Sunday, February 27, 2011

Turning Sunlight Into Oil

About 14 months ago, I posted the following:

There was an interesting article in POPSCI last month [November 2009] about a new technology to make fuel/oil from carbon dioxide and sunlight — effectively making fuel out of thin air.

• Making fuel/oil
• Using sunlight
• Consuming CO2
      This news is GREENER than GREEN.

This is HUGE, even as it stands. If it pans out at a larger scale, then it's HISTORIC.

UPDATE: A Technology Review article confirms the demonstration of a prototype device, the first step out of the laboratory and toward full-scale operation.

Now there's word of another technology in this area. (See this, too.) This one holds promise of being more easily scalable, and therefore more likely to produce a large-scale economic breakthrough. This technology, its proponents claim, should be able to produce fuel at $30/barrel. At that price, if they can achieve it, OPEC will be put out of business.

One must hope that one or both of these technologies (and/or one or more others) succeeds, and produces — SOON. That may be the best way to save the world's economies, as the Middle East goes (even more) insane.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Is the Mahdi Returning?

A while back, I noted the speech of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the United Nations. From that speech, three and a half years ago, I noted something in particular:

And look at his final sentence fragment: "A wish which I expect will be realized in the near future." Ahmadinejad expects the return of the Mahdi in "the near future." This is chilling. The Hojjatieh believe the Mahdi will return only when the world contains enough oppression, misery, tyranny, and sorrow to warrant his coming. As a result, they believe in spreading evil and creating chaos as their way to hasten his return. (See The Two Trees of Jihadism.)
Fast forward to the past seven days. Last Friday, it was reported that:
In his fiery style, Ahmadinejad, showed his messianic beliefs on Friday, saying the world was witnessing a revolution managed by Imam Mehdi, the 12th Shiite imam who disappeared as a five-year-old in the 10th century and who Shiites believe would return on the judgement day.

"The final move has begun. We are in the middle of a world revolution managed by this dear (12th Imam). A great awakening is unfolding. One can witness the hand of Imam in managing it," said Ahmadinejad.

This follows Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei telling his associates "the Hidden [12th] Imam had appeared to him and promised to arrive during his term as Supreme Leader." (Khamenei — so far — is only saying this in private, apparently because of the criticism Ahmadinejad received for similar statements.) Khamenei is also reported to have told associates he has been made spokesman for the Mahdi. Given the belief structure noted above, this suggests Iran is planning to start a war. Soon.

Adult Discussion Needed

President Parack Obama says we need to have an adult discussion about spending, deficits, and the budget. So, naturally, he calls in the Kindergarten Squad — Senators Reid (NV), Schumer (NY), Durban (IL), and Murray (WA). Now that's ironic.


We went to the Barbershop Harmony Society's Mid-Winter Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, last month. The convention included the seniors quartet competition and the youth chorus festival, as well as a performance that included the top five quartets from the international competition last July. And we really enjoyed it. Yes, there were times we agreed with the judges, and times we didn't. But we really enjoyed it.

What did we enjoy the most? These:

• Senior Quartet Competition: We enjoyed a lot of the seniors quartet competition, and we enjoyed last year's winner of that competition, Resisting A-Rest. They were great! (We liked them a lot better than this year's winners. This year's winners were good, but ....)

• Youth Chorus Festival: We largely agreed with the judges here. The two non-US choruses especially impressed us. Those were the Saints Chorus from Saint Patrick's College (what we would call a high school) in New Zealand, and the Cross Canada Chorus.

• International Quartets: Storm Front was fantastic! (See their own web site, too.) The other quartet that impressed us was this year's fourth place finisher, the Musical Island Boys from New Zealand.

Why did we like these? It's simple: The harmonies are excellent. And they're great to listen to. Check them out for yourselves.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Mexico Democrats Still Promote Vote Fraud

The New Mexico state legislature is in its 60 day session. (Legislative sessions in odd-numbered years are 60 days long here; sessions in even-numbered years are 30 days long and can only consider topics included in the "governor's call".) And the legislature is continuing its actions against New Mexico's voters.

As it has previously, the legislature has killed another voter ID bill on a straight party-line vote. This time it was all the Democrats, and none of the Republicans, in a legislative committee that voted against this bill and the people of New Mexico. That leaves New Mexico law in the state described by the Albuquerque Journal previously (registration/subscription required):

Current New Mexico law, approved by the Democratic-controlled Legislature, allows voters to identify themselves in one of several ways that don't involve a photo ID, including a “verbal or written statement” by the voter giving their name, registration address and year of birth.
In other words, current state law says you can just walk in and claim to be someone, and you can vote in their place.

ID opponents insist there is "no evidence" that vote fraud is occurring. I guess those folks can't read, or simply assume anyone on the "other side" is lying. But a Silver City Representative described in a column last year what impelled her to press a voter ID requirement.

I carried a bill requiring photo identification at the polls last year during the 60-day session. I was prompted to take action when I learned that New Mexico State University students, many voting for the first time, had been told at the polls that votes in their name already had been cast. They were then forced to vote on provisional ballots; after the election, these students received notices that their provisional ballots were deemed invalid. The students realized that the votes other people cast using their names and addresses were the votes that counted.

Can you imagine being told the first time you were old enough to vote that someone else had voted for you? Their stories are heartbreaking.

Last year my bill for photo ID was killed by the House Voters and Elections Committee. At the time, the Santa Fe New Mexican had published a poll conducted by the University of New Mexico that revealed 85 percent of New Mexicans want photo ID at the polls.

Her column also adds to what I said before, noting the Democrats' hypocrisy and shamelessness (my words, not hers):
Perhaps the greatest irony I have seen in Santa Fe is occurring during this session. As I sat in my office writing this op-ed, citizens were lined up in the hallway outside the governor's office, waiting their turn to talk with him during his office hours.

In order to speak with him, they had to present a photo ID.

There's a new irony this year. A new statewide rule (previously used in a number of the jurisdictions within the state) requires a valid photo ID to view publicly available records in New Mexico's courts. In other words, you have to show who you are to examine a public record, but anyone can walk in to a polling place and say they're you and vote in your place — and the people running the polling place are prohibited from trying to determine if that person is really who they say they are.

As I have said before, anyone who opposes a serious voter identification requirement is objectively promoting vote fraud. That's why a large majority of New Mexico voters (apparently 85%) favor a voter ID law, but that doesn't matter since that 85% obviously doesn't include the Democrats in the legislature. I wonder why the Democrats are insisting on this. (Maybe I shouldn't wonder.)

Things like this tell me the Democrats have had control of the state legislature FAR too long.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Major Irony in Russia

In a MAJOR irony, and with the blessings of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, an abridged version of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipeligo has been made required reading for Russian high school seniors. (See also the 1973 translation published only in the West.)

With this much irony, further comment is neither necessary nor possible.

What Else Is New?

Don Surber reports (see #11) liberal Democrat officials simply lying about a conservative office holder. His comment is absolutely on point:

Facts are to liberals what pigs are to Muslims.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Arizona Immigration Law Lawsuit

Last July, I wrote a suggestion for Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. It was in response to the decision by Barack Obama and Eric Holder to abuse the federal courts to harrass Arizona for (a) trying to get the federal government to fulfill its responsibilities and enforce federal immigration law or, in the alternative, (b) leave Arizona alone to enforce its own law, written to mirror the federal immigration law.

My suggestion was Countersue! Specifically, I wrote

So here's my suggestion to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer — Countersue! Sue for two things:
  1. Specific performance, a court order ordering the federal government to enforce the law. (Of course, the Administration will probably ignore that court order, just as it has ignored others.)
  2. Damages to repay the state and its people for the costs of the federal dereliction of duty, probably on the order of $2 trillion.

Just a suggestion.

Now, it has happened. Arizona filed suit against the federal government on Thursday. The Arizona lawsuit reportedly has five primary counts, as taken from press conference notes:

  1. Failure to achieve operational control over the Mexico/Arizona border. (I would have said "refusal", not "failure".)
  2. Failure to protect Arizona from invasion. And Arizona says invasion is not just limited to other countries' armies but applies to people and secured border. (That means "invasion" isn't just limited to a country's army, but also applies to the drug cartels, and to the coyotes and other criminals.)
  3. Failure to enforce federal immigration laws ... and this failure causes national security risks. Part of the charge is that it is a clear abuse of discretion that federal government only enforces the laws Holder and Obama choose to enforce. The Administration must enforce all the laws. (Yes, I agree — this failing is not limited to the current Administration. But the fact that others violated the law, too, doesn't mean they are allowed to violate the law.)
  4. Declaratory relief about reimbursement for the federal government’s failure (refusal) to pay for the incarceration of illegal alien prisoners (that are really a federal responsibility).
  5. Under the Constitution's 10th amendment, powers not delegated to the federal government are reserved to the states and the people. While control of border is federal responsibility, when it abdicates that responsibility and criminals cross the border illegally and commit crimes, responding to those criminals and crimes is a state responsibility — and the federal government us interfering with the state's duty to fulfill its responsibilities.
It looks like I missed Arizona's count five, but I still feel pretty good (and slightly prescient).

Given what I have said here, and before, all I can add is "It's about damned time!"

Good for you, Governor Brewer — and good for your Attorney General Tom Horne, too!

“Smart Diplomacy” in Egypt

Hosni Mubarak is apparently no longer the President of Egypt. Reports differ on whether he resigned, “waived” the presidency, was overthrown in a military coup, or left office in some other way. However he left the presidency, his departure sparked celebrations across more of the Mideast than just Egypt.

The White House is calling these events a result of “smart diplomacy”. But I'm not convinced. Here are a couple of reasons why.

The Obama Administration hasn't even been internally consistent over the past week and a half since the Egyptian protests began. Instead, it has been contradicting itself again and again. That's not diplomacy, smart or otherwise. It seems more like evidence they are utterly clueless. Also bumbling and inept. (You know — like their intelligence official who said the Muslim Brotherhood was secular.)

Someone else has also noticed some of the glaring hypocrisy of President Barack Obama: “I point out that the Obama supported the ‘young people’ against our ally Mubarak, but did not support the young people against the Iran regime. It almost makes you wonder what this man really wants.” Yes, Obama has repeatedly demonstrated that who he listens to and supports depends on his own interests and prejudices.

And, by the way — Did you notice that some of the same folks who railed against U.S. interference in the affairs of other nations are now giving Obama credit for ousting Mubarak?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

TSA Charges Fail

Back in November of 2009, a man refused to show ID to TSA personnel at the Albuquerque Sunport (the airport here). He also started filming the officials' process and their confrontation with him.

Naturally, the TSA had him arrested.

It took fourteen months to bring him to trial. But now, after a two-day trial, an Albuquerque jury has acquitted him on all four charges that were filed against him. The defense commented on the outcome: "I think probably most significantly from the case we found via testimony from a (Transportation Security Administration) representative and from an Albuquerque police officer, they both testified that, in no uncertain terms, you do not have to show ID in order to fly and that you can use cameras in public areas of the airport."

Consider this one small blow in favor of the individual, and one small blow against the out-of-control bureaucracy.

Super-Sized Hypocrisy

Michelle Obama pressures the National Restaurant Association to cut portion sizes and change their menus, while serving nearly every possible fatty food at her own SuperBowl party.That's Super-Sized Hypocrisy.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

More Good News in Egypt

There are a lot of folks in Egypt who don't subscribe to the jihadists' agenda. How do we know? We know because large numbers of muslims (including the two sons of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak) showed up at Coptic Christian churches on their Christmas Eve (January 6) Midnight Masses, offering themselves as human shields against the threats by Islamist extremists. The big winner, the Egypt for All organization with its symbol of a cross within a crescent. (A partial image is below.)

And now we see Christians protecting anti-regime Muslims, at their prayers, from thugs sent by the regime.Christians acting as they normally do, and Muslims acting as they should. We need to see a lot more similar cases.