Just an Opinion (But it's all mine!)

Like the title says: Just an Opinion (But it's all mine!). No one else's, raw, uncut, maybe unsettling to some. If you are unsettled by mine, good. Research, learn, self-educate and form your own.

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Location: Volcano Island, Somewhere Hot

Originally from The Canal Zone, I moved to the US in 1985 and later joined the Army. Most of my Army time was overseas with the exceptiongof my last two assignments. Recently retired, I now work in computer networking and security related fields. Pretty much same stuff I was doing in the Army with better pay!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Is Pluto a planet?

Yea!!!! Pluto is a planet after all! I knew it all the time. Moreover, with the International Astronomical Union (IAU)'s expected new ruling Ceres will regain it's status as a planet too. Along with the addition of Charon and 2003 UB313, a Kuiper Belt object. Soon there will be more planets added to the list since the new (actually the first unambiguous) definition of a planet will qualify nearly 50 more Kuiper Belt objects.

The new definition takes into account several criteria and matches them against each other to come up with a definite set of rules for classifying a planet. Size, gravitational forces, orbit around a star versus another planet, are just a few of the criteria. What I like most is that one criterion classifies Pluto and Charon as binary planets rather than a planet and moon. Something that I have brought up in the past with friends who are amateur astronomers too. The two clearly orbit each other and not one around the other like our moon orbits earth.

However, the proposed rules also draw a line between common asteroids and smaller planets. The issue of gravity. At some point, an object reaches sufficient mass that its own gravity overcomes the shape that the rubble it is made from would naturally take. In other words, rather than being oblong or some other shape because of uneven lumping, gravity causes it to take a more uniform shape, basically round or near round. This is not to say that an asteroid can't be round, but rather asks "is it round because it formed round or does its own gravity cause it to be round?" Not a trivial thing in the scope of stellar bodies.

Gravity also comes into play in whether the object orbits a star or another stellar object or is part of a binary pair. Everything has a center point of gravity in relation to its neighbor. If that center point of gravity is between them out in space, they are binary. If that point is within one of the objects then one is a satellite of the other. Things that orbit stars are planets, things that orbit planets are moons.

I hope that the full union will approve the IAU's new proposal and then we can all say we were there when the 12th planet and possibly more were discovered. Something no one has been able to say since 1930.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

"No Solicitors"

This is a posting of a letter to the editor of the Arizona Republic newspaper. I include it here simply because telemarketers, door-to-door sales men, junk mail and spam are pet peeves of mine.

Not that I have anything against the people themselves, they are after all, just trying to make a living too. But come on, I put the sign on my door so they can know I am not interested before we waste each other's time.

What does a "No Solicitors" sign on my front door mean? I was always under the impression that it meant I didn't wish to be disturbed by persons selling things or subscriptions. Or, persons asking for contributions to their charities or organizations.

I must have been mistaken, because since I have placed this sign on my door I have had several persons come to my door, asking for money or attempting to sell me something I do not want. Including some young man peddling subscriptions for the "Arizona Republic" newspaper. A most persistent young man, who had to be told three times that I was not interested in purchasing a subscription, Who persisted in explaining to me the plan details and offers. Who persisted in explaining how this plan was "just $20.00 and it helps me for college."

So, I put it to you Mr. /Ms Editor: what does a "No Solicitors" sign mean?

NOTE: As of this writing, no reply from the editor.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Politics? My dad?

My son recently read my blog and asked me, "When did you get so political?"

I guess the simple answer would be when I retired from the Army. But that's too simple. In reality I have been very political all my life. But as a soldier sworn to obey those appointed over me and subject to certain UCMJ regulations preventing me from venting my true opinions, I have done a lot of tongue biting.

Now after 20+ years of service to philanders and liars, out comes a lot of pent up rage and a wealth of opinions.

Still its hard to say all the things I'd like to say. Specifics of Abu Ghraib, the twisting of Iraq WMD facts and the like are still covered under certain federal laws for the next 70 years. Basically, the rest of my natural life.

Still, I can find a wealth of stuff to keep my ire up. You don't have to look too far. From the administration's manipulation of public access to truth, the DNC's blatant disregard for any truth, unless it suits them, to ridiculous antics of a president who can't keep his girlfriends quiet. How that jerk made two terms when George H.W. Bush only led fro one after his great leadership, I'll never understand. Movies that should have never made it to the screen and commercials that truly suck! Inspiring me not to buy their products.

Head On, apply directly to the forehead!
Head On, apply directly to the forehead!
Head On, apply directly to the forehead!

Then there's the fool who makes deals with murderous dictators, thinking he can save their souls, and make them into good Christians. No wounder the the next dictator wanting to make a name for himself managed to keep 52 Americans hostage for 444 days in our own diplomatic embassy!

So here I go on my little rampages through news columns and other blogs picking out those that get my blood pressure up. The stupid, the inane, and the down right dumb.

Maybe I'll run for president? At least I know how to keep my girlfriend's mouth quiet!

Go Valerie Plame! Go!

Those of the hard right aren't going to like this one. I am about to blast my president, vice president and their aides for the criminal conspiracy to betray the trust, safety, and security of an intelligence agent and by extension the security of this nation. A trust they swore to uphold. And of course, Robert Novak, a man I once considered an honest news reporter.

On 13 July, Valerie Plame and her husband Joe Wilson filed a federal civil lawsuit against VP Dick Cheney, Lewis Libby, and Karl Rove. While Novak (for obvious reasons) is not part of the suit, I would have sued him and the other reporters involved, too.

Quick recap of the news in case you've been living in a hole. About 3 years ago, Novak made Valerie Plame's covert identity public via a news article, effectively ending her career as a CIA operative. This took place about two weeks after Plame's husband Joe Wilson wrote an article casting doubt on one of the reasons cited for the second front in Iraq and about 3 days after CIA Director George Tenet, announced that the Intel behind said claim was in fact wrong. The suit claims she was outed as revenge for Wilson's article.

Let the bashing begin. Not only has "W" violated our trust by openly lying about WMD capabilities of Iraq, he then sent out his henchmen to defame an opposing diplomat and expose a CIA agent's cover. At the same time, putting at risk all of the Intel and operations said agent has been involved with. Not to mention all of the other agents with whom she has come into contact. Local governments will view, as potential agents, anyone seen with her or Wilson, while overseas. All of that data, all of that Intel, wasted. Just to get back at one man for telling the truth at an inconvenient time.

From what I have read on this, Lewis Libby was the obvious primary leak. In the next few months, I'll wager, it will become clear that on VP Cheney's or the president's behest, Libby sprang the leak.

Libby told a grand jury that Bush had authorized the release of classified information to rebut Wilson, which Cheney's office considered a "direct attack" on the credibility of the White House, according to court papers released in April. From CNN

The mastermind? Karl Rove, a long time GOP strategist. This is a fancy way of saying, a "dirty tricks" man. Moreover, knowing that journalists require two sources he conveniently pops up as the second source. All claiming that they didn't know her status was classified.

Come on guys, this is a CIA operative, you don't need to know whether her status was classified or not. An operative in the field has to be protected at all times. Anyone who has had even limited exposure to the Intel community is aware of that.

Early on in all of this, Pres. Bush stated he would fire anyone involved in this leak.

In reference to the investigation, Bush told reporters last week that "If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration." From CNN

Ok, Mr. Pres, we're waiting for the firings to start. You've been talking a good talk all through the investigation. You're talking a good talk at the G8 summit. Time to see you walk the walk too. Like that is really going to happen, right? My opinion of you is sliding very fast, too.

This brings me to Robert Novak, a seasoned journalist who has covered many stories on national security. How can he justify publishing this information on the basis the leak to him was "unintentional"? Unintentional or not this is an obvious lapse of protocol that should have keyed in his mind not to spread it. When the CIA asked him not to reveal Plame's status that should have been enough.

The media has to stop misusing its First Amendment rights as a blanket to publish everything and everything. Especially when common sense tells (should tell) them otherwise. The open publication of information critical to national security or the protection of an intelligence agent should raise red flags in the mind of a journalist. A journalist should not need an expressed statement of what should be protected information. The experience of journalists should raise those red flags on their own. If said journalist has doubt, then ask about the information rather than just blurt it out for the entire world to see.

At the top of this article, I mentioned that I once considered Robert Novak an honest reporter. His handling of this issue, with such careless disrespect of our national security and the lives of all the operatives in the field, now in my opinion, relegates him to that infamous list of yellow journalists. An acrimonious list headed by Geraldo Rivera, the staffs of the National Inquirer and NY Post, paparazzi and the team responsible for the CBS story of Pres. Bush's military service.

I wish the Wilsons the best of luck in their civil suit. Stick it to 'em Valerie!

NOTE: I drew all of my sources for this piece from CNN simply because it was easy. This is not to be seen as an endorsement or affiliation with CNN. I was just lazy and it was easy to collect the information from them.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Edwards and Spratt call on DCCC to pull down web video

Well the DCCC is at it again. Using images of soldiers’ coffins and their graves in order to make things look worse than they are, and therefore sway public opinion away from the truth. These clips appeared in an anti-Republican ad that was available on the DCCC’s web site. Strangely enough, it is no longer available.

The article referenced above was posted at 3:35 p.m. EDT (12:35 MST for me), and provided a link to the DCCC’s video. By the time I chased the link, around 6pm MST, the video had been pulled, already. Using the site’s search tool, I was able to find an entry and link to the video’s page, which also has been disabled.

So, why beat a dead horse? On CNN’s article page is also one of their quick polls, which I like to look at from time to time. I do have to say that after entering my vote I was very surprised to see the results. As of this writing (12:15 am MST), there have been 601 votes cast. The surprise was that so far 100% are against the ad, which used to be on the DCCC web site.

The poll question is “Is the DCCC "America Needs a New Direction" video offensive?” Of all persons reading the article, and I am sure of the few who got to see the video before it was pulled, all agree that “Yes, it dishonors our troops”. I do mean all. It’s not just a percentage tally of 100%; it is 601 votes to zero.

I do have my issues pro and con to the current front in Iraq. I think we should have finished in Afghanistan before opening a new front. I do disagree with how intelligence was twisted in order to justify opening a new front so soon. What I don’t care for is liberals, leftists, and freeloaders who have never served or served poorly using the images of my comrades’ coffins and their gravesites for political advantage.

War is war. It is messy, it is ugly, and should be avoided at all costs. However, we’re there now and we need to finish what we started. Not cut and run as Clinton did in Somalia when things got tough. Soldiers are wounded, I did. Some are killed, watched a lot of good friends pay the ultimate price. Many more come home, too. Where’s the DCCC’s video of our returning heroes? Or, of the great works they are doing in the toughest of conditions? I couldn’t find one on their site. Of that, I am not surprised.

I am glad the DCCC pulled the video. I do wish I could have seen it at least once so I could be more fired up during this writing. However, I can’t be angry with them for doing the right thing on this issue. Albeit late, this video should never have been produced.

PS: it’s now 12:45 am MST; the vote is now 609 to zero.

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Links: RNC, NRCC Home page, DNC, DCCC Home page

Monday, July 10, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest hasn’t gotten the best reviews from the professional critics. To an extent, most of them are right.

The movie is excessively long. At 145 minutes, it is about 35 minutes too long. There are lots of dead places, which could have been edited out, where the action slows to a crawl. Resulting in a better flow of the action and a shorter run time.

Like wise, Pirates II is little more than a prequel for the third movie. It has no real conclusion and leaves you wondering where the story is going next. Very much like the second Matrix film, it leaves you dangling and asking, “What the hell did I just sit through this for?”

Still, it is pretty damned funny. A little darker than the first, with noticeable changes in make-up and filming style that take away from the fun fantasy feel that the first movie had.

For fans of the trio of heroes (CAPT. Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann), this movie will be fun and exciting. Expanding on the misadventures of the trio, with a touching reunion of Will and his long lost father, who is one of Davy Jones’ unwitting henchmen. In addition, to a glimpse into CAPT. Jack’s true nature.

If you didn’t care for the first movie, you’re going to hate this one. If you liked the first movie and don’t mind waiting for the third, you’re in for a good time. Personally, I expected this film to stand on its own, but it doesn’t and you have to see the third to find out how the story ends.

I went to a matinee showing, so I only had to drop $4.50 for a ticket. Not a bad value for $4.50, but not worth full price in my opinion. I give it 6/10. My friend gives it a 10/10, but of course, any movie with Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom on screen at the same time is a 10/10 for her.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

The New Dr. J. Mengele

Having been in a serious life threatening accident and shot during combat, if I find out any of this stuff was used on me, I will sue the shit out of the hospital and this new Dr. Josef Mengele. I don't care if it is 100% effective; don't be putting experimental crap into my children or me without our EXPRESSED consent.

As far as the fools claiming ABC has done wrong with their report. You are idiots. The end does not justify the means, never. Never has, never will.

And for the one lady claiming "It’s not happening." wake up. Where have you been sleeping all this time? This is the kind of crap that happens when we turn our backs and let some democrat reform our health care system, so that now more people than ever, can't afford to get even basic health care. This is what happens when a citizen sits through an interview with a doctor involved or reads a news article with links to confirming data, and still puts her head back in the sand.

One gentleman stated that the testers do try to get consent from the family to continue use of this product on a patient. Fool what are you talking about? I think ABC proved that THEY DO NOT! Not to mention the patient shouldn't have been on the stuff in the first place.

Then there's the issue of participation. The nice little blue bracelets, that no one has ever heard of, to opt out of a test that no one has ever heard of, a test which is run without the consent of a participant. What happened to opting in? You don't run an experiment on human beings without making sure they are aware of it first! Moreover, having the chance to choose whether to be part of it or not. Not unless you are a Nazi doctor named Josef Mengele or his esteemed colleague Dr. E. E. Moore of the Denver Health Medical Center and the rest of the butchers at Northfield Lab. You don't use people in a secret experiment that they have never heard of for testing purposes. I don'’t care how many live is saves. That defense went out in Nuremburg.

There is golden proof that the experiments run by the Nazis saved lives. We know more than we ever would about head injuries, effects of high altitude/low pressure aviation, and high-pressure submersion than we ever would have without those tests. So what next Northfield Labs? Do we start hitting kids in the head with the butt of weapons to test advancements in helmet design? How about just slowing bleeding someone out so you can further test PolyHeme rather than wait for them to be so incapacitated in an accident that they can't exercise their rights?

The idea of this stuff being administered involuntarily to humans is a violation of basic human rights, American beliefs, and just plan unethical.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Motto of 33S (T & W included)

We, the willing led by the unknowing,
are doing the impossible
for the ungrateful.

We have done so much,
for so long, with so little,
we are now qualified to do anything
with nothing.

NOTE: I dare you to prove this wasn't written by a 33S or 33T!