Archive for September 4th, 2009
Watching bicycists racing is awesome. The Tour de Lafayette bicycle race was held tonight, about two miles away from my house. My wife and two daughters (9 and 11) rode our lighted bikes through the dark to watch parts two races. We brought our little consumer grade camera with us (the Canon SD1100SI) to see if we could squeeze a good photo out of fast bicycles racing through the still night. There was lighting at each of the corners of the 1 mile square course, so we parked ourselves under one of those lights. Most of our photos were total blurs, even when we tried panning with the bikes as they blew by us from left to right. I did manage the photo on the right, though.
The winning photo of the night, however, belonged to my 11-year old daughter JuJu, who at first thought she had let the pack get too far in front when she snapped her photo (below). It’s a neat effect: speed, darkness and well-tuned athletes. You’ll have to imagine the cool night air and the gracious encouragement of the spectators.
Click on these photos for larger versions.
My 10 year old daughter came home from school last week, and while she sat with me eating her after-school snack asked me;
“Is President Obama a racist?” she said.
“No, honey, where’d you hear that?” I said.
“Well, [so and so] said that in class to me today and I just wanted to know,” she said.
“Did the person tell you where they had heard such a thing, honey?” I asked.
“Yeah, [their] grandpa said it,” my daughter replied. “He heard it on TV.”
My daughter and I had a discussion on what is racism, its source in ignorance, and how it’s just plain wrong. We also talked about the TV and radio shows which spread intolerance and bigotry for profit and political gain. My daughter’s eyes glazed over a little, and I said;
“Thanks for letting me know what’s up with you! Go play with your friends!”
Well, I never thought it could happen but, there is obviously no lowest depth of putrid vile chicanery that the far right wing racists will go to block anything that President Obama is up to keep his promise of change in America. Now they’re indoctrinating racism into 10 year old school children.
Building on our recent discussion of Afghanistan, a couple of items of interest today. Daring to stand up to the budding consensus that it may be time to get out of Afghanistan, Ruben Navarette today released an commentary on the topic. He notes that “Senior Pentagon officials are expected to ask for as many as 45,000 additional American troops this month. Currently, there are about 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.” To him, this is not a bothersome development. He complains that the only “nation-building” the left supports is the type done by the Peace Corps, rather than the military. With no indication why this position is incorrect, he asserts that
“Liberals love to build things, especially with other people’s tax dollars. They just don’t like the idea of U.S. troops doing the building. Maintaining a military presence on foreign soil makes the left nervous because it feeds the perception that the United States has an itch for imperialism and can’t go long without scratching it.”
Maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s the 737 military bases around the world and millions of deployed soldiers that really “feeds the perception” that we have an “itch for imperialism.” I wonder why Navarette doesn’t criticize war-mongering conservatives for “loving to build things, especially with other people’s tax dollars”?After all, the Pentagon estimates that our overseas bases are worth at least $127 billion– does he think they were paid for through donations from grateful Iraqis and Afghanis?
I commend the way that Al Franken engaged with these tea party folks recently:
Watching this video makes me ever more suspicious that the media is driving unnecessary conflict (on health care reform and on everything else) in order to sell ads. It seems much easier to talk when the media isn’t around spewing sound bites and featuring angry extremists, instead of focusing on the many ways we actually agree with those with whom we “disagree.”
I couldn’t take my eyes off of the woman who tried to start the conversation in a contentious way. I kept wondering whether her views on Al Franken were shifting given the impressive way he discussed the issues surrounding health care reform.
This quote is from the Federalist Papers, number 41 to be exact. I lifted this paragraph as it bears, I think, directly on the current political climate. I think Madison is more sanguine about the average American than many today may be. But I think his view is worth noting.
It cannot have escaped those who have attended with candor to the arguments employed against the extensive powers of the government, that the authors of them have very little considered how far these powers were necessary means of attaining a necessary end. They have chosen rather to dwell on the inconveniences which must be unavoidably blended with all political advantages; and on the possible abuses which must be incident to every power or trust, of which a beneficial use can be made. This method of handling the subject cannot impose on the good sense of the people of America. It may display the subtlety of the writer; it may open a boundless field for rhetoric and declamation; it may inflame the passions of the unthinking, and may confirm the prejudices of the misthinking: but cool and candid people will at once reflect, that the purest of human blessings must have a portion of alloy in them; that the choice must always be made, if not of the lesser evil, at least of the GREATER, not the PERFECT, good; and that in every political institution, a power to advance the public happiness involves a discretion which may be misapplied and abused. They will see, therefore, that in all cases where power is to be conferred, the point first to be decided is, whether such a power be necessary to the public good; as the next will be, in case of an affirmative decision, to guard as effectually as possible against a perversion of the power to the public detriment.
President Obama is going to give the nation’s kids a pep talk to work hard in school. According to conservatives, this is a terrible thing.
The September 2009 issue of National Geographic has a comprehensive series of articles on the state of solar power. Here’s the online version of one of the articles. What is the potential of solar power?
“The total power needs of the humans on Earth is approximately 16 terawatts,” he said. (A terawatt is a trillion watts.) “In the year 2020 it is expected to grow to 20 terawatts. The sunshine on the solid part of the Earth is 120,000 terawatts. From this perspective, energy from the sun is virtually unlimited.”