mm436: Blast from the Past! No. 34

July 11, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

A lazy summer Friday. Yeah, it was a workday, one that ran the gamut between frantically sweatier than necessary (a 90-degree/90% humidity day in Northern Illinois), and Procrastination Central.

Got home, shut my eyes for a few minutes (my always tough 65 minute commute seemed tougher than usual), went off with Mrs. MUDGE to semi-fast food, Costco, ExxonMobil (gah!), and Blockbuster. Watched a recorded PVR episode of what once was a favorite guilty pleasure, “The Next Food Network Star” that has become a pale shadow of its former toothy, flavorful goodness.

By the time it became blogging hour, Friday had passed its 1,320th minute, and whatever energy that remains has been confined to cutting and pasting.

New tomorrow, promise! But, this one is a good one. And as I reminded one of my favorite bloggers, Roxy at Roxiticus Desperate Housewives, earlier this week, any post you haven’t read before is new!

There’s most read, and then there’s favorite. This is a post which yr (justifiably) humble svt is, regrettably, but not regretfully, not at all humble about.

lhc250x46_thumb2

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last summer, originally posted October 6, 2007, and originally titled “mm163: V-22 Osprey: A Flying Shame,” the third in an occasional series in this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©, comprising 10 parts thus far, called “The changing face of military aviation.”

The series so far…

No

Title

Link

1

U.S. pilot helped clear the fog of war

mm142

2

Go to war — Play videogames

mm155

3

Osprey: A Flying Shame

mm163

4

Abolish the Air Force

mm183

5

Proxy killers — Can you live with that?

mm211

6

A Maginot Line for the 21st Century

mm215

7

A shared obsession is a satisfying thing

mm225

8

Videogames. Real warfare. An unsettling

mm288

9

Go figure! Even our robot forces…

mm326

10

Help! Rescue that droning man!

mm369

MUDGE’S Musings

The changing face of military aviation

Third in an occasional series

As an amateur with an interest in all things aviation, history, technology, and the history of technology, we have followed the Osprey tilt-rotor story with interest and concern for close to 20 years.

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mm435: No words left

July 10, 2008
dreamstime_5334997
© Duncan De young | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

Spent the day writing.

Spent the last 90 minutes trolling the ‘Sphere for good topics with which  yr (justifiably) humble svt could wax heroic with strong opinions and typically pithy bons mots.

But when it came time to pull one of them up and start waxing and pithing, I found myself out of steam.

Because I spent the day writing. That pesky day job that pays (many of) the bills.

Writing a draft communication to three separate communities regarding our team’s upcoming (that light at the end of the tunnel might be an onrushing train) upgrade to the web conferencing application we support.

It was a challenge, about 17 pages (no big type! no pictures!) all told between the three documents, although there was much duplication and paraphrasing between them.

So, no glass half full, or glass half empty conversations tonight.

This glass is done.

Check back here next time, because first thing tomorrow I’m headed to the wordsmith station for a fill up. Hope I can afford today’s high priced blend.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm434: Live by the sword…

July 9, 2008
dreamstime_4279743
© Misty Pfeil | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

We wrote last post about John McCain’s electoral vulnerability. In the spirit of equal time, we cannot overlook Barack Obama’s slips, slides and stumbles in the month since he triumphed over Hillary Clinton and became his party’s presumptive candidate.

McCain’s crippled party knew what they were getting, and settled. Obama, though, raised up by the multitude of starry-eyed idealists and their grass-roots web sites and donations, has run into an on-line buzz saw as his passionate fans observe him taking positions that seem disappointingly like politics as usual.

So, they’ve struck back.

chitrib

Obama’s online muscle flexes against him

Fans use his Web site to rip shifts in policy

By John McCormick | Chicago Tribune reporter | 11:48 PM CDT, July 8, 2008

The same Internet-fueled power that led to historic gains in organizing and fundraising for Sen. Barack Obama‘s presidential campaign is now providing a platform for fiery dissent in a most unlikely place: his own Web site.

Amid criticism from the left that he has eased toward the center on a number of issues in recent weeks, the presumptive Democratic nominee has angered some of his most ardent supporters while triggering something of an online mutiny. Thousands are using MyBarackObama.com to angrily organize against him because of a changed position on terrorist wiretap legislation that awaits Senate action as early as Wednesday.

The dispute has forced Obama to respond in ways never before seen in a presidential campaign, demonstrating the Internet’s growing role in the democratic process and the live-by-the-click, die-by-the-click potential it holds for politicians.

The last straw was the vote in the Senate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which threatens the privacy of millions of innocent citizens in an attempt to expand the government’s ability to monitor suspected terrorists, and indemnify communications carriers from the legal fallout.

While Obama promised to fight against the bill during the primary season, he has changed tack, and joined 68 of his colleagues approving it today.

For many, who bought into the hope for the end to politics as usual, at least from their candidate, this is shockingly disillusioning, and many are not taking it lying down.

Obama’s online muscle flexes against him — chicagotribune.com

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mm433: McCain’s ultimate vulnerability: the economy

July 8, 2008
mccainbush From Daniel Kurtzman, About.com

MUDGE’s Musings

We’ve spent the past month or so watching the candidates come off their primary paces, attempting to rejigger their respective approaches to the general election, and taking some hits for the resulting adjustments.

The mishandled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been top of mind for many voters since the pointless charade of “Mission Accomplished!”

Paul Krugman reminds us, however, of another paramount issue in this election, the economy, and what its dire condition means to John McCain.

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mm432: Danger? You bet your asteroid there’s danger!

July 7, 2008

dreamstime_3647157

© Andrea Danti | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

From the We Don’t Have Enough on our Plates Dept. (not me! I worry about the global economy, my home’s value, fuel prices, food shortages, and racist, redneck voters just to name five of the topmost), comes this calmly frightening tale of the cataclysmic dangers we potentially face from asteroids.

nytimes

Maybe Chicken Little Wasn’t Paranoid After All

Ideas & Trends | By ANDREW C. REVKIN | Published: July 6, 2008

THE Earth is pockmarked with the evidence of ancient collisions — huge craters blasted into its surface by asteroids or comets. One such object, striking 65 million years ago in the Yucatán in Mexico, is believed by some experts to be linked to the demise of the dinosaurs.

For a decade, NASA has been busy trying to identify what else is headed this way, particularly those potential “civilization killers” of 1 kilometer (.62 miles) or more in diameter that have orbits coming within 30 million miles of the Earth’s — too close for comfort by space standards.

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mm431: My kind of town

July 6, 2008

mm431a

MUDGE’s Musings

The four-day holiday-anniversary weekend was consigned to the status of staycation, due to … well, pick one: gas prices, economic malaise, inertia.

Fortunately, staying put doesn’t mean that tourism and sightseeing opportunities are lacking.

The summer season in Chicago offers a variety of ways to spend a week, a weekend or even an afternoon. This is not a tourism site, so we won’t dwell on all of the possibilities, which include the Cubs, the White Sox, the Museum Campus, the Art Institute, the wonderful again Museum of Science and Industry, Millennium Park and its free Grant Park Music Festival, and special events such as the ending today gorge-fest, Taste of Chicago.

For many years, the non-profit Chicago Architecture Foundation has offered a variety of resources: tours, lectures and a museum. Chicago has always taken its architecture seriously, especially its breathtaking skyscrapers; Chicago considers itself the birthplace of the skyscraper. For a long time, until the world’s economic center of gravity began its shift away from the U.S. to Asia and the Middle East, Chicago’s Sears Tower was the tallest such structure anywhere.

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mm430: Blast from the Past! No. 33: There’s STILL a war on, folks!

July 5, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

This is a multiple event weekend. In addition to observing the Independence Day holiday just past, July 5 marks Mr. & Mrs. MUDGE‘s wedding anniversary.

As well it should, this milestone will by necessity minimize disposable time devoted to the art of blogging, so in place of a totally new post, we’ll leave you with one of our favorite efforts. It’s actually quite a shame that it’s all too timeless.

There’s most read, and then there’s favorite. This is a post which yr (justifiably) humble svt is, regrettably, but not regretfully, not at all humble about.

lhc250x46_thumb2

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last summer, originally posted September 29, 2007, and originally titled “mm156: There’s a war on, folks, and this must be a military weekend.”

MUDGE’S Musings

So, yesterday’s post on Predator (not the Governator’s flick, the UCAV, silly!) was not impelled by news, but rather by the (semi-) creative gestation process.

Then, today, while strolling through Digg (which this MUDGE must admit has somehow elevated itself over what was happening a few weeks ago — could it be that school is back in session and people are a bit more serious-minded?) found a couple of Navy related stories.

Now, MUDGE and the U.S. Navy go way back. No, never served. Yes, as one interested in the history of technology, and therefore military history, and technology in general, and the Navy has long embodied applied technology at its most dramatic.

This interest apparently was infectious, and this draft evader (in thought if not in deed) was bemused to have spawned MUDGElet No. 2, mentioned before in this space, a proud graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and distinguished former lieutenant in the Navy’s surface warfare community.

Parents: be careful what you read, and what books and magazines you leave around for your kids to find!

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mm429: World Bank: biofuels cause starvation

July 4, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

As food prices rise around the world, evidence that the biofuels initiatives are the cause keeps becoming clearer. As the entire issue of petroleum alternatives has become most pressing, the relationship between the diversion of food stocks to fuel stocks has been guessed at, but there have been few firm numbers of the impact.

Today The Guardian seems to have found the smoking gun.

First, a review. We have discussed this topic many times:

Fuel from Food: Just a bad idea all around

mm367: It’s not just a bad idea, it’s a crime
mm360: Global food price crisis: Genocide?
mm298: Nutty Richard Branson flies to Holland on biofuel
mm282: If it sounds too good to be true…
mm260: The other oil shock
mm233: Corn in the news – and not just in Iowa!
mm194: Friedman: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda
mm193: Fuel without oil, or corn
mm084: Food versus fools – Salon.com
mm053: The case for turning crops into fuel – Saletan

guardian

Secret report: biofuel caused food crisis

Internal World Bank study delivers blow to plant energy drive

Aditya Chakrabortty | The Guardian, Friday July 4, 2008

Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% – far more than previously estimated – according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian.

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mm428: Upbeat words from the Fed

July 3, 2008

dreamstime_4782164

© Ketian Chen | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’s Musings

We begin this Independence Day celebration in the U.S. with a rather gloomy attitude.

We’re still losing good men and women to the misguided and mishandled Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Fuel and food prices seem to be climbing as we watch. Once my monthly bills from ExxonMobil, my gasoline purveyor of choice (the reason why this is so is worthy of a post of its own — soon!) were under $100. Now, maintaining the same or less driving, as I try to mitigate the costs of commuting with more days working from home, I’m relieved if that bill is under $200.

What we hear of the economy (job losses, inflation rate) and its thermometer (the Dow Jones Industrial Average) is disturbing. Aren’t we officially in recession?

Every one of us knows someone, or more than one, job-seeking.

And the news from the world outside our parochial boundaries is not much better. War news from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan remains grim. The president of Zimbabwe, certain that he’d lose in a fair election, murdered thousands of opposition supporters, and sent his opponent fleeing to the Netherlands embassy for shelter. Israel seems to be seriously considering a preemptory attack on Iran’s nuclear bomb facilities. Gazprom, the Russian petroleum/natural gas giant, has its sights set on becoming the largest corporation in the world before long. How can any of that be good by any measure?

Well, a couple of chieftains at the Federal Reserve Bank have decided to show us a glass half full version of the part of the story they influence, the economy. And, it makes for some attention-grabbing reading.

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mm427: Obama’s restless summer

July 2, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Barack Obama, the black Will Smith, has been, is and will be in the news permanently, or at least until Nov. 5, 2008 should John McCain’s wet dream (of somehow overcoming the horrendous legacy of his good buddy, George III) become reality.

So there’s no shortage of worthwhile reading on all things Obama. Here are four of the most intriguing.

1) Fundraising expertise

David Brooks has spent some useful time poring over the campaign finance statements.

nytimes

Obama’s Money Class

Op-Ed Columnist | By DAVID BROOKS | Published: July 1, 2008

Barack Obama sells the Democratic Party short. He talks about his fund-raising success as if his donors were part of a spontaneous movement of small-money enthusiasts who cohered around himself. In fact, Democrats have spent years building their donor network. Obama’s fund-raising base is bigger than John Kerry’s, Howard Dean’s and Al Gore’s, but it’s not different.

As in other recent campaigns, lawyers account for the biggest chunk of Democratic donations. They have donated about $18 million to Obama, compared with about $5 million to John McCain, according to data released on June 2 and available at OpenSecrets.org.

People who work at securities and investment companies have given Obama about $8 million, compared with $4.5 for McCain. People who work in communications and electronics have given Obama about $10 million, compared with $2 million for McCain. Professors and other people who work in education have given Obama roughly $7 million, compared with $700,000 for McCain.

So, Senator Obama, as has every presidential candidate in history, a rhetoric/reality gap.

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