possibly throw down everything in their busy lives on less than 24 hours notice to go down to Commissioners Court on a Tuesday morning to participate in a hearing like this? They can't and the commissioners know this. METRO has been stonewalling Tom Bazan's open records requests for information concerning problems of stray current from the light rail tracks accelerating corrosion of underground structures such as high pressure gas pipelines and building foundations. Such pipeline corrosion could have the potential of killing thousands of people if it were to occur in the Texas Medical Center or Downtown. TXDOT has been stonewalling The Houston Chronicle on the Trans-Texas Corridor contracts with Zachary even after your office ordered them released. Just last year a company that wanted to build an asphalt plant in Spring posted the hearing notice for the air quality permit in a newspaper in Crosby 40 miles away! Nobody in Spring even knew this was happening until after the public comment period was already closed. It was only due to the massive public outcry that the company and the TCEQ reopened the hearing process out of embarrassment and threats of lawsuits. These are just a few examples, there are lots more. This is what I'd like to see done:

I would like a state website set up to act as a clearinghouse for public notifications such as hearing announcements and such searchable via zip code so that you don't have to worry about the notification being on a bulletin board in some county courthouse on the other side of town that nobody ever sees. Even better would be a voluntary sign-up system so that notices concerning specific zip codes would be automatically e-mailed to you. I would also like to see this clearinghouse show open record requests that are pending and whether they have been approved or denied and reason for denial.

I would like the notifications to be prompt and with enough forewarning that interested parties can attend or respond instead of being caught flat footed or worse, never even knowing the hearing has happened until too late to do anything about it. Ideally, hearing notices should be posted to the above proposed website at least 30 days in advance.

I think you can agree that there are good reasons for open government laws. Far too many elected and non-elected officials and private corporations are playing fast and loose with those laws and the quality of governance has suffered as a consequence. Houston is such a big place with so many overlapping jurisdictions that keeping track of just the ones in your neighborhood is a real chore even when the jurisdictions aren't actively trying to hide their actions. Add intentional malfeasance by the jurisdictions and things get very difficult. The best governance comes from active participation by the citizenry, any attempts to exclude the citizens from the process can bode no good.

This letter is an open one. I will be posting it to my website. I will also be sending similar letters to as many state legislators as I can. The status quo is not acceptable and something MUST change. I will be exploring every avenue I can to make sure this or something like it happens. Your cooperation and assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You.

All of my readers are encouraged to send similar letters to Mr Abbott as well as every state legislator you know. This is too important an issue to let lie. Mr Abbott's email address is

Monday, June 20, 2005

The REAL Da Vinci Code?


Seems there really IS a code, but Da Vinci didn't write it.... nor did he hide anything concerning it, someone else did.

A Cingular tale of stupidity…

I am a customer of Cingular Wireless. I am also a customer of SBC (Cingular’s parent company) for my DSL and local phone service. Over the Memorial Day weekend, I decided that I wanted to give my pre-teen daughter her own cell phone. She had been begging for it for months and we initially told her no because she has a real penchant for loosing things. But since she is riding her bike to the pool and to her friend’s house a lot more during the summer, we decided to give her an electronic leash so to speak. We did this more for our own peace of mind than to give in to a child’s desire for a status symbol. Since my wife and I had also been wrestling with old boat-anchor Nokia 5100 series TDMA phones for years, we could not just buy her a new GSM phone and keep our old (but still serviceable) TDMA phones. Cingular says, all GSM or all TDMA, not both. Cingular has three pricing structures for new equipment, Web (cheapest), Phone sales (next cheapest), and Stores (most expensive). Being the tightwad that I am, I decided to go the Web route. There was only one problem, The web site fell over when I clicked on the link to upgrade my phone and gave me an error that there was an authorization problem with my account and to call customer service.

Sunday: The first call to customer service resulted in some know-nothing drone telling me to change rate plans to GSM first, then try upgrading the phones. Web site does not give me that option, it tells me I have to call customer service to do that. Time on this call, 20 minutes.

Monday: OK, call number two results in a different drone telling me he cannot help me with web prices and I would need to call sales on Tuesday when they open and that they’d charge me the Phone sales rates. I say, ok, give me the number. He does. Time on the phone for this call, about 20 minutes.

I call phone sales and explain what I want to do: Namely, upgrade my two existing phones to GSM (they had a Nokia 6010 model that was free with 2 year activation on the website) and get a third line for my daughter. The lady is really sweet and nice, she apologizes for the two morons I talked to, previously and says she’ll fix me right up! And proceeds to royally screw things up. She ended up issuing two new numbers as new equipment sales, and processes my two year contract extension on the existing lines but doesn’t send new phones for the two existing numbers. Instead she locks up the account record in the order system so that nobody else can do anything with it. I of course don’t know that at the time. I go away thinking instead that Cingular DOES have at least a couple people on staff that are halfway intelligent. Time on this call, about an hour. I find all this out piecemeal later. The first indication that something isn’t quite right comes when I get an e-mail notification Tuesday evening that phones for two phone numbers I didn’t recognize had been shipped.

Wednesday: I call and speak with customer service on Wednesday morning and they tell me that the order had been entered incorrectly and that I’d need to send one of the phones back. So I ask them about the other two lines. The girl gets a floor manager tapped into the call and we do a three way round robin and they assure me that two more phones will get shipped that day. Time on this call: about an hour.

Thursday: The two new line phones arrive and I call to find out which IMEI # phone is assigned to which phone # so I can activate the correct one (The paperwork of course does not say). While I have them on the line, I ask about the two other phones supposedly shipped Wednesday since I had not received a shipment notification via e-mail like I did before. They tell me that the phones were scheduled to ship but for some reason had not yet and that I should receive them via overnight FedEx Friday. Time on that call, 15 minutes.

Friday: Phones do not arrive, call customer service, they can’t find any evidence that they were even ever ordered but they do confirm I have had two more years on my contract now, They transfer me to Sales which apparently have a different ordering system. They can’t find any record either, they transfer me back to customer service. I get batted back and forth between sales and customer service at least two more times before someone gives me the number to the national order fulfillment department to try finding it from the inventory system. Still no dice, they transfer me back to customer service. I finally get someone who can find both butt cheeks with either hand. He finally discovers that my order entry record had been locked in the system without it completing the order. My account was stuck in database limbo. Could not go forward, could not go back. Do not pass go, do not collect 2 phones. He wrestles with it for nearly an hour while he tries to figure out how to get the record unlocked. At this point I’d been on this one call for over an hour and a half. He finally manages to get managerial override to unlock the record and he backs the two years back out, resets it to where it was before the record was screwed up. At that point I had been on the line for over two hours, and he was on overtime and his boss was giving him the hairy eyeball to wrap it up and get the heck off the clock, so the transfers me to another sales lady. So far, this was the only guy I had dealt with that seemed to really know what he was doing and was willing to actually work the problem instead of handing me off to some other schmoe. I wish I remembered his name, he deserves a commendation for the initiative to get the problem solved. The lady he transferred me to was unfortunately more of the same, but she at least managed to get the order re-processed correctly. Total time on the phone that go-round: 2-1/2 hours.

Wednesday: I’m out of town (I had wanted the new phone for the trip, but alas, ‘twas not meant to be), FedEx leaves the package on my front porch. Thankfully my neighbor picks it up for me before it is stolen.

So far, it would appear that everything has been sorted out, but I haven’t received a bill yet, so the jury may still be out……

Update 6-28-05: Well the bill came in the mail today and that feeling of dread I had turned out to be justified. They managed to still screw it up. They had two lines on my OLD TDMA rate plan still, and the third NEW line on a rate plan all on it's own. NONE of them were actually on the plan they were supposed to be on. What was funnier was that the third line was on a family plan which requires a minimum of two lines, but only one line was on it. The total? over $210 bucks! It was SUPPOSED to be $74.95 plus tax, (title, lisence, destination charges, and dealer prep...) and a one time $18 fee per line to activate/convert. They promise to get it fixed by the 30'th.... we'll see what happens.....

Senator Cornyn seeks middle ground on immigration reform, finds himself in quicksand.

Saturday, Senator Cornyn tried to lay out his idea of an immigration reform plan in the Chronicle, but he found himself tripping over a fundamental problem with our country’s Constitution. If you are born here, regardless of where your parents are from, you are an instant American Citizen. Now, I want to go on record that I can support most of what he wants to do. I could even stomach the “guest worker” thing with enough antacids. It would not be MY solution to the problem, but it is better than McCain-Kennedy, or the status quo. There is one problem. That problem is the instant citizenship by birth issue which I’ve commented about before.

Here is my suggestion to Senator Cornyn as a way to work with the issue while accomplishing goals that most LEGAL Americans can get behind without disenfranchising anyone of their Citizenship.

My plan would be to do the following steps (in order):

1. Amend the constitution to eliminate this practice. It’s only purpose would appear to be to attract illegal immigrants to our shores in order to have their kid in the US. Amend it so that you have to at least have one parent with legal resident alien status as a minimum. This would at least prove that he/she is planning to stay here and contribute to society legally.

2. For those illegals who’s kids have already been bestowed this honor, they should be given 90 days from the passage of the bill to apply (ok, maybe more, given how slow the Immigration service is. That time frame can be somewhat flexible, and may have to be extended as the situation requires.) for legal resident alien status. If they do not apply within the time frame, or if they are rejected for cause (say for having a felony record for instance), their kid’s citizenship will be revoked and will default to the citizenship status of the parents as it is in every other country.

3. Go ahead and pass the “Guest Worker” thing but make a stipulation in the law that employers who hire illegals have three strikes. First strike, the employer must pay a $1000 fine for every day that worker has worked for them FOR EACH ILLEGAL WORKER. (For these purposes, Immigration audits/inspections would count as strike instances, not each individual worker.) Second Strike, the fine goes up to $10,000 a day per worker. Third strike, the IRS seizes the company and either sells it at auction, or sells the assets, whichever brings the most money. To eliminate the “I didn’t know he/she was illegal” defense, ALL employers must submit worker tax ID numbers to the SS administration for verification prior to employment or within 30 days from the passage of the bill for those who are already employed. If the number comes back as invalid, the employer/employee must submit a valid number before the employee can earn a single dime. This is already possible via a toll free number (the infrastructure for it may need to be beefed up to handle the traffic however). Once written documentation of the validity of the number has been obtained, the employer is free and clear. If the worker managed to forge the number well enough that the SS administration can’t catch it, the employer shouldn’t be held responsible. These audits/inspections should be done for each employer at least once every 5 years, and more often for those industries that are known for hiring illegals such as the construction indusry etc. And yes for those wondering, this goes for your illegal gardener/maid/babysitter too! Anybody feel like loosing everything they have over an illegal employee? I didn't think so...

4. Authorize and encourage all government (including local) workers to detain and turn over to Immigration anyone found not to have proper immigration status. If you are in this country illegally and apply for anything, or you are pulled over for anything, you’d better have some kind of documentation to show who you really are.

5. Finally, after all that is done and in place and running, beef up the border patrol and make them earn their name. Close the border to illegal human (and drug) trafficking. We have technology that can detect illegal crossings far better than we have deployed. The only reason we haven’t deployed it is because the government has not chosen to do so. Hey, if they can keep people out of Area 51, they can keep them out of the US if they really want to. Authorize the border patrol to shoot to kill if needed. By this time, most relatively harmless illegals will have already self-deported or have gotten on the straight and narrow with La Migra. Anyone crossing the border illegally at this point is a true national security threat and should be treated as such, hence the "shoot to kill" authorization.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The trial and travails of HTML

I've been working on the template some. Hope the viewers (And you both know who you are! =D) like the tweaks I've made. I wasn't happy with the shades of fucia and pink that some bits were in. Kinda gave the whole thing a feminine look that sorta conflicted with my (at least percieved) masculinity if ya know what I mean.... My grasp of HTML is pretty miniscule at the moment. I haven't even figured out how to post a picture using hello/bloggerbot or a site counter. Anyone willing to educate me feel free! I went and spent 25 bucks on a HTML for dummies book this afternoon in the hopes of learning enough to at least figure out how the template I chose works. So far I've at least figured out how to tweak some of the colors so I guess I'm making progress. I'm working on the issue with RSS feeds and the title links. Until Shreela was kind enough to point it out I didn't even realize I HAD an RSS feed. OK, so when it comes to this whole website thing, I've got a lot to learn. Mia Culpa! By the way, if anyone sees anything on the site in green please let me know what it is and which browser you are using. I have been using that color as a marker to work my way through which seetings controlled what, and there are at least half a dozen color tags that don't seem to do anything, at least not in firefox, which I've about decided is the best thing since sliced bread. Any help in figuring out which bits those tags control would be appreciated.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Don't you just HATE when that happens?

I'm a HUGE hard SF fan. Larry Niven is one of my favorite authors in this genre. He has recently released a new novel written with Brenda Cooper titled "Building Harlequin's Moon". I picked up a first edition while I was on a business trip to wonderful downtown Lafayette La. I've managed to get about 2/3 of the way through so far. It supposedly takes place in a solar system around the star Gliese 876, which until just recently was thought to be composed of two super Gas Giants. One orbiting the Class M Yellow dwarf very closely and one at about the same distance as Saturn is from Sol. In the story they posit two (so far, fictional) more gas giants but at distances exceeding neptune's orbit which could be plausible given the very small perturbations they would have on the star. So far, everything agrees with the known properties of that solar system at the time of the writing of the manuscript. Well, today I read that they've discovered a third planet in that solar system. Damn! I hate when a perfectly good Hard SF novel is ruined by later scientific discoveries. What's worse, this discovery happened about the time the first issues rolled off the printing press. The only other time I can think of THAT happening is with Niven's FIRST published work ("The Coldest Place"), which was invalidated just as it too was being published. I'm starting to think Larry is cursed....

Update: Clayton Cramer was apparently on the same track....

Who knew my wife had talent?

Pearls before Swine
Ok, ok, I admit, it isn't my wife's work, but you'd never know it by listening to her complain about my reading habits....

Who's afraid of the IRS?

Apparently not Daniel (AKA Danny) Halil, a Syrian with a green card. Back in 2001, he was the guy that bought Wenonah Blevins' $150,000 house at a foreclosure auction for $5000. Well, it would seem Mr. Hilal is back in the limelight. He owes over $22 million dollars in back taxes to the IRS. He also apparently owes a huge amount of property taxes and homeowners association assessments and dues. Apparently back in 1998 the amount owed to the IRS was only $9 million, he was ordered to appear in court by the IRS, but he never showed up. Was he arrested? No. Were any of his millions in assets seized? Guess again. NO ACTION WAS TAKEN! In fact when KRIV went looking for him to interview him about it, they found him in a Harris County foreclosure auction bidding on more foreclosed homes. After telling the reporter to get the (expletive deleted) out of his face, he proceeded to whip out a wad of $100 bills as big as my fist and hand several over to one of his runners to pay for one of the houses he had just won at auction. When the matter came up in court again this time, he proceeded file bankruptcy, claiming that he was mentally incompetent and checked himself into a loony bin and tried to get his brother to be appointed his trustee but an attorney was appointed instead, after which he immediately checked himself back out again. When the bankruptcy court filed a subpoena that same day for Mr Hilal's business records, He and his brother rushed to his home and his office and absconded with them before the attorney that was appointed trustee could get there to get them himself. Now Mr Halil is on the lam and hiding from the court. A bench warrant has been filed for his arrest. His family is not saying where he is. The real losers here are all of Mr Halil's renters and the people who are buying homes from his flipping business. Since all of his business records are missing, they have no way to prove they have paid their rent/mortgage payments. It would appear that Mr Halil has been working in a cash only mode for years and has been distributing that cash to his relatives in order to hide his holdings.

Hat tip KRIV And Edd Hendee over at KSEV

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Please define "Conservative"

Link to Chronicle article
In the whole article by Tom Hamburger, the only two people identified as being against this is a FORMER Republican and some guy that is the head of some think tank that CLAIMS to be conservative. So where exactly are the REPUBLICANS here?

Chronicle Boo-Hoos over Illegal’s Kids

Chronicle story
It is the ultimate carrot, all ya gotta do is make it to the other side of the Rio Grande and have your kid at the local county hospital and recieve the world's best medical care for free and your kid is an automatic US citizen. No forms, no waiting lists, no swearing allegiance, no lawyers, it's automatic. And The Supremes have said that if your kid is school age, the state has to educate them, whether the kids are legal or not. The Federation for American Immigration Reform estimates the cost of educating the kids of illegals at something like $4 BILLION a year in Texas alone.

It is high time congress addressed this. Ammend the constitution so that the mere fact of being born here does not mean automatic citizenship. No other nation treats the children of foriegn nationals this way, WHY SHOULD WE?

Saturday, June 11, 2005


Thank you for joining me here. In this endeavor I'll be exploring issues and events that interest/concern me. Some of those issues might include immigration reform, local news and issues, bias in the local media, and conservative politics. This is by far NOT an all inclusive list however.