Friday, April 29, 2016

Neat Space Project Planned

Earth Sky News reports on what seems like a pretty fun idea, alhough it will take a while to see results.

The plan is to launch some real fast spacecraft- traveling about 100 million miles per hour- and send them to Alpha Centauri. Even at that speed it will take them 20 years to reach the target but, once there, it will only take 4 years for data to return to Earth as it would be traveling at the speed of light.

Exciting stuff. Too bad at least some of us won't be around to see the results.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Effort Underway to End Federal Law Enforcement on Fed Lands

A republican congressman has introduced legislation to eliminate the law enforcement functions of the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. The idea being to have them replaced by local law enforcement agencies should law enforcement functions be needed:

 "Federal agencies do not enjoy the same level of trust and respect as local law enforcement that are deeply rooted in local communities,” they said, adding that the measure “will help deescalate conflicts between law enforcement and local residents while improving transparency and accountability.”

Sounds good to me. If nothing else, it might make an interesting test case as for the need for such a large federal law enforcemnent presence. Wouldn't it be something if this actually passed but we hear no stories of the chaos and anarchy I'm sure some would expect from a move like this?


Six Months Enough Time For Homeless Transition?

KIEM- TV News' question of the day asks whether six months is enough time for the homeless to transition to alternative housing. I answered Yes, but I think that's oversimplifying things.

Six months should be more than enough time, but that assumes there's a workable plan in place that everyone agrees on. It's probably taken us at least six months to come up with whatever plans we have now, and many still argue over those.

Social Justice Warriors Owned?

The title of this YouTube video suggests the politically correct, social justice college students were "owned" by a comedian addressing them. That wasn't the impression I got after watching the video yesterday as it seemed the audience handled his in- your- face rant fairly well. At least so far as  I could tell.

I still really admire Steve Crowder for getting up before hundreds of a likely hostile crowd and telling them what's on his mind. I'm not sure it's something most of us, including myself, could do. Hey, it's not that hard to sit here from the safety of a computer and criticize one thing or another. It's another thing entirely to do it face to face. I don't think I could do it like he does.

They should probably make Crowder's rant a requirement for graduating from today's colleges.

Hope the link works. I noticed the page changed on me while I was typing this.

Addendum: A little better explanation of how all this came about here. Apparently there was a conservative forum being held that was disrupted by students, after which conservative commentator, Steve Crowder, let the audience have it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Assemblyman Wood: Anti- Second Hand Smoke Zealot

John Chiv reports Assemblyman Jim Wood has introduced legislation which would allow landlords to prohibit the smoking of marijuana in their rentals, the reasoning seeming to be that second hand smoke from marijuana is just as bad as that of tobacco.

I actually find this somewhat refreshing. I've wrote before here of what I see as the irony of so many of those proposing legalizing marijuana also seeming to be in favor of at least defacto prohibition of tobacco. At least Wood- an anti- tobacco zealot himself- seems to also appreciate the irony.

But, no, it doesn't change my opinion of him, at least not much. I don't see this as the assemblyman suddenly coming to a higher plane of consciousness. He's still falling for the second hand smoke hoax, as do most people nowadays. I see him as simply trying to follow what he sees as popular public opinion. It has nothing to do with acquiring principles.

As an aside, some of you older folks might remember that back when they started with the smoking restrictions those of us who suggested those restrictions might eventually apply to our homes were considered paranoid nut cases. History has shown we were right on the mark. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

This is The City

Some of you may have guessed I spent the last week at UCSF. I was on the 14th floor of Moffitt Hospital- a bit high up for my tastes, not being comfortable with heights, but there was a fairly nice view. Here's a picture I took with my relatively new Alcatel One Touch smart phone. Not real comfortable calling it a smart phone as things work kinda goofy on it, but I can do a lot more with it than I could with my old cell phone.

Texting is much easier on my old LG phone. A disappointment as that was one of the main things I was hoping would be easier.

Enjoy the view.

U.C. Berkely Reacts to Minimum Wage Increase

Who'da thunk?Looks like U.C. Berkeley jumped right on problems created by the $15.00 minimum wage by laying off 500 employees.Probably not the first we'll see of that sort of thing, although it seems strange to hear of this from a government institution.

Hat tip to Richard Rider for the story.

Monday, April 18, 2016

American Independents In CA not Independent

Breitbart, along with a number of other news outlets, is reporting something I've pointed out here before: Many of those who consider themselves "independent voters"- meaning not affiliated with any particular party- are actually registered as members of the American Independent Party (AIP). The AIP is a more conservative- religious right- party formed back during the days of George Wallace. 

Not sure, but it might have been called the U.S. Taxpayer's Party back then. Regardless, I believe it's only officially recognized in California now, going by the Constitution Party in other states.

Many people see the words "independent" when filling our voter registration forms and inadvertently registered AIP. So, if you consider yourself independent, best check your voter registration status. If you really want to be independent, you need to check the Decline To State box.

Accidental Felons

A piece from the Charles Koch Institute looks at how creating more laws leads to overcriminalization. As they point out, we all likely violate laws every day without even realizing it:

"Overcriminalization refers to the frequent use of criminal law — rather than civil law or administrative sanctions — to punish behavior that historically would not have been viewed as criminal.” Since 2000, Congress has created an average of 56 new crimes annually. Furthermore, modest estimates count over 300,000 regulations that carry criminal penalties."

Friday, April 15, 2016

Van Houten Granted Parole

The Santa Rosa Press- Democrat, along with many other outlets, reports that former Manson family member and convicted murderer, Leslie Van Houten, was granted parole yesterday by a state parole board. Now it's up to Governor Brown to approve it.

 I don't understand those that insist she stay in prison longer. Probably the same bunch that insisted another family member, Susan Atkins, be kept in prison despite having serious health problems that pretty much incapacitated her. I can only chalk it up to the many people that enjoy kicking someone when they're down- They do it because they can, from the safety of their own lives.

I watched an earlier parole hearing for Van Houten years ago on Court TV, back when she still had dark hair. I was impressed with her and wouldn't have had a problem then if she was released and ended up moving in next door to me. Nothing seems to have changed. She still has a stellar record as a prisoner. 

In fact, I read somewhere that she'd quietly been paroled years ago, although that parole was revoked after a drug test showed she'd been smoking pot.

So what? She's not the only one. I hope the Governor approves her parole.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Minimum Wage's Sordid Beginnings

Interesting article in the Los Angeles Times detailing the motivations for starting a minimum wage in this country a hundred or so years ago. It wasn't as noble an idea as some would like to think:

"Progressive labor activists took a very different view 100 years ago, when 15 states established America's first minimum wages. Labor reformers then believed that a legal minimum would hand a raise to deserving white Anglo-Saxon men, and a pink slip to their undeserving competitors: “racially undesirable” immigrants, the mentally and physically disabled, and women. The original progressives hailed minimum-wage-caused job losses among these groups as a positive benefit to the U.S. economy and to Anglo-Saxon racial integrity."

That sort of thinking extended to women, too: 

"In the case of women, the minimum wage argument was subtler than the eugenic hysteria directed at immigrants and the disabled. Rather, it was couched in the paternalism of protecting women's health and virtue. In reality, labor reformers wanted to protect employment from women as much as they wanted to protect women from employment. Women made up 21% of the U.S. workforce in 1910 and reformers like Florence Kelley, who led the campaign for minimum wages, accused them of undercutting male breadwinners entitled to a “family wage.

Who'da thunk?

Eureka's Homeless Problem Solved?

Nope. Not solved, so long as we're providing  a place for the homeless to stay. Still, it is a relief to see at least temporary shelters being provided in a location that's not much better or worse than behind the Bayshore Mall. Remember that the homeless will still be out and about in the same area as they were before, and that's probably most people's complaint: the presence of homeless on the streets. They'll still be there. The Lost Coast Outpost looks at the plan.

But at least there won't be any more panhandling, as the Times- Standard reports. Eureka has modified its panhandling ordinance to make it more effective. We'll see how that works, but I'm not so sure I care if it does. I've wrote here before people have a human right to ask for help, which is what panhandling is. I write that as one who gets hit up by panhandlers fairly often. It's annoying, but shouldn't be a crime. You also have the human right to refuse that help.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hide! Geomagnetic Storms OTW

Earth Sky News reports a large sunspot is facing earth and gives us, " a 75% chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms on April 13 when a solar wind stream is expected to hit Earth’s magnetic field." ,
So this is how it all ends?

I've actually seen bigger sunspots myself through binoculars. Have I told that story here before? It'll tell it again, regardless:

We'd stopped at Port of Dammam in Saudi Arabia one morning for a break. Most of us were taking a nap but I looked at the sun. You could look straight at the sun back then- the smoke in the air from the Kuwait oil fires acting kinda like the smoked glass you'd use to watch eclipses.

I thought I noticed a spot on the sun so grabbed my compact binoculars from my rucksack and took a closer look. Yep. There was a spot, just like the one in the picture- about the same size,a nyway. But there was also a much larger one shaped like an hourglass next to it. Pretty neat seeing it with the naked eye. I passed the bincolars around so everyone else could take a look.

I don't know if we had geomagnetic storms as a result of those sunspots but I suppose that means not too much threat from this one since the ones I saw were bigger.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Legalized Prostitution Rejected By Judge

A judge has rejected the arguments brought in a lawsuit against the State of California asking to legalize prostitution., Calwatchdog reports.

This really irks me. How a judge can say people don't have a right to be sexually involved with whomever they want and under whatever terms they want, is beyond me. But, as Richard Rider (past Libertarian Party gubernatorial candidate for California) points out in his comments to the story, the judge's decision might be considered proper in regards current California law. It would be interesting to hear the specifics of the arguments made.

I still think there's something to be said about human rights which include one's sexual business and the State should stay as far away as possible from interfering with that. 

This does go to show, though, we shouldn't count too much on people's rights being defended by the courts. If this judge thinks people shouldn't be allowed their voluntary sexual relationships, what else would he support restricting?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Press- Democrat Does The Mighty Eel River

Probably all you need to know about our very own Eel River in the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat this morning. I  jokingly refer to it as the mighty Eel. Not sure where I got that. Probably watching some TV show about larger, stronger rivers. I usually say the same thing about the mighty Van Duzen when crossing its bridge on 101.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

A Big Bang Blog

Any Big Bang Theory fans out there? If so, you might enjoy this blog run by the science advisor to the show. Some might not know that the science used in the show is real.  So are the equations shown on the dry erase marker board- the' white board". 

Oh, and in case I didn't mention it before. Mayim Bialik (Any Farrah Fowler) has her own blog of sorts.

Friday, April 08, 2016

2nd Half, LP Presidential Debates Tonight

Part 2 of the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate's debate airs tonight on John Stossel's show- Fox Business at 6pm. Hopefully, we have Fox Business with Suddenlink. I think we do as I've watched Stossel before.

I'd forgotten this was being aired in two parts but, earlier on, Stossel wrote a short account of the debates for Reason Magazine and suggested the second half would likely be the most interesting as he challenges the candidates on various issues. We shall see.

American Automobile Association: Yes or No?

Known mostly as AAA, I saw a paid program of theirs on TV a couple weeks ago. Leaving aside what one thinks of paid programing and the companies that pay for them, they gave a pretty good sales pitch. Something like $56 a year gets you free roadside service, discounts at various hotels, and so on. I wondered it it might be worth it for us to join?

We already have roadside service with our car insurance, so not sure that would be all that much help but I thought it might be nice for the wife if her car broke down when she was alone. That would give her one easy number to call and hopefully take care of her problems.

The hotel discounts certainly were worth taking a look at but, from what their web page shows, they only apply to two or three different chains, none of which we'd probably want to stay at save the Best Western.

Maybe there's other benefits to membership? Anyone have any experiences, good or bad, with AAA? I see they have an office now down on Koster Street back behind the Jack in the Box.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

LP Presidential Candidates on Legal Discrimination

The first televised debate amongst the current front runners in the Libertarian Party's presidential nominations took place last weekend on John Stossel's show. I missed it since UCSF's televsions don't carry the Fox Business channel. 

But you can read about it at Reason magazine where Stossel gives his account of it. One of the questions was whether a jewish baker should have to bake a cake for a nazi wedding- similar to the question we've discussed here over religious folks being forced to serve LGBT types. 

I was disappointed, but not too surprised, to see my favorite, Governor Gary Johnson, say he should and that it's government's role to prevent discrimination. Just another example for me that he's not a real deep thinker. But, I won't hold it against him. The mainstream candidates don't seem to be deep thinkers, either.

Back For Now: Unfinished Business

Been out of town for almost a week again. Another horrible trip to UCSF. Now that I'm here I'll comment on something I noticed right before I left:

The Humboldt Consequential gives an example of why I've often wondered if it's appropriate to publicly release arrest reports. Someone assciated with the Humboldt Area Foundation was arrested for drunk driving. Note he was arrested, not convicted, yet THC goes on to comment, "THC will refrain from pointing out how irresponsible, reprehensible, contemptible, horrible, and many other words ending with -ible, that drunk driving is."

Not quite as bad as I remembeed it. Still, it suggests that the person arrested is guilty before any further facts are known- guilty in his mind by the arrest alone.

Not only do I not enjoy kicking someone when they're down, but wouldn't we all like to have the right of innocence until proven guilty. Seems to me publicizing arrests negates that to some extent, at least in the minds of many folks. Maybe we should just publish the court schedule? That might not be as accusatory that publishing someone's arrest seems to be.
More importantly, I was wondering what happened with the deadline (April 2) set for the homeless to move out of their encampment behind the Bayshore Mall? I expected at least some resistance and mention of it in the Times- Standard or Lost Coast Outpost, yet not a word that I could find. Anyone have any info on that?