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March 5th, 2006:

“Mama Says, Little Boys Who Swear Grow Up to be Democrats.”

Kevin Drum: “[T]he Neuropolitics folks claim to have discovered… [that] Liberals curse more than conservatives. Of course, we have reason to.”

On (Not) Watching the Oscars

I’m not watching the Oscars, but I hear Reese Witherspoon won for best actress, so I am happy.

On the Dynamics of the Circular Firing Squad

I get e-mail (it’s a mass e-mail; I don’t generally quote personal e-mails):

It all starts Tuesday night. Get yourself involved and elected as a delegate to your Senate Convention held March 25. Introduce, support and pass as many of our resolutions as you can.
Go to your Senate Convention and get elected to the State Convention in Ft. Worth in June where the purge begins. We will clean house in the senate districts (every Senate District in Harris County needs its SDEC replaced as they have all lain prone before the throne of the State Party powers that be) and then we will cast aside the old guard of Slagle, Speight, Molberg, Malcolm, Soechting, Richie, Teal and elect Glen Maxiy State Chair to lead our revolution and work to root out the John Breaux, Mary Landrieu, Martin Frost, Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh, John Kerry cabal.

By no stretch of the imagination will I insist that anyone has an obligation to vote/support every chump who calls himself (or herself) a Democrat, but I found this e-mail kind of amusing.

As best I can tell, the writer of this e-mail supports one Democrat (Glen Maxey, a good man and my choice for the next state chairman), and opposes, well lets see:

  • Every SDEC Member in Harris County (7 districts times 2 SDEC members each = 14 SDEC members)
  • “Slagle, Speight, Molberg, Malcolm, Soechting, Richie, Teal” (7 people)
  • “[T]he John Breaux, Mary Landrieu, Martin Frost, Hillary Clinton, Joe Lieberman, Evan Bayh, John Kerry cabal” (7 more).

That’s at least 28 people right there! That has to be some kind of world record for excessive anti-Democratic Establishment angst.

George Bush Doesn’t Care About Earth-People

There are a lot of important headlines in today’s H-Chron, including the story about the Pat Tillman investigation and the story which sort of suggests Tom DeLay might lose. But here’s one story that you probably won’t see blogged anywhere else:

Budget cuts and poor management may be jeopardizing the future of our eyes in orbit — America’s fleet of environmental satellites, vital tools for forecasting hurricanes, protecting water supplies and predicting global warming.

“The system of environmental satellites is at risk of collapse,” said Richard A. Anthes, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. “Every year that goes by without the system being addressed is a problem.”

Anthes chairs a National Academy of Sciences committee that advises the federal government on developing and operating environmental satellites. In a report issued last year, the committee warned that “the vitality of Earth science and application programs has been placed at substantial risk by a rapidly shrinking budget.”

Scientists warn that the consequences of neglecting Earth-observing satellites could have more than academic consequences. It is possible that when a big volcano starts rumbling in the Pacific Northwest, a swarm of tornadoes sweeps through Oklahoma or a massive hurricane bears down on New Orleans, the people in harm’s way — and those responsible for their safety — will have a lot less information than they’d like about the impending threat.

Included among the cuts are projects that directly impact hurricane forecasting, including a replacement for a satellite which estimates the intensity of rainfall within a developing storm, and replacements for the NOAA polar-orbiting satellites, which provide a much closer and much more detailed view of storms than their counterparts in geostationary orbit.

Why are these cuts being made? It’s pretty clear when you look at the numbers – the funding is being crowded out by the President’s Vision for Space for Exploration and the costs of the crippled shuttle fleet:

NASA officials say that tight budgets tie their hands, forcing them to cut all but the most vital programs. The agency’s proposed 2007 budget request contains $2.2 billion for satellites that observe the Earth and sun, compared to $6.2 billion for operating the space shuttle and International Space Station and $4 billion for developing future missions to the moon and Mars.

“We simply cannot afford all of the missions that our scientific constituencies would like us to sponsor,” NASA administrator Michael Griffin told members of Congress when he testified before the House Science Committee Feb. 16.

Griffin is faced with the difficult task of balancing the space agency’s science and aeronautics programs against the cost of operating the space station and shuttle, while simultaneously planning the future of human space flight.

“I truly wish that it could be otherwise, but there is only so much money,” Griffin said in his congressional testimony. “We must set priorities.”

While I’m a fan of manned spaceflight, but quite frankly, the return-on-investment for improved earth observation tends to be large, and it tends to be immediate. Assuming one can not have his cake and eat it to, I question whether NASA is setting the right priorities.

In other Katrina news, Ray Nagin’s been in town looking for votes. Not a normal practice for mayors to go out-of-state to campaign.

BlackBerry settlement reached

This happened on Friday, but since I do BlackBerry for a living, I wanted to note that its maker, Research in Motion (RIM) settled its patent infringement lawsuit with NTP for a cool $612 million. Though one could easily ask why rejected patents should be worth money, I’m glad this is over with and think RIM made the right call. They couldn’t afford the risk of an injunction-induced shutdown of their service. I’m just happy I’ll never have to answer the question about what I think will happen in this case again (I’m not the only one either, apparently). Back to normality, everyone!