Friday, January 28, 2005

What I Really Want From a Political Party

This is not a short rant, so I'll start it one day and get it finished as I have time. The theme this time? What I want from a political party. Let me stress this again: *a* political party. Having to split my vote all the time sets back what I really want quite often: one way I sorta get what I want and the other only sorta get what I want. Keep in mind that I am sometimes "Out There" in what I want. Somtimes there are contradictions and how I resolve them isn't always easy.

I want a political party that is technophillic and very fond of funding science. This means that knowledge and discovery are high on the party's areas to fund and one of the last to be cut. That means that the Department of Energy, NASA, NIH, and NSF get enough money to keep the US as the primiere source of scientific discoveries on the planet. This means making sure that there is enough money to pay for those researchers. This means there is enough money to fund university research. This means there is enough money for the scientific national labs to do quality work and pay competitively. This means NASA can have a very robust robotic exploration program and an exciting manned program that compliments the robitic and acts as a source of pride and prestige that doesn't require smacking other nations to get. In this day and age science and technology are life for a nation. The US has a unique culture in that respect in that we have many multiple tracks that science can be explored. Each has different emphases. Each has different strengths. So long as they are given enough money, they have cranked out vast amounts of discoveries and often awe inspiring ones at that.

I want a political party that is extremely pro education. This means from day care to college and graduate school. Education ought to be a right, not a priveledge. Every child, every man, every woman ought to be able to get the level of education that they are capable of. In an ideal world, everyone would have a free college education. I have my qualms over letting anyone become an English major, but I suppose that's difficult to justify otherwise except that liberal arts majors - at leas tlast I checked - didn't seem to do well post college on average. I do have my serious qualms about the primary and secondary levels of education in a big, big way. However, that will be a rant for another day.

I want a political party that is pro military...but not necessarily pro defense contractor. I have worked for defense contractors and all too often I have seen them suck the life out of projects with intentional blood sucking. There needs to be serious reform on the part of the procurement strategy for the military. We need equipment that is the best in the world. We need it pronto. We don't need to be sitting there developing fighters for 20+ years (*cough* the F/A-22 *cough*). That plane should have gone into production and devliery ten years ago! Soldiers are the important ones here and delivering equipment that allows them to do their jobs well and effectively happens to be the most important thing: not the jobs in the congressional districts, not anything else. Just the lives of the men and women that are called on to be at the sharp point of battle.

I want a political party that thinks about the interests of our nation in foreign affairs. This means that it is not afraid to go it alone when it needs to. This also means that it ways the consequences of doing so and finds them acceptable. It also means that working cooperatively ought to be at the top of our list and only as a last resort going alone ought to be done. It would not have hurt the Bush administrations goals to have waited six to twelve more months to go hunting in Iraq. Saddam could not have proved that he had disposed of the WMDs. To do so would have invited in the Iranians or others to smack him in the region. The inspectors would not have had the proof that they needed to say he disarmed. That would have likely succeeded in placating our European allies that we have gone the extra mile and that we were in fact justified to smack Saddam ourselves. I doubt we would have had German or French ground troops, but we would have had a lot more support after the fact. Obviously that was a very bad call on the part of Shrub's political team and it could have been far, far better had it been done differently.

I want a political party that is green, but not capital Green. I can see the damage being done to the environment. I can see that we need to get away from oil. I can see we need to greatly increase our efficency and introduce recycling in a vastly greater scale than we are already doing. Additionally, I have concerns about the marginal land that has been put into production for agricultural purposes. At the same time, the antinuclear attitude has gotta go. It's far cleaner than even solar (ever looked at the manufacturing process and the nastiness produced from it?) The amount of radioactives that are released by coal burning than ever done by a nuclear power plant. Well, except for perhaps everybody's favorite example of stupidity, Cheronobyl.

I want a political party that's moderately liberal in its social policies. In my ideal world, the government would stay out of people's lives altogether or as much as possible. However, as has been demonstrated by history, to guard rights, ironically, you have to have government involvement. I'd like to be a libertarian, but I can't say that it'd work in reality at all.

That said though, I have to say that I want a political party that is emphateticly for personal responsibility. If you're an adult, you're hale and healthy, why in the world are you depending on anyone to take care of you. The goverment sure shouldn't be! I don't want the nanny state. I was living in NM at the time of the infamous MacD's coffee incident. The woman did get bad burns. It was because of the coffee and its temperature. It was also her decision to put it between her legs as she was driving in traffic. That was a situation that was entirely her own fault: its VERY likely you're going to have to stop suddenly. The fact that she was rewarded for her stupidity and cries of victimhood.

I want a political party that thinks before it leaps, doesn't analyze something to death, and even acknowledges that there are possibly no good answers, but something still must be done. It needs the honest foresight then to realize that fixing things down the line as best as possible can be done and will have had some plans to do so.

I want a political party that is pro legal immigration. Those individuals that work their way throught he nightmare of the immigration department shouldn't be as penalized as they are. Those that are illegally here shouldn't be tolerated. Frankly. Should we have an open border with Mexico? If Mexico is capable of controling its borders in a manner that we like, si! However, they're a bit touchy, understandably, about things that they are told they have to do. I am not a fan of the Border Patrol at all.

That leads me to my whacky political view: I'm an expansionist. Yop. I'm all for moving those borders outward. I am not for conquest and annexation. I am for voluntary unions. Mostly. In an ideal world, I'd love to see the US, Canada, Mexico, Carribean, and Central America united. Perhaps with Britian, Australia, Japan, Korea, Ireland, Polynesia, South America, and Phillipines tossed in. Even Indonesia too if we could figure out how to fix the massive problems there first. The one place I'd consider just outright annexing is Haiti. The place is a mess and needs serious help that it won't get otherwise. So, at any rate, I'm an political extremist whacko in that sense, or so I was labeled by an individual on alt.history.future.

That's it for now. I'll write some more another time and add in more details then.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


I've been neglectful here lately. Life has been a little too crazy at home and work. I've also gotten into my bad habit of starting a VERY long post and not getting it out the door in a timely manner. That's coming, but I'll get something out relatively quickly.

We just had CFS come in for a meeting yesterday. We raked them over the coals for some things. I have some issues with the way they support their product. It's a little too hackerish for me. Are hackers - as in the basement coders that are classically and unkept - bad for coding projects? No. Not really. Are they really good to depend on when you're hanging in there at 4 am and the whole center is, well, down on its knees waiting for a patch? Not really. CFS are good guys. They know where their bread is buttered (not here). They do have a future as it seems they're working out their issues. Whether it arrives or not I can't say. I can say though that for them the future is not now.

My paper progresses. I've layed it out and written about a 1/4 of it, I think. I'm going to purposefully not draw conclusions. I'll do a summary instead. That way people can get an idea what matches their own multisystem file systems.

Last night I ended up getting home after my wife and found she wasn't home. I got some goof off time after I made dinner: some kasha, potato and pork soup. I thought she'd be home realtively quickly. However, I've found that when she takes off with this particular friend, she doesn't come home between 8 and 9. Next time I am going to spend that time on something a little different.

My reading of _Collapse_ continues. I have some doubts now. It seems that he has been picking out ecologically marginal habitats and pronouncing that they are good descriptors of ecologically nonmarginal ones. If he could produce an example of a society that collapsed because of ecological reasons in, say, Europe or North America (nonjungle) or some such, I'd be more willing to go along. It's not to say that some of the things he points out are things we should ignore, its just that I think his thesis hasn't been proven well as yet. Right now, I am reading about modern China. We shall see, but he's losing ground in the convincing game.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Thoughts and a Matter of Fact Letter

My reading of _Collapse_ continues. He's blown through the Anasazi and the Maya now. He's discussing the Norse colonies. He touched on the Orkneys, Faeroes, Iceland, Vinland, and is now talking about the Greenland colonies. I am still reserving judgement. It's a good read. I have to wonder about the accuracy. While I am not up to date on the latest on the Anasazi, there seems to be some differences in what I remember and I have walked the ground on a lot of sites there (since I grew up as a teenager in New Mexico). Some of what he says makes sense, some of it doesn't jive. We'll see. I'm almost half done with the book.

Aurora keeps Lyuda (my wife) on her toes. She seems to take talking to her as a sign that its time to play. We started a family tradition that I would talk to Aurora when it was bedtime. Way back when in that first trimester, it seemed to make Aurora calm down and let Lyuda sleep. Unfortunately, it has the opposite effect now...and those kicks are amazing. I am surprised Lyuda can surive them, really, over a prolonged period like she has. Increasingly, I am thinking that "The Miracle of Pregnancy" is surviving it.

My wife and I went looking at new apartments on Sunday. We found some we like. We actually found one we really like, but we're going to have to see if we can bid a move in sooner than another couple. We found this rather nice place that seems like a resort, but will save us about $600/month. With a baby and a new car coming, that's nontrivial money for us. Also we'd like to be able to save for a house. Given the cost of housing in the Bay Area that might be a tall order to fill.

Speaking of the house, I've been tinkering with a design for one for some time. I keep playing with new designs and working them into what I'd consider finished enough to turn over to an architect. The basic styling is taken from Byzantine Empire Church architecture, esp the churches and monastaries from the Mystra style and from Thessalonica. However, there is a lot of bits stolen from elsewhere: Art Nouveau and the Adirondack lodges contribute nontrivial amounts. There are also some oriental influences, but not too much. The one I am working on now can be built is stages. If we do it here in Cali, then we're going to have to do that. Land is about $200k/.5 acres. :S

On a very different note, my brother spent 14+ months in Iraq. He was a part of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. He was a cavalry scout and rode around in an armored Hummer. He was involved in partoling Sadr City and then he was sent in at Kut and Najaf. He was promoted twice Over There. He was seriously wounded at least twice that I know of and even had his picture in the ~Oct 28th edition of Time: he was mourning a friend that died in an ambush.

I remembered an old letter he sent me. This is a year and change ago. It was a very frank admission of what soldiers feel in combat. Or at least he did.

What's up big bro? How have you been? I hope as well as I have been (ha). My little camping trip was cool as sh*t. We found tons of weapons! We captured a bunch of Feydayeen dudes to include a two star general and kill some people that were a part of Bin-laden's group. On a down note we had many bullets, RPGs, and even 11-14 mortar rounds dropped on our camp (that sucked), had a chain of IEDs (bombs, 120mm mortars) blow up next to us on the side of the road. Damn that was a rush (it was just like the movies. Shit falling from the sky. Everything goes dark with all the dirt in the air. The shockwave tosses you like a cannonball hit you. All sound stops for 15 seconds, possibly the L O N G E S T 15 seconds of my life! Its hard to put on paper how it really was. I'll tell you about it when I see you but all in all (other than getting knocked out a few times) it was good shit! I had a great time! But now we're back in gay ass Baghdad where all that ever happens here is every once in a while an ied or firefight.

God, listen to me, I sound like a psycho! I don't know. The intense feeling one gets when engaged in combat is unparalleled by any other - the rush, the elegant chaos your self in opens your eyes, reveals a different world where all fear falls away, leaving you wuth the acceptance you could die while in this strange equilibrium of understanding, allowing you to move out and execute with divine prejudice. Its a different platform, level if you will, no sympathy, no tenderness, no compassion, no mercy, you're only left with yearning the pure desire to violate, disfigure, fracture, deface, sever, to force the union of your enemy and his timely death. It's really hard to say what I mean. In short, it's a good feeling. Well, I guess, it leaves the rest of your life seeming sooooo uneventful Ok, so maybe I am a little nuts :)

Now he's back, married and even out of the army. His wife is finishing her degree in teaching - she has a semester or two left. My brother is thinking about taking up a life in the wine making business. They live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I hope that he has a more peaceful life from now on, but I truly hope that he remembers his service though with pride. I am very proud of him.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

A Night with the Russians

Well, they weren't really all Russians, truth be told, but that was the language mostly used. My wife is a Ukrainian (well, her citizenship is. She's three quarters Ukrainian and one quarter Russian). Her first language is Russian since she comes from the Donbass Region of Ukrainian (the so-called Left Bank Ukraine) where the population has been largely Russified. Two of her friends out here are actually from Kygyrzistan, but are ethnic Russians. One has a husband that hails from Moscow. The other is a Yankee like me and works as a professional librarian. The others were an interpreter that hails from Russia proper and her very asimilated son. We congrugated at the Muscovite-Kygyrz home for their baby's first Bday.

Their family is an interesting one where every single person in the family has a different passport: the father a Russian passport; the mother a Kygirzistan passport, and their child an American one. Apparently Russia states to have a Russian passport their son's mother had to have a Russian passport! It seems the father being Russian is not sufficient.

The Muscovite doesn't seem to like me much. I've tried being friendly as much as possible, but it just doesn't quite click wth him. He's ranted to my wife in the past about Germans...I look rather German. In fact I am quarter German. He was especially uncomfortable when he came home and his son was curled up between my arm and chest on the couch sleeping. Attempts to talk to the Muscovite didn't work out too well.

The librarian and his wife are just...weird. The librarian is just plain dull to talk to. He doesn't try to be very social. He'd rather sit and watch. He's rather like a potato. Unfortunately for him, his wife bad mouth's him alot. A lot a lot. The truthfulness of a lot of her statements has been called into question as of lately. My wife and I are starting to feel bad about the situation he's in and quite possibly doesn't even know that he is. *shakes head*

The interpretor is always a lot of fun. She's funny, friendly and outgoing. Her son is in college and he has quite the personality, is very outgoing, mostly socially adept, intensely curious about the world, and could bridge the gap between the Russian speakers and the English speakers even better than his mother could. He's about 21 and a pre-law student. Pasha's welcome in my house anytime. He made a very good first impression. He and I ended up talking a lot with the librarian while the Russian speakers went along talking about a lot. Pasha and I ended up talking for a long time without the others. He's intensely interested in intellectual property and its related law. I made some suggestions. We had a good time.

My wife and I didn't get home up about midnight. We were there for seven hours. It was fun once Pasha and his mother came. My antitalnet for languages bit me here too. Alas. :( My wife couldn't sleep after we got home. I got an hour or two of uninterrupted sleep. I thinkt he Miracle of Birth/Pregnancy is surviving it. At the rate we're going, I'll be lucky to have a second child with her.

Anyways, very little accomplished other than work. I have a paper that I am writing on cluster file systems. I've scoped it such that it will not be a political landmine for myself, but still is useful for work. Everything is political. :S Maybe I can help things along without taking a bullet this time.

_Collapse_ has only advanced a few pages. Easter Island is all but done.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Business, Books, and Writing.

The word for today is 'philopolis'. The origin is Greek for tribe and city. Why is it the word for today? The reason is that I have been writing a lot of alternate history in the last few years. One of my biggest and most ambitious projects has been writing about an alternate timeline where the Byzantine Empire (aka the Eastern Roman Empire) revives from Morea. Instead of Constantine being the last Emperor ruling from Constantinople and falling to the Turks, Demetrius does and leaves the more capable Constantine in Morea. Specificly, the aim for that TL was to get Machiavelli over to this revived BE/ERE and explore his writings under the new Morean Empire. It's been fun, but very, very hard. Since I tied the knot last summer, I've not had the time to do as much writing as I used to. This alternate Machiavelli is about to emark on a history of the Roman Empire (which the Moreans and indeed even the Byzantines saw themselves as up until the end) - much like his history of Florence that Mach did in OTL. He's going to come up with a odd ball nation-state concept. We'll see how it plays out. I'm haven't started writing this episode as yet. I like to play with the ideas first.

_Collapse_ remains interesting. I'm up past page 100. He did a tour of the Bitterroot Valley in Montana from different perspectives and now is in the midst of discussing Easter Island. I was delighted with the discussion of the statues and how the locals, ticked with Thor Heyerdahl being unwilling to talk with them about the statues, went and raised one for him. I'm about a fifth done with the book. I'm guessing Sunday I'll finish. Then on to the phytoremediation book.

That leads into the whole business thing. I've been discussing that with chemist and biologist friends. They're keenly interested as are some professors that have been doing research in the arena. I'm the one far back on the learning curve and I am playing catch up. I'm setting the pace though, so I have some control. Amazingly enough.

The second business with potentially some more lucrative prospects is jsut getting underway. We shall see. I've been talking about it with my father since he's a genius with electronics, esp with respect to miniaturization. I'm also talking with others. We'll see what we can pull together. If this takes off, expect to hear of me big time. heh heh heh.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Getting that habit started

The interesting things that I have read, seen, done, or thought about this weekend.

First off, there's the whole bit of excitement over Huygens. Wow. All I can say is that I am really impressed. This is just awesome. ESA deserves a lot of kudos. NASA too for making it possible. I'd have to say that a series of rovers, balloons, and dedicated orbiters are definitely in order now. If I were NASA, I'd consider taking the follow-on to the JIMO - Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter - to Saturn with balloons to map and explore as much of Titan as possible. It could carry the balloons to be released and landers and/or rovers for specific targeted areas. Possibly even submersibles! Woo!

My wife and I picked up some board games. We played the heck out of chinese checkers and it was her first experience with it. She's really good. She LOVES to play too. We've also been playing Risk, chess, checkers, and numerous others. She spots patterns really quick. The reason we picked up the games is that she is REALLY pregnant. Our baby (tentatively Aurora) is due on March 27th. My wife is a pretite woman and the baby has been a lot rougher on her than planned: she's gained 50% of her prepregnancy weight and been sick a lot: hormone poisoning, not transmitable stuff. Even so, we're both really excited, if a bit scared.

I've been obsessing a little over Neal Stephenson's _The Diamond Age_. Well, specifically over the Primer. I think it's just become feasible. I'd LOVE to have one ready (ha!) for my daughter at age 4. It's a possibility for a business at least. We shall see. My wife loves the idea.

I finished _The Complete Roman Army_. I'm reading _Collapse_. An engaging read. We'll see where he goes with it.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Comments & Reading List

I am going to try to get this up so I can write each day. Getting myself into the habit is going to be a bit of a challenge. I suceeded in getting myself to work out each morning. It took time, patience, and a lot of grumbling, Bare with mea s I get this started.

Right now I am reading _The Complete Roman Army_ by Adrian Goldsworthy. It hangs together a lot of things I'd read elsewhere in several different sources. It's a pop history book so it should be taken with a grain of salt for possible mistakes, but so far it's been a good starter book.

Prior to this in Jan I read _The Diamond Age_. There were a lot of giggles in there. Chemists have pointed out to me that the rod logic hud makes for excellent explosives. Doh. However, the Young Lady's Illustrated Primer has definitely caught my attention: my wife is pregnant and we're about to have a baby girl at the end of March.

Next I will be reading Jared Diamond's _Collapse_. It ought to be interesting. Ever the controversial author, Diamond often hangs onto theories that are dismissed by those in the anthropology field. I'll dig up an example and post it if anyone asks.

After that, I have a book on phytoremediation to read. Some friends and I are exploring a business in this area. It's long and prolly dull as dirt, but we'll see. My preference is to get back to reading books on rocket design, but that has a steeper $ curve than this does and I have more people interested in funding and working on this one. So! For the next 6 months I'm going to be swallowing and cross referencing bio books prior to writing the business plan.

I occasionally write as well. I have participated on Usenet for over a decade now - Yikes! - and in the last prolly 7 years I've participated in a counterfactual history group and spun some yarns. I currently have one I spinning, albeit slowly right now, about a surviving Byzantine Empire and Machiavelli's interaction with it. After this, I'm prolly going to shelve alternate history for a while. The future is looking a lot more interesting. Prolly before said baby has started me thinking very strongly about the future once again. I do ahve some partially finished books - as in written - that I should go finish.

At any rate, second post!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Here it begins

I seriously doubt there will be a large following for this blog, but you never know.

I have to say that I've not kept anything like this for some time. Back a decade ago I started something like a blog, but we didn't call it that, on my own webpage and updated it. I ran out of time and technology has certainly overtaken what I used to do. This is definitely far easier to write than the old vi and html methods of a decade ago. ;)

That said, I'll start off with some thoughts in the next few days. Ideas and ramblings that all of you will enjoy, take potshots at, or ignore as you please. Whatever you do, be honest, but openminded.

until then.